Five fabulous, flirty retreats for Valentine’s Day

Are you in the mood for a luxury indulgence, a forested retreat or a polished urban sanctuary where you can hunker down with your loved one for Valentine’s Day — or whenever? Here are some ideas for exotic, experiential and extravagant love nests.

One & Only, Cape Town

South Africa

Cape Town is the continent’s hottest happening city, and One & Only is the place to be for luxurious lodging. It’s in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, within walking distance of great shopping, galleries and restaurants. You may be reluctant to leave the hotel, though: It has one of the best spas in the city, along with three restaurants, including Africa’s first Nobu. The hotel also houses NEO, which sells South Africa’s hippest designer fashions.


The hotel spa has all the latest features, including a cutting-edge gym, a vitality pool (it takes a whirlpool to the next level) and a “mood-boosting” Ice Fountain and Experience Showers, which use varying water temperatures, aromas, soothing music and relaxing colored lights to rid you of stress.

If you do decide to get dressed and wander into the city, eat at the world-touted and almost-impossible-to-get-into Tasting Room; One & Only’s concierge will wrangle you a booking. For a day trip, hire one of the hotel’s chauffeured cars and head to Kalk Bay, a former fishing village and now an arty beach community, then visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Or take a One & Only art tour with South African contemporary art consultant João Ferreira.

Info: One & Only, Dock Road, Cape Town; 011-27-21-431-5800, Doubles from $662 a night; includes full buffet breakfast.

Tamarack Lodge

Mammoth Lakes

Tamarack is a great escape for all tastes and all seasons, with something for nearly every budget. It’s just a mile from Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and 2 1/2 miles from downtown Mammoth Lakes; it’s private and woodsy but still handy to activities.

The lodge has its own cross-country and snowshoe course, with 19 miles of trails that thread through open fields and old-growth forest.

Accommodations include European-style guest rooms, with antique beds and quilts, in the historic lodge; free-standing historic cabins; and deluxe cabins, which come with more luxurious touches as well as fireplaces and living rooms.

The Lakefront, the lodge restaurant, sits above Twin Lakes; with only 10 tables, it’s ideal for a romantic meal. Try to book the Lift & Lodging package, with rates that start at $129 per person a night and include a Mammoth Mountain lift pass.

Info: Tamarack Lodge, 163 Twin Lakes Road, Mammoth Lakes; (800) 626-6684,; doubles from $89.


South Beach, Miami

The Ritz, built in 1953 and originally known as the DiLido, was one of hippest hotels back in the day, and the vibe lingers. If you are looking to indulge, hire a personal shopper to take you to the boutiques, or rent a daybed by the huge pool or a Ritz cabana at the DiLido Beach Club, only a short stroll away.

The height of decadence is at the spa, where the Carita Precious Ceremony Diamond Facial ($355) — using real diamond dust and electric stimulation to smooth lines and plump skin — can leave you feeling like a million bucks.

If you’re hungry, get a table outside at the hotel’s highly rated Bistro One LR, which serves Spanish Riviera cuisine. If you’re looking to venture out into the Miami scene, Macchialina, with reasonably priced classic Italian cuisine, is the ticket. Order a Coco Before Chanel cocktail and tuck into dishes even tastier than Mama used to make.

If you make it to Miami for Valentine’s Day, book a table at the popular Tamarina, where the chef has a menu laden with known aphrodisiac ingredients.

Info: Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; (786) 276-4000, Doubles from $549.

MONA Pavilions

Tasmania, Australia

Looking for something quirky, sensual and way off the beaten path? MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) is a museum, winery, restaurant, café and hotel in Hobart, the capital of Australia’s southern island of Tasmania.

It’s über-hip and arty, built by a mysterious billionaire owner who wanted a compound the likes of which Australia, let alone Tasmania, had never seen. The hotel has eight free-standing, modern, condo-like structures, each with an original art collection by famous Australian artists.

For romance, stay in Roy, which has wall-sized black-and-white photos of dancers from the Australian Ballet posing artfully nude.

You can spend an entire day in the museum, where the art is often challenging but the building is an experience you’ll not get anywhere else.

Built hundreds of feet down into ancient sandstone, it meanders, labyrinth-style, through its own underworld, and it veers in design from bordello-like to starkly futuristic. There’s a library down there, a bar (yes, with booze; the owner believes that alcohol enhances the interface with art), a theater, performance spaces and three levels of art galleries. It is like stepping into a subterranean Wonderland.

Above ground, the restaurant the Source is headed by a Michelin-starred chef and uses local ingredients in French-inspired, Aussie-interpreted cuisine.

Info: MONA Pavilions, 655 Main Road, Berriedale, Tasmania; 011-61-3-6277-9900, Doubles from $468.

The Modern


Think of the Modern as more jet-set Hawaii, offering a more sophisticated beach experience.

Slightly removed from the fray of Waikiki, the Modern overlooks the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, with the surf break of Waikiki beyond.

Behind the check-in desk is an art piece, a montage made from autographed, broken surfboards; the lobby has a stylish lounge and bar that’s filled day and night with beautiful people.

The Sunrise Pool looks like a scene out of Ibiza on the Mediterranean, with lounges set in the water and women drifting around in gauzy cover-ups. The amazing Sunset Pool — it’s a man-made lagoon surrounded by 100 tons of sand — is for adult guests, has daybeds, a bar and a sultry feel.

Thursdays through Saturdays, the hotel hosts Addiction Nightclub, where the young and tanned, local and tourist, flock.

If this is not your scene, escape to your room, decorated mostly in white and where the music does not reach. There are several in-house restaurants, the best is by celebrity chef Masaharu Morimoto, of “Iron Chef” fame, who blends Japanese and Western ingredients into melt-in-your-mouth masterpieces.

Info: The Modern, 1775 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu; (855) 970-4161, Doubles from $349.