With September fast approaching, that means it’s time to put another summer behind and begin thinking about some great Fall destinations. Fall travel can be very rewarding, particularly for couples, for a number of reasons. Among them, the summer crowds at many destinations have dispersed; it’s the “shoulder’’ season for some destination, meaning guests can get savings on hotels and area attractions; and the weather is most of the locales is still good.
Here’s Fall travel primer with some prime destinations.
Verona, Italy (Veneto Region)
Shakespearean Land for Lovers
With Italy recently topping Virtuoso’s Top 10 list of 2015 fall destinations, the country is a hot spot for travelers this upcoming season. Home of the Opera and Shakespeare’s fabled star-crossed lovers, the city of Verona immerses starry-eyed pairs in romance when setting foot on the cobblestoned streets. In the heart of it all, directly across Porta Borsari (an ancient Roman gate leading to Rome), Palazzo Victoria is a luxurious 14th century villa with modern amenities and 74 rooms and suites. The hotel even has a the Ultimate Bubble Bath where a discreet service ambassador fills the bathtub with your Champagne of choice, or the Victoria’s Opera Serenade, which can be arranged in the privacy of your own suite. How’s that for personalized?
Guests can join the local Veronese for an Italian cocktail hour called “Aperitivo’’ at the exquisite Victoria Club Bar, where the atmosphere matches the glamour and warmth of the city. The Victoria Suite is a favorite for couples, complete with Vernoese marble floors, an original frescoed wall, massive Jacuzzi bathtub and a private balcony overlooking the pedestrian shopping street Corso di Porta Borsa. (www.palazzovictoria.com).
Fiesole, Italy (Tuscany Region)
Revive Romance Among Rolling Hills
Lovers find themselves at home among the rolling Tuscan hills at Il Salviatino — the hand-restored, 15th century villa just 15 minutes outside of the city of Firenze. Guests are greeted by the property’s surrounding 12.5 acres of private park offering countless hidden spots for picnics and champagne toasts with beyond-belief views of the city center and its famed Duomo. The 45-room hotel (www.silviatino.com) features frescoes, lush organic gardens, and a vast, yet cozy terrace with great views. Couples can get together in the Ojetti Suite – a two-story room complete with a rooftop Jacuzzi with direct access to a private balcony overlooking the hillside and city. For a touch of suite-ness, the “Chocolate Fountain” bath is served with fresh fruit for dipping and a bottle of champagne of choice. For foodie couples and explorers, truffle hunting is offered on property grounds, private winery tours can be scheduled, and family-style Tuscan dinners are found at La Cucina restaurant.
A beachfront resort located on Mexico’s west coast, between Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains, CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta is a lover’s paradise. Featuring stunning sunsets, CasaMagna Marriott gives couples the chance to renew their vows with a soul-cleansing ritual in the resort’s Ohtli Spa. The ritual begins with couples cleansing their bodies in a series of aromatic sessions, then relaxing and unwinding with a side-by-side warm stone massage using Obsidian healing stones. The ritual ends with the joining together of the couple’s hands using a red ribbon, signifying infinite and universal love. A carved double heart in Obsidian stone will allow couples to preserve this moment forever. The resort is also just a short distance from El Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s downtown boardwalk, and the Zona Romantica, where couples can discover the city’s hidden culinary gems (www.marriott.com).
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Perched on the shore of Lake Atitlán in the Guatemala Highlands, Casa Palopo is a seven-bedroom property was once a private home. Today it houses the seven brightly colored guest rooms that are filled with authentic Guatemalan artwork and artifacts. There are 12 neighboring indigenous Mayan villages that guests can explore by boat, including Santo Tomas Perdido, where couples can eat their way through a local cheese and honey farm. Experience highlights include a blessing on property by a Mayan Shaman for a happy relationship, couples massages on your private guest room terrace, horseback riding and hiking the 10,000-foot San Pedro Volcano. The best part? Breathtaking views of the lake and its majestic volcanoes can be spotted from just about everywhere on property. Dubbed “the land of eternal spring” Guatemala is known for even temperatures with average highs in the 70s, making it the perfect Fall escape (www.casapalopo.com). The price is right good – beginning at $154 per night.
The House, Barbados
Barbados might be the “British’’ of the Caribbean and West Indian Island. The House has 34 chic suites and great ocean views. Through the gorgeous oversized wooden-door entrance awaits 24/7 service ambassadors and champagne breakfast – basically the ultimate beach bungalow for those looking to get away and cozy up. For those that can tear themselves away from the freeform pool and picturesque views, embark on a beachside horseback ride, explore the stalagmites of Harrison’s Cave, take a polo lesson or toast to another year of happiness during a sunset catamaran sail. Top off the day with a candlelight dinner on the beach courtesy of Daphne’s. (www.thehousebarbados.com).
The desert island is a fun destination for foodies and a great destination for them is the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea. The hotel’s Tradewinds Club comes complete with a private floor of the hotel, exclusive amenities, a private adults-only pool and bar, reserved beach seating under exotic palapas, and multiple complimentary food and beverage offerings per day. The island is hosting its first Eat Local Aruba Restaurant Week (September 28 – October 9), in which two of Aruba Marriott’s restaurants are participating (www.aruba.com).
Located in the Southern Caribbean, outside of the Hurricane Belt so couples don’t have to worry about storms getting in the way of their romance, the Dutch-Caribbean island is home to more than 35 cove-like beaches, stunning European architecture and year-round sunshine. Curaçao is a haven for off-the beaten track romance. For instance, couples can enjoy non-traditional romantic actives here, like ATVing across the island’s rugged East Side, dinner at Fort Nassau (an ancient fort from the 1700s featuring panoramic views of the harbor), sampling some aphrodisiac soup at local favorite, Jaanchies, hiking Mt. Christopher, Curaçao’s highest point, or even venturing to the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao for a day (www.curacao.com).
St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach’s first new hotel in more than 20 years – Hotel Zamora – features a private marina, award-winning destination restaurant and 360-degree with views of downtown and the Gulf. The Hotel Zamora’s “Wink Wink” package includes a chocolate aphrodisiac welcome amenity and “naughty & nice’’ couples intimacy kit, complete with risqué candy, glow in the dark interactive dice game, flavored body lotions, oils and condoms and a mini personal massager (www.thehotelzamora.com). Rates start at $279 per night.
The best sunsets on the Gulf Coast can be viewed at the Sandpearl Resort. The resort features beautiful grounds, a lagoon pool, and a cascading waterfall. For the ultimate accommodations with front row seats to Gulf Coast sunsets, book the luxurious two-story Gulf Side Suite, which is detached from the hotel and sits right on the beach. Launching this Fall, the resort is offering a “Pick Your Picnic” package, which couples can take to-go to many nearby romantic spots, such as Caladesi Island, Honeymoon Island, or on a private boat charter. Couples can pick from two different menu packages, with all the picnic essentials (www.sandpearl.com).