January and February are the coldest months in many places, which leaves two choices for a romantic vacation at the start of the new year: head south to warmer climates or revel in the cold at ski towns, ice hotels, and winter wonderlands.
Couples planning to travel in the month of February are particularly in luck because hotels create special Valentine's Day romance packages every year that roll out the red carpet for lovers. Seasonal romance packages typically are available for Valentine's weekend, others are good throughout February, and still, others remain available for a few months. Check dates before you book and if you see a Valentine's package you want to take advantage of but can't go on a mini-vacation at that time, call the hotel or resort directly and ask if they will honor the price and terms of the package at another time.
But before you book that romantic package, you'll need to choose a romantic destination. Whether you choose to pack your swimsuit or your ski boots, there are plenty of places in the world to get away to at this romantic time of year.
Riviera Maya hugs the eastern coastline of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. A prime stretch of beach that's a magnet for full-service resorts, Riviera Maya faces the Caribbean Sea's gentle waters under which lie the second largest coral reef barrier in the world.
While the beach and the water are the main attractions, unique cultural and historic points of interest for twosomes include Xcaret, an eco-archeological theme park; Xel-Ha, a natural aquarium; and the ancient Maya capital, Chichen Itza, where couples can commune with the Sacred Well, Ball Court, and El Castillo pyramid. After all that sightseeing, you can head home to Grand Velas Riviera Maya, a deluxe all-inclusive, all-suite beach resort with a child-free wing dubbed Grand Class.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has consistently been a popular resort for those who love winter and skiing. Due to low January and February temperatures, snow across its 2,500 acres tends to be light and airy, making it ideal for powder hounds. The Mountain Sports School can have even beginners skiing and snowboarding in no time. Dogsledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing are also readily available.
Romantics can warm up at the luxury Amangani resort at the foot of the Teton Mountains. Take a dip in the heated outdoor infinity-edge swimming pool or relax in a spa that focuses on Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine healing. Choose reiki hot stone, therapeutic cupping, chakra balancing, and other treatments in addition to an array of massages. Each suite has a balcony or patio with expansive views; you may even spot elk, wolves, or moose in the wild.
Far away in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives beckons lovers in search of turquoise waters, pristine sands, and endless horizons. Across the country's 1,000 coral islands, which are mostly uninhabited, there are more overwater bungalows than anywhere else on earth. Between the salubrious climate, feeling as if you're the only two people in the world, the chance to explore fascinating undersea life, and the quality of service, it's easy to see how easily the Maldives lures couples so far from home.
As one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world, you really can't go wrong when picking romantic accommodations in the Maldives, but COMO Cocoa Island on Makunufushi is one that stands out. The intimate setting, private beach dinners, unparalleled spa services, and aquatic excursions will leave you and your partner talking about the trip for years to come.
Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale, Arizona, broil in the summer. Come winter, though, they couldn't be more temperate, which makes January and February ideal months to vacation here. The area has many top-rated resorts and golf courses as far as the eye can see. While you're in the area, make time to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, a testament to what an architectural genius can create out of desert scrub.
Although The Boulders Resort and Spa has its own golf greens, that's not the main draw amidst its massive granite megaliths and roof-topping saguaro cacti. Built around its namesake rocks, The Boulders appears to have been conceived just for couples. Casita villas feature a working kiva fireplace, kingsize bed with native American textiles, and a shower big enough for two. The free-standing spa not only has its own swimming pool, but there's also a café serving healthy and delicious fare.
If you choose to vacation in January or February, you may be competing for space with families who are on holiday with children let loose for winter break or the President's Day long weekend. If you prefer a child-free trip, skip the hassle altogether and fly out to one of the Sandals' adults-only resorts in the Caribbean, where the climate is balmy and you're safely out of the Atlantic hurricane season.
The Swiss town where winter vacations officially began, snow-covered St. Moritz is truly magical in January and February. Attracting affluent visitors from Europe and the rest of the world, it entices couples to try a variety of cold-weather sports. Here you can ski, bobsled, ice skate, and even try your hand at curling.
At night, retreat to the warmth of one of St. Moritz's fine hotels, such as the legendary Badrutt's Palace. Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, the large swimming pool is a wonderful place to unwind while taking in the view. Intrepid couples should venture out to the heated outdoor infinity pool, where a glass of champagne is the reward for braving the elements.
Warm waters, gentle breezes, and romantic hotels make Hawaii a year-round destination. And in January and February, when much of the U.S. is in a deep freeze, you can bask in the sun and explore the islands wearing just a pair of shorts, flip-flops, and the colorful Hawaiian shirt you don for the visit. First-timers often opt for Honolulu, and Waikiki Beach and its surfers are something to behold. But couples who come this far owe it to themselves to explore beyond the capital.
While all the islands are places of great natural beauty, Maui's one-of-a-kind terrain is extraordinary. Awaken when it's still dark to arrive atop Haleakala Crater to greet the sunset and bicycle down. Another day, you can drive along the Hana Highway; its contours and switchbacks reveal vistas of breathtaking beauty. Allow yourselves time to pull over and experience the spray of a rushing waterfall.
The perfect blend of city delights and mountain highs, Denver offers couples the best of both worlds. Downtown Denver offers cultural delights such as award-winning restaurants, fantastic nightlife, the world-class Denver Art Museum, and a concert at the one-of-a-kind Red Rocks Amphitheater. Couples who want to indulge can enjoy craft beer in one of Denver's many microbreweries or make a stop in a recreational marijuana shop.
But don't limit yourself to the city limits, because Colorado's real magic is the breathtaking scenery. Take a visit to one of the half-dozen ski resorts close to Denver, where you can also snowboard, snowshoe, and cross-country ski. If winter sports aren't your thing, a simple day hike in the nearby forests and mountains make for an intimate albeit wintry excursion.
Escape winter altogether and insert yourselves directly into the Southern Hemisphere summer. Known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires is famous for its first-rate wines, charming rural estancias, and sensual tango dancing.
Enjoying dinner in an Argentine steakhouse is an easy way to celebrate a romantic night out, especially when paired with a bottle of a local Malbec wine. As one of the foodie capitals of Latin America, the burgeoning restaurant scene in Buenos Aires is constantly becoming more creative, more diverse, and more delicious.
Tango is renowned as one of the most sensual dances in the world, and it was born right here in the streets of the Argentine capital. A romantic trip to Buenos Aires wouldn't be complete without at least one night out to a local bar, perhaps after signing up for a dance class, to listen to a live tango band while you and your partner passionately move to the sultry beats.
Sunsets and sophistication draw couples to vacation in Naples, one of the poshest cities on the Florida peninsula. Winter is the low-season in Naples, meaning fewer crowds and better travel deals. The weather isn't as unbearably hot nor as muggy as in the summer months, and daytime winter highs are still around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, warm enough to sit out on the beach or relax by the pool.
Designed to resemble a Tuscan village, Naples Bay Resort has a beautiful waterfront with a marina and boats that couples can rent to sail to uncrowded islands. There are also outdoor swimming pools, on-site restaurants, a spa, shops, and well-equipped rooms. Naples Bay Resort seems like a self-contained world, yet it's just minutes away from Fifth Avenue, the main downtown center. Art-loving couples should plan to visit during one of the Art Alive events to browse the galleries in the Naples Art District.