The Ul­ti­mate Ro­man­tic Get­aways

LuxeGetaways - - Contents - BY MICHELLE M. WIN­NER

When start­ing to plan for your next ro­man­tic get­away, we like to know that you can look be­yond the stan­dard op­tions out there and dis­cover unique travel ex­pe­ri­ences that you can share with your loved ones. For the spring travel sea­son, we have un­cov­ered three very dis­tinc­tive get­away op­por­tu­ni­ties that we know you will love. Look­ing for a ro­man­tic South Pa­cific va­ca­tion get­away far from the rest of the world? We sug­gest the award-win­ning, five-star re­sort on the is­land of Vanua Levu. And yes, here you can en­joy a ro­man­tic va­ca­tion with the kids tag­ging along.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Re­sort’s 25 spa­cious in­di­vid­ual bu­res (Fi­jian word for a wood-and-straw hut/cabin) are tra­di­tional thatched Fi­jian gue­strooms with pri­vate decks and ocean or gar­den views. Want to un­plug? There are no in-room tele­phones or tele­vi­sions. Want some­thing grand? The Villa is a lux­u­ri­ous bure that fea­tures a master suite, pri­vate indoor/out­door pa­tio with in­fin­ity pool, Jacuzzi tub, wa­ter­fall and out­door show­ers to­tal­ing more than 2,000 square feet (610 square meters).

The Cousteau fam­ily mem­bers are pi­o­neers in earth and ocean con­ser­va­tion. Lo­cated in a ma­rine pro­tected area, the re­sort prac­tices re­cy­cling and com­post­ing, the uti­liza­tion of low en­ergy light­ing, so­lar pan­els on wa­ter heaters, and uses en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly chem­i­cals in the laun­dry and kitchen. The con­struc­tion tim­ber comes from cer­ti­fied-re­new­able forests, and the restau­rant menu does not in­clude reef fish or farmed prawns. The seas pro­vide the fish served for din­ner, the trees pro­duce co­conuts, rain­wa­ter flows from the tap in the bu­res, and an or­ganic gar­den grows food for the ta­ble. Pineap­ple, mango, pa­paya, co­conut, and guava are all part of the ed­i­ble land­scap­ing. Want to jump-start your re­lax­ation? En­joy your spa treat­ments in your bure, or in the re­sort’s beach­side spa bu­res. De­sire an ac­tive va­ca­tion or en­joy ex­plor­ing? Here, you can get ac­tive and try snor­kel­ing, hik­ing, kayak­ing, ten­nis, vol­ley­ball, ex­cur­sions to a trop­i­cal rain­for­est and world-class scuba div­ing.

Kids will love it here! The Bula Club is a com­pli­men­tary chil­dren’s pro­gram with a sched­ule of fun ac­tiv­i­ties for tod­dlers to ado­les­cents. The fun is end­less with rock pool ex­plo­ration, hik­ing and glass-bot­tom boat ex­cur­sions with the re­sort’s full-time Fi­jian nat­u­ral­ist/ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist, Johnny Singh. The Lei Lei Bula Club Pro­gram is for chil­dren up to the age of five; the Ma­rau Bula Club Pro­gram is for ages 6 to 12; and ev­ery child un­der the age of five is as­signed to a des­ig­nated nanny (at a ra­tio of 1:1) for their en­tire stay at no ex­tra charge. Par­ents re­joice!

Why is Jean-Michel Cousteau Re­sort a good value? In ad­di­tion to the Bula Club, there is also com­pli­men­tary morn­ing yoga, all meals, bot­tled non-al­co­holic bev­er­ages, spe­cialty tea and cof­fee, Wi-Fi, most ac­tiv­i­ties and round-trip trans­porta­tion be­tween the re­sort and Savusavu Air­port. Each week guests can also en­joy the Lovo, a tra­di­tional Fi­jian feast cooked in the re­sort’s ground oven and served buf­fet style. fi­jire­sort.com

2. Hawaii: Ex­pe­ri­ence Old Hawaii at Ko`a Kea Ho­tel & Re­sort

The Poipu Beach area on Kaua’i has the dis­tinc­tion of of­fer­ing end­less days of sun­shine, pow­dery sand beaches, abun­dant ma­rine life, dra­matic lava cliffs, vary­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion types and great lo­cal food. It is the per­fect beach get­away; and in the mid­dle of ev­ery­thing, Ko’a Kea Ho­tel & Re­sort is a lit­tle se­cret Lux­eGet­aways wants to share with you.

Long­ing for a quiet stay in a smaller re­sort with that “old Hawaii” feel and de­sign, while en­joy­ing all the de­sired mod­ern ameni­ties? Ko’a Kea is the place for you.

The low-rise group­ing of build­ings man­dated by Kaua’i law not to be taller than the tallest co­conut tree, are only steps from the ocean. Clus­tered around a salt­wa­ter swim­ming pool re­plete with thatched hut sit-down bar, the 121 spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tions sparkle with is­land in­spired con­tem­po­rary de­sign.

