Forget the spas and the lame bed-and-breakfasts. Here are eight escapes you’ll both enjoy
Classic: Still the world’s most romantic city—as long as you do it right
Start with your hotel. Pick a stylish, reasonably priced hotel, like the Bel Ami. Tucked away on the Left Bank, it’s so close to the storied Café de Flore you’ll be tempted to call for room service. Weed out the masses. Instead of visiting the Louvre, spend an afternoon wandering through the Marais district and make sure you hit the Musée National Picasso. Take her for a walk in the Luxembourg Gardens. And for that classic conundrum of where to go on Sunday night, when all of Paris seems to be closed, hit La Poule au Pot, a venerable bistro open till 5 a.m. Get the intensely fragrant chicken soup, which you ladle yourself from a large white tureen. Put your arm around her. Enjoy life. Repeat.—Michael Hainey
Photo: Catherine Kornow/Corbis
Dunton Hot Springs
Spa: Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman
What every woman expects from a perfect vacation isn’t that different from what she expects from you every day: clairvoyance. She expects her mind to be read, her every wish anticipated and fulfilled. The folks at Dunton Hot Springs understand. They even took into account that not all of their guests would be content to hike, or snowshoe, or ride horseback through the meadows, or lounge by one of the four hot springs. They realized that maybe she’d want a massage, or that she’d be happy contorting herself on the floor of the yoga room while you shot a game of pool or talked with the amiable cook while he seasoned some local tenderloin. And if that’s not her idea of a vacation, well, maybe you should be reading someone else’s mind.—Mark Healy
Photo: Courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs
Hix Island House
Island Life: She wants a luxury villa, you want to feel like a castaway
Buena Vista. Bella Vista. This-that-a vista. If it’s all about the view, get yourself to Hix Island House and wake up every day in an open-air loft, staring at a front wall that simply isn’t there—like a giant plasma screen illuminated with crystalline blue skies. Then hop in your Jeep, or onto a scooter, and discover what Vieques is really all about: a series of pristine, undeveloped beaches, reachable only by winding, bumpy dirt roads. Once infamously the site of U.S. Navy bombing exercises (until Al Sharpton and his friends put an end to that a few years ago), this island off the coast of Puerto Rico is hitting its stride. One caveat: Go in the winter, when most of the mosquitoes are on holiday.
Photo: Raimond Koch
South African Safari
Adventure: Rediscover your animal attraction
Humping, eating, humping, eating. Napping, killing, feasting. There’s not a lot of small talk in the untamed African bush. Which is why it is good to be in an open-air Land Rover with a front-row seat for life’s wild evolutionary reality show. It is nature’s combination meat market, smorgasbord, and killing field, after which you are served iced gin and tonics at sundown in a field of giant elephant tracks. Two lodges to consider: Royal Malewane, with its excellent suites with private pools, and the glass-box rooms of the posh boutique-hotel-in-the-bush Sweni Lodge, part of Singita Game Reserve. Check in to either and consider your animal existence and purpose on the planet (see above: humping, eating, etc.).—Adam Sachs
Photo: Courtesy of Royal Malewane
Beach: Luxury she’ll love, surf culture you’ll dig
It’s imperative to be able to take a girl someplace she’s never heard of. And if you can say, “I know this little spot in Mexico,” even better. Sayulita, a beach town nestled within a hilly, crescent-shaped cove, is the best of these spots. It’s less than an hour from the Puerto Vallarta airport; you can surf here; and at Tacos Cheo, a street stand run by a local family, you can sit and eat fiery tamales and drink icy Pacifico cerveza for three hours and spend only fifteen bucks. But the best thing about Sayulita is that you can retire for the night to your spacious, opulent—and affordable—hotel room at Villa Amor. Because women might say they want “off the beaten path,” but not when they have to pee in the middle of the night.—Devin Friedman
Photo: Courtesy of Villa Amor
Castello di Vicarello
La Dolce Vita: A castle in Tuscany. What more could she want?
