Adventure Girl’s 2011 Top 10 Valentine’s Day Picks for Romance- from Glitz to Boutique, it’s all about Value!
As I travel around the globe, seeking out romantic locations for my annual Valentine’s Day Top 10 hot spots, I try and fine tune what it takes for a place to breathe romance and make the list…
This year’s picks are all over the map… literally. I am ecstatic to share four diverse choices from Spain, a brand new resort in the tea fields of Rwanda, and the ever so rugged romance on a Sepik River cruise in Papua New Guinea.
Each year, I also earmark a top destination pick, because the location on its own merit oozes romance. My top destination this year goes to Spain. The food is beautiful … the people are beautiful … and the language quixotic!
While many of the European Union countries remain inflated, Spain gives good value, and in comparison to other countries nearby, is an affordable option…
I like to say, “Spain- a destination that will bring romantics to their knees” (and hopefully with a ring in hand!)
Sha Spa and Wellness Center
El Albir- Spain
Sha is definitely a sweet spot for couples seeking to pleasure their mind, their body and their “soul-mates”.
Launched in 2008 with ideals in mind, body and spirit, these core elements remain in place with programs to improve health and offer new lifestyle options. However, you don’t have to be out of sorts to enjoy this luxurious locale with accolades from Conde Nast Traveler and Spa Finder Magazine.
Rooms are minimalist but warm and cozy. En-suite’s boast large living areas and dining rooms, a treat for long stays. Amenities include an infinity pool with mountain to sea views, a small yet elegant chapel, library, tea room, putting green and paddle tennis court, and let’s not forget the Sha Spa- decadent treatments for two that utilize many techniques from India/Ayurveda, Japan/Shiatsu and Reiki, China/Bien-Shu stone, and Tibet the Pindas.
Room to Romance: Any of the Superior Suites with Jacuzzis and sea views
Halfway down Spain’s Costa Blanca, Hospes Amerigo, rated “excellent” by more than 150 travelers on TripAdvisor.com, is nothing short of spectacular and the epitome of avant-garde luxury. Elegance in the heart of historical Alicante in a former Dominican convent turned hip, modern hotel with views of the castle of Santa Barbara.
Embracing Valentine’s Day, the Amerigo is offering a special package including a night in their “Dreamers room”, a bottle of Spanish Cava, home-made chocolate truffles, and spa treatments at the Bodyna Spa.
Romance idea: July and August the Town Hall hosts special ‘castle evenings.’ Concerts are held Friday and Saturday nights in the courtyard of Santa Barbara Castle. Looking for a place to propose? How enchanting sitting under the stars, music serenading with the backdrop of a medieval castle to mark that perfect moment!
Room to Romance: Room #21 (pictured) with cathedral windows and views of the heart of Alicante.
Madrid is the city of romance and culture, so what could be more romantic than an evening stroll after seeing the Opera Don Quixote? There are plenty of opportunities for love with hand-in-hand midnight strolls through the ancient streets, and hitting the many late night cafes to sip Cava and gaze longingly into your mate’s eyes. Madrid is the ultimate couples paradise for nightlife, epicurean delights and passion.
The Hospes Madrid, a renovated building from 1883, is perfectly located right next to the Parque Del Retiro, the city center’s major green space, and in front of Puerta de Alcala. While this area is less touristic, it’s accessible to all points of the city. Each of the 41 rooms are contemporary, and the hotel is a boutique hideaway option for couples looking to getaway for some romance.
Don’t miss the tapas bar, and a chill-out patio with large comfy couches perfect for canoodling!
Room to Romance: You won’t go wrong with one of their six two-story junior suites on the fourth floor- part of the historical and recovered architectural spaces. Private and tucked away, each suite is inspired in deco and adorned with mauve, tangerine or gray pearl colors, complete with vanguard furniture.
Not only is Hotel Omm one of the most beautiful hotels in Barcelona, its location is priceless –set just off one of Barcelona’s main boulevards, Avinguda Diagonal. Omm is close to major attractions, and shopping and restaurants are in walking distance.
What makes Hotel Omm so romantic? The staff loves love! The “dream team,” known for helping relationships move along and for making dreams come true, actually gets a kick out of planning proposals, such as surprising guests by decorating rooms with candles or flowers or balloons to create just the right ambiance for lovebirds.
The staff’s favorite proposal story was about one very “especial” night from a British couple’s engagement. The man had wanted to propose to his soon-to-be fiancée and give her the ring in some creative way, so the “dream team” put a plan in motion, placing the ring inside a ‘golden egg’ – a special dish from their chef at the Michelin starred Moo Restaurant. The team got the “yes” they were waiting for! As if the staff couldn’t have done more to hit gold on the romance scale, after dinner and in celebration of the lovely couple, the team set up a private scene on the roof top terrace overlooking Gaudi’s Casa Milá and Sagrada Familia.
Room to Romance: Suites ending in 14- there are four of these rooms one on each floor of the hotel, or any of their Junior suites ending with 23.
Namale Resort and Spa
Namale Resort and Spa sits on the island of Savu Savu in Fiji’s northern islands.
It doesn’t get too much better than this jaw-dropping and romance-inspiring spot on the map. This all-inclusive beauty has been voted countless times as one of the top global resorts — “All-time winner of the resorts and great hotels of the world” by Architectural Digest, “The #1 SPA in Fiji” by Luxury Spa Finder Magazine, and “The #1 ultimate honeymoon suite in Fiji, #5 in the world” by Modern Bride Magazine—and those are just a few awards Namale has garnered worldwide.
And, rightly so- with unparalleled service, stunning beaches including a picnic area by a private waterfall in the jungle, moonlit walks, a top notch spa, and beach side five-star epicurean, hands down, this is the place in Fiji to stargaze and get starry-eyed with the one you love.
