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In many parts of the world, temperatures are starting to slide in a bitter direction. The calling of Old Man Winter is growing tougher to ignore, and the yearning to escape to warmer weather is very, very real. It’s probably about time you rewarded yourself with a trip to Hawaii…or perhaps somewhere even more exotic.
For those already planning a jaunt to the 50th state, or those who have had it on their bucket list for many years now, there’s a little-known secret that could enable you to make that dream trip even more spectacular. Island lovers the world over have fawned over the gems tucked away in French Polynesia, but Tahiti is undoubtedly one of the most remote locales in the world. Getting there is not only trying, but incredibly expensive. If you’ve done even casual research on flying there, you’ve most likely turned away in disgust after seeing how high the fares were when connecting through LAX. Read more
Booking a summer vacation is so satisfying. Even more satisfying? Saving hundreds of dollars on it. Our deals experts have been scouring the internet in search of the hottest summer deals to help you save. Here’s what they came up with, from an incredible suite in Vegas to a cool Bahamas getaway to a 5-star Spain package. For even more deals, check out our weekly Top 25.
As a writer specializing in honeymoons and romantic travel, I have been lucky enough to visit Tahiti five times (go ahead and hate me) and these magical South Pacific islands never get old – but cruise ships do. So I was happy to hear that the m/s Paul Gauguin (shown at left in Moorea), the 332-passenger ship that has been sailing the South Pacific for 14 years, underwent a $7 million refurbishment in January. And when I went aboard in late February for a seven-night Tahiti & Society Islands cruise, the renovations looked great. The new color scheme – muted neutrals and pale blues instead of the old red and dark navy – gives the ship a renewed elegance and sense of place. And the all-inclusive (with the exception of shore excursions and spa treatments) pricing makes the Paul Gauguin, while still a splurge, a great value in a region where overwater bungalows run upwards of $800 per night and food alone can tack on another $500 a day for two. Plus, book in 2012 and cruise fares include free round-trip airfare from Los Angeles. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking of booking a romantic sail through the islands of French Polynesia.
Romance is revving up all over the place during the month of February, from sun-kissed beaches to sophisticated big cities. Here are 25 deals and packages – from Fort Lauderdale to Fiji, Maine to Madrid, and St. Kitts to Sedona – that you can still book to make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable ever:
IN THE U.S. & CANADA
The Grand Del Mar: Unplug and relax with the “Disconnect Package” at the luxurious The Grand Del Mar near San Diego (shown above at left) and you’ll get one night’s accommodations (with the room TV unplugged and upgrade upon booking if available), berry-infused champagne cocktail upon arrival, choice of a 60-minute couples massage, or a 2-hour horseback ride for two, breakfast in bed for two, and late checkout, from $795/night. Read more
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend more quality time with the person you love, then I suggest you enjoy that togetherness someplace amazing! And what’s better or more romantic than a stunning, sun-kissed island? There’s something innately sexy and bond-inspiring about the sea – floating together in gentle turquoise surf, walking hand-in-hand at sunset, enjoying the day’s fresh catch paired with a rum cocktail or a fine wine. So as the new year begins, here are my top 10 picks for the most amazing islands to escape to together in 2012. Read more
Fly to Australia this February through May, and count on a three-night complimentary stopover in Tahiti with luxe accommodations included. This is how we see it: You’re preparing for a killer flight halfway around the world to your dream down-under destination (ahem, Auckland or Sydney), so how clutch is a free touchdown in South Pacific paradise along the way? Travelers can pick between the Radisson Plaza Resort Tahiti, a contemporary beachfront resort with innovative dining and prime access to Tahiti’s most famous black-sand beach, or the Sofitel Maeva Beach Resort, a two-year-old all-suite resort with a happening lounge (upgrades are also available for an overwater bungalow at Le Meridien Tahiti for $275 per person for all three nights). Round-trip Air Tahiti Nui flights to Auckland or Sydney from LAX start at $1,118 which represents over 30 percent in savings, minding the Tahiti stopover. This offer must be booked by November 6 for travel January 30 to May 31. Visit www.airtahitinui-usa.com for more details or call 877/824-4846 to book.
For general trip-planning info, see our Australia and Pacific Travel Guide.
Alas, my stint as the Romantic Getaways blogger has come to an end: After 90-plus blogs, I am giving up this weekly freelance assignment to take a full-time job. But I want the romance to live on, so I thought I’d list a handful of my Ultimate Romantic Getaways must-dos – each with two suggestions, one a splurge and the other a steal. I hope you’ll find the time to get away soon and enjoy some of the places I’ve loved writing about.
Enjoy a Private Jacuzzi Rendezvous
Splurge: If you want to feel like you are the only two people in Venice, stay at the Bauer Il Palazzo, and book the private rooftop Jacuzzi (shown above at left) for one hour just before sunset. You’ll get champagne, strawberries, and 60 amazing minutes to soak in the sexiness of La Serenissima – and each other. Rates start at $853/night (private Jacuzzi bookable at an extra charge).
Steal: Every suite at Excellence Playa Mujeres, an adults-only all-inclusive located on a white-sand beach just outside Cancun, Mexico, has a private Jacuzzi with both indoor and outdoor access. Plus, the décor is contemporary chic, with polished marble floors and a dramatic four-poster bed. The beach and the meandering freeform pool may beckon, but the top spot to relax à deux is just steps from your bed. Rates start at $375/night, all-inclusive.
If your idea of the ultimate romantic getaway is the islands of French Polynesia, now is the time to make that dream a reality. The rainy season is ending and Tahiti Tourisme (www.tahiti-tourisme.com) and Air Tahiti Nui (www.flyatn.com) are offering a variety of “Romance in Tahiti” deals to the islands of Tahiti & Moorea and Bora Bora (shown above at left). Or, if you have a luxury budget and you’re planning a fun-filled getaway with two other couples, The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort’s palatial three-bedroom Royal Estate (where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned) is on sale. I have stayed at or toured all of these resorts and know these packages offer a great value in a very expensive destination. Here are the details:
In 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.
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.
Is there a more romantic fantasy than saying, “I do” on a white-sand beach beside a tranquil blue lagoon in Bora Bora? Dream no more as Tahiti has legalized destination-wedding ceremonies for U.S. and Canadian couples (in fact, for any overseas visitors over the age of 18 who are not French citizens – with the exception of same-sex couples). Here’s the scoop:
Requirements: If you want to wed legally in Tahiti you will need to start the process at least six months in advance (you can also marry stateside and enjoy ceremonial-only vows in Tahiti with far less paperwork). There are about six detailed documents that need to be translated and filed, including a “Marriage of Foreign Citizens in French Polynesia” document; a letter signed and dated by both spouses and addressed to the mayor of the commune where the wedding will take place; proof of identities (copies of both spouses passports); a certified copy of both spouses’ birth certificates issued less than six months prior to the wedding date, authenticated with an “Apostile,” translated into French by an approved translator and legalized by the French Consulate; a “Certificate of Non-Marital Status” signed by a lawyer, translated into French and legalized by the French Consulate; and proof of residency for both spouses (such as utility bills). For complete details, visit Tahiti Tourisme’s dedicated weddings page (www.Tahiti-Tourisme.com/Weddings).
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