Check in somewhere special with your beau
Posted on Feb. 1, 2017
Love is in the air and on the calendar. It’s a great time to think about romantic places to visit with the special person in your life. Scenic, natural surroundings are generally best for amor — except, of course, if you are more “city” people. Either way, the right hotel is a key factor in every romantic getaway. Here are a few of my favorite places to stay:
Mt. Ada Inn, Catalina Island
When his wife told him she wanted “a house with dark green shutters,” William Wrigley Jr. dipped into his chewing gum fortune and, in 1921, bought Catalina Island and built her a house there. The Wrigley’s mansion, perched on a peak overlooking sparkling blue waters, is now called Mt. Ada Inn, and is open to the public.
The spacious property is a charming six-room inn that still feels like the gracious home of its original well-heeled residents. Traditional furnishings and a plethora of books and games contribute to the relaxed atmosphere. However, what I love most is the breathtaking view of sailboats skittering across Avalon Bay best seen from a wide terrace along one side of the house.
Guests at the inn have access to golf carts for getting around the island, and room prices include breakfast, lunch, and wine with appetizers each evening. Another reason guests feel at home here is the well-stocked butler’s pantry (think popcorn and freshly-baked cookies), available 24 hours a day.
Kemble Inn, Lenox, Massachusetts
Marketing messages can sometimes be misleading, but a “Gilded Age mansion with a modern heart” is really the perfect description for Kemble Inn in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. The gorgeous 1886 mansion’s rooms sport four-poster beds and carved wooden mantels, as well as modern art and digital displays of Queen Elizabeth II. A baby grand piano serves as the reception “desk.” I know this sounds a bit cacophonous, but it works.
Host Scott Short, originally from Canada, fell in love with this house in 2010 and has been restoring it ever since. So far, nine of the twelve bedrooms are complete. Ours, number 204, had two fireplaces — one in the bedroom and another in front of a large tub in the bathroom.
We loved our dinner in Table Six Restaurant, where nine tables and booths face an open fire on one side and the art wall dedicated to QEII and family on the other. My husband and I snuggled in a booth and savored the lobster risotto and some wonderful halibut.
Outside, a wide lawn provides views of the beautiful Berkshire Mountains. Trinity Church and its famous Tiffany rose window are across the street. Tanglewood, the summer performing arts complex, and The Mount, former home of writer Edith Wharton, are also nearby.
The White Barn Inn, Kennebunk, Maine
Gourmets will love this charming country inn, where legendary prix fixe meals are served in a restored Civil War-era barn. The restaurant menu focuses on local seafood and carefully-sourced New England produce. A more casual bistro offers oysters on the half shell and lobster pizza.
In addition to superb food, the 26-room inn is known for its great spa, heated swimming pool, and easy access to the beach. Guests can explore extensive walking trails on the 66-acre property, ride bikes, take cooking classes, and enjoy traditional English afternoon tea. It’s also fun to poke around the shops in adjacent Kennebunkport, headquarters of the Bush family summer home, and soak up legendary Maine scenery while sailing, fishing, and whale watching.
The Pierre, New York City
Are you city-loving sweethearts looking for luxury lodging? One of my favorites is The Pierre hotel, across from Central Park. What could be better than starting the day with breakfast en suite, followed by a walk in the park, then heading off to dinner and the theater in the hotel’s chauffeured car?
If this sounds too tame, let yourself be inspired by the romantic movies filmed in Manhattan. Maybe you and your valentine could meet on the roof of the Empire State Building à la Sleepless in Seattle. Or better yet, create another movie moment and ask The Pierre staff for a picnic breakfast, then walk five minutes down Fifth Avenue to Tiffany & Co. and enjoy.
If your valentine would enjoy a cozy getaway, here are a few more great getaway ideas.
Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch, New Zealand
Christchurch accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes, but Otahuna Lodge is easily the most romantic. The stately Victorian mansion is surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful gardens, emerald green lawns, and fragrant woodlands. Seven spacious bedrooms — most with working fireplaces — are grand and welcoming. If you’ve ever longed to star in a BBC romance (think Downton Abbey), this is the Christchurch accommodation for you.
The house was built in 1895 by a country gentleman with a passion for horticulture. Given this, it seems appropriate that Otahuna’s gardens are the best of any Christchurch accommodation. The property also boasts a swimming pool, spa pool, tennis court, fitness area, and massage room.
If you’re feeling romantic, you might want to sit on the verandah and soak up the historic ambience or wander in the gardens all day. If you want something more energetic, the hosts can arrange daytrips to Akaroa (to swim with dolphins), a visit to a high country sheep station, or a guided helicopter tour of the area. otahuna.co.nz
Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India
Frankly, I was prepared to be disappointed. I’d dreamed of staying at this hotel for many years and my expectations were sky high. However, when my eyes landed on the vision of white marble and mosaic seemingly floating in the middle of Lake Pichola — all I could do was smile.
Built in 1746 by a youthful maharana with an entourage of lady friends, the Taj Lake Palace is easily the most romantic destination in all of India. The hotel, with its airy balconies, Monet-like gardens, and seductive sit spots, invites guests to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the moment. Within hours of arriving, I’d wadded up my list of off-island sights.
Instead, my husband and I spent our time gazing at the view from the window seat in our room, sampling the offerings from the various restaurants (all good), enjoying spa treatments (all great), and trying to capture in photos the beauty of scalloped doorways, stone carvings, and over-water vistas (challenging). Most memorable sight: floating candles transforming the lily pond into a dream-like scene. taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-lake-palace-udaipur/
Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley, Northern California
It can be foggy along the Carmel coast, but the sun shines 320 days a year about 15 minutes inland in Carmel Valley. This makes the lucky couples who are staying at Bernardus Lodge happy.
The sunshine also makes the property’s many acres of grapes happy. Northern California insiders know that Carmel Valley produces wonderful wine, and some of the best comes from Bernardus Winery.
Dutch owner Bernardus Pon is a race car driver and Olympic skeet shooter, but his real passion is food and wine. Since he opened Bernardus Lodge, he’s earned a reputation for offering creative cuisine of the highest standard and a wide variety of fine wines. His cellar contains more than 28,000 bottles, and his wine list has won several a prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator.
The resort has an intimate feel — like staying in the home of wealthy friends. Everyone is greeted at check-in with a glass of wine before being shown to their spacious suite. Each comes with either a patio or balcony and a fireplace, a large bathroom, fresh flowers, and complimentary splits of wine and a selection of cheeses.
The 57-room property sprawls over 25 acres and offers deluxe resort amenities including a beautiful spa, a lap pool (heated to 82 degrees year round), a fitness center, two tennis courts, and bocce and croquet lawns.
Not surprising, given the surroundings, the signature treatment in The Spa at Bernardus is the couple’s “Vineyard Romance.” This treat starts with a cabernet grape seed body exfoliation before adjourning to the privacy of an al fresco lavender grape seed bath. Next, a full-body massage is followed by cups of grape seed herbal tea served in the Warming Room. It doesn’t get any cozier than that. bernarduslodge.com
Happy Valentine’s Day! Elizabeth Hansen
The Pierre Hotel: Photo courtesy of The Pierre Hotel Mt. Ada Inn & Kemble images: Photography courtesy of ADAMS / HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS White Barn Inn: Photo courtesy of The White Barn Inn