Step away from the sweets. Move over, bling.
The travel industry has an edge on Valentine's Day. More and more, the world is recognizing that the most romantic gift is time spent together and shared experiences that ignite – or reignite – the flames.
Open Jaw asked supplier executives - from tours, to resorts, to cruising - to pick one of their most life-changing, romantic trips, and share why they personally recommend it to couples looking for love in a new destination.
These 7 trips make perfect entries into a travel advisor's Valentine's Day playbook.
Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica
“When I think of romance, Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica immediately comes to mind,” Carolina Bellina, Senior Director of Canadian Sales at AMR Collection tells us.
“At Secrets Papagayo, you can bond with a partner or spouse by trying a new activity like paddle boarding or you can enjoy the most breathtaking sunsets while walking on the beach. It’s a perfect setting to enjoy unspoiled beauty while being enveloped in luxury.”
This adults-only luxury resort is nestled in Costa Rica’s Gulf of Papagayo and has striking views of native flora and fauna and unspoiled Pacific Coast beaches.
The resort inclusions allow guests to experience Costa Rican beachside paradise exactly as you dream, with included dining, 24-hour room service, pool and beach wait service, drinks, and entertainment. To help cultivate romance, guests can decompress and wash away the cares of everyday life through the spa’s hydrotherapy, Swiss shower, sauna, steam room and outdoor treatment rooms.
AmaWaterways’ ‘Stars of South Africa’ River Cruise and Wildlife Safari
Kristin Karst, co-founder and executive vice president of AmaWaterways tells us, “I may be a bit biased as Rudi and I spent our honey moon in South Africa where we first discovered the Zambezi Queen on the Chobe River. We were so enamored with the experience (and of course each other!) that we just had to make it part of AmaWaterways river cruise program for our guests to enjoy.
“Champagne cocktails on the deck of Zambezi Queen watching the setting sun light up the sky while elephants frolic on the banks of the river and a private dinner in the wine room during the luxurious wildlife safari at the Tintswalo Safari Lodge were just two of the unforgettable moments we shared.
“The crew onboard our ships love to help create special romantic moments for our guests. Our cruise managers see themselves as “romance coordinators,” bringing in our pastry chefs and stateroom stewards to add little personalized touches that surprise and delight couples celebrating a special occasion. Our cruise managers also know the ports of call so well and are happy to recommend perfect little getaways for a quiet walk in a vineyard or late night drinks at romantic rooftop bars.”
Seabourn Expedition Cruise to View the Northern Lights
Luxury cruise line Seabourn is launching new expedition ships: Seabourn Venture and Seabourn Pursuit, to travel to remote, secluded corners of the earth – tailor-made for couples to focus on each other. The ships continue Seabourn sailing traditions with an intimate atmosphere, small crowds, and relaxing days that can be spent together watching some of the best sunsets anywhere with a special someone.
“The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most breathtaking, captivating displays. Imagine sailing away from Ilulissat, Greenland, and out of Disko Bay, home to massive icebergs and the famous Jakobshavn glacier. It’s a clear night, the stars are out, and the Northern Lights appear and reflect and dance off the ocean and the giant icebergs,” describes Steve Smotrys, Seabourn’s vice president of global sales & trade relations.
“Sharing this with someone special would be incredibly romantic, and to experience this on one of our Seabourn expedition ships would make for a very unique, unforgettable and romantic trip.”
“On a Seabourn ship, we pride ourselves on true definition of luxury service, where our onboard team strives make sure guests are well-cared for, sometimes before they even expect it.”
Trafalgar Tours’ Jordan Experience
Jordan is primarily associated with the magical Rose City of Petra – an enchanting and romantic destination, evocative of Nabateans and other ancient civilizations. Yet, Jordan and the hospitality of Jordanians have much more than a beautiful mosaic of past and present to offer.
The mysterious and sophisticated Greco-Roman city of Jerash, stories of Moses at Mount Nebo, early Greek Christianity with amazing Madaba Mosaic Map, and enchanting, shrouded in Bedouin and Lawrence of Arabia lore, Wadi Rum. Petra captivates travelers’ senses in the most inspiring and imaginative way. And then, there is the modern and sophisticated city of Amman, built on the remains of the beautiful cities precededing it.
“Chance is a mother of romance; and/or romantic feelings. Lady Luck had it, that instead of an Egypt and Israel guided tour, which was our first choice, my wife and I got an opportunity to travel to Jordan instead. So, our mindset had to adjust to a different level of aesthetic,” Wolf Paunic, President of Trafalgar Canada tells us.
