6 Romantic Escapes
These tropical resorts offer intimate restaurants, tranquil settings and plenty of opportunities to steal away for some
quality time together
By Katie Solan
Four resorts are all-inclusive, which means food, lodging, most land and nonmotorized water sports, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages and entertainment are included in one flat rate that's paid upfront.
These resorts have various ways of turning up the romance, whether serving guests a glass of champagne upon arrival or featuring breezy, open-air bedrooms. Lindsay Lindquist, a Houston resident who honeymooned at Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun last November with husband Michael, lauds her resort dining experience.
"The dining atmosphere was probably the most romantic aspect," she says. "Every restaurant at the resort is pretty intimate; my husband and I would literally spend two, two and a half hours at dinner. One night we had two bottles of wine and just sat there talking."
To rev up your romance, check into any one of the resorts below.
El Dorado Royale
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
The romance begins upon arrival at El Dorado Royale, an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya -- guests are greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne. Boasting laid-back luxury for adults ages 18 and up, the resort's 550 rooms come with indoor Jacuzzis and a hammock on the terrace for languorous afternoons. Swim-up casitas and junior suites allow guests to access a "lazy river" that winds around the property. Casita suites also feature in-room aromatherapy and a roofless shower for moonlight bathing.
In the resort's lobby bar, sip martinis while gazing out over the Caribbean or relax on a beachside swing while listening to live music at the alfresco bar. In total, there are eight swim-up bars, one beach bar and 11 swimming pools, including a natural saltwater pool.
Las Fuentes, which opened in the summer of 2007, is the resort's newest restaurant and an interactive culinary experience. With five open kitchens, guests can observe chefs' cooking techniques first-hand, as well as from one of the live-feed plasma-screen TVs placed around the restaurant. Diners can interact with these culinary artists and learn tips and recipes for items ranging from tapas to stir-fry dishes. Other dining options include the retro vibe of the resort's fondue restaurant or dinner under the stars at La Isla, an open-air palapa restaurant.
Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Located 35 minutes south of Cancun and just five minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen, Mediterranean-inspired Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun resort sits on 71 tropical acres on the Caribbean coast. It's for adults ages 18 and up, and each room inspires romance with Jacuzzi tubs and a private balcony or terrace.
For their honeymoon, Lindsay and Michael Lindquist stayed in a first-floor junior suite that featured direct beach access. "We could open our sliding glass doors and walk out on our patio that opened to maybe 20 feet of grass, and then it was the beach," she says.
The beach features palapa-shaded hammocks and comfortable beach chairs, although the resort pool with swim-up bar and deck attracted most guests, says Lindquist.
An all-inclusive property, there are several bars and lounges for evening entertainment, including a piano bar and a music lounge. Four a la carte restaurants and one buffet option serve flavors from pan-Asian to hearty Italian fare. "The Italian restaurant was our absolute favorite," says Lindquist, who tried out each restaurant once -- but ate at her favorite, Portofino, twice.
A concierge is stationed on each floor of the resort -- especially convenient, says Lindquist, for arranging breakfast in bed (although room service is also available around the clock). An on-site spa and fitness center, unlimited golf (caddie or cart fees apply) and nightly shows round out the resort amenities.
Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and Spa
Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and Spa, an all-inclusive resort just for couples in Nassau, blends an elegant Old World feel with island charm on a distinctive property of white Roman columns and brightly colored facades. Adults ages 18 and up can truly escape for some alone time at the resort's private island, Sandals Cay. Located minutes offshore via ferry or kayak, it boasts two unspoiled beaches, a freshwater pool with swim-up bar, and a gourmet seafood house.
Other highlights of Sandals Royal Bahamian include seven pools (some graced with soothing waterfalls and ocean views), several outdoor whirlpools and a misting pool. A top on-site spa offers massages and indulgent body treatments. For a romantic dinner, couples can choose from eight gourmet restaurants, from teppanyaki dining at Kimonos to the art nouveau settings and French fare of Baccarat.
