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The 50 Most Romantic Places on Earth

SPECIAL SPOTS
Moroccan Moyen Âge Take a few days to explore the souks and winding streets in the ancient medina of Fez; not only will you forget it's the 21st century, but you'll wish it were still the 14th. The sounds, scents, and colors of the cobbled alleyways and mosques, the figures cloaked in djellabas—all create an intoxication that teeters on the overwhelming. Moroccan National Tourist Office, 212-37/681-541; www.tourism-in-morocco.com.

Garden over the Big Apple New Yorkers are always searching for new ways to see their town. But somehow, most dyed-in-the-wool denizens overlook the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, a 10,000-square-foot terrace atop the Met decked out with wisteria and yew trees. Central Park never looked better, and the skyline evokes the same complex feelings of possibility and glamour as a Burt Bacharach song to Manhattan. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 212/535-7710; www.metmuseum.org.

Rule India The sandstone fort in the town of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, rises from the eastern desert like a volcano emerging from the sea. It still serves as a citadel, as it has ever since 1156, but its havelis (town houses) decorated with intricate latticework and royal residences converted into hotels make it feel more like a living museum. Here, in the dry, dusty air, time seems to stand still. Government of India Tourist Office, 213/380-8855; www.tourisminindia.com.

Enchanted Evening in Italy Built dramatically into the vertiginous Amalfi coast, Positano is for sun slaves, water babies, gastronomes—and lovers. Reserve a front-row table on a summer evening at a waterside restaurant, order a pizza and a glass of Brunello, and enjoy the parade of couples entwined as tightly as allowed by Italian law. Consider it inspiration. Italian Government Tourist Board, 212/245-5618; www.italiantourism.com.

Petite Promenade in Montreal Make your own history with a journey under the stars in Mount Royal Park. Start your stroll at Beaver Lake in this Frederick Law Olmsted—designed park and follow the promenade through the woods. At the stately Chalet and its lookout, cuddle with your favorite someone as the glimmering city lights below leave you breathless. Tourisme Québec, 877/266-5687 or 514/873-2015; www.tourism-montreal.org.

Baroque Belge Medieval Bruges is ripe with symbols of love, from the Gothic churches and 17th-century mansions to the sparkling canals and flower markets. It has all the allure of Venice, without the crowds. Even the government promotes romance: a statue near City Hall honors couples who have been married there. Bruges Tourist Office, 32-50/448-686; www.brugge.be.

Illuminated Vieques A guided tour on a motorboat isn't the way most romantic evenings begin, but once you slip your body into Mosquito Bay, a bioluminescent lagoon off the island of Vieques, you'll have forgotten the exhaust fumes. Millions of "stars" (actually, they're microscopic organisms in the water) light up with a stunning blue-white glow, and scatter with every splash you make. Spielberg couldn't ask for better special effects. Island Adventures, 787/741-0720; www.biobay.com.

La Source Shiraz Although chador-shrouded Iran might not immediately conjure up images of passion, the city of Shiraz is imbued with centuries of lust for poetry and wine (the variety made popular in Australia originated here). Follow the fragrance of roses and orange blossoms to Bagh-e Eram for a picnic, or join Shirazis on their Friday-afternoon pilgrimage to the ornate tombs of the country's revered poets of amour, Hafez and Saadi. Love can still bloom beneath a veil. Absolute Asia, 800/736-8187 or 212/627-1950; www.itto.org.

Sedona by Firelight The high desert sky is Warner Bros. cartoon-blue, the air has a juniper-scented snap, and at sunset, every red rock seems to be lit from within. Even if you're a long way from being a New Ager, dusk in Sedona awakens you to life's possibilities. Isn't that what being in love is all about?Sedona—Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce, 800/288-7336; www.experiencesedona.com.

Spanish Idyll Seville, capital of Andalusia, is a jewel box of Christian and Moorish architecture; spark-ling most brilliantly are the Catedral de Sevilla and the Alcazar. Explore both, then peek into the secret gardens of the Barrio de Santa Cruz. Wind up the perfect date by catching the sun rise over the Guadalquivir River. Olé! Tourist Office of Spain, 212/265-8822; www.okspain.org.

Roman Holiday Along with the street theater and gelato, Rome's Piazza Navona houses Bernini's allegorical masterpiece, the Fountain of the Four Rivers. Sip a cappuccino at a streetside café and listen to the voices bouncing off the buildings. After a while, they seem to create a symphony with the fountain. Italian Government Tourist Board, 212/245-5618; www.italiantourism.com.

Fairy-tale Estonia Tallinn is a marvel of castles, cathedrals, and cobblestoned streets all packed into one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Plan an evening of swoon by booking a long dinner at Gloria, a restaurant whose décor somehow merges an Art Nouveau boudoir, a compartment on the Orient Express, and a David Lynch film set. Tallinn City Tourist Office, 372-6/457-777; www.tallinn.ee.

