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Make an Effort: Traveling for Valentine’s Day

“No, I didn’t forget…”

beautiful bouquet of pink rosesHow many of us have said that on February 13 and had to lie through our teeth?  I will admit, this has never happened to me. Even when I wasn’t in a relationship, I’d have flowers delivered to each single girl in my small newsroom with a note saying “no girl should be without flowers on Valentine’s Day”. (I know, how is it that in four years working there I only got one girl to go out with me? But, I digress.)

I have a few suggestions if you’re looking for something to do with the special someone you want to impress, keeping in mind that just because you’ve been together for years doesn’t mean you get to phone it in. If you stay focused on trying to impress your partner, your relationship will feel new and exciting. Just like it did when you got together and you wanted your actions to say “choose me!”

I did some research and chose a few locations — some classics and some modern — that might be a place to run away for a long weekend. The first one is from my impressionable youth.

I remember watching the afternoon double feature on television and then the catchy jingle would come on for Caesar’s Pocono Resorts. I was amazed at the rooms, they had circular beds, pools in the room, and a bath tub made to look like a giant champagne glass; I mean how cool is that? When I began my research I checked out The Cove (formerly Caesar’s).  I took a careful look at the rooms and decided that the memory of my youth was accurate, but my sense of style had evolved. The pictures on the website show the pools, the bed, and champagne tubs in all their kitschy glory. If you don’t mind kitsch and want a place that caters to couples, that is the place for you.

If you don’t have a thing for novelty rooms, here are some other getaways that are a little more classic.

For many, a weekend in New York City is one of the most romantic getaway opportunities in the United States. I guess a weekend that puts you within a cab ride of Broadway, a gourmet meal, and ice skating in the romantic Art Deco environment of Rockefeller Center does have great romantic elements. It’s also the center of more romantic comedies than chocolate in a box of Whitman’s.

I came across this interesting hotel and plan on staying there if we’re ever in Manhattan: The Standard Highline. It’s a modern hotel straddling the Highline Park in Western Manhattan. The public park is a converted elevated freight rail line above the traffic-filled streets of New York.  The Standard Highline boasts floor-to-ceiling windows in each room providing vistas of the city, the Hudson, or Liberty Island.  I would describe the decor as modern, with clean lines and a feeling of simple luxury.  The beds have fluffy down pillows and Italian sheets.  It also has an onsite restaurant, open between 7am and 4am for that guest who gets too distracted and forgets to eat. It also has a beer garden and, in winter, its own ice rink. The hotel has loads of activities to keep you busy on premises, but remember you’re in the middle of Manhattan and that means you aren’t very far from anything — at any time of day. I guess that the city that never sleeps isn’t a problem in this case, because it’s a romantic weekend; who’s thinking about using that bed for sleeping?

If you like a more traditional feel and want to sweep your loved one away to a castle, you need look no further than Asheville, North Carolina and the Biltmore Estate. The estate, built by George Vanderbilt, opened in 1898 and would serve as his private getaway.  It’s built in the style of a 16th century chateaux with 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms. It also boasts a swimming pool, gymnasium, and bowling alley.  Tours are available, but with a little planning you can also stay there. The Inn at Biltmore is on the grounds of the castle and is a place of luxury for your respite after you spend the day touring the grounds.  You can find several packages to fit your personality; from spa packages, to a romantic getaway, or even off-road driving and shooting clay pigeons — because nothing says love like blowing clay disks to smithereens.

Napa Valley, great for those moments when you can't run off to Castle Gabbiano in Italy.

Napa Valley, great for those moments when you can’t run off to Castle Gabbiano in Italy.

On the west coast, nothing says romance like a weekend in wine country. I mean, the key to any good relationship is alcohol – right? When Amanda and I first started going out we drank up to two bottles of wine a night.  I also know we all don’t have the money to fly to France or Italy for a long weekend, so Napa Valley in California is the next best thing.  The Maison Fleurie in Yontville is a French-inspired bed and breakfast built in 1873 and is the oldest hotel in Napa Valley.  The hotel offers its guests 13 rooms, many with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. The inn offers a complimentary breakfast and also an afternoon tea. When you aren’t trampling the grapes (of wrath) into a vintage at a local vineyard you can take a dip in their outdoor pool and hot tub. You also have to give deep consideration to a place that includes the location of its cookie jar (filled with fresh-baked cookies) on its website.

Prefer your wine country to have some Italian flair? Hotel Luca, also in Yontville, might be for you. The 24-room luxury hotel, spa and restaurant serving Tuscan cuisine is in an Italian villa design. The hotel incorporates 200-year-old roof tiles, and 300-year-old floor tiles imported from Florence, Italy.  The owners, the Fink Family, have an extensive wine cellar specializing in Italian and Napa Valley wines. An onsite bakery supplies guests with bread and plenty of pizza dough.  The guest rooms have all the standard amenities and custom designer beds with imported Italian linens. Large bathrooms feature heated floors and large soaking tubs.

You can use either hotel as a base for a weekend of wine tasting a places like the Kuleto Estate Winery in St. Helena. It gives tours by reservation only and has a large selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Zinfandel. The Pine Ridge Winery offers tours that highlight its sustainable farming  as well as the production facilities and aging caves.

These are just two of the more than 400 wineries with tasting rooms in Napa Valley, leaving no doubt that no matter where you stay there will be a viniculture adventure waiting for you.

If you want to do more than the box of chocolates and continue to impress, it’s not too late.  The ideas I proposed may not be for everyone – it’s the intent that counts – and couples are as unique as snowflakes. The point is: make the effort.

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About No Kids, Will Travel

In the eyes of their friends and family, Amanda and Zeke are a young jet setting couple without any real responsibility. In real life, the stress of work and raising a kitten push them to flee reality at every opportunity. The "lack of obligation" gives them the chance to explore the world.

One comment on “Make an Effort: Traveling for Valentine’s Day

  1. The High Line is one of my favorite parks … And the Standard is a really interesting building, in more ways than one. 🙂

    http://gothamist.com/2009/08/26/exhibitionists_are_standard_at_hote.php

    We’ve stayed at the Biltmore, and it’s lovely! I’d love to go back to Asheville sometime.

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