Gentlemen, let’s be honest here (ladies, if you need a little help with romance, you can read on, too). We typically don’t knock it out of the park when it comes to planning a date night or, God forbid, a romantic getaway. Just the words “Valentine’s Day” makes many of us want to go live off the grid in a remote Alaskan cabin processing our own moose meat instead of trying to get last-minute dinner reservations or figuring out what perfume or bauble our lady desires.
Now that we admit to our lack of both creativity and execution when it comes to romance, may I offer a solution? While fancy dinners, flowers and jewelry have their rightful place in the romance department, let’s do something different this year and go for experiences. Our list includes weekend getaways packed with serious R&R, an overnight stay designed to bring out your inner George Clooney, and even a few date-night events that will be remembered by your significant other for a lifetime. So dial up some Barry White on the old Victrola and let’s get started.
Go for the getaway
East or west? Relaxation or revelry? Those are your choices for two very romantic weekend getaways. First up is the Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the quintessential hideaway for revitalization. “The central component is water,” says Marketing Director Wendi Gelfound. “The resort features a natural spring and we offer an open-air soaking experience with private outdoor pools, soaking tubs, co-ed steam room and steam showers.” Other unique aspects of this secluded 70-acre sanctuary include a sweat lodge, medicine wheel, expressive arts program and even a “puppy studio” and chicken coop where guests can interact with assistance dogs and chickens, all in the name of reducing stress. “If guests are struggling with stress, spending even five minutes in a natural setting can help. Things can start to shift and you can take back control of your everyday life,” says Gelfound.
If getting a little rowdy is on the menu, then New Orleans has the perfect combination of revelry and romance. Cuisine that makes you want to slap your mamma, cocktails that both shake and stir the soul and music that electrifies every atom inside us — that’s New Orleans. And if you want to stay at a place that exudes the “laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll) attitude, look no further than the Hotel Mazarin. “Hotel Mazarin is an authentic, French Quarter-styled courtyard building, with Spanish wrought iron balconies surrounding a Renaissance-inspired fountain,” says Marc Becker, area director of sales and marketing for New Orleans Hotel Collection. “Its dreamy European flavor in the heart of the historic district is a unique opportunity for guests to experience the best of the city. All the things that couples seeking a getaway want are within a stone’s throw: the famous Arnaud’s Restaurant, the new Revolution Restaurant, Patrick’s Bar Vin for a cozy respite, and oysters at Acme Oyster House.” The hotel offers a “Romantic Rendezvous” package that includes champagne and strawberries upon arrival, a dinner gift certificate at Broussard’s, which has been a New Orleans staple of fine dining since 1920, and a free cocktail at the hotel’s “21st Amendment” bar, one of the last truly authentic jazz bars that features nightly live jazz left in the French Quarter.
Stay and play
While it’s nice to get away, there are plenty of incredibly romantic — and unique — things to do for a weekend or date night in good old Dallas-Fort Worth. For an overnight stay that ratchets up the swank, consider The Joule in downtown Dallas. With a host of elegant rooms, speakeasy-inspired Midnight Rambler bar and cantilever pool that juts out eight feet from the hotel’s structure, giving swimmers the sensation of swimming off the building’s edge, The Joule is all about indulgence. And couples seeking a truly world-class spa experience will be hard pressed to do better than The Spa. “Those looking for a special spa experience can request the Couples Suite to enjoy their massages together. And be sure to save some time to relax in the spa’s coed heated vitality pool while enjoying a glass of complimentary champagne,” says General Manager Justin Fields.
Dramatically different date nights
Below is perhaps the most eclectic list of robustly romantic offerings that can — no, will — score us big points in the luvin’ department. Use it wisely. You’re welcome.
1 Warbird ride at the Cavanaugh Flight Museum – Take a ride for two in the museum’s 1928 Travel Air 4000. Rides are $325 per couple. Like the vintage planes but want to stay on the ground? The museum puts on a Warbirds over Addison event in May. www.cavanaughflightmuseum.com
2 Social Science at the Perot Museum – The museum comes to life with experiments, performances, interactive activities, and cocktails just for adults. Each Social Science event is based on a specific theme with activities throughout the evening based on that theme. $15 for members, $25 for non-members. www.Perotmuseum.org
3Pickled Picasso – Show off (or laugh at the lack of) your artistic side fueled by its BYOB policy. Artists on site will walk you through the process, step-by-step, until your masterpiece is complete! Located in Keller. The Valentine’s Day event involves painting a caricature of your partner and includes a raffle drawing – $35 per person. www.pickledpicasso.com
4Chef Dat – After stints in Honolulu, Portland, Napa, San Francisco, LA, Vegas and Denver, Chef David Anthony “Dat” Temple started his Underground Dinners in DFW in 2009. The dinners are hosted at secret locations and you’ve got to be on the email list to even be considered. Chef Dat can also cook in your home for a private dinner. Bon appetit! Underground dinners range from $65-$125 per person depending on the type of menu. Join the email list at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.chefdat.com for more info.
5Laura’s Natural Kitchen – Another twist on the same old restaurant date. But this time, an accomplished nutritionist and plant-based chef leads a class that will involve learning basic to advanced cooking skills, preparing a three-course meal (that includes dessert!), and the benefits of plant-based eating. Date-night special for February is $125 per couple for a 3-course dinner and free a bottle of wine. www.laurasnaturalkitchen.com
• Sunrise Springs Spa Resort – Couples R&R package - $650/night, two-night minimum; includes all-inclusive meals, massage for each person, pool area outside, all activities, choice of additional private sessions. www.sunrisesprings.com
• Hotel Mazarin – Rates begin at $195/night with the Romantic Rendezvous package starting at $219/night. www.hotelmazarin.com
• The Joule – Rooms start at $260/night. The most requested room is the Deluxe Suite, which offers a separate living room area, large bathroom with double vanity featuring a deep soaking tub and large shower. Price varies based on availability. www.thejouledallas.com