English Waters Fashionable Bath has always been the consummate place for a lovers' city break. Simply strolling around its pale golden crescents, colonnades, and squares is enough to melt the stoniest of hearts. And, of course, there are the warm pools of liquid heaven, from which the city gets its name, to keep things hot. Bath Tourist Information, 44-1225/477-101; www.visitbath.co.uk.

Paris Match Tucked away in the offbeat Marais quarter, the Place des Vosges is enclosed by a harmony of aristocratic mansions stylishly uniform in their elegance and grace. Sit down under the trees in the fountained gardens to savor a romantic interlude, or dine at a candlelit table under the lofty arcades at L'Ambroisie. French Government Tourist Office, 212/838-7800; www.paris.org.

Swiss Mist Ascend to new romantic heights with an outing to Mount Pilatus, Lucerne's highest peak. For ample reasons to cuddle (as if you needed them), skip the arduous hike and take the world's steepest cog railway to the top. Once you're light-headed from the views, head back down to Jean Noevel's the Hotel, where erotic films, such as Fellini's Casanova, are projected onto the lobby ceiling. Swiss Tourism Federation, 41-31/307-4747; www.swisstourfed.ch.

Tozeur, Tunisia The sheer, unquantifiable expanse of the Tunisian desert stretches in all directions from the oasis city of Tozeur, but a lush palm grove provides greenery throughout the town. Conjure up an adventurer's sense of romance with walks to thousand-year-old mosques, strolls through the medieval medina, and camelback treks across the dunes. If you don't already feel as if you've been transplanted into the 1,002nd Arabian Night, a room at the luxurious Dar Cheraït Palace will remedy that. Tunisia Board of Tourism, 21-61/341-077; www.tourismtunisia.com.

HOTELS
Delta Dawn Botswana's Okavango Delta is a real-life fantasy world: you fly over miles of dry, brown scrub into a maze of crystal waterways where some of nature's most fascinating animals live undisturbed. At sunrise, a ranger guides your mokoro (dugout canoe) through a blanket of water lilies, past a family of elephants, to an island picnic. Sunset brings dinner and game-watching from your private deck. Eagle Island Camp, Abercrombie & Kent, 800/323-7308 or 630/954-2944, fax 630/954-3324; www.abercrombiekent.com; doubles from $780, including meals.

On Top of the World This is what the future was supposed to feel like: the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, a giant pillar of steel and glass thrust into the sky on the waterfront of Southeast Asia's most aggressively modern city. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows in your suite 32 floors up, you seem to be floating silently, sea and cityscape spread far below. Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore, 7 Raffles Ave.; 65/337-8888, fax 65/337-5190; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $260, penthouse suite from $875.

Hotel Conde de Villanueva With its faded grandeur and crumbling façades, Havana is a city of balmy romance. Its sensuality is captured at the Hotel Conde de Villanueva, the former residence of a 17th-century Spanish merchant. Stay in one of the nine simple, airy second-floor bedrooms, and leave the door to your balcony open. Downstairs, smoke a Cohiba in the terra-cotta-tiled courtyard while peacocks strut by. Heady, heady stuff. Hotel Conde de Villanueva, 202 Calle Mercaderes, Havana; 53-7/629-293; doubles from $95.

Paris Small Sharing a room in the stylish Hôtel Verneuil almost demands being in love—the quarters are that close. And romantic, thanks to decorator Michelle Halard: 17th-century ceiling beams, canopy beds, château-issue curtains. Just beyond the hotel's front door is every temptation the Seventh Arrondissement has to offer, from textbook architecture and legendary cafés to haut bourgeois street life (kiss-kiss). Hôtel Verneuil, 8 Rue de Verneuil; 33-1/42-60-82-14, fax 33-1/42-61-40-38; doubles from $92.

Paris Grand Quit the rat race and take a winter weekend in the newly renovated Hôtel Meurice. For an utterly sybaritic experience, book the Belle Étoile Suite, a 2,960-square-foot rooftop pavilion with wraparound views of Paris's celebrated monuments. If you can pull yourself away, have tea in the Winter Garden salon and feast your eyes on the Art Nouveau glass dome. Then lock arms with your honey in the Tuileries, just across the street. Hôtel Meurice, 228 Rue de Rivoli; 33-1/44-58-10-09, fax 33-1/44-58-10-19; www.meuricehotel.com; suites from $415, Belle Étoile Suite $7,715.

Love Nest in Belize "The Screamer," a room at Belize's Chaa Creek jungle lodge, doesn't get its nickname from the howler monkeys—it refers to the cries of lovers inside the airy, cedar cabana. Snuggle in a mahogany bed as butterflies drift in through open windows, and gaze at the misty Maya Mountains from your terrace. At sunset, take a canoe ride for two down the Macal River; fireflies will light your way. Chaa Creek Cottages, San Ignacio; 501-92/2037, fax 501-92/2501; www.chaacreek.com; doubles from $165.

