Adventurous Liaisons Sport by day and spoon by night in spots where nature's drama meets civilization's coziest nooks. 17. BRITISH COLUMBIA Minette Bay Lodge (Kitimat; 866/247-1513; www.minettebaylodge.com; doubles from $152), a haven of fireplaces and feather beds in a piney wilderness, now sends guests heli-fly-fishing on glacier-fed estuaries full of salmon and steelhead. 18. FIJI Deep Blue is one of three newly opened dive sites near Matangi Island Resort (888/628-2644; www.matangiisland.com; doubles from $310), a 240-acre private island located in the middle of Fiji's scuba paradise. Three tree-house bures and 11 more on the beach combine tropical seclusion and open-air luxury. 19. AFRICA High-style Virgin Bush Safaris (888/432-8681; www.virginbushsafaris.com; from $600 a day per person) has added chimp treks to its menu of bush expeditions. Accommodations on their bespoke trips range from a mobile white bedouin tent with antique carpeting to Princess Caroline's house on an island off the coast of northern Kenya. 20. ST. MORITZ Slide downhill headfirst at 80 mph on the upscale ski resort's toboggan run. Then mellow out in the extravagant new suites at Badrutt's Palace Hotel (41-81/837-1000; www.badruttspalace.com; doubles from $806), which have marble whirlpool tubs, plasma TV's, and private butlers.
BY MELISSA CERIA, WRITER, WIFE, AND MOTHER
On a rainy morning in the park last fall, as my husband struggled to lift our son out of the wet sandbox, and I faced the prospect of carrying six bags of groceries home, I decided we needed a break. Realizing we had no time for a proper holiday, I fantasized about an overnight getaway as we walked past the Maritime Hotel in New York's Meatpacking District. There, I thought, we could relax, reconnect, and feel totally carefree—if only for a brief moment.
The plan felt somewhat selfish at first (could we leave the baby with a sitter overnight?). But listening to our friends Isabelle and Romain, who live in Belmont, Massachusetts, talk about their quick fix of romance not long ago made me believe it was possible. Several weeks after the birth of their third son last spring, feeling worn-out and sleep-deprived, the pair checked into a suite at the Charles Hotel in nearby Cambridge, where they soaked in a tub of bubbles, sipped champagne, ordered a plate of cheese, and watched movies. "It was wonderful to be just the two of us," says Isabelle. "We didn't need a special event—simply some time to enjoy the things we like to do together."
To maintain intimacy in their lives without defaulting on their duties, more couples have to squeeze romantic rendezvous in whenever they can. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, 39 percent of all vacations in 2002 were one to two nights. At luxury properties like the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, nearly 40 percent of weekend visitors are couples living within a 50-mile radius. Sure, booking a night at a local inn may not sound as exotic as a trip to St. Bart's, but the satisfaction of leaving reality behind by just going around the corner is hard to beat. And once you're there, everything is taken care of for you—all you need is a toothbrush and an overnight bag.
"That's part of what makes it a fantasy," says Brian Honan, director of marketing for the Four Seasons Hotel in New York, who estimates that 35 to 45 percent of his clients are local. "Married couples who used to meet here are returning to a place they're acquainted with, but with a new level of appreciation for the privacy, the service, and the time they spend together."
"In some ways, it's easier to go for a night than plan an evening around your babysitter's schedule," says Liz, a Canadian artist. She and her husband, Matt, periodically sneak down the road to the Park Hyatt Toronto, where they treat themselves to a couples massage and a lazy morning in bed. "You feel as if you're away, even if you're not far away."
Lingering over a drink at the hotel bar, getting dressed up for a tête-à-tête dinner, enjoying an afternoon together being pampered. In one worry-free night, we can recapture the excitement of those days when dates were spontaneous and romance had no curfew—just as it was when we were courting.
I've yet to book my weekend getaway at the Maritime, but as we await the arrival of our second child this spring, my husband and I are doubly motivated to sneak in a little time alone, without leaving our zip code.
Love and a Rub You don't need a shrink for couples therapy: a spa break will do nicely. 21. CÔTE D'AZUR In a sunset-hued suite at Hôtel Royal Riviera's L'Orangerie villa (St.-Jean-Cap-Ferrat; 33-4/93-76-31-00; www.royal-riviera.com; $1,200, double, all-inclusive) entice your petite amie with a massage à deux. Rose petals are scattered on a pair of massage tables facing the sea as therapists anoint your limbs with fragrant lavender oil. 22. ST. JOHN At Caneel Bay's Self Centre (U.S.V.I.; 340/776-6111; www.rosewoodhotels.com; doubles from $450), Couples Astrology is a stellar exploration of bondage (think loving ties, not leather whips). Using birth information, a certified astrologer charts your star signs and guides the emotional dynamics of your astral pairing. 23. ARIZONA Get wrapped like bonbons during a chocolate-champagne body wrap for two at the Boulders Resort & Golden Door Spa (Carefree; 800/553-1717; www.wyndham.com; doubles from $495). The sweet stimulant appears in an exfoliation, a mask, and a hydrating cream. After you've been spritzed with bubbly, take a dip in the Sun Suite's outdoor Jacuzzi and feed each other chocolate treats. 24. HAWAII Revitalize your mana (life force) with Lokahi therapy in the Kahala Mandarin Oriental's tropical couples suite (Honolulu; 800/367-2525; www.mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $295). A footbath prepares you for the warming kukui-macadamia nut oil, which is drizzled on your chakra points during a traditional Hawaiian lomilomi massage. 25. ENGLAND In the Grove's Sequoia spa (Hertfordshire; 44-1923/807-807; www.thegrove.co.uk; doubles from $419), organic honey from the estate's hives appears in a body wrap and hot-stone massage during the five-hour Honey Immersion treatment. Couples sip honeyed infusions in the herb garden, where they can commune with the birds and the bees.