Newly in love? Good for you! You feel as though you’re running through a wildflower-carpeted meadow holding hands and laughing. You don’t need any advice for Valentine’s Day travel. You could celebrate by sharing a Muscle Milk and a pack of Juicy Fruit at the local strip mall and it would still be the best day of your life.
Temporarily in between major, life-affirming love affairs? We’ve been there–and there’s lots to recommend it. Like many, many fewer text messages disrupting your workday. But while in this peaceful, happy state, V-Day, like D-Day, can take some careful preparation. A trip out of town with friends can remind you what really matters in life.
Married 20 years and want some time away from the Work-Kids-More-Work routine? It’s a great life, but maybe not always that, quel est le mot juste … sexy. A change of wallpaper is essential. Get on the road!
No matter where you are on the rollercoaster of romance, these 6 tips will help make the holiday memorable and fun.
1. Plan an activity. If you fall into the Newly in Love category, ignore this tip—your activity is “being in love.” The rest of you: doing something active and new with your longtime love or with your friends stimulates the growth of new neural pathways and brings new energy to any relationship. Skiing, watercolor class, yoga, exhaustive research into local microbreweries … choose a destination that offers something you’ve always wanted to try and you’ll feel more alive and engaged in life.
2. Rose petals in the bathtub are not too obvious. Nor is a bottle of (good) champagne, or chocolate-dipped strawberries. It’s awesome to present your love with something unique to them—like new spelunking equipment—but traditional signifiers of romance carry a certain dark power: chocolate, warm water, essence of roses and alcohol are an age old formula for a reason. Call ahead and see if your hotel has a V-Day special offering any or all of them. If not, most hotels will be happy to arrange champagne and flowers. Traveling with friends? Skip this step and go directly to the spa or mountain bike trails.
3. Choose a hotel that suits your romantic state. You don’t want to be disrupting all the Newly-in-Loves around you in a genteel, Southern, 8-room inn by swapping stories about last night’s riotous activities with your besties over breakfast scones and jam. Leave the intimate parlors to lovers and choose a big city hotel, a ski resort or a Palm Springs pool party with bikini-clad waitresses.
4. Enjoy where you are. Valentine’s Day can be a red velvet-covered minefield of high expectations. If you catch yourself staring at your beloved about half way through a 17-dish tasting menu (or it could be three-quarters of the way through, you lost track somewhere between the quail’s egg topped with foam and the sous-vide pork belly) thinking: “Really? This is it? This guy?” — relax. Valentine’s Day is just a day. Appreciate the room, the food, the wonderful, perfectly-imperfect person across from you, and yourself.
5. Turn off your cell phone—for the whole trip. If you’re traveling with friends, you’ll enjoy each other more. If you’re with a date, just … trust us. Nothing says, “I’m just not that into you” more effectively than spending your date clicking away on your phone. Your boss, your mom and your single friends who are having that girls’ weekend at the spa can wait.
6. Stay independent. No, you don’t have to turn down that marriage proposal. But do stay at an independent hotel. Why? Independent hoteliers love their hotels, and because they aren’t under chain management, they can show it in exciting, individual ways: they hang prints from the Condé Nast fashion archives in the lobby. They fill the lounge with Wizard Of Oz-like trees with articulated steel limbs. They decorate a guestroom to look like the inside of Buffalo Bill’s teepee. It’s enough to make you swoon.