Private Puget Sound For pure seclusion, book a night at the Cliff House, on Washington's forested Whidbey Island. The inn's deluxe two-bedroom wood and glass house rents to only one party each night. The service aims for subtlety—anything you might need is a phone call away, but you can go days without sighting another human. You will, however, see bald eagles, deer, and killer whales. Cliff House & Cottage, Freeland, Wash.; phone and fax 360/331-1566; house, $425 per couple, including breakfast.

I Dreamed of Africa Old-world safari grandeur meets new-world luxury at Mkuze Falls Game Lodge in South Africa. In between the twice-daily game drives, you can rest your bones in one of nine hillside thatch-roofed chalets. Each has a canopy bed, a plunge pool, and a wraparound deck where local dishes are served for dinner, and wildebeests saunter by at dusk. Mkuze Falls Game Lodge, 27-34/414-1018, fax 27-34/414-1021; www.mkuzefalls.com; chalets from $385, including meals and game drives.

Big Love in Big Sur If a hotel can be an aphrodisiac, the Post Ranch Inn, an oceanside hideaway off California's Pacific Coast Highway, is definitely the one. Maybe the secret lies in the deep-dish, Indian slate bathtubs that figure so prominently in the five luxe but rustic tree houses. Or perhaps it's the seven sod-roofed cliffside rooms, each with a king-sized bed and a fireplace—and no television to disturb the fixed gaze you'll have on your companion. Whatever the mojo is, it's powerful. Post Ranch Inn, Hwy. 1, Big Sur; 800/527-2200 or 831/667-2200, fax 831/667-2512; www.postranchinn.com; doubles from $455.

Hello, Buenos Aires Nearly 70 years after its opening, the Alvear Palace Hotel retains all the glamour and decadence of that bygone era. The lobby is a blaze of chandelier light; the rooms are appointed with Louis XVI—style furniture and objets d'art from the thirties; many suites come with a dedicated butler in white gloves and tails. Like the European royals who spend the night here, you'll want to hole up with your king or queen and forget the rest of the world. Alvear Palace Hotel, 1891 Avda. Alvear; 54-11/4804-7777, fax 54-11/4804-9246; www.alvearpalace.com; doubles from $410.

Splendor on the Italian Riviera A favorite retreat of such famous pairs as Bergman and Rossellini, and Taylor and Burton, Portofino's hilltop Hotel Splendido offers palatial bedrooms, fine Ligurian cooking, and unforgettable vistas across olive and cypress groves to the gently rocking boats in the harbor below. Book a room with a view, and make it your own lover's lair. Hotel Splendido, 800/237-1236 or 39-0185/267-801, fax 39-0185/267-806; www.orient-express.com; doubles from $706.

In Love on St. Lucia The Anse Chastanet Resort on St. Lucia is something of a romantic masterpiece. Hidden high up on a forested hill, most of the spacious rooms are open on two sides to the warm Caribbean air. In daylight, views from both the living area and the shower sweep across a bay to the twin peaks of the Pitons. At night, bedside candles and delicate mosquito nets shimmer in the soft breeze. Anse Chastanet Resort, 800/223-1108 or 758/459-7000, fax 758/459-7700; www.ansechastanet.com; doubles from $425.

Wild Pacific Each of the 28 guest rooms at Vancouver Island's Sooke Harbour House features ocean views, painted large. You could spend a whole weekend just watching the waves crash against the rocky shores, with an occasional respite in a bathtub built for two. But if your other appetites call to you, dine on one-of-a-kind dishes at the candelabra-lit restaurant, and stroll through the two acres of manicured gardens. Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, B.C.; 250/642-3421, fax 250/642-6988; www.sookeharbourhouse.com; doubles from $125.

Amazonian Bliss From Quito, it takes three hours by plane and boat to reach this eco-lodge in the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. It's worth the trouble: in a comfortably cool cabin on the Kapawi Lagoon, the layered sounds of the jungle and the absolute solitude will make a two-week stay feel like a lifetime—as it was meant to be lived. Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, 800/823-8531 or 593-4/285-711, fax 593-4/287-651; www.canodros.com/kapawi; doubles from $400.

Ultimate Adirondacks Built in 1933 as a summer camp for the Rockefeller family, the Point is now an 11-room log lodge on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake. It may sound rustic, but it's the height of elegance. Hike the mountain trails, or just curl up in front of the fireplace. Whatever you do, don't tell anyone where the two of you are. (The exact location is disclosed only after a guest's deposit has been received. Can you say discreet?) The Point, 800/255-3530 or 518/891-5674, fax 518/891-1152; www.thepointresort.com; doubles from $950.

Islands
Corsican Liberty A trip to Corsica, off the southeastern coast of France, could bring out the savage side of the most subdued hearts. The flora-laced mountain peaks are dramatically craggy, the ocean pulses with marine life, and the cloudless days are as full of possibilities as a child's imagination. Corsica Tourist Agency, 33-4/95-51-00-00; www.visit-corsica.com.