The rea­son a place like Ko'a Kea still ex­ists is that it was the for­mer Poipu Beach Ho­tel. It was a fa­vorite of kama'inas (lo­cal Hawaii res­i­dents) that was built in the 1960's – the last decade be­fore the mega re­sorts came to Hawaii. Dev­as­tated by hur­ri­cane Iniki in 1992, it sat de­te­ri­o­rat­ing for years un­til a new owner re­built it us­ing the same foot­print. Af­ter an­other change of hands (and an­other ma­jor ren­o­va­tion), this bou­tique ho­tel now per­fectly re­cap­tures the charm of yes­ter­year. Tip: Ocean­front Suites are the best so­lu­tions if you want to feel like you live in Hawaii. They have a spa­cious bed­room, sep­a­rate liv­ing room, wide ocean­front lanai with a chaise lounge, a huge bath­room with both a shower and large soak­ing tub made for two (all other rooms only have show­ers). The Spa at Ko’a Kea of­fers ro­man­tic in-suite baths for cou­ples that use lo­cal salt, clay, flow­ers, herbs and ex­otic nut oils. Dur­ing the whale mi­gra­tion, the suites also come equipped with a te­le­scope for spot­ting hump­back whales as they mi­grate to Kaua’i for breed­ing. For this room type, there is a “Suite Es­capes” pack­age of­fered that in­cludes a com­pli­men­tary fourth night, daily break­fast for two and waived re­sort fee. The free fourth night is per­fect since you will want to stay as long as pos­si­ble! mer­itagecol­lec­tion.com/koakea

3. Greece: Feel Right at Home at Elia Suites Era­tini

Most trav­el­ers vis­it­ing Greece are fa­mil­iar with two places: Athens and San­torini. But there is a whole coun­try to ex­plore, and you should make it a pri­or­ity to do so. Af­ter you ar­rive to Athens air­port, it is eas­i­est to rent a car. In less than 3 hours you will be in the sea­side vil­lage of Era­tini – and less than a mile down the road is Elia Suites, an el­e­gantly chic (but ca­sual) prop­erty with the most di­vinely tal­ented own­ers.

Elia Suites was “born” as the sun was set­ting one day in 2009, ac­cord­ing to owner Anna Kara­bel­lou. “We were ly­ing on the beach late in the af­ter­noon, en­chanted by the pur­ple skies. I thought the view was some­thing that ev­ery­one should see so I grabbed a nap­kin and sketched how the houses would be built in or­der for ev­ery guest to en­joy this view – it all started here with no ar­chi­tects or train­ing; but with pure in­spi­ra­tion in that mo­ment.” Walk­ing from your lux­u­ri­ous lit­tle house to­wards Aura Beach, you will dis­cover Aura Café, which is a fan­ci­ful loung­ing area with fur­ni­ture group­ings, ex­otic plants and large art pieces. Anna and Panos live on the prop­erty so they think of this as sim­ply be­ing an ex­ten­sion of their liv­ing room. They of­fer cof­fee, break­fast snacks and drinks (and soon their own in-house chef will pro­vide “fresh del­i­ca­cies from the sea” she tells Lux­eGet­aways).

Here, you are just part of the fam­ily… a very cool fam­ily. Elia (which means olives) Suites is on Anna’s fam­ily land, so it is quite pre­cious to her. She ex­plains, “I spent my child­hood sum­mer hol­i­days here – I love this place and used to play hide and seek among the olive trees with my friends, so I try to pro­vide ev­ery­thing I can to in­spire the same sense of be­ing care­free to my guests.” Elia Suites is open year-round so you can en­joy the ski sea­son in Ara­chova less than an hour away, or have fun in the sun. Katina is a fa­vorite restau­rant across the sea in Era­tini Vil­lage, which has the fresh­est fish and seafood. And if you are lucky, Yi­ayia (grand­mother) will come out of the kitchen and give you a kiss. For the ad­ven­tur­ous cooks, there are amaz­ing mar­kets filled with fresh seafood and in­gre­di­ents to in­spire your next great dish.

If a truly re­lax­ing stay in a laid-back beach­front lo­ca­tion with spec­tac­u­lar sur­round­ings in­ter­ests you, book im­me­di­ately. There are only a few houses at Elia Suites, and word is spread­ing fast.

Tip: It is best to email a.kara­bel­lou@gmail.com for reser­va­tions. For a spe­cial treat, ask Anna to also ar­range a day cruise to the un­in­hab­ited is­lands in the area. elia­suites.gr

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Jean-Michel Cousteau Re­sort

1. Fiji: Un­plug and Un­wind at Jean-Michel Cousteau Re­sort

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ko a Kea Ho­tel and Re­sort

Pho­tog­ra­phy: Elia Suites

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