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 places that make a mean cup of hot chocolate.
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, here are some of the best 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 been consistently 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 tenderfoots 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 Amagani resort at the foot of the Teton Mountains. There's a heated outdoor infinity-edge swimming pool and 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; eagle-eyed couples may 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 (most uninhabited) are more overwater bungalows than anywhere else on earth. 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 all lure couples far from home.
Phoenix and nearby Scottsdale, Arizona broil in the summer. Come winter, though, they couldn't be more temperate, which make 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 genius can create out of desert scrub.
Although The Boulders has its own 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. Casitas feature a working kiva fireplace, kingsize bed with native American textiles, and shower big enough for two. And the free-standing spa not only has its own swimming pool; there's also a café serving fare that's both delicious and healthy.
An Adults-Only All-Inclusive in the Caribbean
If February is when you want to vacation, it's important to choose a destination that won't be overrun with children who have been let loose over winter break and the President's Day holiday.
Consider a Sandals Resort in the Caribbean; these are designed expressly for couples 18 years and older. They're sexy and sun-drenched, with accommodations that are surprisingly luxurious, and you have a choice of beach or pool at each location. If you choose a Sandals that's on an island with more than one such property, you'll be welcome to visit and use the facilities at both.
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 warm 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 will opt for 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 US 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, drive along the Hana Highway; its contours and switchbacks reveal vistas of breathtaking beauty. And 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, recreational marijuana shops provide mind-expanding experiences to explore restaurants, stores, entertainment, and the world-class Denver Art Museum. At night, recharge for your next adventure at one of the classic to contemporary romantic Denver hotels.
Brace yourselves for an exhilarating visit to one of the half-dozen ski resorts close to Denver. They welcome skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers of all ability levels.
Tango dancers are synonymous with Argentina. The most dramatic and romantic style of movement a couple can do in public, tango began on the streets of Buenos Aires in the late nineteenth century.
The quality and warmth of tango music remains the soundtrack to any visit to Argentina. Played by small bands or big orchestras, sensual tango music can be heard and danced to in bars, restaurants, theaters, clubs, and even in parks.
Sunsets and sophistication draw couples to vacation in Naples, one of the poshest cities on the Florida peninsula.
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. Art-loving couples should plan to visit during one of the Art Alive events to browse the galleries in the Naples Art District.