Natural Maui Toss the guidebook and explore the twists, turns, and stunning vistas of Maui's 34-mile Hana Highway. Leave your footprints on unspoiled black-sand beaches, take a short nature walk in the virgin tropical forests, and steal a kiss in a freshwater pool fed by a gently roaring waterfall. To avoid the rush, hit the road at sunrise, and drive slowly so you don't miss a thing. Maui Visitors Bureau, 800/525-6284 or 808/ 244-3530; www.hanamaui.com.

Burgh Island Bound South Devon's tiny, tidal Burgh Island feels as if it stepped out of the pages of an English adventure tale—and not just because its coves and caves were much loved by Agatha Christie and Noël Coward. Stay at the only place there is to stay: the nostalgic, gleaming white Burgh Island Hotel, an Art Deco palace full of mirrors, generous suites, long cocktail hours, and, most of all, lots of light. Devon Tourist Information, 44-870/608-5531.

Forget Reality on Frégate Island Act out your Cast Away fantasy on this 740-acre private island in the Seychelles. At Frégate Island Private—a resort of 16 villas appointed with outdoor showers, Jacuzzis, and daybeds—there are never more than 40 guests at a time. It's just the two of you, the breeze, the gentle lapping of the water against the shore—and a fleeting waiter to refresh your drink. Frégate Island Private, 49-69/8383-7635, fax 49-69/8383-7636; www.fregate.com; villas from $1,500 per night.

Virgin St. John Miles of pristine shoreline are barely disturbed by a few hotels. Two-thirds of the land is a nature preserve. It all makes for an island of distinctive low-key luxury. The big- gest problems you'll face are deciding between sunbathing on white-sand beaches, snorkeling the underwater trail at Trunk Bay, or hiking over velvety mountaintops. Here, you can dream of being a castaway forever. U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism, 800/372-8784 or 340/774-8784; www.usvi.net.

CRUISES
Turkish Date Escape from modern civilization while sailing the inlets of the Turkish Mediterranean in your own gulet—a traditional wide-bottomed fishing boat. Spend sunny days swimming in crystalline coves and snorkeling through ancient ruins; then watch the sun set behind the forested hills. Fall asleep under the stars, wake up, and do it all over again. Key Tours, 800/576-1784 or 703/591-3553; www.keytours.com; one-week cruise from $1,000 per couple, including meals; private charter from $400 a day, including crew and meals.

A Passage to India Slowly drift along the tranquil canals of Kerala on a traditional kettuvallom (a thatched-bamboo cargo boat), refitted as a fully equipped houseboat. An unobtrusive guide, captain, and cook make the smooth trip past brightly painted Catholic churches, bucolic farm scenes, and waterside communities even more leisurely than it sounds. Tourindia, 91-471/331-507; single-cabin boat from $180 per day, including all meals.

Arabian Adventure Striking just the right balance between fanciful voyage and learning experience, Classical Cruises takes 84 passengers on an 18-day journey called Along the Ancient Trade Routes. Surrounded by the mystical blue of the Red and Arabian seas, you can alternate your time between naps on the deck and expert-accompanied excursions to the Pyramids of Giza or the fortresses of Oman. If you're lucky, the captain might unexpectedly drop anchor for an afternoon picnic on a secluded beach. Classical Cruises, 800/252-7745 or 212/794-3200; www.classicalcruises.com; cabins from $11,990.

Journey Through Burma The Orient-Express—owned Road to Mandalay, with its teak cabins and attentive staff, plies Myanmar's Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, past golden pagodas and white marble temples, to Pagan. There you can explore the Shwezigon Pagoda and lose yourself among the thousands of Buddhist stupas and temples that make up this mythical city. Orient-Express Trains & Cruises, 800/524-2420 or 630/954-2944; www.orient-expresstrains.com; all-inclusive doubles for 11-night cruise from $7,990.


Tales of the South Pacific The most romantic—indeed, just about the only—way to visit the Marquesas, an archipelago some 750 miles northeast of Tahiti, is aboard the Aranui. The main supply ship for the islands, it also has 32 comfortable cabins for travelers willing to rough it through the primitive ports and secret lagoons for 16 days. Sounds too tough?We didn't think so. Compagnie Polynésienne de Transport Maritime, 800/972-7268 or 650/574-2575; www.aranui.com; doubles from $6,750.

RESTAURANTS
L.A. Gourmet Dine on the Hotel Bel-Air's terrace under bougainvillea vines, and you'll know there isn't a more romantic spot in Los Angeles, even though Sunset Boulevard is but a hop and a skip away. Cast your glance on the pond, where white swans glide behind the branches of weeping willow trees, and breathe in the ubiquitous fragrance of avocado. These are the reasons Valentine's Day dinner reservations are almost as hard to get as tickets to the Academy Awards—though the dinner is certainly more exciting. Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Blvd.; 800/648-4097 or 310/472-1211; www.hotelbelair.com; dinner for two $130.

