Roses, chocolates and heart-filled greeting cards can only mean one thing: it’s Valentine’s Day again. But while all those things are sweet, what’s more romantic than a spontaneous getaway to a faraway place with your love?
If you’re searching for some Valentine’s Day inspiration, look no further than Hilton, which has lined up a wide variety of romantic experiences and getaways.
How about a zodiac-themed dinner with 12 dishes on a 34th-floor rooftop in Thailand, a stunning sunset hike among Arizona’s scenic Red Rocks, a royal-like Cadbury House Valentine’s Day ball in the U.K. or a spin in an Italian sports car on a rooftop track that was featured in “The Italian Job” and overlooks the Alps?
No need to pinch yourself – these are all options at hotels around the globe where you can indulge, relax and explore. But those who can’t quite manage to dash away can still draw inspiration to think outside the box right where they are, or even start planning to up their game for Valentine’s Day 2020 or other special occasions before it.
Below are some options and inspiration for every kind of lover this year:
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock (Sedona, Arizona): Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, which is located along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, is offering several ways to enjoy Valentine’s Day with romantic partners or friends, including the Love on the Rocks package. The two-day retreat starts with a bottle of sparkling wine, followed by a luxurious spa treatment with an included $150 eforea Spa credit. Make the trip extra romantic with a complimentary bouquet of fresh flowers and a pre-stay call with the concierge to assist with personal requests. For outdoor lovers, hikers and sunset chasers, Hilton Sedona will be offering a romantic grab-and-go picnic basket for two filled with French baguettes, gourmet meats and cheeses, assorted truffles and more for a picnic feast on the Red Rocks.
Hilton Pattaya (Pattaya Chonburi, Thailand): At Hilton Pattaya, the multi-award winning Horizon Rooftop Bar and Restaurant offers a zodiac-themed four-course set dinner with twelve special shared dishes representing each zodiac sign. This includes ‘Pure and Pristine’ inspired by Virgo – Fine de Claire oysters with two styles of topping including tuna tartar and spicy gazpacho salsa; ‘Exploration of Crab’ inspired by Cancer – king crab and soft shell crab tempura salad with spicy Sriracha sauce and mayonnaise sauce; ‘Traditional with a Twist’ inspired by Taurus – a combination of Tournedos Rossini or French steak dish topped with seared foie gras and truffle with Asian taste of oyster sauce, and ‘A Wise Choice’ dessert dish inspired by Capricorn – buckwheat blini with frozen goat cheese mousse, lemon crème and boysenberry jam. Priced at THB 5,950 ($188 USD) per couple and available only on Feb. 14, 2019 from 6pm – 11pm.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol South – Cadbury House (Bristol, United Kingdom): Doting couples looking for somewhere to enjoy a romantic meal together this Valentine’s Day are invited to celebrate their love at the Cadbury House Valentine’s Ball. Spend the holiday like the royals within the stunning, castle-like setting of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol South – Cadbury House, and enjoy sparkling wine and canapes on arrival followed by a three-course dinner specially designed to help make hearts flutter. Entertainment at the ball includes the singing duo Double Impact, who will get pulses racing with a set of crooner classics.
DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto (Turin, Italy): This Valentine’s Day, treat your loved one to a once-in- a-lifetime experience with the Red Passion Valentine’s Special. Begin your romantic getaway with a bottle of champagne upon arrival and then head up to your Presidential Suite to admire the magnificent view overlooking the Alps while enjoying the scent of 100 red roses, a gift from our hotel staff. Then, make your way up to the former FIAT rooftop test track, featured in the movie “The Italian Job.” Here you will have the unique opportunity to drive a luxurious Ferrari Portofino until sunset – a car enthusiast’s dream. The next day, wake up to an intimate breakfast in bed followed by a relaxing couple’s massage by Dolomitic Water, the award-winning cosmetic line.
Conrad Dublin (Dublin, Ireland): For this year’s Valentine celebrations, Conrad Dublin is offering an Over-the-Top Valentine’s Package guaranteed to impress loved-ones. Activities include a private helicopter ride around the city on a day of their choice, a luxury picnic in the Iveagh Gardens, and a meet-and-greet with the hotel’s resident poet who will create a bespoke poem inspired by them. On an evening of their choice, lovebirds will enjoy pre-dinner drinks with a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon served in exquisite Waterford Champagne flutes they can keep as a memento, followed by a romantic in-suite dinner.
