Living

Top Ten Romantic Getaways

Love is in the air, water and fire at these seductive hideaways

Romance is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe for you and your sweetheart, it’s a skinny dip on a moonlit beach, or a sensual tropical feast. What about a bath strewn with rose petals or a fireside cuddle? Ultimately, the key ingredient is the right person. This Valentine’s Day, put your chemistry to work at these dreamy destinations.

Play Tarzan and Jane

At El Tamarindo resort on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, the name of the game is relaxation—and seclusion. You’ll share a thatched roof villa with your Tarzan, along with a private plunge pool, Jacuzzi, hammock, outdoor living room and a nearly-deserted beach. Even the golf course, carved out of the jungle, is so blissfully un-crowded that the resort encourages you to have a swim or a picnic between holes.

Dinner can be delivered to your villa, or, follow the candlelit path to the beachside restaurant. Sit under a huge wild fig tree and order frozen tamarindo margaritas and a bucket of steamed shrimp while the stars twinkle above you.

Let’s go Call 1-866-818-8342 or visit www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com

Calling all snow bunnies

Where better to curl up on wintry days than the Fairmont Le Château Montebello, the biggest log cabin in the world? Located half way between Montreal and Ottawa, this resort also offers many ways to frolic in the snow. Take a beginner lesson at the on-site curling facility, borrow cross-country skis or holler “Mush” on a dogsled adventure behind a team of huskies. After an invigorating day outdoors, warm your toes—and your lips—by the imposing six-sided, three-story stone fireplace in the lobby.

Let’s go Call 1-800-257-7544 or visit www.fairmont.com

Fantasy island

Your dream vacation starts with a yacht ride across clear green water to Malaysia’s Pangkor Laut Island. Stroll past fountains and tropical gardens, then along the wooden bridge over the ocean to your villa on stilts. Your bath, strewn with frangipani and rose petals, is ready for two, but you’ll share paradise with mischievous monkeys, and flittering butterflies in a 2-million-year-old equatorial rainforest.

After a sunset cruise on the resort’s Chinese junk sailboat, order a Steamboat, a Malaysian-style fondue of fish, meat, veggies and noodles cooked in a spicy lemongrass broth. Dine by the light of a silvery moon with lapping waves and a choir of cicadas providing the night music.

Let’s go Call 1-877-851-3144 or visit www.pangkorlautresort.com

Aromatherapy

Nestled in the Provence hills, just 17 kilometres from the French Riviera, you can literally follow your nose to Grasse, perfume capital of the world. In parfumeries like Fragonard, sign up for an aromatherapy session and you’ll be given a kit of oils, vials and recipes to create your own fragrant potions.

Your romantic inn is La Bastide Saint Antoine, which is set on a hill with magnificent views of the countryside. In winter, golden mimosa brightens the hillsides. Summer brings the heady scent of lavender, roses and orange blossoms, followed by jasmine in the fall.

Chef Jacques Chibois, one of the best chefs in France, resides here. Savour his rich velvety soup of goose liver, spiked with thin slices of truffles. Or perhaps you’ll want to skip dinner and experiment with those aromatherapy oils. Bonne nuit!

Let’s go Call 011-04-93-70 94 94 or visit www.jacques-chibois.com

Taking the waters

Taking the waters at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Virginia has been a tradition since 1766, when a bathhouse was first built. The same mountain spring mineral waters that soothed Virginian aristocracy’s aching muscles flow into the modern spa today. After a refreshing mountain laurel soak, you can ride a horse, play tennis or golf, go fly-fishing, or even take a lesson in falconry.

For sheer romance, there’s dancing with dinner every night in the formal dining room, which is softly lit by flickering candles. Sip champagne and imagine the days when the Rockefellers and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor waltzed around the same room.

Let’s go Call 1-800-838-1766 or visit www.thehomestead.com

La dolce vita

At the Hotel Villa d’Este in northern Italy nothing seems to change. But why tamper with perfection? The double marble staircase makes a grand entrance. The sheets are pure Irish linen. A wisteria-entwined gazebo frames Lake Como, the most romantic lake in the world.