Fresh Catch at the Tanjung Rhu Resort A cove of white sand encircled by rain forest. Torches flickering all around. No sound except the whooping of jungle birds as the embers of the dying sun slip below the waves. Waiters silently bring wine and platters of spicy Malaysian food to your table. Curl your bare toes in the sand, and watch the breeze off the Andaman Sea make the lantern light dance. Tanjung Rhu Resort, Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia; 60-4/959-1033; dinner for two $72; doubles from $230.

Tuscan Seduction Even for Italy, a languidly paced meal on the sprawling loggia of Villa San Michele—a former 15th-century monastery with a façade attributed to Michelangelo—is as romantic as it gets. Savor a classic bistecca alla fiorentina in the open-air dining room while you look through arches framing exalted views of Florence. Overheard at the next table: "Ti amo tanto." Villa San Michele, 4 Via Doccia, Fiesole; 39-055/567-8200; www.villasanmichele.orient-express.com; dinner for two $140.

Snowshoe to Supper in Utah The cold, fresh air keeps you alert as you snowshoe along a lighted path through sweet-smelling pines and sparkling powder. Once you arrive at the Mongolian-style canvas-and-wood hut on Utah's Solitude Mountain, warm up inside with a glass of wine while a chef prepares your five-course meal. If that doesn't put you in the mood, trekking back under the moonlight will. Yurt at Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah; 801/536-5709; www.skisolitude.com; dinner for two $160, including snowshoe rental.

SPAS
Thai for Two Pick one of the Banyan Tree's traditional villas and sink yourself into its open-air bath. Inhale the jasmine, look out over the lotus ponds and gardens, and try to recall ever feeling more at ease. You won't be able to—unless, of course, you book the Intimate Moments treatment, which includes incense, orchids, wine, and atmospheric music for two under an endless sky. Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand; 66-76/324-374, fax 66-76/324-375; www.banyantree.com; doubles from $410.

Japanese Soak The thermal baths in Japan's Wakura spa region aren't coed, or open after-hours, but isn't love a good reason to bend the rules?Sneak a late-night dip in one of six ofuro and rotenburo at Kagaya's men-only indoor/outdoor bath with a sliding sunroof, through which you can watch the twinkling of the stars or the lights on Noto Island. Laze in the hot springs all afternoon, eat kaiseki in your room at the Kagaya, and then head back to the bath after everyone else is asleep. Kagaya, 81-767/62-4111, fax 81-767/ 62-1121; doubles from $580, including dinner.

Equatorial Heat The accommodations at La Posada de las Termas de Papallacta in Ecuador are basic, but no matter: the hotel's system of hot and hotter volcanic springs will have you doing most of your rest and relaxation outside the room. At an altitude of over 10,000 feet, the pools offer a liquid respite from the cool air temperatures while still allowing sight lines to the towering green Andes that surround you. La Posada de las Termas de Papallacta, Baeza, Ecuador; 593-2/557-850, fax 593-2/557-851; www.papallacta.com.ec; doubles $68.

Still Water Runs Deep in Bali Spend the night in a secluded villa at the Four Seasons Resort in Ubud, and you'll fall in love all over again. Plunge into your private pool, have a morning walk by the sacred Ayung River, and treat yourselves to traditional Balinese massages. Catch the sun sinking beyond the stepped rice paddies from your private teak deck. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Indonesia; 62-361/977-577, fax 62-361/977-588; www. fourseasons.com; villas from $525.

SANTORINI
This volcanic Greek island, with its whitewashed villages clinging to the cliffs, is almost too beautiful to be true. And the hotels are just as magical. The Katikies Hotel, in the northern town of Oía, is a jumble of stairways, bridges, infinity pools, and traditional cave houses with vertigo-inducing views. Astra Apartments, near the main town of Fira, is a private cluster of 17 cottages, terraced above the wine-dark sea. In the south, where the island flattens out into rolling vineyards and black-sand beaches, lies the Villa Vedema, a chic resort of 40 pastel bungalows. Take a month and indulge in them all. Greek National Tourism Organization, 30-1/331-0565; www.gnto.gr.

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Paris Small Sharing a room in the stylish Hôtel Verneuil almost demands being in love—the quarters are that close. And romantic, thanks to decorator Michelle Halard: 17th-century ceiling beams, canopy beds, château-issue curtains. Just beyond the hotel's front door is every temptation the Seventh Arrondissement has to offer, from textbook architecture and legendary cafés to haut bourgeois street life (kiss-kiss). Hôtel Verneuil, 8 Rue de Verneuil; 33-1/42-60-82-14, fax 33-1/42-61-40-38; doubles from $92.

