In 1967’s candy-colored Summer of Love, John Lennon wrote the words “All you need is love, love is all you need”. Now, some 56 years later, allow me to suggest some romantic places where you might choose to celebrate love, not only on the official Valentine’s Day
of February 14, but anytime the spirit (or that special person) moves you!
PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS:
Two bridges connect the frenzied city of Nassau (on the main island of New Providence) with a tranquil ribbon of white sand that is the location of THE OCEAN CLUB on the north shore of Paradise Island. The Ocean Club, the jewel in the crown of Paradise Island, nestles peacefully along the shore of a delicate white sand beach…a treasured sanctuary of privileged perfection. Under the deep blue of an endless Bahamian sky, wrapped in the turquoise waters of an exuberant sea, the Ocean Club was once the private estate of Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (a.k.a. A&P) heir Huntington Hartford II. Today, this alluring beachfront hideaway reflects the glamorous ambience and posh exclusivity of a grand colonial manor, welcoming generations of the world’s traveling elite. Expansive manicured lawns and towering coconut palms provide an enchanting backdrop to the pristine beaches of The Ocean Club. Little wonder that it was the perfect setting for 007’s “Casino Royale” that was filmed there. Paradise Island is a fitting name for the location of The Ocean Club…a romantic retreat that is paradise personified.
You may not be able to relax on the banks of the River Seine in France as Georges Seurat did in the mid 1880s, when he painted “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”. However, you can pack a picnic lunch for you and your sweetie and join a pair of verdant lovers on the grassy version of Seurat’s painting at THE TOPIARY PARK in the Discovery District of downtown Columbus, Ohio. This unique garden, which is officially owned and maintained by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, amazingly recreates figures from Seurat’s painting. The topiaries are trimmed into life-size shapes of men, women, children and animals. Topiary boats appear to be sailing on a pond that represents the Seine River. The park is officially named The Old Deaf School Park, as it was part of the campus of the Ohio Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, known today as the Ohio School for the Deaf.
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND:
This beautifully preserved walking-city, with an architectural tapestry dating back to the 17th century, is one of the most romantic cities on the East coast. Founded in 1639 by a group of dissidents seeking religious and political freedom, it pays homage to the past as it celebrates the present. Newport became a summer refuge for the nation’s elite. Their “summer cottages” were, in reality, the grandest of grand mansions that outdid one another. Newport’s mansions permit visitors to peek into the Gilded Age that was experienced at the dawn of the 20th century. THE CHANLER AT CLIFF WALK, a romantic 20-room hotel housed in a 19th century mansion, is the quintessential romantic retreat into a world of timeless tranquil elegance. The Chanler is the only hotel located on Newport’s dramatic 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. Stroll hand-in-hand through history on Newport’s famed Cliff Walk. Paved walkways and stone paths wind along the island’s southeastern edge, bordered on one side by the massive “summer cottages” of America’s turn-of-the-century elite and on the other by granite cliffs and pounding surf of the Atlantic.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA:
Way down yonder in New Orleans is a city brimming with old-world romance and new world vitality. ‘N’awlins’, the most European of all American cities, also known as “Crescent City”, “The City that Care Forgot” and “The Big Easy” speeds up the pulse as it slows down the pace. In a city, whose motto is Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll), The WINDSOR COURT HOTEL is one of the most elegant hotels in New Orleans. In a class of its own, the Windsor Court indulges lovers who crave the luxury of unique experience. Head to ARNAUD’S (founded 1918), one of the finest restaurants in New Orleans, for a romantic dinner. For a special treat, share the Café Brûlot for two…a magical meld of coffee, lemon and orange rinds, cloves, cinnamon sticks and Orange Curaçao. For the evening’s finale, don’t miss a tour of the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum on the second floor. Germaine, daughter of the restaurant’s founder “Count” Arnaud, reigned as Mardi Gras Queen at 22 Carnival balls. Her priceless Parisian gowns and personal memorabilia are on display in the museum.
One of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, St. Lucia, (pronounced St. Loo-sha), is a culturally rich island, best known for its unparalleled landscape, breathtaking natural beauty and diverse attractions. Less than a 2-hour drive from Castries, the capital city of this stunningly beautiful Windward Island of the West Indies’ Lesser Antilles, is the port town of Soufriere (which happens to be the home of the world’s only drive-through volcano). Continuing on for another picturesque 2-mile drive will bring you to LADERA RESORT…a romantic cliffside sanctuary that is the stuff of which dreams are made. Taking full advantage of its spectacular natural surroundings, each of Ladera’s 37 rooms and suites has only three walls. The absence of the fourth wall brings an astounding view of the rugged coastline below and the conical twin peaks of the Gros and Petit Pitons, right into your open-air suite. Savor the view from your room’s old-fashioned swing hanging above your own private plunge pool or from the resort’s open-air restaurant Dasheene…an intimate room that showcases one of the best dining views in the world. Ladera will ignite your innermost passions.
“Love’, said the late author Zora Neale Hurston, ‘makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place”. Some call it madness! According to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” This Valentine’s Day, find that reason!
Janet Steinberg, winner of 55 national Travel Writing Awards, resides in Cincinnati but calls the world her home.
Photo Credits: Janet Steinberg