Conrad London St. James (London, U.K.): Conrad London St. James is offering couples an extravagant horse-drawn carriage ride around the city as part of their ‘Ultimate Valentine’s Experience’. Guests will embark on a romantic tour through some of London’s finest attractions, including Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Embankment, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. A delicious Valentine’s Afternoon Tea will await them upon their return to the hotel, featuring a collection of teas selected by tea experts around the world and accompanied by a glass of Rose Champagne. The following morning, the happy couple will enjoy a luxurious breakfast for two in the privacy of their Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite.
Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort (Rome, Italy): Rome Cavalieri, one of Waldorf Astoria’s 30 properties worldwide, is offering a romantic drive in a vintage FIAT 1100 around the city’s iconic landmarks, discovering stunning piazzas, monuments and ancient ruins. The drive ends with a visit to a local chocolate atelier where guests will have the opportunity to create their very own chocolates to take home.
Why Al Maryah Island? Everything about Abu Dhabi’s newest business and lifestyle destination
Abu Dhabi, meaning Land of the Gazelle, has been at crossroads of commerce and culture for centuries. Today, the Emirate, is a modern, cosmopolitan hub for travellers from around the world to explore this growth. Al Maryah Island is the perfect vantage point for this. The new heart of the the capital offers visitors and residents exceptional business and lifestyle experiences. Here are our top three reasons to choose Four Seasons for your next visit to Abu Dhabi:
Location, location, location
Director of Rooms, Mark Syputa feels Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island is perfectly positioned to offer business and leisure travelers the best of the UAE’s capital:
“What I love about Al Maryah Island is that you have all the conveniences of direct connections to downtown Abu Dhabi, with the added benefits of being able to walk to Abu Dhabi Global Market and the surrounding office towers. Add to that the close proximity to key cultural attractions (like Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr al Watan, and Qasr al Hosn) and the highest density of amazing restaurants & bars in all of Abu Dhabi; I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather live, work & play in our capital city.”
World-class shopping and dining
Al Maryah Island has a wealth of world-class dining and shopping. Exotic flavors from near and far are the biggest attraction with over forty options including our very own award-winning restaurants Butcher & Still, and Cafe Milano; not to mention, Zuma, Coya, and Le Petit Maison. Guests can also shop until they drop in The Galleria, the city’s most exclusive shopping experience filled with the luxury brands. This is only set to amplify with the city’s latest mega-mall Al Maryah Central opening mid-2019 with over 400 retail outlets and 100 restaurants.
Health & Wellness focus
Health & Wellness is another key focus. The Island is fortunate to have one of the region’s premier hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, which has some of the world’s best doctors and highly personalized care. On property, Dahlia Spa in Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, encapsulates this holistic wellness approach by providing guests a results-driven approach through customised experiences crafted by an international team of spa experts.
A magical visit to Villa de Leyva, just hours from Bogota
Just a few hours from the bustling Colombian capital lies Villa de Leyva, a tranquil town littered with whitewashed stone houses dating back to the early 17th-century. The colonial-era town, northeast of Bogota and with a warmer climate, boasts winding cobbled streets situated around what’s claimed to be the largest stone square in South America. A day trip to the town can be easily arranged with the assistance of Four Seasons Hotels Bogota or Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota.
Visitors can explore the Pozos Azules, a series of bright blue artificial pools, which are situated only a five minute drive away from the central plaza. Other activities include a visit to architect Octavio Mendoza’s 5,400-square-foot house, which is made entirely out of clay. The Casa Terracota is an abstract piece of art, which one could imagine Antoni Gaudí would be proud to call his home. The clay abode can be explored on by foot and is just a 30-minute walk from the central square. Mendoza refers to his work as the largest piece of pottery in the world.
Members of staff at Four Seasons Hotels Bogota can also assist guests in planning activities for the day trip to the town. Guests who are interested in adventure activities can rent mountain bikes and cycle around the mountainous and historical trails of the town. Cycling tours are also available, which stop off at all of the main points of interest, while some offer coffee and wine tasting.