Paris Grand Quit the rat race and take a winter weekend in the newly renovated Hôtel Meurice. For an utterly sybaritic experience, book the Belle Étoile Suite, a 2,960-square-foot rooftop pavilion with wraparound views of Paris's celebrated monuments. If you can pull yourself away, have tea in the Winter Garden salon and feast your eyes on the Art Nouveau glass dome. Then lock arms with your honey in the Tuileries, just across the street. Hôtel Meurice, 228 Rue de Rivoli; 33-1/44-58-10-09, fax 33-1/44-58-10-19; www.meuricehotel.com; suites from $415, Belle Étoile Suite $7,715.

Love Nest in Belize "The Screamer," a room at Belize's Chaa Creek jungle lodge, doesn't get its nickname from the howler monkeys—it refers to the cries of lovers inside the airy, cedar cabana. Snuggle in a mahogany bed as butterflies drift in through open windows, and gaze at the misty Maya Mountains from your terrace. At sunset, take a canoe ride for two down the Macal River; fireflies will light your way. Chaa Creek Cottages, San Ignacio; 501-92/2037, fax 501-92/2501; www.chaacreek.com; doubles from $165.

Private Puget Sound For pure seclusion, book a night at the Cliff House, on Washington's forested Whidbey Island. The inn's deluxe two-bedroom wood and glass house rents to only one party each night. The service aims for subtlety—anything you might need is a phone call away, but you can go days without sighting another human. You will, however, see bald eagles, deer, and killer whales. Cliff House & Cottage, Freeland, Wash.; phone and fax 360/331-1566; house, $425 per couple, including breakfast.

I Dreamed of Africa Old-world safari grandeur meets new-world luxury at Mkuze Falls Game Lodge in South Africa. In between the twice-daily game drives, you can rest your bones in one of nine hillside thatch-roofed chalets. Each has a canopy bed, a plunge pool, and a wraparound deck where local dishes are served for dinner, and wildebeests saunter by at dusk. Mkuze Falls Game Lodge, 27-34/414-1018, fax 27-34/414-1021; www.mkuzefalls.com; chalets from $385, including meals and game drives.

Big Love in Big Sur If a hotel can be an aphrodisiac, the Post Ranch Inn, an oceanside hideaway off California's Pacific Coast Highway, is definitely the one. Maybe the secret lies in the deep-dish, Indian slate bathtubs that figure so prominently in the five luxe but rustic tree houses. Or perhaps it's the seven sod-roofed cliffside rooms, each with a king-sized bed and a fireplace—and no television to disturb the fixed gaze you'll have on your companion. Whatever the mojo is, it's powerful. Post Ranch Inn, Hwy. 1, Big Sur; 800/527-2200 or 831/667-2200, fax 831/667-2512; www.postranchinn.com; doubles from $455.

Hello, Buenos Aires Nearly 70 years after its opening, the Alvear Palace Hotel retains all the glamour and decadence of that bygone era. The lobby is a blaze of chandelier light; the rooms are appointed with Louis XVI—style furniture and objets d'art from the thirties; many suites come with a dedicated butler in white gloves and tails. Like the European royals who spend the night here, you'll want to hole up with your king or queen and forget the rest of the world. Alvear Palace Hotel, 1891 Avda. Alvear; 54-11/4804-7777, fax 54-11/4804-9246; www.alvearpalace.com; doubles from $410.

Splendor on the Italian Riviera A favorite retreat of such famous pairs as Bergman and Rossellini, and Taylor and Burton, Portofino's hilltop Hotel Splendido offers palatial bedrooms, fine Ligurian cooking, and unforgettable vistas across olive and cypress groves to the gently rocking boats in the harbor below. Book a room with a view, and make it your own lover's lair. Hotel Splendido, 800/237-1236 or 39-0185/267-801, fax 39-0185/267-806; www.orient-express.com; doubles from $706.

In Love on St. Lucia The Anse Chastanet Resort on St. Lucia is something of a romantic masterpiece. Hidden high up on a forested hill, most of the spacious rooms are open on two sides to the warm Caribbean air. In daylight, views from both the living area and the shower sweep across a bay to the twin peaks of the Pitons. At night, bedside candles and delicate mosquito nets shimmer in the soft breeze. Anse Chastanet Resort, 800/223-1108 or 758/459-7000, fax 758/459-7700; www.ansechastanet.com; doubles from $425.

Wild Pacific Each of the 28 guest rooms at Vancouver Island's Sooke Harbour House features ocean views, painted large. You could spend a whole weekend just watching the waves crash against the rocky shores, with an occasional respite in a bathtub built for two. But if your other appetites call to you, dine on one-of-a-kind dishes at the candelabra-lit restaurant, and stroll through the two acres of manicured gardens. Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, B.C.; 250/642-3421, fax 250/642-6988; www.sookeharbourhouse.com; doubles from $125.

