Live’s Great Getaways Week: Couples Getaways with Pauline Frommer
U.S. Virgin Islands
What Makes It Romantic for Couples: You can fully unwind. That might mean couples massages and yoga classes at a spa, or lazing on the beach, or lingering over an excellent meal.
-No passport is needed. You’re still in the USA, but the weather is consistently tropical, something you can’t guarantee in mainland US beach destinations in winter.
–Best food in the Caribbean. Pre-storms, St. Croix had excellent Caribbean food. Today, thanks to the fact that many chefs had to leave the islands and go work in the mainland US while tourism was down, you’ll find excellent food from all corners of the US and the globe, as well.
Why go now? A year before the pandemic, the Virgin Islands experienced not one but two devastating hurricanes, storms that flattened many areas of these islands. In the years since the islands have been largely rebuilt, which means the majority of resorts feel new, and are currently very, very spiffy. (It’s important, also, to support our fellow Americans after such a devastating tragedy).
Helpful Tips for the USVI and other resort areas:
–A recent study showed that the sweet spot for booking hotels in resort destinations was 3 months before travel (statistically). So to save money in places like the Caribbean, Hawaii, and Florida, it’s important to plan ahead.
-Unless you go off season, that is, which is right now through the week before Christmas. This is the least expensive time to head to the Virgin Islands.
New York City
What Makes It Romantic for Couples: You can do a pilgrimage to the romantic spots from your favorite Rom Coms and TV series (like Sex in the City), and enjoy the same kind of nightlife the Sex and the City ladies did. NYC has been the set for more Rom Coms than any other place.
Plus hotels cost half as much in January and February as they do the rest of the year, so discussing this now is very good timing (consider spending Valentine’s Day here if you’ve ever wanted to visit).
Why New York City?
–See a Broadway Show Easily and Affordably: Thanks to the downturn in biz travel to the city, we’re seeing far more discounts on shows than pre-pandemic. You can easily get half price tickets to almost every show on Broadway at TKTS, or through such apps as TodayTix (which DOES sell tickets in advance).
-Indulge in some of the best nightlife in the nation: I’m talking dance clubs that have extraordinary shows, music clubs that get the hottest bands in the nation, fun bars and more.
–Restaurants from all parts of the planet, world-class museums, and more.
-For adventurous couples, do the tallest building climb on the planet together. Yes, you’re scaling the outside of the building but it’s perfectly safe—and the adrenalin rush is amazing! (I know we can get great b-roll from City Climb at Hudson Yards)
Helpful Tips for Visiting NYC
-Hotel rates in the city have skyrocketed in recent months, but hotels rarely sell out. That’s why I always recommend getting a reservation you can cancel, then looking at prices a few days before you arrive. They’re often far lower (in fact the study I cite above also shows that the sweet spot for booking hotels in urban destinations is one week prior).
-The CityPass booklet can save visitors 25% on sightseeing if they want to do the classic sights (Empire State Building, Circle Line Cruise, Metropolitan Museum, etc.)
A Kentucky Road Trip
What Makes It Romantic for Couples: Gracious, adorable inns, eye-candy scenery, and historic distilleries to visit (and get a bit tipsy at)
-Bourbon Trail: Think of the state as Napa Valley….but for bourbon. The state has put together an exceptional Bourbon Trail, leading folks to some of the most historic and welcoming distilleries in the nation. (I’m pretty confident we can get tasting room b-roll, as well as b-roll from the tourist board of the beauty cited below)
–Natural beauty: With its horse farms, and rolling green hills Kentucky is prime eye candy.
–Romantic inns galore: You’ll find adorable B&B’s, guest-accepting mansions, and other love-promoting lodgings across the state (I can find some we can get b-roll/photos from if you need)
–Culture, Cuisine and Sports History: Louisville is a fantastic city for those who love sports history (as home to a museum devoted to Mohammed Ali, and another about the baseball bat the Louisville Slugger). The Actors Theater of Louisville is one of the best regional theaters in America, and there’s an abundance of farm-to-table restaurants here.
Why Now: We listed Kentucky in our Best Places to Go in 2024 list (frommers.com/bestplaces2024) partially because it’s the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby—so the parties around that event should be epic (it’s also going to be the venue for a major PGA tournament, catnip for golf lovers). But there are many more reasons to go (see below).
