There are few things more romantic than a hotel. There is the hotel's long, libidinous relationship with the afternoon dalliance or the lover's weekend. For one thing, there's the anonymity and privacy. For another, there's that great, big bed. So even if you all you do is lie there and cuddle, or order room service, or doze, the comforting feeling that no kids or ex-wives are going to burst in on you makes the time you spend in your room that much more special for the two of you.
Of course, while some people find their hotel bliss in a Best Western or Motel 6, there are some hotels where romance greets you upon arrival faster than an overeager bellhop. These are places where, for the most part, no one is wheeling their own luggage across the lobby or has a laptop slung over their shoulders. Where no one wants to know where the business center is and wake-up calls, if they are requested at all, are made for well after noon.
Whether in a city or nestled on a remote beach, in gilded Louis Quinze elegance or relaxed rustic charm, these hotels are more about making love than lucre. But that's not to say that romance comes cheap. In addition to fresh flowers, vintage champagne and soft sheets, these hotels also have in common high prices. The nightly rates of the hotels on our list this year begin at a reasonable $190 but quickly shoot up over the thousand-dollar mark.
But then again, no one ever said Valentine's Day was cheap. According to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2004 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, this year the average consumer will spend approximately $100 on Valentine's Day. Total estimated spending is predicated to be $13 billion, which is up 23.3% from last year.
While, according to Virginia-based Market Facts, the number one gift given on Valentine's Day is a greeting card, followed by dinner and then flowers, there is a minority of lucky couples out there who are giving and getting more lavish presents, including diamonds, fur coats, Manolo Blahniks, expensive dinners, and, of course, romantic getaways.
The hotel industry looks forward to Valentine's Day nearly as much as those in love do. The mid-February holiday traditionally gives hotels a big revenue bump during a season that can otherwise be slow. And, with the economy returning, many hotels are hoping to have their best February in years.
According to Bobby Bowers at Smith Travel Research in Hendersonville, Tenn., V-Day 2004 should represent a significant increase over last year--and a vast improvement over universally dreary 2002. For 2003, occupancy was 74.5% for Feb. 14, an increase over the holiday weekend the year before, which was 61.3%.
"All the stars are lined up correctly this year," says Bowers. "Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday, and its also a long weekend, so every indication is pointing that it will be a great weekend for hotel occupancy. Saturday is about as good a day as you can get for Valentine's Day hotel bookings."
The drawback, of course, to what is likely to be a big weekend for the hotel business is that, unlike the past few years, if you haven't booked a romantic weekend yet, don't get out the suitcases. Many hotels have been sold out for weeks, but you can always use this list to help plan a romantic Valentine's Day for next year. In the meantime, you had better start dialing your local florist before he runs out of roses.