Amazonian Bliss From Quito, it takes three hours by plane and boat to reach this eco-lodge in the most remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. It's worth the trouble: in a comfortably cool cabin on the Kapawi Lagoon, the layered sounds of the jungle and the absolute solitude will make a two-week stay feel like a lifetime—as it was meant to be lived. Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, 800/823-8531 or 593-4/285-711, fax 593-4/287-651; www.canodros.com/kapawi; doubles from $400.

Ultimate Adirondacks Built in 1933 as a summer camp for the Rockefeller family, the Point is now an 11-room log lodge on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake. It may sound rustic, but it's the height of elegance. Hike the mountain trails, or just curl up in front of the fireplace. Whatever you do, don't tell anyone where the two of you are. (The exact location is disclosed only after a guest's deposit has been received. Can you say discreet?) The Point, 800/255-3530 or 518/891-5674, fax 518/891-1152; www.thepointresort.com; doubles from $950.

ISLANDS
Corsican Liberty A trip to Corsica, off the southeastern coast of France, could bring out the savage side of the most subdued hearts. The flora-laced mountain peaks are dramatically craggy, the ocean pulses with marine life, and the cloudless days are as full of possibilities as a child's imagination. Corsica Tourist Agency, 33-4/95-51-00-00; www.visit-corsica.com.

Natural Maui Toss the guidebook and explore the twists, turns, and stunning vistas of Maui's 34-mile Hana Highway. Leave your footprints on unspoiled black-sand beaches, take a short nature walk in the virgin tropical forests, and steal a kiss in a freshwater pool fed by a gently roaring waterfall. To avoid the rush, hit the road at sunrise, and drive slowly so you don't miss a thing. Maui Visitors Bureau, 800/525-6284 or 808/ 244-3530; www.hanamaui.com.

Burgh Island Bound South Devon's tiny, tidal Burgh Island feels as if it stepped out of the pages of an English adventure tale—and not just because its coves and caves were much loved by Agatha Christie and Noël Coward. Stay at the only place there is to stay: the nostalgic, gleaming white Burgh Island Hotel, an Art Deco palace full of mirrors, generous suites, long cocktail hours, and, most of all, lots of light. Devon Tourist Information, 44-870/608-5531.

Forget Reality on Frégate Island Act out your Cast Away fantasy on this 740-acre private island in the Seychelles. At Frégate Island Private—a resort of 16 villas appointed with outdoor showers, Jacuzzis, and daybeds—there are never more than 40 guests at a time. It's just the two of you, the breeze, the gentle lapping of the water against the shore—and a fleeting waiter to refresh your drink. Frégate Island Private, 49-69/8383-7635, fax 49-69/8383-7636; www.fregate.com; villas from $1,500 per night.

Virgin St. John Miles of pristine shoreline are barely disturbed by a few hotels. Two-thirds of the land is a nature preserve. It all makes for an island of distinctive low-key luxury. The big- gest problems you'll face are deciding between sunbathing on white-sand beaches, snorkeling the underwater trail at Trunk Bay, or hiking over velvety mountaintops. Here, you can dream of being a castaway forever. U.S.V.I. Department of Tourism, 800/372-8784 or 340/774-8784; www.usvi.net.

CRUISES
Turkish Date Escape from modern civilization while sailing the inlets of the Turkish Mediterranean in your own gulet—a traditional wide-bottomed fishing boat. Spend sunny days swimming in crystalline coves and snorkeling through ancient ruins; then watch the sun set behind the forested hills. Fall asleep under the stars, wake up, and do it all over again. Key Tours, 800/576-1784 or 703/591-3553; www.keytours.com; one-week cruise from $1,000 per couple, including meals; private charter from $400 a day, including crew and meals.

A Passage to India Slowly drift along the tranquil canals of Kerala on a traditional kettuvallom (a thatched-bamboo cargo boat), refitted as a fully equipped houseboat. An unobtrusive guide, captain, and cook make the smooth trip past brightly painted Catholic churches, bucolic farm scenes, and waterside communities even more leisurely than it sounds. Tourindia, 91-471/331-507; single-cabin boat from $180 per day, including all meals.



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Arabian Adventure Striking just the right balance between fanciful voyage and learning experience, Classical Cruises takes 84 passengers on an 18-day journey called Along the Ancient Trade Routes. Surrounded by the mystical blue of the Red and Arabian seas, you can alternate your time between naps on the deck and expert-accompanied excursions to the Pyramids of Giza or the fortresses of Oman. If you're lucky, the captain might unexpectedly drop anchor for an afternoon picnic on a secluded beach. Classical Cruises, 800/252-7745 or 212/794-3200; www.classicalcruises.com; cabins from $11,990.

