We're not flush yet, either. But that doesn't mean we're staying put. We combed the Americas for the best girlfriend-worthy desert hideouts, mountain lodges, and secluded islands. No second mortgage required
Hotel Saint Cecilia
Imagine that the two of you are crashing for the weekend at the house of the ridiculously hip and tasteful Texan friend you never had. The suites here have all the trappings of someone's carefully curated second home: a piano, a turntable, a real backyard. The private bar spills into a courtyard filled with mismatched, elegantly distressed furniture. Even the service feels personal; the staff won't step aside as you pass in the hall, but they will chat about what bands to see while you're in town (and which bands might be staying there).
There's limited room service, but your farm-fresh omelets are made to order every morning. And when the sun sets over Austin, the hotel's intimate lived-in patina shows a more alluring side. The neon sign above the jewel-like lap pool bathes the water in an inky purple glow that makes those private midnight dips feel just the right amount of naughty. When you check out, having never met your perfect and imaginary host, you'll wonder where to send the thank-you note.—Ana Marie Cox
Ten Thousand Waves
Santa Fe, New Mexico
If, for any reason, you've been sleeping on the sofa lately, think of Ten Thousand Waves as an olive branch. The spa is modeled on the Japanese onsen—hot-spring bathhouses famed for their soothing (and pacifying) waters. It's a place where stress and heartache go to die; the scent of teak and cedar is accompanied by the sound of flowing water, and hummingbirds coast in and out of the canopy above. While she's wrapped in a cocoon of herb-soaked linens, pat yourself on the back with a traditional Japanese footbath and watch the giant koi swim lethargic laps across the pond.
There are minimalist, elegant, and pricey guesthouses attached to the spa, but the place to stay is Silver Moon—a classic Airstream Bambi trailer. Inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, the high-design podlike compartment is an object lesson in intimate, exotic, and space-efficient living. You won't be spending too much time inside, but Santa Fe's high desert—with its acres of piñon and juniper trees and watercolor sunsets—is not meant to be seen through a window. Silver Moon is set off from the rest of the resort, so you can sit out under the vast desert sky, breakfasting on green tea and fresh fruit from the miniature refrigerator, in your yukata robe and slippers. There's no couch for you to sleep on in the Airstream, but that doesn't matter now.—Kristie Wang
"Negril is known for its beach—a seven-mile stretch of white sand—but the Jamaican coast gets rocky as you go west, and perched over the water, on the western 'cliff side' of the island, is the Rockhouse. I've been going to the Rockhouse for ten years; I brought my wife on her first trip to Jamaica, and she fell in love…"
"…We're island people—she's of Greek descent, and my family is Jamaican. The Rockhouse has this great vibe, which I'm a little biased about, because I think Jamaica is about the food, and the music, and the culture, and this incredibly relaxed feeling that sets in while you're there. And the Rockhouse is the perfect place to bring that girl you want to take somewhere, because it has all the trappings—thatched-roof bungalows that feel like French Polynesia, fishermen who bring fresh fish right up to the restaurant, a fantastic bar. It's just paradise, and you'll feel like the two of you are far, far from the rest of the world. The water is pristine, and it's the best sunset you can find in Jamaica—full stop. I'll put it this way: It's my favorite place in the world."
Hotel Boca Chica
In 1963, a Hollywood location scout took one look at Boca Chica and thought, Goddamn, this a perfect backdrop for an Elvis flick called Fun in Acapulco. And just this year, Mexico's best boutique hoteliers refurbished and reopened this historic joint. Today it's less beach-party cliché and more beach-party fantasy—a place where the only skin tones are bronze and bronzer, and where it's hard to tell, from your retro deck chair, where the sea ends and the sky begins.
The rooms all gleam a just-washed white, and the view from your balcony will put the HD flat-screen on the wall to shame. Order up from New York transplant Keisuke Harada, who makes pristine sushi and sashimi from the local catch. Sip your sake; you're not going anywhere tonight. This is what Fun in Acapulco looks like in 2010. —Jason Chen
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
"After the insanity of our wedding, which happened to fall just after New York Fashion Week, my wife and I were ready to flee the city. For our honeymoon, we holed up in this seven-bedroom eco-lodge on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. Everything about the place is straight out of a dream. Our room was right on the lake, with a view of the three volcanoes to the south, and all you had to do was walk down a few steps to dangle your feet in the water. …"
"…We'd wake up in the morning as the sun came up and have breakfast alone on the veranda. The coffee—which they grow locally—was the smoothest and richest I've ever had. At night, when the buzz had finally worn off, we'd have drinks on the dock or at the lakeside bar and watch the most surreal sunsets I've ever seen—pink and vivid and misty—as the sun dropped behind the tops of the volcanoes. But the real magic is that the rooms are completely off the grid: no TV, no Internet, no buzzing from your BlackBerry. It's just you and her—exactly how it should be."
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