Image: Rabbit Hill Inn; Lower Waterford, Vt.
© Rabit Hill Inn
Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vt., was originally a tavern, general store and guest house for fur traders starting in 1795. Today, 19 suites—most with fireplaces, canopy beds and whirlpool tubs—host visitors looking for a luxurious escape. Romance doesn't wait for evening to fall as even the breakfasts are served by candlelight. Special touches from champagne and roses to a glowing candle turndown service and in-room massages are an inn specialty.
updated 2/7/2008 9:48:38 AM ET 2008-02-07T14:48:38

Romantic getaways are more spectacular than diamonds, more fulfilling than a five-course meal and much more fun to embrace than roses. For Valentine’s Day, the right romantic retreat will make any lover swoon. The new year’s first major holiday is all about intimacy, and bed and breakfasts and tiny inns from Maine to Mississippi have concocted the sweetest treats for their Valentine’s Day guests. B&Bs can conjure fear of doilies, over-decorated dining rooms and shared bathrooms, but well-traveled couples know that downsized accommodations can still be deluxe. In-room fireplaces, top-rated dining, spa services and lavish amenities are available in both Southern antebellum mansions and New England’s snow-covered cottages.

“[B&Bs] have a more intimate atmosphere and are very personalized,” says Misty Ewing, director of public relations for Virtuoso, a luxury travel agency group. “Because they are small properties you feel people are very attentive to your needs.”

How about soliciting help from a snow concierge for your romantic New England trip? At Blantyre, in Massachusetts about two hours from both Boston and New York, guests at the Tudor-style mansion can snowshoe or cross-country ski around the property’s 110 acres. At night, soft lights and music accent the ice skating rink (the mansion’s three tennis courts, flooded for the winter). Rich hot chocolate is available for warming up, as are ice picnics and snow barbecues next to a bonfire. On the West Coast, the five-room Poetry Inn in Napa Valley offers each guest a private terrace with vineyard views. The well-stocked mini bar means plenty of local wine to sip while enjoying the scenery. After drinks, opt for a massage al fresco, or next to the wood-burning fireplace in each suite.

Kathy Burns Lamphier, president of Posh Travel based in New Hampshire, says the best romantic getaways are sometimes born of procrastination. Every February, she gets calls from frantic clients who waited too long to make those special plans. “We play part marriage counselor and travel consultant and activities director at the same time,” she says. “Clients don’t know what to get so they go for the ‘wow’ factor and we create it.”

“Wow” comes with a price tag. At Vermont’s Twin Farms, for instance, rooms start at $1,200. But, the extensive grounds that surround the 1700s farmhouse are scattered with unique cottages, a spa, six ski slopes, a pub and, naturally, a helipad. Back in the room, guests can immerse themselves in a sunken Jacuzzi in front of the fireplace. Twin Farms owns all the equipment needed to snowshoe or cross-country ski, but there’s also an oversized outdoor skating rink with skates, hockey sticks, nets, broom ball—and the ever-important hot rum toddies. If there’s enough snow, guests can go on a sleigh ride. Incidentally, everything is included in the room charge—food, drinks, even the ski equipment.

If, for you, a romantic getaway must actually involve getting away, consider Greyfield Inn on Georgia’s Cumberland Island. There are no other phones, buildings or even shops on this preserved national seashore. It’s so isolated that wild horses are known graze on the lawn and trot down the beaches. Built by the Carnegie family in 1900, this Southern mansion includes original furnishings and antiques. Dining is an elegant event that start with hors d’oeuvres in the bar then moves to Southern samples served in the glow of candlelight.

Image: Castle Hill Inn; Newport, R.I.
© Castle Hill Inn
Situated on a 40-acre peninsula overlooking Narragansett Bay, quintessential New England cottages flank the grounds of this Victorian mansion. There are spectacular views of the water from the four dining rooms as well as from the perfectly-placed soaking tubs.
Like the best deluxe hotels, luxury B&Bs anticipate theirs guests’ needs. For Valentine’s Day, that means special touches from rose petal trails to unsolicited treats. At Monmouth, an antebellum Mississippi mansion in Natchez, Miss., guests are treated to champagne upon arrival and turndown service includes a long-stem rose and chocolates. The property itself bursts with romantic Southern charm that would make Scarlett O’Hara blush. Though built in the 19th century, the 30 guestrooms have private baths and the latest amenities, including Wi-Fi internet access. Guests can meander the historic grounds past rolling lawns, mossy oak trees and fragrant magnolias to a lake and manicured floral gardens. Antique shops and plantations tours are a carriage ride away.

But when the bustle of even a Southern hamlet is too much, Eagle Rock Lodge offers a romantic escape on the banks of Oregon’s McKenzie River next to the Cascade Mountains. This secluded lodge with only eight guest rooms boasts fireplaces, four-poster beds and multi-room suites. The lodge recommends a romantic two-hour river tour for two in the late evening where guests float past the scenery of old growth forest. For Valentine’s Day, couples can literally float off into the sunset.


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