Journey Through Burma The Orient-Express—owned Road to Mandalay, with its teak cabins and attentive staff, plies Myanmar's Irrawaddy River from Mandalay, past golden pagodas and white marble temples, to Pagan. There you can explore the Shwezigon Pagoda and lose yourself among the thousands of Buddhist stupas and temples that make up this mythical city. Orient-Express Trains & Cruises, 800/524-2420 or 630/954-2944; www.orient-expresstrains.com; all-inclusive doubles for 11-night cruise from $7,990.

Tales of the South Pacific The most romantic—indeed, just about the only—way to visit the Marquesas, an archipelago some 750 miles northeast of Tahiti, is aboard the Aranui. The main supply ship for the islands, it also has 32 comfortable cabins for travelers willing to rough it through the primitive ports and secret lagoons for 16 days. Sounds too tough?We didn't think so. Compagnie Polynésienne de Transport Maritime, 800/972-7268 or 650/574-2575; www.aranui.com; doubles from $6,750.

RESTAURANTS
L.A. Gourmet Dine on the Hotel Bel-Air's terrace under bougainvillea vines, and you'll know there isn't a more romantic spot in Los Angeles, even though Sunset Boulevard is but a hop and a skip away. Cast your glance on the pond, where white swans glide behind the branches of weeping willow trees, and breathe in the ubiquitous fragrance of avocado. These are the reasons Valentine's Day dinner reservations are almost as hard to get as tickets to the Academy Awards—though the dinner is certainly more exciting. Hotel Bel-Air, 701 Stone Canyon Blvd.; 800/648-4097 or 310/472-1211; www.hotelbelair.com; dinner for two $130.

Fresh Catch at the Tanjung Rhu Resort A cove of white sand encircled by rain forest. Torches flickering all around. No sound except the whooping of jungle birds as the embers of the dying sun slip below the waves. Waiters silently bring wine and platters of spicy Malaysian food to your table. Curl your bare toes in the sand, and watch the breeze off the Andaman Sea make the lantern light dance. Tanjung Rhu Resort, Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia; 60-4/959-1033; dinner for two $72; doubles from $230.

Tuscan Seduction Even for Italy, a languidly paced meal on the sprawling loggia of Villa San Michele—a former 15th-century monastery with a façade attributed to Michelangelo—is as romantic as it gets. Savor a classic bistecca alla fiorentina in the open-air dining room while you look through arches framing exalted views of Florence. Overheard at the next table: "Ti amo tanto." Villa San Michele, 4 Via Doccia, Fiesole; 39-055/567-8200; www.villasanmichele.orient-express.com; dinner for two $140.

Snowshoe to Supper in Utah The cold, fresh air keeps you alert as you snowshoe along a lighted path through sweet-smelling pines and sparkling powder. Once you arrive at the Mongolian-style canvas-and-wood hut on Utah's Solitude Mountain, warm up inside with a glass of wine while a chef prepares your five-course meal. If that doesn't put you in the mood, trekking back under the moonlight will. Yurt at Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah; 801/536-5709; www.skisolitude.com; dinner for two $160, including snowshoe rental.

SPAS
Thai for Two Pick one of the Banyan Tree's traditional villas and sink yourself into its open-air bath. Inhale the jasmine, look out over the lotus ponds and gardens, and try to recall ever feeling more at ease. You won't be able to—unless, of course, you book the Intimate Moments treatment, which includes incense, orchids, wine, and atmospheric music for two under an endless sky. Banyan Tree, Phuket, Thailand; 66-76/324-374, fax 66-76/324-375; www.banyantree.com; doubles from $410.

Japanese Soak The thermal baths in Japan's Wakura spa region aren't coed, or open after-hours, but isn't love a good reason to bend the rules?Sneak a late-night dip in one of six ofuro and rotenburo at Kagaya's men-only indoor/outdoor bath with a sliding sunroof, through which you can watch the twinkling of the stars or the lights on Noto Island. Laze in the hot springs all afternoon, eat kaiseki in your room at the Kagaya, and then head back to the bath after everyone else is asleep. Kagaya, 81-767/62-4111, fax 81-767/ 62-1121; doubles from $580, including dinner.

Equatorial Heat The accommodations at La Posada de las Termas de Papallacta in Ecuador are basic, but no matter: the hotel's system of hot and hotter volcanic springs will have you doing most of your rest and relaxation outside the room. At an altitude of over 10,000 feet, the pools offer a liquid respite from the cool air temperatures while still allowing sight lines to the towering green Andes that surround you. La Posada de las Termas de Papallacta, Baeza, Ecuador; 593-2/557-850, fax 593-2/557-851; www.papallacta.com.ec; doubles $68.

Still Water Runs Deep in Bali Spend the night in a secluded villa at the Four Seasons Resort in Ubud, and you'll fall in love all over again. Plunge into your private pool, have a morning walk by the sacred Ayung River, and treat yourselves to traditional Balinese massages. Catch the sun sinking beyond the stepped rice paddies from your private teak deck. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Indonesia; 62-361/977-577, fax 62-361/977-588; www. fourseasons.com; villas from $525.

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