Flowers and candy are lovely, of course. But if you are thinking outside the box (of chocolates) for Valentine's Day this year, a romantic getaway by land or by sea may be the ticket to a memorable celebration of your love.
Here are some options to consider by land in Florida, and by sea to the Caribbean and beyond. Rates are those found to be available at time of writing -- always check for promotions and specials and in the case of cruises, on-board credits and other offers.
Finding Cupid On Land
Captiva Island -- Want your love nest on an island that you can drive to? Captiva Island, connected to Sanibel and the southwest Florida mainland by bridges may be the place for you. The South Seas Island Resort on Captiva offers many opportunities for romance: swimming in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters -- often visited by frolicking dolphins--a sunset cruise, shelling for treasures from the sea on miles of beaches. Rates start at $254 per night on Feb. 14 for a room at the Harbourside at the Pointe. A variety of other accommodations are available at the South Seas Plantation including one-bedroom villas with kitchens in case you want to spread out and stay in. Visit www.southseas.com.
Lake Buena Vista -- A Victorian-style dream decorated with floral prints and lace, and a color scheme in tones of mint, coral and ecru, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World offers a sandy beach, beautiful gardens, a variety of restaurants including the romantic Victoria & Albert's with gourmet fare and harp music, and a wedding pavilion (in case lovebirds want to tie the knot right there). The staff in this deluxe hotel sports Victorian-style dress, the lobby has furnishings inspired in that period including even a birdcage -- so it is almost like time-traveling to that romantic era.Pastimes include going back to one's childhood together while strolling hand-by-hand in the Magic Kingdom -- the park is connected to the resort by the monorail line. Rate for Feb. 14 is $490 per night. A moderately priced option at Disney World is Port Orleans, a resort themed to New Orleans with cobblestone streets and a winding river walk. Rates for Feb. 14 are from $201 per night. Visit www.disneyworld.com.
Mount Dora -- Established in 1883 on scenic Lake Dora, the Victorian-style Lakeside Inn in this quaint Central Florida town is a pretty, peaceful enclave where pastimes include boat excursions on the lake and antiquing and shopping in a number of antique shops and art galleries. The Lakeside Inn features two Valentine's packages. The Valentine's Sweetheart Mid-Week One Night Package (available on Feb. 14) provides one night in a king or double room, two vouchers for a gourmet five-course Sweetheart Dinner, long stem rose, and a $20 voucher towards breakfast for two. Cost is $249 plus tax and gratuity.
The Valentine's Sweetheart Weekend Package (available on Feb. 11-12) provides two nights in a king or double room, two vouchers for a gourmet five-course Sweetheart Dinner on Saturday, long stem rose, and a $20 voucher towards breakfast for two each morning. Cost is $469 plus tax and gratuity. Visit www.lakeside-inn.com.
Orlando -- Wish you could take your sweetheart to Italy for Valentine's Day this year? If you can't, try the Portofino Bay Resort at Universal Orlando. Inspired by the Italian Riviera gem of Portofino, this resort boasts the architectural style and color scheme of the seaside Italian town, the staff will greet you with a "buon giorno" when you arrive, and Mama herself will check to see if all is fine with your supper at Mama Della's Ristorante. Pastimes include swimming and spa treatments. Room rates start at $274 for Feb. 14. Visit www.loewshotels.com.
Another choice in Orlando is the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin, within walking distance (or complimentary launch) of Epcot where couples can indulge in international specialties -- perhaps sushi in the Japan pavilion or enchiladas in Mexico or apple strudel in Germany-- at a variety of restaurants in the park's World Showcase. Swan & Dolphin Resort amenities include a spa, a variety of pools including a tropical one with a cascade, sandy beach, and 17 restaurants and lounges including bluezoo, from celebrity Chef Todd English. Rates start at $249 per night on Feb. 14. Visit www.swandolphin.com.
For Lovebirds At Sea
Princess Cruises -- The line that became famous for love (the hit television series of the 1970-1980s, "The Love Boats," was filmed on its ships) is always ready to welcome lovers, particularly couples coming for special celebrations on Valentine's Day. All of the line's ships mark the holiday with romantic events at sea including a renewal of vows ceremony on February 14. Thousands of couples renew their commitment to each other each year in a ceremony performed by the captain or an onboard chaplain. The event has become an annual Princess tradition and many couples return to participate each year, according to the line. Other shipboard festivities include a special Valentine's dinner, a Valentine's poetry contest and reading, seagoing renditions of the "Newlywed" and "Not-So-Newlywed Game," a Love Boat scavenger hunt, and romantic-themed films.
Lovers who would like to go overboard with romance, can try the 680-passenger Royal Princess' Hawaii to Tahiti voyage visiting South Seas idylls on Feb. 9 (fares from $1,599 per person, double). The 12-day itinerary features a two-day experience in Bora Bora so lovebirds can spend the night if they so desire at a resort like the Four Seasons Bora Bora with over-the-water bungalows, lagoon and mountain views, a spa and a variety of restaurants. Visit www.princess.com and www.fourseasons.com/borabora.
Oceania Cruises -- This upper-premium line's new 1,258-passenger, 66,000-ton Marina will offer an 18-day Inaugural Passage voyage from Miami to San Francisco on Feb. 8. Ports of call include Cartagena, Colombia; transit of the Panama Canal; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; several Mexican Riviera ports including romantic Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas; and Los Angeles, Calif. Amenities on the ship, which is Oceania Cruises' first purpose-built new-build, include 10 dining venues, of which six are open seating restaurants, a grand staircase inspired in the Titanic's and crafted by French master glass-maker, Lalique, a culinary arts center and a Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Fares for the 18-day Inaugural Passage voyage rates start at $4,999 per person, double for an ocean-view stateroom. Visit www.oceaniacruises.com
Silversea Cruises -- This line's intimate, all-suite, Silver Whisper is exploring South America in February while on an 18-day voyage departing from Santiago, Chile on Feb. 5, that conveniently ends in Fort Lauderdale. Lovebirds can opt to explore mystical Machu Picchu in Peru as well as other exotic locales in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Grand Cayman and enjoy a Panama Canal transit. Fares start at $7,038 per person, double. Onboard, the cuisine is gourmet and all accommodations boast the services of a butler. Visit www.silversea.com.
MSC Cruises -- Looking for a Caribbean getaway cruise from Fort Lauderdale? MSC Cruises' Poesia sails from Port Everglades to Key West; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico on Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine's Day. Fares for the seven-night voyage start at $549 per person, double. Visit www.msccruisesusa.com.
Windstar Cruises -- What could be more romantic that visiting gorgeous spots in the Caribbean under sail? Windstar Cruises' 147-guest Wind Spirit sails with crisp white sails roundtrip from St. Martin on Feb. 12. Along the way, stops are made at St. Kitts, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and St. Barts with overnights at the last three ports so you can explore to your hearts' content. Fares start at $2,449 per person, double. Visit www.windstarcruises.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times