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50 Most Romantic Places, 2005

Dinner in a 400-year-old mansion overlooking the Bosporus. A couples massage just steps from the South Pacific. A rural retreat where no one can find you. By changing the setting, we allow ourselves not only to fall in love with a new place, but also to see the same face in a different light. So whether you're planning a secret getaway or you're just an incorrigible dreamer, read on.


Inn at Palmetto Bluff
On a tidal stretch of the May River, just west of Hilton Head, the new Inn at Palmetto Bluff puts the charm back into Southern hospitality. Spend mornings paddling kayaks along marsh-lined coastal waterways inhabited by snowy egrets and playful dolphins, or pedaling bikes with a naturalist on woodland trails fragrant with loblolly pine. In the 50 white clapboard cottages, landscapes by low-country artists evoke a languorous, bygone era. T+L TIP Paint each other with therapeutic mud, then soak in a Spanish moss-and-citrus bath during the Boggin' massage treatment at the spa.
DOUBLES FROM $450; 476 MOUNT PELIA RD.; 866/706-6565; www.palmettobluffresort.com

Hacienda Puerta Campeche
Crafted from a row of colonial-era houses, the Yucatán Peninsula's latest hacienda brings a dose of urbane style to this historic town. Most of the 15 guest rooms have a bathroom the size of a big-city apartmentand a sun-drenched daybed. Pools built between the red and yellow façades of the old manor houses flow through porticos from room to room and are capped with floating hammocks. T+L TIP Ask a driver to take you to the nearby ruins of Edzna. After midnight, the pyramid complex makes a perfect backdrop for an unforgettable proposal.
DOUBLES FROM $159; CALLE 59; 52-981/816-7535 www.luxurycollection.com

House of Jasmines
The hottest attraction in Argentina's northwest corner is the seven-suite House of Jasmines, actor Robert Duvall's 120-year-old, 300-acre ranch in the shadow of the Andes. On foot or horseback, guests are free to roam the Edenic grounds, which are overrun with aromatic roses, orchids, and jasmine. Inside your white-on-white adobe casita, the best treat you can give yourselves is a long siesta in the wrought-iron four-poster bed. T+L TIP Try a granita made with the region's signature wine, Torrontes.
DOUBLES FROM $250; 54-387/497-2002; www.houseofjasmines.com

Red Capital Ranch
There's not much at the arcadian Red Capital Ranch to disturb a weekend tryst—except, of course, its gaspingly close proximity to the Great Wall. There are just 10 villas; request one with a rooftop terrace. Feast on Manchurian mountain dishes (lamb roasted over an open fire with willow leaves), or simply cocoon in a corner of the Tiger Bar and soak up the serenity. T+L TIP Ascend the wall at sunset to watch the surrounding hills, rustic villages, and crumbling watchtowers melt into the purple haze of northern China's twilight.
DOUBLES FROM $188; HUAIROU DISTRICT; 86-10/8401-8886; www.redcapitalclub.com


Anantara Resort & Spa
Retreat from the crowds of Phuket into your own thatched-roof manor. The 51 villas all have four-poster beds and glorious views (of silvery beaches along the Andaman Sea or of a 22-acre palm grove surrounding a sapphire lagoon), and each expansive marble bathroomopens onto a secret garden. T+L TIP Commune with nature by visiting rescued leatherback turtles at Hat Thai Muang National Park, then take an afternoon jungle trek to secluded waterfalls and hidden beaches.
DOUBLES FROM $455; 66-76/592-100; www.anantara.com

Four Seasons
Malaysia's newest resort is also its most luxurious. Overlooking the turquoise Andaman Sea are 91 villas, teak-shingled in traditional Malay style, many with separate gated entrances, wooden patios, and private "spa rooms" with gold-hued Spanish-marble showers. The main spa is itself an invitation to hedonism: six dark wood pavilions floating in lotus ponds. But everything—in the end—centers on the sugar-sand beaches and the dramatic limestone formations that trail out to sea like a string of pearls. T+L TIP Hire a private boatman for a moonlit drift in a perahu (a traditional Malay boat) outfitted with silk cushions—beneath shadows cast by the granite cliffs that loom above the sea.
DOUBLES FROM $410; 800/819-5053 OR 60-4/959-2888; www.fourseasons.com/langkawi

Mykonos Theoxenia Hotel
Standing between windmills and sand, blue crystal waters and the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Mykonos, the restored Mykonos Theoxenia is everything you wouldn't expect from a classic Greek hotel. Its 52 rooms revisit the sixties, with Pop canvases and retro furniture playing off stark-white stone buildings that glow in the afternoon sun. T+L TIP Watch the moon rise over the sacred island of Delos from deserted Kapari Beach. The concierge will take care of all details, including a speedboat to bring you back to the hotel.
DOUBLES FROM $185; 30-22890/22230; www.mykonostheoxenia.com

The Palms
At the Palms resort, on Turks and Caicos' celebrated Grace Bay Beach, guests can wander through water gardens, relax beside the infinity pool, or choose a treatment administered in the 15,000-square-foot spa. All of the 72 suites—which have vaulted ceilings, marble floors, and Roman baths—overlook the ocean and come with terraces where couples can dine alfresco before slipping past the railing and testing the waters together. T+L TIP Book one of the three-bedroom penthouse suites. They're accessible only by private elevator and come with a butler.
DOUBLES FROM $750; 866/877-7256 www.thepalmstc.com


Cristal Room Baccarat
Most restaurants attached to brand names are worth avoiding for the homogeneity they inevitably deliver. The Cristal Room Baccarat is the sumptuously appointed exception to this rule: the Empire-chic interior is the work of Philippe Starck (the raw brick-and-gilt walls are not to be overlooked); chef Thierry Burlot changes his refined Gallic menu on a monthly basis; and at dinner the room is suffused with the exquisite glow cast by candelabra and, of course, Baccarat chandeliers. T+L TIP Step into the 10-seat, terraced private dining room to view the first black-crystal chandelier Baccarat ever created.

Rio Grande Restaurante
On a candlelit veranda planted with lemon trees, you can sample the creations of executive chef Nacho Martinez, who has brought a globe-trotting sensibility to Rio Grande's traditional Andalusian menu. This little bistro in the Triana district turns out fresh seafood in countless original ways (the black-rice paella with lobster and jumbo prawns is a local favorite). T+L TIP The six-course tasting dinner is worth the three hours it requires to eat.
DINNER FOR TWO $105; 41010 CALLE BETIS; 34-95/427-8371


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