Helpful Tips for a Road Trip:
-AAA has an excellent tool called FuelCostCalculator.com. You put in the make and year of your car, plus your planned itinerary, and it spits out how much you’ll likely spend on gas, allowing you to budget better.
-The website RoadFood.com is an excellent, volunteer-run site for finding usually inexpensive, and very regional restaurants.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Why Steamboat Springs is Romantic for Couples? You can race your sweetie down the ski slopes and then curl up with them in front of a fire in your chalet
–With its classic western downtown, and its topnotch ski facilities (a lot of Olympic athletes live here for a reason), this is a destination that delivers the classic ski vacation. (I’m guessing getting b-roll from the tourist board, but if we don’t there are other ski destinations we can feature; I went with this one because of the gondola, but there are others that would work).
-It’s a bit harder to reach than some other CO ski meccas, which gives it a more intimate vibe.
-The après ski scene is primo, ranging from bustling bars to state-of-the-art spas.
Helpful tips for Steamboat Springs:
–If you’re going to ski for more than 3 days this winter, consider getting the Ikon Pass which gets you entry to Steamboat Springs as well as 58 ski resorts worldwide, and usually pays off in 4 ski days. That’s the amount all of the current passes take to pay off, according to the National Ski Areas association. How much you save will depend on when you get the pass (earlier is better) and which iteration of the pass you get.
-To save: rent gear far from the resorts, and stay farther from the slopes.
Why is Maui Tops for Romance: It has resorts purpose-built for honeymoons, weddings and other lovey dovey vacations. Some are adults only, others give you very private bungalows, others allow you to have special private dining experiences on the sand.
Why go now? Some 90 cents of every dollar earned on Maui is through tourism. So you’re doing a great deal of good by going now. And though the horrific fires destroyed Lahaina and a few other areas of Maui, the majority of the island is open, and the majority of the people on island want visitors to come back.
-Hotels purpose-built for romance. These include the adults-only Hotel Wailea (fab restaurants, splendid views) and the Hyatt Hana Maui (guests stay in individual bungalows). Many major players on the hotel scene had been upgraded right before the fires, though that news got lost for obvious reasons.
–Terrifically romantic activities: Like a tandem zipline, chocolate tastings and classes, and sunset cruises
–Uncrowded beaches and restaurants you can now walk into that you’d need reservations for before.
-Maui’s weather is splendid year round, but the island traditionally sees slightly less tourism in October and November (with the exception of Thanksgiving)
-You’ll need to rent a car. We recommend getting one through AutoSlash, a company that monitors prices and automatically re-books you if the cost of your rental drops (a not uncommon occurrence)
Why is it romantic for couples: Because you can get active together in every season, whether it’s affordable winter skiing, or golf in the warmer weather months. Plus getting out on the regions great lakes and rivers via sailboat or kayak is a great time.
–The area around Traverse City is a burgeoning wine region, meaning you can spend a fun afternoon wine tasting at award-winning vineyards. But unlike, say, Napa Valley, where you’d spend $20/person for a tasting, here the cost will usually be closer to $5. They also have topnotch cideries, and breweries. (We should be able to get good b-roll for all of this from the local tourist boards)
–Historic sights: From lighthouses, to log cabins, to the Mackinac Island, which has never allowed cars (so you get around by horse and carriage—and if that isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is!)
-In the warm weather months, there are a dozen ways to get out on the water. These include an interconnected system of rivers and lakes that you and your sweetie could paddle on for several days, with local hotels carrying your luggage from one to the next (the “water trail” goes for 100 miles; see https://www.paddleantrim.com/). There are also tall ship sailings, regular sailboats to rent for jaunts on Lake Michigan, booze cruises, and more.
–Golf is big here. With many courses designed by top names. So if you and your honey like to play games, this is a fine place to do so.
Helpful Tips for a trip to Northern Michigan
–In the summer months there’s direct service from a number of gateways to Traverse City Airport, which gets you to the region fairly quickly and easily
-The region has some great visit-worthy festivals, including a film festival programmed by Michael Moore and the annual Cherry Festival which falls on the Fourth of July and has cherry pit spitting contests, booths with hundreds of foodstuffs that use cherries, music and carnival games.