Experience the beauty first-hand by boarding an old-fashioned steamer. You’ll float past mist-enshrouded hills, palatial cliff-top villas and operetta-set towns with shuttered stucco houses of ochre, terra cotta, and pink.

The gentle drone of the motor, the distant peeling of church bells and the soft mist rising off the lake will put you in the most mellow of moods. A brief waltz under the stars ends a dreamy day.

Let’s go Call 011-39-031-3481or visit www.villadeste.it

Aloha

Nicknamed the Garden Isle, Kauai is Eden epitomized. Make the drive to Kee beach: you’ll go over a series of quaint wooden bridges, forge a mountain stream, and pass many secluded beaches—the perfect spot for a romantic picnic. Or, take a helicopter ride over the dramatic 3,000-foot Na Pali cliffs and the central Waimea Canyon, dubbed by Mark Twain as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

Back at the Hanalei Bay resort, cavort in the fantastic free-form pool, waterfalls and hot tub, then slip into something tropical and dine alfresco at the Bali Hai restaurant, where the passion fruit mousse is a must. Feel the cool flower lei around your neck, breathe in the balmy sea breezes and enjoy a gorgeous sunset. This is one enchanted evening you’ll never forget.

Let’s go Call 1-800-922-7866 or visit www.hanaleibaykauai.com

Into Africa

If you go on only one hot-air balloon ride in your lifetime, do it here. Skimming across the treetops, you drift over herds of elephants and Cape Buffaloes, then swoop down to watch crocs sunbathing and hippos wading in the Mara River. Breakfast is a surreal champagne affair in the middle of the golden grasslands of the Masai Mara reserve surrounded by elephants and ostriches.

Back at camp you won’t exactly be roughing it. Your “tent” has teak floors, queen beds and an elegant bathroom with flagstone shower. At the end of an afternoon of animal watching on the savanna, it’s a Kenyan tradition to stop for sundowners—perhaps an icy Tusker beer or a gin and tonic with smoked salmon canapés. This is the journey of a lifetime.

Let’s go Visit www.abercrombiekent.com to check out all-inclusive safari packages

Moonlight becomes you

The turquoise glacial waters of Lake Louise mirror the peaks of its surrounding mountains—to breathtaking effect. On the lake’s shore, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel offers a unique Heavenly Bodies program twice per week (Thursdays and Saturdays). Guests meet for a fireside talk on aboriginal and astronomical legends and myths, and after, head out on old-fashioned snowshoes to explore the backcountry by moonlight.

Take a midnight skate along the lake, then warm up with Amaretto chocolate fondue and a starry smooch in the glistening ice castle.

Let’s go Call 1-800-257-7544 or visit www.fairmont.com

Miami nice

Once you’ve strutted your stuff on Ocean Drive and soaked up some rays on South Beach, it’s time for some his-and-hers pampering. At the five-star Turnberry Isle Resort spa, try the Javanese Lulur, a treatment given for forty consecutive days to Balinese princess brides-to-be.

You’ll be escorted into a treatment room with flickering candles and soft Oriental music. First up is a fragrant oil massage, then an exfoliation with turmeric and yogurt. After a rejuvenating shower, you’ll soak in a candlelit bath strewn with rose petals. Then it’s back to the table for a moisturizing massage using jasmine lotion.

Let’s go Call 1-800-327-7028 or visit www.turnberryisle.com

Bonus While in Miami, be sure to check out Tantra, a restaurant that features a grass floor, waterfalls, burning incense, groovy music and aphrodisiac cuisine. As foreplay, nibble the Love Apple appetizer—a ripe tomato spiked with goat cheese and dressed with basil oil and pomegranate seeds. But save some room for dessert—here they’re as decadent as they come!

Let’s go Call 305-672-4765 or visit www.tantrarestaurant.com