You have procrastinated. Again. You do not like Valentine's Day, but you are culturally obligated to do something about it. You can find only dog-eared cards that say, "Happy Valentine's Day, Grandma." Unless the significant other in your life is a grandma, such a greeting is more likely to distress than impress. And that is where this article comes in. Rip it out of the paper (or print it out), draw a big heart around the place you are going to escape to with your sweetie, and mark with an "IOU" and an "I Love You." You'll be a hero instead of a heartbreaker. You're welcome.
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach: For a convincing slice of Italy close to home, check into a bungalow at Pelican Hill. The grounds' old olive trees, lavender and Palladian architecture might leave you feeling as if you are somewhere north of Rome. Set on 504 acres, the resort has two championship golf courses designed by Tom Fazio and a golf academy where you can brush up on your skills.
There's also a spa with men's and women's Acqua Colonnades that have herbal steam rooms and saltwater soaking tubs; a fitness center with personal training; 22 treatment rooms and wellness classes. Get an 80-minute Global Traditions Massage, which incorporates techniques from other traditions using heat, herbs and pressure points to send you floating out of there. There are three restaurants and several cafes on property, including fine dining at Andrea and the Coliseum Pool & Grill, in an elegant alfresco setting
Info: Doubles from $495, www.pelicanhill.com
Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas: In case you haven't been to Las Vegas lately, there's something for more than just the gambler and the party animal. Only an hour's flight from L.A., the Mandarin Oriental offers a respite from the glittering frenzy of the rest of the Strip.
The low lighting, elegant paneling and scented air hint at romance as soon as you walk through the doors. There are no slot machines clanging, no wildly designed casino carpeting, no mirrors to disorient you, just Eastern-chic décor and a staff that greets you at your every step.
Book a suite with a Strip view and float above the fray, then splurge for dinner at Twist, the hotel's silver service restaurant by French celebrity chef Pierre Gagnaire. Try the seven-course chef's tasting menu and wine pairing with vintages from all over the world.
When you feel like venturing outside, visit Crystals, an enormous collection of couture shops with labels such as Stella McCartney, Prada, Tom Ford, Gucci and Fendi.
Info: Doubles from $289, www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas
Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa, Sausalito, Calif.: Casa Madrona, a local secret in the sweet waterside town of Sausalito, has views of the magnificent San Francisco skyline. The hotel has bayside rooms and hillside cottages; in 2012 new owners bought the property and remodeled the glorious Victorian mansion next door and made it part of the hotel with patio gardens and multi-level views.
Rent the mansion's Alexandrite Suite, and you get a 3,500-square-foot apartment with a full kitchen, a cavernous living room, a bedroom with a view looking over San Francisco Bay, and a huge deck with an outdoor gas fire pit. Check in here and you live like a billionaire for a night or two.
Hungry? Try Poggio Trattoria next door, with seasonal Italian cuisine, or walk a short distance to Cibo, where locals pick up their morning pastries.
Info: Doubles from $279 (the Alexandrite Suite goes for $10,000 a night), www.casamadrona.com
Scarlet Huntington, San Francisco: The Huntington Hotel, perched opposite Grace Cathedral and near the larger Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels, has been an iconic Nob Hill destination for more than 100 years. In 2011 a Singapore-based hospitality group bought the property, renovated and added bright scarlet and other bold colors. The hotel is once again a glorious experience, with sumptuous, sexy rooms.
The one part of the hotel the new owners didn't touch (San Franciscans made sure of it) is the historic Big 4 Restaurant and Bar with dark paneling and artifacts from the early railroad-baron days of Collis P. Huntington.
The other sensational part of this hotel is the Nob Hill Spa and its indoor relaxation pool (no lap swimming) with a sweeping skyline view and outdoor spa patio where you can snack on health food in your robe.
Info: Doubles from $325, www.thescarlethotels.com
Farmhouse Inn, Forestville, Calif.: This boutique hotel, in the heart of the Russian River Valley wine country, is built for year-round romance. The rooms are private and elegant, so get reacquainted with your paramour as you sit by the indoor-outdoor fireplace and sip wine from nearby vineyards.
The décor has that Napa-Valley-meets-French country sensibility with slipcovered furniture, throw blankets, white floral arrangements and rural-chic objets d'art. The restaurant, set in the original 1873 weatherboard farmhouse, has a Michelin star, serves fare from local farms and has one of the most comprehensive wine lists in the state.
A gracious spa is in the former carriage house, complete with stable doors. The farm-to-table concept has been introduced into the spa too, with treatments that use herbs, honey and fruit grown nearby.
Try the Body Melt massage in which you lie on a pillow of herbs and alfalfa to detoxify and relax. And if you never intend to leave your room and venture out into the wine country, an in-room personal sommelier will help you select wines to suit your preferences.
Info: Doubles from $545, www.farmhouseinn.com/hotel
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Canada: The retreat, set into a remote arm of Vancouver Island's Clayoquot Sound, takes glamping to new heights.
It's the last word in wild luxury, which may sound like an oxymoron, but somehow it pulls it off. It's not easy to serve five-star food when there are no roads in and you are a 40-minute boat ride or a 45-minute flight from civilization.
Although there are a few permanent structures such as the huge dining room, most of the low-environmental-impact facilities are in glamorous white safari tents. The 24 guest tents look like Victorian boudoirs, with queen- or king-sized beds, propane fireplaces, couches, antiques and a deck; most have an en suite bathroom.
At night everything is lighted with oil lamps, which creates a wildly romantic tableau. The tariff includes meals and activities such as horseback riding, yoga, hiking, fly-fishing, bear and whale watching, kayaking, paddle boarding, zip-lining, skeet shooting or a massage beside a rushing river.
Info: All-inclusive rates start at about $3,400 per person for three nights, www.wildretreat.com