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Unusual Valentine’s Day Travel and Romance Experiences

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Chocolate strawberriesChampagne and chocolate is so 2008. This year, surprise your partner with an original experience on Valentine’s Day. Best of all, resorts and hotels are feeling the budget crunch, and are dropping prices accordingly, which translates into packages that get you more for your money. Here are a few truly unique experiences around the country that cater to all different couples (and singles!).

First, Show Her the Ring

Unless your future spouse is afraid of heights, plan to pop the question in the air with Las Ventanas al Paraiso resort’s helicopter proposal in Los Cabos, Mexico. After being chauffeured to Cabo San Lucas Airport to a private helicopter, the couple will get a birds-eye view of the stunning landscape. As the pilot swings over the beach of the resort, “Marry Me (insert her name here)” will be written in seashells and flower petals on the beach. The package is only available for hotel guests and costs $695 for a 30-minute ride or $995 for one hour. www.lasventanas.com

Marina coupleA price tag of $4,500 may sound over-the-top for an engagement package, but what if it includes a one-carat diamond ring? Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort on Florida’s northwest Gulf Coast is offering the ultimate all-inclusive engagement package this month. The packages includes accommodations in a one-bedroom suite, dinner for two, champagne, martinis, and a sparkly ring (available in multiple ring sizes). When booking, use code ENGAGE and be sure to book at least five days in advance. www.sandestin.com

A romantic swig of goat water in Anguilla? Only for the truly adventurous. This year, beach lovers can head to Anguilla for a free elopement promotion hosted by the Anguilla Tourist Board. Booking a minimum of four nights is required to qualify for the Wedding OFF the Rocks package, which includes an extra free night and wedding ceremony, champagne, wedding cake, and discounts for family and friends are also included. But the real icing on the cake is when the two of you sip the island’s “goat water,” a goat broth meant to promote virility. Sample rates for double occupancy are $1,080 at the Paradise Cove, $1,160 at the Carimar Beach Club and $660 and $700 at the Sirena Resort and Arawak Beach Inn, respectively. www.anguilla-vacation.com

Just for the Romance

Chocolate heartsAttention all chocoholics: If you thought chocolate buffets were reserved for cruise ships, check out this package from The Lodge at Turning Stone, a luxury boutique hotel in upstate Verona, New York. The $825 package includes accommodations on February 13 and 14, two tickets to the Valentine’s Chocolate Indulgence Buffet, breakfast for two on Sunday and free valet parking. www.turningstone.com

All you need is love, right? Celebrate Valentine’s Day all month long at The Mirage in Las Vegas, where a package includes a two-night stay and two tickets to Cirque de Soleil performance LOVE, set to the sounds of the Beatles. The weekday package (Wednesday through Monday) costs $318; the weekend package (Friday through Sunday) costs $368. Or, if you’d rather party all night, skip the hotel room and go for the Mirage’s party package: $150 per person for an all-night party (minus hotel), including dinner for two, show tickets, a drink at Revolution Lounge, and entry to Jet nightclub.

If you truly love your sweetie, why not … choose your mattress together? A Couples Connection package at the Heathman Hotel in Kirkland, Washington (just outside of Seattle), includes one night with your choice of mattress from a bed menu, in-room dinner for two, Kama Sutra travel kit, and a two-hour Tantra workshop. The package costs $420 per couple and is available Valentine’s Day weekend. www.heathmanhotel.com

Dealing cardsAnother steamy option is Affinia’s Naughty and Nice package at hotels in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Though created for Valentine’s trips, couples can book anytime in 2009. It includes a one-night stay, and the traditional champagne, rose-petal turn-down service and handmade chocolates, but also features your own Agent Provocateur Strip Poker set to bring home. Rates are $289 in New York, $209 in Chicago and $189 in Washington, D.C. www.affinia.com

What’s more romantic than a love festival, man? Trek to Bermuda for the special weekend to see Earth, Wind & Fire perform in Bermuda’s fourth annual International Love Festival. Starting at $749 per person for packages, the weekend is jam-packed with cocktail parties, concerts, a golf tournament, and a Louis Vuitton trunk show and luncheon. It sounds more like a trendy weekend in the Hamptons than a relaxing getaway but would impress any Earth, Wind & Fire fan! www.fairmont.com/southampton/HotelPackages

They call it the ultimate ice-breaker. New York’s Park South Hotel offers a $599 package for two, available from February 13 through March 27, Thursdays through Sundays only. That includes a two-night stay, two admission tickets to the Museum of Sex, two tickets to the Off-Broadway comedy “My First Time,” dinner and champagne at the Black Duck restaurant, and breakfast for two both mornings. www.atlanticstars.com

Hot and Sweaty in the Great Outdoors

Pair of parrotsCelebrate Valentine’s Day, animal-style. The Calgary Zoo’s In the Heat of the Night is available February 13 and 14, and features candlelit buffet dinner and live music, followed by a zoo-sponsored talk about “critter romance.” A table for two starts at $64 per person. www.calgaryzoo.org

For another active Alberta adventure, sign up for Valentine snowshoeing in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre (www.waskasoopark.ca) for $14 per person. Or, if you prefer gazing at the mountains rather than scaling them, sign up for Calgary’s Sweetheart Hot Air Balloon Ride (www.rainbowballoons.ca). For $952, you’ll get a scenic ride over the Canadian Rockies followed by a champagne breakfast.

Spending the day in the Big Apple? For $85.95 per person, you can cruise the harbor with your sweetheart while listening to live entertainment and feasting privately by candlelight with champagne. www.spiritofnewyork.com

Singles & Girlfriend Getaways

Woman SilhouetteSpeed dating might be intimidating … but not if it’s on a chairlift! Find your ski bum soul mate in the third annual Black Mountain Chairlift Speed Dating event in Jackson, New Hampshire, free with a $39 lift pass. Spend the weekend in Jackson for $449 and get two nights of luxury accommodations at Whitney’s Inn, a lift pass, dinner Saturday night and breakfast. Contact BedandBreakfast.com for details and booking information.

Embrace your single identity and head to Myrtle Beach for a Ménage á Moi anti-Valentine’s Day getaway. Local Marina Inn offers a package starting at $109 per person that includes one night luxury accommodation, a copy of the “Anti-Valentine Handbook,” admission to a singles cocktail party and breakfast. www.marinainnatgrandedunes.com

What’s a girlfriend getaway without a little spa action? Head to the Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas for a Valentine’s Girls Night In package starting at $699 for two. That includes one-night accommodations, manicure and pedicures, facials, champagne, a three-course in-room dinner, in-room chick flick and snacks, two car valet parking, and resort fee. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/LakeLasVegas/Default.htm

And finally…here’s no sure way to categorize this one: Fairmont’s Doghouse Packages are a good start if you have to say sorry. Rates start at $289 per night and may include third night free, plenty of chocolate and champagne, dog bone-shaped cookies, and wine tours. Properties include sites in Hawaii, Vancouver and Sonoma, among others. www.fairmont.com/doghouse

Don’t miss other travel adventures sure to kindle romance:

By Dara Bramson for PeterGreenberg.com

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