Beauty

Romance is in the air!

Romance is in the air!
The top 5 destinations for love in 2008

With a little help from Cupid, we’ve scoured the world to find the five finest places to indulge—and be indulged—in a little romance this year. From plush lakefront hideaways to marble and mosaic palaces, we’ve uncovered the top spots to whisk your sweetie away for some good old-fashioned pie-in-the-sky romance.

Lake Como, Italy
Rolling hills, pristine lake water and impossibly beautiful gardens attest that Lago di Como was made for love. Epitomized by poets from Tennyson and Longfellow, this Italian paradise has been captivating love and lovers for centuries. From private boat tours to lingering meals by candlelight you’ll be hard-pressed not to skip, jump and dance your way through this rustic yet decadent little slice of heaven.

Romantic highlights: Picturesque boat rides à deux, dining by candlelight, cobblestone strolls and hidden cafes.
Stay: Villa d’Este. Surrounded by 25 acres of luscious park, this lakefront hideaway is more than just a hotel. A former 16th century princely residence and the current stomping grounds of George Clooney and friends, you’ll be swaddled in sheer decadence the moment you enter the gates.

Dine: Bar Café Rossi. Dine at one of the outside tables or indulge in a dry Italian martini in their chic Art Nouveau dining rooms. Light Italian fare is reasonably priced. Address: Piazza Mazzini 22/24
Do: Explore the lake by boat. Cited as the most beautiful of all the Italian lakes, it’s best to get a view yourself. Rent one of the many boats and make a trip out to the centre of the lake—where the eastern Lecco branch meets the main lake, offering an infinite view of breathtaking water and mountains.

Lake Pichola, Udaipur, India
Set among the lush Aravalli Hills, Udaipur has long been called India’s most romantic city for a reason. From jasmine-scented streets to mountains and palaces, this little spot is perfect for the exotic at heart. Spend your days visiting garden-filled courtyards and shopping for semi-precious gems. Legend has it that the spell of Udaipur is so strong that many a Westerners who arrived long ago still haven’t used their return ticket home.
Romantic highlights: Lush vegetable & spice markets, lofty palaces and holy temples. Stay: Taj Lake Palace. Located in the middle of Lake Pichola, this mosaic dream appears to float
on water like something from a fairytale. Built in 1746 and set against the backdrop of the rolling Aravalli Mountains, this stunning palace spreads across four acres on its own island. Talk about your own romantic hideaway.

Dine: For a picturesque view of Lake Pichola, grab a window seat at the Jagat Niwas Palace restaurant. You’ll get the best view of the distant hills and of the Lake Palace. In the evenings, with the palace aglow, the view from one of the restaurants many candlelit alcoves is simply spectacular. Address: 23–25 Lal Ghat, (
91) 294 242 0133
Do: Don’t miss out on the city’s streets. Amidst the colourful delicate sari’s, you’ll find everything from exotic spice markets (pick up some local fennel seeds) to stalls selling handmade paper (jasmine-scented is the speciality) to Udaipur artists selling itsy-bitsy miniature paintings. Sensory overload at it’s finest. To get a real hands-on experience, sign up for a cooking class and learn the mysteries of making a good curry. Sushma’s cooking classes have been running in the city center for over seven years. Sushma’s Cooking Classes, 35 Lal Ghat, Udaipur, Ragasthan, (91) 294 242 0163
 
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Quaint, colonial and romantic—the charm of Montreal does not go unnoticed on lovers. The perfect union between old and new, avant-guard and old-fashioned, Montreal—located along the St. Lawrence—is a city that’s poised to please. A city of gastronomical feasts (poutine and crêpes galore), rich nightlife, and culture, Montreal is the perfect amour-filled getaway for two.
Romantic highlights: Horse-drawn carriage rides, cobblestone streets, waterfront strolls and charming cafes for deux.
Stay: Hotel Nelligan. This beautiful boutique hotel, housed in a building dating from 1850, features a suite appropriately called the Romance Suite. How perfect. With a double Jacuzzi, outside city views, wetbar, as well as its own living room and cozy fireplace,
you’ll be tempted to order in room service for your entire stay.