Room to Romance: The spacious honeymoon bure called Nanise (Nancy), with a scenic entrance straight from a movie, boasts an ideal spot, sitting perched atop boulders with an expansive view of the sea all equals romance, privacy, and the ultimate hideaway.
Qamea Island Resort
Qamea Island Resort on the island of Qamea is an all-inclusive hot spot with some serious recognition, including being named as one of the “Top Ten Hideaway Resorts in the World” by the Robb Report.
This island resort boasts the perfect setting for romance with private beaches–, even a private boat–complete with champagne and seafood lunches. It entices lovers to spend their days under the sea scuba diving, or their afternoons under the Bouma Waterfall (the waterfall trip is the perfect adventure to get her to say “yes!”). This resort is a lover’s haven for everything luxury.
The Jungle Spa targets couples with several treatment choices, from the Lover’s Tango to the honeymoon duet treatments. A standout and a must experience is the Qamea Night of Decadence, which begins with a Fijian Warrior escort from your Bure, to the spa, where Tropical Sugar Glow scrub helps set the stage for Fijian Warrior followed by a sensual candlelit outdoor shower together in the Jungle Spa.
Room to Romance: Any of the luxe beachfront Bures, but do consider the split level 1,200 square foot Honeymoon Villa. This is a stunning split-level villa built in traditional Fijian style, with high woven bamboo ceilings, polished mahogany floors, a private outdoor courtyard with shower and Jacuzzi spa bath.
Matangi Island Resort
Matangi Island Resort, one of Fiji’s private island resorts, is in the northern set of Fiji’s islands, just off Vanua Levu. The island boasts one of those “hidden little island secrets”. Matangi Island Resort means guests literally get the whole 240 acre island paradise! A haven for destination brides and honeymooners, Matangi’s Horseshoe Bay is the ultimate in romance hot spot, and noted in Patricia Schultz’s book, “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”
The island is as private as one can get. There are no cards, there are no roads, giving guests the freedom to explore. Matangi is a family-run island resort with more of a personalized bed and breakfast feel lending to a VIP vibe destination brides and honeymooners are looking for. In fact, book ahead and secure the whole island for your special event.
Animal lovers will appreciate The Douglas family’s commitment to stray and injured animals on their little island. Visit their aviary for the injured birds where you can get a close up, and learn about bats, doves and parrots.
Room to Romance: Matangi’s ultimate Treehouse with views and the ultimate in privacy!
Nyungwe Forest Lodge
The Nyungwe Forest Lodge, set on a tea plantation and situated on the edge of the Nyungwe canopy rainforest in Rwanda, offers magical ambiance, luxe flair, and natural locale makes this one of the most stunning and unique places in the world for romance. Sit just outside the main lodge on comfortable lounges, and watch the steamy rainforest clouds hug the jungle, while listening to the forest’s birds and monkey calls.
This is Rwanda’s first five-star resort, and home to 13 species of primate including Chimpanzees. Ensuite rooms are built with views into the forest–all have king-sized beds, fireplaces, mini bars, and private decks.
The expansive property offers a bistro with outdoor heated swimming pool, Boma area for outdoor dining and drinks, spa, tea lounge and bar, and a majestic restaurant including private room and private terrace, and wifi. For the jet setter, there’s even a helicopter landing pad just for you.
Romantic yet adventurous as well: The lodge will align you with marvelous adventures such as searching for chimpanzees in the Nyungwe jungle, and my favorite, a visit to one of the last authentic Pygmy villages to meet the locals, which on average measure about four feet tall. Don’t miss purchasing one of their beautiful pottery pieces.
Room to Romance: Either of the 2 King bed suites- facing into the forest!
Sepik River Cruise
Papua New Guinea
A river cruise on my Top 10 romance list? Well, because what I experienced on the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea was straight out of one of those romance novels.
This is pure adventure, and I can assure you, a once in a lifetime romantic experience steeped in mystery, intrigue and raw nature. It is said that you go to South Africa to see the animals, Papua New Guinea to see the people- 700 -plus tribes with more languages between them all than anywhere else in the world.
This is where men live with brightly painted faces and bones through their noses, where the tribe’s women are adorned with shells and twine necklaces and leaf skirts.
Only a few hundred people have taken this Sepik River Cruise since its inception in 1989 to facilitate exploration into some of the more remote reaches of the Sepik Region. Only 18 passengers embark on a handful of tour dates each season/year.
Despite its remoteness, each village day trip takes you to local artisans. Artifacts abound, from chieftain necklaces, worn in a recent tribal dance, bride’s dowry shells, to hand carved masks you won’t find elsewhere.
Room to Romance: Room # 8 offers most privacy, however any room that can you get on board. Rooms sell out quickly so grab whatever you can. Note: based off passenger occupancy depends on cruise dates- they need at least 10 passengers to sail.
Sinalei Reef Resort
Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa in Apia, Samoa, was one of those locales hit in the 2009 Tsunami. Now, rebuilt to perfection, it’s a first class resort set on 33 coastal acres of stunning white sand beach front and nestled against vibrant gardens. With 29 stunningly appointed Fales (pronounced fay-lays) tucked into a tropical landscape, it’s just steps to Sinalei’s turquoise lagoon.
Brides take note: the Sinalei helps with wedding and honeymoon arrangements and this is one of the most spectacular South Pacific locations for a luxury wedding… but with value. All ceremonies begin with a Samoan warrior blowing into a conch shell to start the ceremony, with several wedding options to choose from ranging from a “Traditional Church Ceremony” to a “Sunset Beach Wedding”.
Don’t miss the tropical spa and couple’s candlelight treatment in a private fale (bungalow).
Room for Romance: You won’t go wrong with any of the Sinalei’s beach front fales.