Is visiting the beach or the mountains the best destination for a honeymoon or romantic vacation? The answer is different for each twosome, but if you're a couple that prefers a vacation with a range of exhilarating activities, then heading for the hills may be far more satisfying than basking on the beach.
Consider how much you can do in the mountains even when they're covered with snow: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and ice skating are among the outdoor adventures that await.
While winter may be the most romantic time for a peak experience (who doesn't love snuggling together by a fireplace and warming up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate?), the best mountain resorts have transformed themselves into four-season destinations.
Once the snow melts, active couples can go hiking and mountain biking, zip-lining, kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding, off-roading with Jeep and ATV tours, bird watching, and wildflower gathering.
St Moritz, Switzerland
The birthplace of winter tourism, St. Moritz began attracting vacationers in 1878. In cold weather, the mountains that surround the pretty lakeside town draw skiers to the slopes and heli-skiing daredevils to the peaks. Summer brings honeymoon couples who appreciate fresh, dry air, outdoor cafés, and pure lakes and springs to swim in.
Where to stay: Badrutt's Palace opened in 1896 with the aim to create a truly palatial destination, and it continues to impress visitors who can expect to receive the royal treatment. From its distinctive peaked tower, which has become a symbol of the city, to its formally dressed concierges to the vintage Rolls-Royce house car to the lobby furnished with artworks from Old Europe, Badrutt's Palace is a historic treasure. The guest rooms are plush and homey, with a marshmallow-cloud of a bed that will tempt twosomes to linger.
Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
If you wanted to design the most romantic mountain destination, you couldn't do better than Mont-Tremblant. The small pedestrian town, filled with shops and restaurants, surrounds the mountain in a semi-circle. French is likely the first language you'll hear, and it adds to the spirit of joie de vivre that's part of the destination's charm. As long as you're dressed for the weather, you'll never feel chilled thanks to strategically placed fire pits. Or head for the hot tables at Casino Mont-Tremblant.
Where to stay: Perched on the side of the mountain with ski in/ski-out convenience, Fairmont Tremblant has a heated outdoor pool open year-round and a spa that offers nearly a dozen types of massages including a sensual tandem rubdown for two. Fairmont Gold rooms provide access to a private lounge with a private concierge to make special arrangements for a honeymooning couple. Thanks to the complimentary continental breakfast and cocktail canapés served there daily, you won't go hungry.
Aspen is small, and nearly all of its shops and restaurants are within walking distance. In fact, with Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Kemo Sabe boots, and the classic Pitkin County Dry Goods, shopping is nearly as much a sport as skiing. Summer brings a slate of events, including the popular Food & Wine Classic, which consists of three days of cooking demos, wine tastings, panel discussions, and opportunities to rub elbows with world-class chefs and wine mavens.
Where to stay: The Little Nell is the pinnacle of luxury and a destination in itself for couples in the know. A ski concierge stores skis overnight and warms boots in anticipation of your skiing directly from the hotel. And whether it's the altitude (7,000-plus feet) or kisses that leave you breathless, the Oxia Personal Oxygen dispenser in your mini-bar can help restore you.
The site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano is also known as the Japanese Alps and the year-round home of the amazing snow monkeys. Inspiration to honeymooners, these wild macaques thrive thanks to strong familial bonds and the hot springs that enable them to survive Nagano's frigid and snowy winters. If you schedule your trip for when the weather warms, catch Nagano's cherry blossom trees and visit stunning Matsumoto Castle.
Where to stay: Experience a traditional Japanese ryokan at Myojinkan in the mountains. Couples have a choice of Japanese (tatami mat on the floor for sleeping) or Western style (mattress in a bed frame) rooms. The hotel's outdoor hot spring permits men and women to bathe together in a natural, private setting.
Park City, Utah
Even if you never strap on a pair of skis in Park City, you'll never be bored. The mountains surrounding it draw serious skiers — and where skiers go, spas to soothe tired muscles are always on the periphery. The town's main street has a surfeit of bars, boutiques, and restaurants. And the Kimball Center is just one of the 20-plus galleries where couples can admire art.
Where to stay: Few hotels match the Waldorf Astoria when it comes to service. The Park City outpost is steps from the Frostwood Gondola. It is also home to a Golden Door Spa. Regardless of the season, romance surrounds the hotel, with heated pools and whirlpools and fire pits to warm couples. Signature experiences include a day with a local brewmaster and motorcycle rentals for a trip along Mirror Lake Highway.
High in the French Alps, Courchevel ski resort is part of Les Trois Vallées, the world's largest linked ski areas. The area includes five villages at different altitudes, each with its own personality.
Where to stay: A winter haven that is only open from December through the end of April (when the last snow melts), Hotel Cheval Blanc at Courchevel in Savoie offers honeymoon couples unforgettable luxury. In addition to housing a Guerlain spa, the hotel is home to chef Yannick Alleno's restaurant Le 1947, burnished with a third Michelin star.
At 4,393 feet, Mount Mansfield is Vermont's tallest mountain. Although it can't compete with Alpine peaks or those out West, it still draws loyalists thanks to a wealth of winter and summer activities in nearby Stowe. For a dramatic drive, follow the Auto Toll Road up to the summit for romantic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains.
Where to stay: Rustic and intimate, Topnotch at Stowe seems made for lovers. A massive wood-burning fireplace, heated indoor pool with adjacent hot tub beside a big picture window, and an expansive spa add to its appeal. Topnotch is the kind of place to kick off your shoes, curl up on a sofa, and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic mountain views outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. At night, idyll beside the outdoor fire pit, sipping champagne and making s’mores.
South Lake Tahoe, California
Towering above crystal-clear Lake Tahoe, Heavenly Valley is the largest ski area in the United States. Its 4,630 skiable acres are accessible from 28 chairlifts, and the season often stretches into April. Après-ski is jovial, especially at Tap's happy hour, when craft beers are sampled daily. Gamblers have a choice of casinos, where live entertainment often draws music fans.
Where to stay: Located mid-mountain, the recently opened Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe features rooms and suites with floor-to-ceiling windows as well as a slope-side spa and a s'mores experience with house-made marshmallows. Exciting summer experiences include parasailing, glider, and hot air balloon rides, and helicopter flightseeing.
Bellayre and Hunter Mountain, New York
They're not particularly tall mountains, but they are close enough to New York City that honeymoon couples can even visit for a day. Come summer, the hills truly are alive with the sound of music on these Catskill Mountains slopes. Concerts at the Belleayre Music Festival run from July through September, and you can enjoy a picnic on the grass surrounding the bandshell. Larger Hunter Mountain attracts bigger acts and its annual Mountain Jam is a rollicking three-day festival.
Where to stay: The Emerson Resort & Spa is the poshest lodging choice in this part of the Catskills. Large and comfortable, modern rooms have rustic wood accents and Arts & Crafts-style furniture. An expansive spa, well-edited shops, access to nearby restaurants, and a trippy kaleidoscope make it popular with couples on a honeymoon, babymoon, or romantic getaway.
Go south, all the way to Bariloche in the Andes Mountains in Argentina's Patagonia region. The South American town borders Nahuel Huapi, a vast glacial lake, so the views couldn't be better. For a quick moment, you may even think you're in the snowy Alps thanks to the chalets, chocolate, and fondue that you can savor here.
Where to stay: Bariloche has a variety of inexpensive hotels, but settle for nothing but the best on your honeymoon: Llao Llao Resort is open year-round. From its marina, couples can kayak, windsurf, canoe, stand up paddle, and go fly fishing in summer. Don't forget to taste your way through Argentina's fine Malbec wines while you're here, and raise a toast to your latest peak experience.