The local people of Villa de Leyva offer a warm and hospitable welcome, and there are plenty of local family-run restaurants, bakeries, and shops. A few minutes walk from the main central plaza are winding cobbled streets lined with artisan gifts and crafts, which are made by locals. One shop, in particular, serves fresh home-made hummus.
The town, which is part of the Boyaca department of Colombia, is formerly a colony of Spain and gained independence in 1812. Visitors may also recognise the town from Gabriel García Marquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera, as the main character Florentino Ariza spends part of his life in Villa de Leyva. As well as a rich historical significance, the place also has a strong scientific background. The valley in which it’s located is rich in fossils and even has a paleontology museum dedicated to the hundreds of artifacts that have been discovered.
Paradise found: Saint Lucia preserving beauty through data and policy action
If ever an island justified the label “paradise” that tourist brochures liberally apply to destinations, it is Saint Lucia.
Shaped like a teardrop, this tiny Caribbean nation has everything. Crescent moon beaches of white sand. Jagged volcanic mountains jutting up from the azure waters. Eclectic biodiversity that manifests in a riot of colour, no more so than in the Saint Lucia Amazon, a spectacular parrot found only on the island.
Unfortunately, as is the case in so many places, human activity is endangering this beauty and the benefits it brings to humanity. The threats are many, including extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, forest habitat loss from land-use change and over-exploitation of marine resources.
We can deal with these challenges, as the return of the Saint Lucia Amazon, or Amazona versicolor, shows. In the 1970s, only around 100 of these birds remained. Thanks to a conservation programme, the species is now on an upward trend. While still classed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the last census of the bird, carried out between 2007 and 2009, found a stable and viable population of 2,258 individuals.
The Government of Saint Lucia, with the support of UN Environment, is determined to repeat this success for all the island’s natural resources while ensuring a better future for its estimated 180,000 residents.
The nation is signed up to global treaties, including the three Rio Conventions: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which the Paris Agreement falls.
In order to meet its obligations and to design and implement meaningful interventions, the government needs to have a clear picture of where it stands in terms of data and required policies.
“While we pursue on-the-ground initiatives that guarantee our survival, it is equally important to pursue the soft initiatives that will allow us to make sound decisions on the strategic interventions needed,” said Annette Rattigan-Leo, Saint Lucia’s Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer.
In August 2018, the island took a big step forward. Working with UN Environment on a Global Environment Facility-funded project, the Saint Lucian government launched its first national environmental information system. Information on the three big treaties is available to ministries, the private sector, academia, multilateral environmental treaty focal points and the public. For each convention, indicators related to broader policy goals and objectives are being integrated to support reporting and translate data into useful and actionable information.
“This is certainly an encouraging endeavour, as it will allow Saint Lucia to work closely with UN Environment,” said Gale Rigobert, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development. “We acknowledge the crucial role environmental information continues to play in helping us meet our national and multilateral environmental agreement obligations.”
As part of the project, 17 major environmental data providers signed an agreement to cooperate on the development and use of the system, ensuring that the bigger picture will be as complete as possible. Meanwhile, the project developed a set of core sustainable development and environmental indicators for the Rio conventions, which all derive directly from the 1992 Earth Summit. According to Teshia Jn Baptiste, who managed the project, the system and associated common data storage facility have “significantly improved collaboration among the public and private sectors”.
Those who work on the ground are hopeful that the new system will help Saint Lucia meet its commitments and so improve the health of its ecosystems.
“If we reach our targets, the livelihoods of fishermen and others depending on marine resources will be protected in the face of climate change impacts,” said Allena Joseph, Fisheries Biologist in Saint Lucia’s Department of Fisheries. “We can do this through better-informed decisions in areas relating to biodiversity conservation and resilience building.”
The government has previously called for an end to illegal logging, which has led to habitat loss and landslides. Karl Augustine, a research officer in the Forestry Department, believes that the new system will help claw back some of the damage.
“We see a positive impact on human and wildlife cohabitation and a transition to forest in areas historically affected by land degradation,” he said.
For species such as the Amazona versicolor and the people of Saint Lucia, this can only be good news.
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