Exotic Valentine’s Day Getaways!

We’re so unbelievably romantic… if you saw us you’d say, “Get a room.” So, little angels, it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know… it’s one of those semi-dreaded holidays. If it makes you feel any better, even when you have a mate you still feel a little uneasy about what to do. Well, stop stressing, we have some ideas for you.  For those who don’t have a lover, next week we have some ideas for you too. Life is a collection of experiences and, as we always like to say, “You can’t take ’em with you, so you might as well live it up now!” (by throwing in a few yacht excursions, a tryst with some guy named Filippo, and hell, go scuba diving while you’re at it, too)

What? It’s only money.

Naladhu, The Maldives

Run away to: The Maldives

Stay at: Naladhu

What:  The romance begins when you step out of the airport and onto the speedboat that will take you directly to this Maldivian island resort. A House Master will lead you to your private house, where Champagne cocktails and fruit are waiting. Spend the day by the pool or snorkeling in the reef then relax with a complimentary coconut milk bath for two.

As if that wasn’t enough: Chocolate cake to share is included!

How much: The “Island Romance” package starts at start at $1474 for an Ocean House.

Visit http://naladhu.anantara.com/Island-Romance/default.aspx for more information.

Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya

Run away to: The Mayan Riviera

Stay at: Rosewood Mayakobá

What:  The five-night “Mayan Romance” package is all about relaxation. Take a Tantric Yoga class and enjoy a Moonlight Massage for two on your suite terrace. Then soothe your muscles in an Aroma Bath with champagne and chocolate and you’ll be on your way to rekindling that fire all day, and night, long. 

As if that wasn’t enough: You’ll also get a Couple’s Massage instruction session with 30 minutes of “alone time.”

How much: Package rates start at $810 per day, minimum 5-nights. Visit http://www.rosewoodmayakoba.com/en/specialoffers.cfm for details.

Run away to: Moscow

Stay at: Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow

What:  For the lovebirds who are itching to get out of the nest, this city was made for you to explore together.  Visit Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Squareand the Kremlin in the old city center. For a classically romantic evening go ice skating on Gorky Park ponds, transformed into rinks for the winter.

As if that wasn’t enough: The “Romance at the Park” package allows a 4PM checkout, so spend the afternoon in bed!

How much: Check http://moscow.park.hyatt.com for best available rates.

Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos

Run away to: Turks and Caicos

Stay at: Parrot Cay

What: Leave your boots behind and grab your swimsuits! After an afternoon of white sand beaches and turquoise waters, rent out the COMO Shambhala Cottage for your Valentine’s Day dinner. This screened-in cottage overlooks the nearby wetlands and is decorated with candles and tropical flowers.

As if that wasn’t enough: The resort lets you set the mood with your own music!

How much: Rental cost including service is $400 (excluding food and beverage) and rates start at $775 per night for a Garden View Room. Visit http://www.parrotcay.como.bz/rates for booking details.

Run away to: Geneva

Stay at: La Réserve Genève Hotel and Spa

What:  Fashioned along the lines of an African Lodge by renowned designer Jacques Garcia, La Réserve Genève is sophisticated yet playful. Withten acres of private gardens and beaches on the shores of Lake Geneva, you’ll find everything you need including two excellent restaurants, a stylish bar with live DJ, a full-service spa, and even its own vineyard.  For added romance, arrive to the hotel by Venetian motorboat – a complimentary service that whisks guests to and from Geneva.

As if that wasn’t enough: Reluctant to leave the little ones behind? Bring the kids to La Petite Réserve, where they can play in an open-air playground, a magical tree house, or the indoor childcare center.

How much: Rates start at $450.

Visit http://www.lareserve.ch/english/ for more details.

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Russia: Top 10 Things to See and Do in St. Petersburg

Russian Caviar Bar St. PetersburgRussia has brought us so many wonderful things. Vodka, banyas, caviar, and leggy dames who strut with the likes of Gisele (and make us momentarily believe that three days at the gym might transform us into one too).

