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British Virgin IslandsIn just a few days, the New Year will dawn – and we all know what that means: Many a resolution will be made. I am writing this now in hopes of urging all couples to make their number-one resolution for 2011 to get the most from their romantic travels in year ahead. Here’s how:

1. Be spontaneous. Sometimes the best trips are planned on very short notice. And at ShermansTravel.com, great last-minute travel deals are just a few clicks away.


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2. Try a new Caribbean island. Far too many couples get caught in a vacation rut – revisiting the same spot year after year. Repeat getaways are safe and familiar, but it’s fun to head somewhere entirely new: If you like the Bahamas, consider Turks & Caicos or the British Virgin Islands (shown above at left). If you like St. Thomas, try Barbados or St. Lucia. If you’re a fan of Aruba, try Grand Cayman or Anguilla. If Puerto Rico is your usual spot, give Jamaica or Curacao a try.


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3. Let go of everyday life at a spa. There’s no better antidote to the stress and anxiety of daily life than a stay at a couples-oriented spa resort, where the focus is solely on relaxation and wellness. For a quick getaway of three or four nights, consider a spa in a peaceful setting. Four I like are Mii Amo Spa at Enchantment Resort, in Sedona, AZ; The Lodge at Woodloch (www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com) in Hawley, PA; Solage Calistoga in Calistoga, CA (www.solagecalistoga.com); and the Inn at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC (www.palmettobluffresort.com). If you can’t manage a spa stay, at least book a couples’ treatment at your hotel or resort to enjoy, in tandem, its rejuvenating effects.

Bora Bora View4. Make your dream trip a reality. How many years have you been talking about booking that South African safari or that fantasy stay in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora (shown at right)? Vow to make 2011 the year you finally take your dream trip. And be the first to hear about special deals and offers by signing up for ShermansTravel.com Top 25 Newsletter.

5. Have a city fling. North America’s major cities have much to offer couples – art, music, dining, theater, shopping, nightlife – and make great weekend getaways as hotel rates tend to dip Friday to Sunday when business travel lulls. Here are six of my favorites: Boston, for its historic ambience, chic hotels, and contemporary dining; San Francisco, for its eclectic neighborhoods, fabulous food, and easy access to Napa Valley; Charleston, for its abundant charm, antiques shopping, and finger-licking cuisine; San Diego, for its fine weather, pretty beaches, and laid-back attitude; New York City, for its one-of-a-kind energy, Broadway shows, and world-class dining; and Vancouver, for its scenic beauty, fresh Pacific cuisine, and multi-cultural vibe.

Wind Surf Cruise6. Set sail for new ports. If you haven’t tried a cruise, don’t let the old stereotypes – carb-laden buffets, boorish passengers – keep you from experiencing the joy of unpacking just once and seeing a half dozen cities or islands. Ships are more sophisticated than ever and there’s a cruise to fit almost any personality and pocketbook. Here are my favorites. Big Ships: For Vegas-style fun, check out Royal Caribbean’s two newest 5,200-passenger ships, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, which sail from Ft. Lauderdale to the Eastern and Western Caribbean (www.royalcaribbean.com); also show-stoppers, but with a more refined ambience, are Celebrity’s 2,850-passenger Solstice, Equinox, and Eclipse, now sailing from Miami to the Caribbean and throughout Europe in Summer 2011 (www.celebritycruises.com). Small Ships: Luxuries abound on the newest ships from Seabourn, 450-passenger Sojourn and Odyssey (www.seabourn.com) and Silversea, 540-passenger Silver Spirit, sailing Europe from Spring to Fall 2011 (www.silversea.com), while the trio of tall-masted ships from Windstar Cruises, the 148-passenger Wind Star and Wind Spirit and 312-passenger Wind Surf (shown above at left), offer a great compromise between casual camaraderie and upscale amenities (www.windstarcruises.com). My favorite cruise locale is the Mediterranean, where you can sample big cities such as Barcelona, Athens, and Venice mixed with intriguing isles such as Capri, Mallorca, or Corsica in a single week.

7. Explore a wine region next door. California’s Napa and Sonoma valleys may be the country’s best-known wine regions, but plenty of other states also have their own, filled with romantic inns and B&Bs, restaurants serving farm-to-table cuisine, and, of course, atmospheric wineries. Check out: Oregon’s Willamette Valley; Virginia’s Charlottesville area (www.monticellowinetrail.com); New York’s Finger Lakes; and Texas Hill Country.

8. Don’t forget Mexico. The romance of our neighbor to the south has been somewhat lost amid frightening headlines about drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. But Mexico’s top tourism destinations – namely Los Cabos, Cancun and Riviera Maya – have not been affected and many resorts in these areas are offering great deals in 2011.

9. Visit a new Hawaiian island. Hawaii remains a popular romantic travel destination – especially Oahu and Maui. If you get the urge to experience the aloha spirit again, switch things up with a visit to sleepy Lanai (www.gohawaii.com/lanai), stunning Kauai, or the red-hot Big Island.

Venice Grand Canal10. If you’ve never been to Italy, andiamo! I have been lucky to have traveled to more than 85 countries, and yet Italy steadfastly remains my #1. It has everything couples looking for a romantic vacation could want – so there’s no excuse if you have not been there! When you go, try to mix in a trio of cities/regions for a variety of experiences. Here are three great combos: Rome, Florence, and Venice (shown at right); Rome, Amalfi Coast, and Sicily; Florence, Venice, and Lake Como.

Wishing you the happiest and most romantic travels of your life in 2011!

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