“The immersion into beautiful Jordan reached its climax when we entered Petra – no words nor images can capture that moment. Petra is pure emotion, a heartbeat, a pulse, best experienced in the company of one’s most significant other.”
“Sandals Grenada is one of our most romantic resorts. It’s an exotic, unspoiled hideaway that offers an authentic Caribbean experience, captivating guests from the moment they arrive with soothing scents of the “Spice Isle” gently greeting them,” says Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown, Sandals Resorts’ Director of Romance, a title which just goes to show you how seriously the luxury, all-inclusive resort company takes couples’ need take special time for each other.
“And it has a number of ‘Sandals Firsts’ including two that are very romantic: Tranquility Soaking Tubs and the stunning, architectural marvel of the SkyPool Suites with infinity-edge plunge pools set out on the balcony. The king-size bed has direct access to a cantilevered, plunge pool with infinity edge where couples can admire the ocean while floating in the sky…..literally and figuratively. Guests at Sandals Grenada loved these so much so that they were eventually introduced at other Sandals Resorts across the Caribbean.
Set on Grenada’s exclusive Pink Gin Beach, Sandals Grenada features three freshwater pools, including the iconic Pink Gin Village pool, which transforms from day to night. By day, couples enjoy picture-perfect views of the infinity-edged pool that flows into the horizon. By night, the firepit lounge directly in the middle of the pool (PICTURED, TOP) comes alive and becomes “the hot spot” for couples to enjoy an after-dinner drink.
Avalon Waterways’ Active & Discovery River Cruise on the Seine from Paris
Call it the ‘City of Lights’ or the ‘City of Love’ – Paris is at the top of many couples’ list of romantic getaways. An Active & Discovery River Cruise is a unique way to experience not just Paris, but an entire region. The route along the Seine river runs between Paris and Le Havre on the Channel coast.
On this sail through France, couples can stir-up the romance choosing from included excursions that involve outdoor exploration or cultural discovery. Imagine tasting savory crepes or local liquors. Warming-up with a guided sightseeing walk or chilling-out during a wine-tasting. Wandering the halls of history or hiking the ruins of an ancient castle. Paddling through scenery or pedaling around cityscapes. Plus, this cruise offers guests the option to add an extension to stunning Mont St. Michel for a hotel stay that includes lovely views of the Abbey and village.
“A sail on the Seine river through postcard-perfect France aboard our ship with beds that face the views – is romantic on its own. But the fact that this unique Active & Discovery itinerary starts or ends in Paris adds romantic icing to the cake,” says Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “And if each partner chooses a different daytime excursion, they can meet-up each evening, over a romantic dinner, to tell one another about their exciting explorations.”
To add some spice to this vacation, couples can choose a Storyteller Series departure that’s hosted by the original “Carrie Bradshaw” – Sex & the City’s Candace Bushnell.”
Luxury Gold’s Elegance of the Nile Tour
“While many may consider Italy, France or Spain the destinations with immediate and obvious claim to romance, Egypt will forever stand out as a destination that lives in my own heart for the larger-than-life adventures that are certain to set romantic hearts racing,” explains Brad Ford, President of Luxury Gold Canada.
“Egypt, you see, is not just inspiration for star-crossed lovers, but appeals to every modern romantic, warm and welcoming locals, fabled Pharaohs and Queens, sacred mummies, colossal pyramids, rediscovered golden treasures, the call of the mysterious Sahara Desert, and the life-giving River Nile pen unique and personal love poems for every traveller.”
Travelers find romance in the 5000-year old mystique of Egypt on this tour. And discover the hospitality of today’s Egyptians who will welcome guests as family, into their lives and homes.
Travellers enjoy an afternoon in Cairo before joining an Egyptologist for an exclusive visit to the Pyramids of Giza, where you’ll walk inside one of its caverns and see the Sphinx. Revel in the highly anticipated opening of the Grand Egyptian museum which is slated for November 2022, where you will gaze upon priceless treasures from the tomb of perhaps the country’s most famous pharaoh, Tutankhamun. See the Temple of Luxor during a VIP, after-hours visit, exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site free from other tour groups – and the Valley of the Kings, where the mummy of Tutankhamun is buried.
Sailing the Nile together on a felucca, a traditional wooden boat, is one of the most romantic ways of seeing Egypt. Or travel back in time while sipping tea at the Cataract Hotel, which served as inspiration for Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. This tour of Egypt may be the ultimate experience of the romance of travel.