I know what you’re thinking: Life would be a lot sweeter if you had a worldly Italian uncle and aunt who owned a breathtaking, thousand-year-old compound set amid olive groves and vineyards in Tuscany’s Maremma region. Well, your life just got sweeter: Meet Carlo and Aurora Baccheschi Berti, the perfect hosts in a country where that title is not won easily. After almost seven years of work, they have transformed an abandoned manor and its outbuildings into Castello di Vicarello. It feels less like a hotel and more like a home, which makes sense, since the Bertis also live here. If you’re here in early summer, ask Aurora to make her artichoke soup. You won’t worry about a thing.—Mark Healy
Photo: Courtesy of Castello di Vicarello
Eat: Because what you really want to do together (besides, well...) is chow down
This is why I love my girlfriend: On a recent trip to New Orleans, we’d been off the plane exactly five minutes before she started insisting we take the long way into town and stop in suburban Metairie for cold beers and charbroiled oysters at Drago’s, where the fat Louisiana bivalves arrive hot off an infernal grill, lolling in a sea of butter and capped with a sizzling blanket of Parmesan, garlic, and parsley. In a single weekend in New Orleans you can eat an ungodly amount of good food. Then you can sit with a full belly on the wrought-iron balcony of your suite at the elegant and historical Soniat House and look down smugly on the Bataan Death March of college kids heading for Bourbon Street.—Brett Martin
Photo: Anders Overgaard
Ski: Because Aspen’s for sissies
There’s more to skiing than hot tubs, après-ski lounges, and fur-lined Christian Dior moon boots. There’s skiing. And once you’ve convinced your girl of this, she’ll appreciate the allure of Solitude. Nonexistent lift lines, fresh powder (measured in feet—not inches), and a mere forty-minute drive from Salt Lake City make it the gem of the Rockies. Its peaks climb to 10,000 feet, and its lift tickets remain grounded at $50 a day. Once you’ve conquered the mountain, and if your quads can handle it, indulge in a five-course dinner at the Yurt—a tepee-like venue reachable only by following a guide on cross-country skis or snowshoes. How’s that for something you can’t do in Aspen?
Photo: Ben Elwes
AND THREE MORE FOR THE HIGH-END SKI BUNNY
Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Colorado
For her, a warren of subterranean whirlpools, steam rooms, and massage chambers, all seemingly carved out of a silver mine. For you, top-of-the-line skiing. Meet up afterward at the nightly bonfire out back. www.ritzcarlton.com
The Clubhouse, Chamonix, France
A renovated 1927 mansion operated by the discerning proprietors of the Milk & Honey bars in London and New York. Expect Frette sheets, fuzzy hot-water bottles, and flat-screen TVs. www.clubhouse.fr
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The staff at this mountainside resort is so attentive that you can’t help but think of that lobby scene from The Graduate: “Good evening, Mr. Gladstone.” “Hi, Mr. Gladstone!” “Mr. Gladstone, how are you?” Not only do they know your name; they know how to answer her every need. www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole
Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
Escape: No Cars, No Cell Phones, No Attitude
Want to test your girl’s appetite of adventure? Brave the tiny plane and bumpy boat ride to Nicaragua's Little Corn Island for a taste of what the Caribbean was like back in the 1960s: sleepy, unpretentious, with white sand beaches and clear aqua seas, all for a price that¹s a distant memory on other islands. Little Corn is great because it allows you to do a lot or absolutely nothing: You can pass your days diving or snorkeling along the pristine reef just offshore, strolling around the island (there are no cars) on one narrow track, or whiling away afternoons at Farm Peace & Love—which, contrary to the hippy dippy name, is actually an excellent Italian restaurant. Book a room at Casa Iguana, a collection of solar-powered beach bungalows in tropical colors, and give thanks for a hotel on the beach that still goes for under 100 bucks a night. www.casaiguana.net —Ondine Cohane
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Iguana
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