LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) — It may be the best last-minute Valentine's Day gift you've ever given. And also the most expensive.
It doesn't include children, shouldn't come with a laptop and sidesteps going into a store. The simple act of planning it, even if a few months out, can be the ultimate surprise and shows that you're not bound by the conventional constraints of flowers and chocolate.
But you're no fool. You realize there's rarely been a better time to travel, especially with the U.S. dollar strengthening against several major currencies and hotel rates dropping. So why not go all out? Spare no expense and indulge in these once-in-a-lifetime trips that prove you could show cupid a thing or two.
Build a Treehouse, Kaikoura, New Zealand
After making your way to Auckland, on to Wellington and a 45-minute ride in a puddle-jumper, you arrive to majestic Kaikoura, home to Hapuku Lodge and Treehouses. Owned by a multi-generational family of architects, the lodge opened in 2003 and has expanded to include a row of fully suspended tree houses constructed of locally sourced wood and copper shingles from the boughs of native Manuka trees.
Days are spent on sperm-whale expeditions (no joke), sea kayaking or the rare swim with the seals just below sea level. Afterwards, couples retreat to a Robinson Crusoe meets George Jetson tree house with wood-paneled walls interrupted by large panes of glass with a tubular fireplace and open spa-style bathroom with two-person soaking tub.
Foodie Green Acres, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico
You may be accused of Green Acres Syndrome, at least until you arrive to impressive Los Poblanos, designed by John Gaw Meem, one of New Mexico's most famous 20th-century architects. A Territorial Revival-style property includes a series of sweeping corridors and communal spaces incorporating local artists for fresco murals and woodwork around the lobby and guest quarters. But a simple hotel Los Poblanos is not. Los Poblanos Ranch is a working organic farm offering 75 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs harvested by field workers, foodie volunteers and even a few house guests. Hacienda-style rooms fulfill every farm fantasy imaginable with a Southwest vibe of kiva fireplaces, four-poster beds and freshly harvested breakfasts.
A Really Wild Night, Kruger National Park, South Africa
You better have some miles saved up to get you to Johannesburg, where you'll board a two-engine prop plane to Kruger National Park. It's there where you'll hand over the magic to Singita Sweni Lodge and it's on-site cupids that specialize in perfecting honeymoons and long-past-due Valentine's Day gifts.
An architectural hideaway of post-and-beam cottages, Sweni Lodge is nestled along the Sweni River, where guests withdraw to freestanding rooms surrounded by glass walls and stilted terraces with outdoor daybeds awaiting with quilted comforters perfect for hiding under at 2 a.m. as water buffalos stomp and lions howl through the night.
Need more romantic bling? Try the safari hot-air balloon that puts you over the treetops of snacking giraffes and prowling leopards.
Beach Blanket Make-Out, Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii
Of all the beaches and all the shores, many well-seasoned travelers consider this picture-perfect white-sand beach in Oahu's Waimanalo to be their favorite. It's doubled as everything from Mexico to the Caribbean in Hollywood movies and TV shows, but really it's just the most romantic and undisturbed stretches of sand you're likely to find.
On the opposite side of Oahu from Honolulu, the only overnight options are limited to private rentals or Hale Nalo, a Zen retreat of just three rooms operated by a husband-and-wife owner/manager steps from the famous beach.
Free of nearby high-rise hotels, theme restaurants and tourists-of-the-bus sort, Hale Nalo offers one of the most romantic beach getaways you'll experience in Hawaii at a price that 's a great deal — from $160 a night, with beach blanket included.
An Island Love Affair, Nassau, Bahamas
With frequent flights from Miami and great deals like a free fourth night for guests arriving before June 30, Atlantis Paradise Island is an adult Disneyland that can humble any traveler worried they'll be bored on a lover's getaway.
Book in The Cove at Atlantis, a high-end boutique concept that's a private hotel mixing Bali-style decor with all-suite accommodations of sunken living rooms and private decks overlooking the Caribbean.
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