So, as a tribute to our heritage, we wanted to give our readers a cheat sheet of Things to See and Do in St. Petersburg, a destination known for her stunning gardens and opulent monuments.

White Nights is reason enough. And no, we’re not talking about Baryshnikov in white tights (but now we’re thinking about him). We’re talking about those long summer days.  With her network of canals and baroque architecture, you’ll feel like you’ve landed in the Europe of Russia.  With art galleries, classical concerts, and a decidedly beatnik flair, St. Petersburg is one of the most interesting destinations in the world.

Luxury Hotel St. Petersburg Russia Grand Hotel Europe

1. For opulence, stay at Orient-Express’ Grand Hotel Europe, located in the heart of St. Petersburg. Recently completing an extensive restoration project to 10 of its historic suites. Each suite has its own original interior that reflects the rich history of both the hotel and St. Petersburg. From Pavarotti to Romanov, their suites were named and inspired by famous Russians and guests who left their mark on the hotel. Each suite has windows overlooking the picturesque center of St. Petersburg – Arts Square, with its monument dedicated to the great poet, Alexander Pushkin. Don’t forget to hitch a ride on the Katarina, a luxury yacht owned by the hotel, that will take you on a water view ride of the sights.  Dating back to the 1820s, the Grand Hotel Europe is classified as a national and cultural landmark and is under a preservation order as a historical monument.

http://www.grandhoteleurope.com

2. The Caviar Bar & Restaurant at the Grand Hotel Europe also offers a true taste of fine Russian cuisine, an extensive selection of caviar, and a superb selection of domestic and imported vodkas (they even have a vodka sommelier!). The finest vodkas are served crisp and cold – the perfect accompaniment to an assortment of caviar, smoked fish, blini and dried black bread. You can also try out Tolstiy Fraer, a Russian pub, for classic Russian food, from beef stroganoff to dumplings, you can’t go wrong.

1 Kirpichny Pereulok, St. Petersburg

3. In the off-season, for those on a budget, other relatively expensive hotels can be affordable, like the Petro Palace Hotel and the Hotel Pushka Inn. Both are located near Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Cathedral.  Rooms as low as 2,500 rubles in the winter.

www.petropalacehotel.comwww.pushkainn.ru

St. Petersburg Gardens Letniy Sad4. Letniy Sad (Gardens). The most amazing thing about the gardens are the stunning statues. Perfect in the summer, you’ll even spot swans courting in the lake.

5. Dvortsovaia Ploshchad (Palace Square). Okay, so this square was the site f some rather famous uprisings like Bloody Sunday in 1905, when when confused palace guards opened fire on peaceful demonstrators. Today, a beautiful area lined by the Winter Palace and the sweeping majesty of the General Staff building, this square is one of the world’s most impressive inner-city areas. Like Red Square in Moscow, during the Revolution of October 1917, the alleged “storming” of the Winter Palace was also launched from this square.

Winter Palace Night

6. The Winter Palace of Peter. Located on the Neva, this was the principle residence of Peter the Great, and  he died here in 1725. A view into the Versailles of St. Petersburg.

http://www.hermitagemuseum.org

7. Yusupov Palace, Yelagin Palace…. more spectacular palaces…

8. While you’re at it, check out Art Vokzal, an industrial space and club for experimental art and music.

http://www.artvokzal.ru

St. Petersburg Russia Nightlife

9. For authentic Russian nightlife (just be prepared, dance clubs are for the youth, da), there are a slew of clubs.  Belgrad, Bridge Lounge, Che, Datscha, Fish Fabrique, and Sinners (the long-standing gay club, complete with stripteases!)  The list of bars and clubs is endless and some seem to open and close frequently, but we found this handy site for nightlife, written by travelers from Russia:

http://www.waytorussia.net

10. For the theater, Akimova Comedy Theatre and Alexandrinksy Theatre are top notch architectural gems and perfect venues to see both modern and classic works. Can I get a Swan Lake?  Yes, you can! The good thing about ballet?  It doesn’t matter what language it’s in.