By Kristy Alpert
Whether you’re in a serious relationship or just taking full advantage of Cuffing Season, a getaway for two sounds pretty good right about now. Doesn’t it?
Except, how do you avoid cheeseball experiences and Couples Retreat-style nightmares? And, how do you find the rigYou’ht vacation for your relationship? After all, what may be exotic and glamorous for some (an Alaskan dog sled ride à deux, for instance) may be too labor-intensive for others.
That’s where we come in. We’ve found some of the coolest, off-the-beaten path options for non-cheesy romance. From creating memories in the outback to hiding away in a remote mountaintop lodge, one of these vacation ideas should be right for your relationship.
If You’re Oenophiles: Le Grande Maison In Bordeaux, France
(Courtesy: Le Grande Maison)
Housed in an 18th-century mansion set deep in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region of France, this hotel and restaurant is co-owned by wine magnet Bernard Magrez and the king of gastronomy himself, Joël Robuchon. This rare, exclusive experience is an amazing culinary and design destination. The hotel opened early in December to a few select guests and is set to become one of Bordeaux’s best hotel/dining destinations. The chateau features no fewer than 259 Grands Crus Classees de Bordeaux in the cellar beneath the very bed where you will lay your head.
If You’re Dying To Get Off The Grid: Sedona, Arizona
(Courtesy: Visit Sedona)
Long lauded as a warm weather retreat, Sedona is actually stunning in winter, when the rusty red sandstone formations get a graceful dusting of snow. Skip the early-morning hot air balloon ride and opt for a sunrise hike through the red rocks before hitting a boutique spa and lunch at unassuming pizzeria Picazzo’s. Although Sedona is known for its luxury resorts, some of the most romantic retreats are incredibly affordable — and the B&Bs in the woods offer an even deeper sense of seclusion.
If Money Truly Is No Object: Six Senses Yao Noi In Thailand
(Courtesy: Mark Alpert)
At this resort, privacy is paramount, and the resort is surprisingly affordable for everything it includes. Private pool villas offer remote access to your own slice of a beautiful island beach. Each villa has no less than five shower options, and you’ll have your own butler to assist with everything from chauffeuring you to the spa or setting up a pair of loungers with fresh popcorn to watch a movie on the beach.
If You Dream Of Fireside Snuggling: Inn To Inn experience In Vermont
(Courtesy: Inn to Inn)
The Inn to Inn trails in Vermont are popular during the summer months by bike, but once the snow falls, the venture gets a rustic makeover. Don snowshoes or cross-country skis to make your way through the Green Mountain trails or Champlain Valley backroads on your way to some of Vermont’s most historic and romantic inns. Once you enter the lodge, a warm welcome drink will kick off an evening of slow dining, roaring fireplaces, and cozy beds.
If You Want To Explore An Awesome City Together: Dublin, Ireland
(Courtesy: The Dylan Hotel)
Dublin is one of Europe’s most underrated cities for romance. The passionate history, warmly hospitable people, and charismatic small-townness make it unexpectedly fun for a tryst. Head out for a tipple at a local pub along cobblestoned paths before strolling back to the quiet, tree-lined streets of Ballsbridge for a stay at the stylish Dylan Hotel, a member of the Preferred Hotel Group. Each room is decorated in an individual luxe style, and room service — which includes creamy Guinness, of course — is available 24/7.
If You’ll Only Ski On Fresh Powder: Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Austria
(Courtesy: Lech Zuers)
Unlike most other ski resorts, European or stateside, the charming village of Lech offers a secluded, old-world experience. Located in western Austria in a valley bordered by the Flexen Pass, this Alpine resort is favored by royals and celebrities for its exclusivity and natural beauty. Because it’s not easy to access this time of year, getting there in itself is an experience, as you navigate the steep valleys and 9,000-foot peaks that lead to this picturesque village. Sip Austrian wines and sample bubbling pots of fondue, or head straight up the mountain for some of the world’s most tranquil skiing complete with heated lift seats and manicured runs all day long.
If You Want To Get Back To Nature: Mashpi Lodge In Andean Cloud Forest, Ecuador
(Courtesy: Mashpi Lodge)
This eco lodge is focused on promoting the biodiversity of the cloud forest, and the passion from the scientists, groundskeepers, and hotel staff make the place come alive. Stroll to your heart’s content through marked trails or take a guided tour, and get immersed in the reserve’s work to introduce and reintroduce species into the forest. Hike to the butterfly lookout, where you can spend the evening sipping wine to the sounds of chirping tree frogs as the sun goes down.
If You’re Oenophiles (Who Want To Stay Local): Fredericksburg, Texas
(Courtesy: B. Mistich)
Texas may not come to mind as a romantic destination, but sit long enough on any porch in Fredericksburg, and you’ll fall in love with the dazzling colors that dance across the sky as the sun goes down. Texas Hill Country is perfect this time of year with its mild weather, a predictably slow pace, and tons of charisma. The B&Bs — which are even more charming in winter — are located everywhere from the city center (close to boutique and gourmet shops) to close to more than 40 vineyards and wineries (don’t miss the delicious blends at Pedernales Cellars or Becker Vineyards). Head to Enchanted Rock with a local bottle to watch the sun set beyond the rolling hills.
If You’re Ready To Commit To A Major Adventure: The Outback, Australia
(Courtesy: Tourism Australia)
Unlike most other landmarks, part of the allure of Ayers Rock (home of the sacred rock of Uluru) is that it is 462 km from civilization. The absence of light pollution in the outback makes it one of the clearest places in the world to see a dazzling number of stars in the sky. A romantic drive out to this sandstone formation is worth the jetlag; snuggle up in a sleeping bag with your beloved, and try not to freak out about the wildlife scurrying around you.
If You Want Your Destination To Provide All The Romance: Prague, Czech Republic
From walking across the famous Charles Bridge at sunset to heading below ground for a sip of forbidden absinthe, there’s an unmistakable allure to this mystic city. You don’t have to spend a fortune or look far in Prague to find romance, like an idyllic overlook for people watching, or a secluded alcove for a clandestine kiss. In winter, street vendors sell everything from cinnamon-covered trdelnik (a rolled Hungarian pastry) to mulled wine and hot chocolate, filling the city with a warm, delicious perfume. Superstitious? Head over to Petřín, where local legend has it that if you kiss the one you’re with in front of the statue of the romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha, your love will last forever.
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