Quick (And Sensual) Valentine's Trips

Quick (And Sensual) Valentine's Trips

Aphrodisiacs are on the menu and love in the air just about everywhere, but other than that, America’s sexiest hotels are striving to differentiate their Valentine’s dos from the pack this time around. Some are going the gourmet route, some are playing up their picturesque surroundings, and others are encouraging guests to stay in bed all weekend. As our survey of Cupid-inspired getaways proves, there’s no end of ways to celebrate romance. Happily, a lot of places are giving lovers special treatment all month long, meaning you don’t have to pick just one way to play. Hot Getaway 1: New Orleans Before the hurricanes New Orleans was seen as the eccentric Southern counterpart to Vegas, but these days, it’s earned a different sort of status. Visitors appreciate its graceful old buildings and Colonial traditions as well as its busy bars and wicked-strong rum punch. Besides, any city that defines fresh-baked sugar doughnuts as “breakfast” and names an entire neighborhood after a whiskey is an obvious go-to spot on a decadent holiday. Where to Stay: The Marriott and Renaissance Hotels of New Orleans number five properties in all, and they’re dotted throughout the tourist center. Lovebirds can sip coffee in the French quarter, canoodle on a carriage ride, feed each other oysters, and return to the hotel for strawberries and champagne. The latter are thoughtfully provided in an “aphrodisiac welcome basket” that’s part of the Escape! Romance and Adore package offered over Valentine’s weekend. Also included: breakfast in bed, 3PM checkout and the book 365 Great Ways to Say I Love You (which is twee, but not nearly as fun as the dirty dice game you could probably grab in any of the Bourbon Street head shops). Escape! Romance is priced at $164-399 per night. Hot Getaway 2: Aruba It’s busy, it’s breezy, it’s Dutch, it’s Caribbean! Yes, we’re talking about Aruba—an island so cruise ship-friendly and Euro-influenced, it feels like a city. If you like to complement your Bain de Soleil beach time with a spot of designer shopping and table gaming, you’ll appreciate the Big A of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). Where to Stay: The Westin Aruba Resort, right on Palm Beach’s famous white sands, is one of the island’s largest and grandest properties, with an onsite spa, a mini-fleet of charter boats, its own casino, and ten restaurants and lounges. Leave car keys, handbags and Blackberries stashed in your in-room safe, ‘cause Romance Is In the Air, officially: This package includes room upgrades, dinner for two, VIP poolside service, a 2 ½ hour couples’ massage, and the ubiquitous champagne/strawberry welcome. Prices start at $599 per night per couple, and the promotion runs the entire month of February.

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Hot Getaway 3: Monterey, California Neither as crowded as San Francisco nor as pricey as Carmel, the town of Monterey is authentic coastal NorCal, just like you dreamed it would be. It’s got sea otters, shellfish, wineries and beaches—what other photo ops could a weekending couple need? For the outdoorsy types, activities run the gamut from Pebble Beach golf to Big Sur’s majestic bluffs and hike-able woods. Where to Stay: The Hyatt Regency Monterey lures epicureans to town all throughout February with its “Month of Aphrodesiacs” special menu. Forget strawberries and chocolate; this four-course menu starts with Beau Soleil oysters and vanilla-scented champagne, and just gets better from there. Pancetta-wrapped beef, fennel flan, pepper parfait with sambuca cream…and warm banana, chocolate and ginger cake to finish. It’s a menu guaranteed to raise your libido and your pulse—served in TusCA Restaurant for $100 a couple (a steal if you ask us). Hot Getaway 4: Chicago Live music, barbecue, unpretentious nightlife and sweet Midwestern boys in suits…that’s what Chicago is made of. No wonder so many big city girls love it more than London, NYC or LA. Even though February is a frigidly cold month, we predict a sweeter-than-usual wind might blow through the city this year. Our proof, below. Where to Stay: Chicago’s hotels are going so all-out for the holiday that we couldn’t decide on just one to feature. The always-sophis InterContinental is offering up the timeless combo of caviar, chocolate and brunch—all accompanied by copious amounts of chilled bubbly—for $250 per night. They’re also doing an ice-wine/ice-skating combo that’s creative and fun. Either would be fine for a regular Valentine’s Day. But the James Chicago took our breath away with their James Propose Package, the highlight of which is a Van Cleef & Arpels ring. Private dinner…string quartet performance…penthouse digs. If it’s time for the big question, this one’ll get you a tres enthusiastic answer. Priced: too precious to print. Call if you’re serious. Hot Getaway 5: Los Cabos It ain’t the prettiest beach zone in the Mexico portfolio, but Los Cabos—made up of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, plus the hotel zone—is undeniably entertaining. Anything goes ( yes, we’ve road-tested this, and yes it is on YouTube), but unlike in similar destinations such as Vegas, you probably won’t wake up in the morning going, “How much do I regret last night? Let me count the ways.” Where to Stay: Though there are wild spots like the ME and elegant getaways like Las Ventanas, we’re recommending a newcomer, Cabo Azul, for Valentine’s getaways. For one thing, it’s a villa property, with generously sized 1BR and up. For another, it’s in San Jose, which, though not by the beach, is infinitely more charming than Cabo. Finally, it’s new and as-yet undiscovered, and thus affords the serenity and privacy you need to achieve ultimate Valentine’s bliss. Which is, after all, the point.

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