Dine: Gibby’s. Located in the 200-year old Youville stables building in the heart of Old Montreal, this rustic yet sophisticated steakhouse features a delectable menu of steak and fresh seafood. Cozy fireplaces, historic stone walls and a selection of bountiful wines set the stage for a romantic dinner for you and your sweetheart. Tip: You can even arrange with the restaurant staff to have a horse-drawn carriage pick you up after dinner for an evening ride through old Montreal. Address: 298 Place d’Youville (514) 282-1837
Do: Invest in the Montreal Museum Pass. This little handy card will get you unlimited access to 19 fine museums across Montreal. Best yet, this petit pass can be anything from a one-to-three day pass to a single or family plan option. Available at Info-Tourism located near the corner of Peel and Ste-Catherine at 1001 or at any of the participating museums.

Maldives, Indian Ocean
Located in the Indian Ocean about 500 kms from the southern tips of Sri Lanka and India, the Maldives consists of 1190 different islands. With azure blue waters, white sandy coves and rare underwater beauty, this kaleidoscope of islands guarantees a special sense of privilege and privacy—especially since there is no more than one resort per island. Talk about sheer seclusion.

Romantic highlights: Ultimate privacy, endless blue waters, exotic fish and lush flora.
Stay: One&Only, Reethi Rah. Set on its very own private island, Reethi Rah (meaning beautiful island) is supremely luxurious, chic and discreet all at the same time. With personalized butler service for each of its 130 villas & suites (many hosting their own private pool and stretch of beach), each unit is decked out in stylishly rich fabrics, indulgent bathtubs and large terraces with supreme ocean views. Oh la la!
Dine: Being on a private island, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any other cuisine aside from the options found at your resort. You won’t however be amiss. At the One&Only Reethi Rah, options range from Japanese to Lebanese so you’ll be able to successfully cocoon yourselves away from the rest of the world.
Do: Winning the “World’s Leading Dive Destination” at the World Travel Awards last year, diving in this little paradise is simply out of this world. The rich waters (which strech 800 km) of this underwater dream world are home to 70 varieties of corral and 700 different species of fish whose exotic names range from Sweetlips to Picasso fish. Be prepared for a vibrant spectacle for the eyes.

Napa Valley
Standing as the most famous wine region in the United States, Napa Valley is legendary for its rolling mountains, natural hot springs and gorgeous vineyards. Not to mention its gourmet cuisine, making it the perfect spot to indulge in some quality time together. Visiting vineyards, hiking through local parks and spending evenings cuddling by a cozy fireplace are just some activities you’ll find yourself enjoying. And although this wine country isn’t just about wine – if you are a wine lover then you will surely be in your element.
Romantic highlights: Hot air balloon rides, long bike rides, stone fireplaces and vintage glasses of wine.

Stay: Set in the midst of a 33-acre olive grove, Auberge du Soleil is secluded, discreet and informally elegant. Each suite comes equipped with handmade tile floors, luxurious Italian linens, and a refrigerator stocked with regional wines and cheeses.

Dine: Expect to find some of the country’s top tables in Napa Valley—with French Laundry being one of them. Having won almost every award a restaurant can get, come prepared for their flawless service, an impeccable wine list (you are, after all, in wine country), and the freshest local flavours. Book ahead. Word is that you need to reserve two months in advance. Address: 6640 Washington Street, (707) 944-2380
Do: Toast the one you love high above the valley floor. Napa’s Balloons Above the Valley offers hot air balloons rides with the prettiest views imagineable. From several thousand feet above the air, you’ll be able to shout ‘I love you!’ at the top of your lungs—all the while getting the best view of the vineyards and wineries below. Don’t miss out on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can visit the best vineyards and wineries on one easy train ride. Make sure to stop in and check out the vintage Pullman dining cars!