With 2011 now well under way, chances are any rest and relaxation that took place over the Christmas holidays seems like a distant memory.
The good news is the perfect excuse to plan a getaway with the one you love is just around the corner – Valentine’s Day, the celebration of all things romantic.
Whether you’re looking for a quick, weekend escape, or an extended amorous adventure, a romantic getaway is just what you need to recharge your batteries and get you through the last few winter weeks.
To explore some of the most romantic, luxurious and exotic couple’s getaways, Indulge has enlisted the help of travel expert Ginny Harrison, owner of White Rock Travel, who shares her top picks for an ideal lovers’ excursion you won’t soon forget.
If you can only spare a few days away from the rat race, Harrison recommends a visit to Vancouver Island, where boutique hotels, charming B&Bs and luxurious spa resorts can be found amid the rustic beauty of West Coast nature.
Just 30 minutes north of Victoria is the Aerie Resort and Spa, perched high in the mountains with an ocean view, in a breathtaking natural habitat of bald eagles and other wildlife.
Fine wines and gourmet cuisine inspired by fresh, local ingredients and a wide range of rooms and suites – plus a relaxing spa and wellness centre – make the Aerie resort a favourite for those seeking calm in a beautiful island setting.
On the southern end of Vancouver Island is the Sooke Harbour House, an ocean-front boutique hotel with 28 guestrooms, an on-site restaurant, art gallery and spa services. With an emphasis on responsible environmental practices, owners of the Sooke Harbour House incorporate “green” living in to every aspect of the Inn – from non-toxic cleaning supplies to a grass-paved parking lot – making it a romantic and environmentally friendly getaway destination.
Another ocean-front gem recommended by Harrison is the Kingfisher Spa and Resort in Comox, about an hour north of Nanaimo. With 64 beachfront or ocean-view suites to choose from, and a world-class spa that utilizes rich sea ingredients in its treatments to reflect the utterly West Coast atmosphere, the Kingfisher is the idea retreat for couples looking to be pampered.
A Week or Two
For a slightly longer getaway, Harrison recommends that couples head for the sunshine.
After all, there’s not much that’s more romantic than a walk along a white-sand beach, hand-in-hand with your significant other.
The Mayan Riviera is the most highly sought-after area of Mexico this time of year, with plenty of alluring resorts to choose from.
“There are some beautiful couples-only, really high-end five-star resorts,” Harrison says. “With everything from small resorts that only take 80 people, up to the larger ones. There are even resorts that cater specifically to the ‘foodie’ – people who love gourmet food.”
The El Dorado Maroma, a Beachfront Resort by Karisma, is a Mayan Riviera destination that jumps to mind for Harrison. Described as an “intimate boutique resort,” the El Dorado Maroma is one of the newest resorts built on a beautiful new beach on the Caribbean, and provides a secluded, tropical setting perfect for relaxing or taking part in an array of fun activities.
The Bahia Principe Akumal Resort is another great pick – its brand new golf course makes it a popular destination for those who want to hit the links.
“It’s an all-inclusive resort, and your golf is included – you just have to pay for the mandatory golf-cart fee,” Harrison says. “It’s a really good deal for people if they love to golf – even if they don’t want to golf, it’s one of the cheaper prices for a really nice resort that’s all inclusive.”
If you prefer a sun-filled destination beyond Mexico, Harrison said Maui is a sure hit with Canadians this time of year. She also recommends Sandals resort in Jamaica, which caters to couples-only and has rates available for almost any budget.
For the ultimate in tropical romance, the Paul Gauguin Cruise Line offers amazing excursions through the islands of French Polynesia, voyages that Harrison says are “hugely popular with honeymooners.”
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get away for longer than just a week or two, endless romantic adventures await, according to Harrison.
An exotic South American cruise coupled with time spent exploring renowned destinations such as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador or some of the many wineries in Argentina is sure to make for a memorable vacation.
Harrison also notes that for extended stays in Australia or New Zealand – where summer is currently in full swing – package deals including airfare and one month’s furnished apartment rental can be found for around $3,000.
But for what Harrison describes as “the ultimate in luxury and romance,” she suggests couples take a walk on the wild side with an African safari in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
“They have the most luxurious safari camps there, and there are no fences in Botswana, so the animals come and walk right under the camps,” she says. “They built their camps in the trees at the edge of the game reserve, so they’re not intruding on the environment or the ecological areas.”
With ensuite bathrooms, private dipping pools and cozy, plush beds, calling the safari accommodations “camps” may seem a bit of a stretch to some, but combined with the unique experience of getting up-close-and-personal with leopards, elephants, lions and zebras, a stay at one of these camps will certainly make for an unforgettable holiday.
And after all, as Harrison points out, “sometimes it’s just nice to treat yourself.”