There are 13 room categories, many with a personal concierge or butler service and all with four-poster king-size beds. More than half of the 403 rooms are suites. For even more one-on-one time, couples can stay in the resort's Royal Village. A secluded paradise guarded by lush tropical gardens, this enclave features well-appointed villas and three hidden pools.
Couples Sans Souci
Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Nestled snugly between Jamaica's lush green foothills and the azure Caribbean Sea in Ocho Rios, adults-only Couples Sans Souci spans 35 beachfront acres and features 148 suites with breathtaking ocean views. A host of all-inclusive amenities will keep couples entertained, including a tour of Dunn's River Falls, unlimited golf at the nearby 18-hole course (including greens fees and transfers, but a nominal caddy charge applies), glass-bottom boat rides, scuba diving for certified divers and water skiing with instruction. A couples massage and chilled, in-room champagne are complimentary for honeymooners.
Guests must be at least age 18 to stay at the resort, which is home to bubbling mineral springs that have been noted since the 1700s for their energizing and healing powers. For an extra cost, the resort's spa also offers its own restorative powers, with various massages, facials, body wraps and scrubs.
Guests can savor a romantic interlude at any of the resort's four restaurants, with menu items that range from the high-brow (peppercorn-crusted rack of lamb au jus at Ristorante Casanova) to the hip (Soya-glazed grilled vegetable sushi at Palazzina). If you prefer to dine in private with your dearest, in-suite dining is also available. After dinner, enjoy the resort's live nightly entertainment or head to the piano bar to request your favorite songs.
The Fairmont Orchid
Big Island, Hawaii
Inspired by the native blooms of this romantic island, the 32-acre Fairmont Orchid offers a far-flung oasis on the sun-soaked shores of Pauoa Bay on the Big Island. Graced with tropical gardens, waterfalls and a protected swimming lagoon, the 540-room property embodies the natural serenity of the islands.
All rooms and suites feature spacious lanais and garden, mountain or Pacific Ocean views. Guests can loll in the 10,000-square-foot oceanfront pool or relax in the lava rock whirlpool. Nap in the sun on one of the property's numerous hammocks, or take a walk a deux along the scenic trails that wind throughout the property.
Various events are complimentary during the week, including botanical tours, Hawaiian arts and crafts classes, hikes to the Puako Petroglyph Preserve or ancient shelter caves and snorkel trips to observe sea turtles along the bay. You can spot the resort's resident sea turtles basking in the sun each afternoon along the shoreline.
Four spots to enjoy libations include the thatched-roof, beachside Kahakai Bar and the comfortably elegant Polo Bar, with billiards, oversized leather seating and live entertainment on the weekends. A 10-court tennis pavilion is at the property, as well as the Spa Without Walls, an outdoor oasis of relaxation with waterfall massage hale (houses) and oceanfront massage cabanas.
Soufriere, St. Lucia
Two miles from the sleepy port town of Soufriere in southwestern St. Lucia, this hillside Eden is tucked amid tropical greenery and mango trees. For guests ages 15 and up, Ladera Resort features a spectacular view of the Pitons, two cone-shaped volcanic spires, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to more than 200 plant species.
With just 25 suites and guest villas and a maximum occupancy of 60 guests, the resort's small size allows for an attentive staff that can cater to your every need. Rooms feature an "open wall" for unobstructed seaside or starry night views. Ladera is nestled on a ridge 1,100 above the Caribbean, so even with this open wall, privacy is ensured. Accommodations include private plunge pools or villa swimming pools.
Breakfast is complimentary at Dasheene, the resort's award-winning restaurant that boasts fresh, innovative cuisine and panoramic views. Guests can sip cocktails at the Tcholit Bar, enjoy afternoon tea or listen to live island music most evenings. Or, choose to have a romantic dinner anywhere on the property for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
The resort's infinity pool and pool deck offer a spot for day lounging, and there's also complimentary shuttle service to nearby beaches. Among activities, the resort hosts a Saturday morning tour of the Soufriere market, followed by a cooking class, and a mixology class featuring Ladera's specialty cocktails.
Information: To learn more about these and other romantic resorts, visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 998-6925.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2007 . Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 998-6925 for current rates and details.