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Kona Village Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii is low-key by design, to the point where "unplugged and unpretentious" are in its tagline. But for Valentine's Day, it takes a 180-degree turn with a jaw-droppingly lavish "Million Package" that includes private jet transit, custom-designed Tiffany jewelry and a full round-the-clock staff. The cost? A cool $500K.
"We figured the most unpretentious resort in Hawaii deserved an over-the-top Valentine's package," says a hotel spokesperson.
While Kona Village tops our high-ticket Valentine's roundup this year, it's certainly not the only luxury property to go all out for the ides of February. Hoteliers everywhere hope couples will agree that they deserve an over-the-top Valentine's experience -- complete with adventure elements, pampering, fine cuisine and in some cases, private fireworks displays and designer diamonds.
"Our goal is to take romance to the next level with lavish extravagances that couples can truly savor," says Paula Negrete, chief concierge at El Dorado Casitas Royale in the Riviera Maya. The package that Negrete and her colleagues have put together is probably the most whimsical and eclectic of the bunch. Though perks like private gourmet meals, chocolate fondue under the stars and a beachfront horseback ride aren't necessarily expensive, they might make your experience priceless. At $10,000 for three nights, the Casitas Royale is actually one of the most reasonably priced Valentine's packages in this roundup.
Many of the others are obviously more aspirational than practical. Take, for example, the St Regis' "Till the End of Time," which includes his 'n' hers Cartier wristwatches and presidential suite lodgings. Even in this crowded luxury market the $75,000 price tag seems a little bit expensive.
That's why so many properties offer an over-the-top package and also a more reasonable option. Consider the Atlantic's "Dress Her in Diamonds." For a more manageable $3,999, guests get a Neiman Marcus shopping trip, a four-course dinner and a Tiffany platinum gift. For $40,999, they get the same things -- only in a higher price bracket.
At Barton Creek in Austin, the bells-and-whistles package is the new addition, created to supplement the traditional offerings of the past.
"Usually we like to be very simple, but this time we decided to put a lot of different elements together," says Melody Goeken, who helped come up with Barton Creek's "Bed of Roses" package. This property gets a lot of drive-in guests from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, and most of them are in their late '30s and early '40s -- and have children. The package was tailored to meet their expectations of luxury and exclusivity, while still fitting within a reasonable price point. In this case, $6,500. Guests receive 12 dozen roses, vintage Cristal and hand-dipped chocolate strawberries at check-in, in-room couples' massage and an array of rose-themed Tiffany collectibles. There's also a quirky element thrown into this package to fit with the "keep Austin weird" theme: a four-hour customized private tour in a pink limousine.
"We figured it would be something fun -- you take wife or girlfriend out, see whatever she wants to see," says Goeken, readily admitting that a pink limo is a detail tailored toward the ladies. Not surprisingly, the most popular "sightseeing" tour heads straight to South Congress, the well-known shopping street leading up to the state capitol.
The CopperWynd in Scottsdale is looking out for their male clientele with a private helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. This journey is the physical high point of their $13,950 "Romancing the Stone" package, but other elements are equally head-spinning in different ways. Chef Tom Pristash aims to put pheromones on overdrive with his four-course aphrodisiac dinner, "lovingly prepared" and served in the guests' villa.
"It will be an erotic, sensual night where the food sets the tone for everything," says Pristash, who will use seasonal local ingredients to create an array of plates meant for sharing. Oysters on the half shell, baby spinach salad with mango vinaigrette, ahi tuna in saffron� Each course is served on one plate, the better for feeding to each other.
"Dessert would be of course chocolate, the biggest aphrodisiac of all," say Pristash. "And then I'm going to have to get out of there quickly� they're going to want the place to themselves."
For some properties, every day is Valentine's Day. Boutique luxury getaways like the Sheriton Estates Sheriva in Anguilla and Milliken Creek Inn in Napa make a practice of providing romance on tap, to the exact degree their guests want it, 365 days a year. The Sheriton's "Lover's Rock" package is a luxe version of what's available year-round at this honeymooner paradise. And the Milliken will spend all of February celebrating Valentine's before segueing smoothly into the baby-moon, proposal and honeymoon seasons.
"February is all about love, romance and sex, and Milliken is full of love," says general manager Connie Gore.
Indeed, Milliken's arsenal of love-arrows would make Cupid jealous: message-in-a-bottle delivery, a custom-etched wine bottle, a flock of white doves released into the sky, private hot air balloon rides� The latest addition is a "flock of butterflies" experience. Butterflies travel in a wicker basket and are released by a special handler at just the right pre-arranged moment. "We're expecting a lot of proposals," says Gore.
For people who need a little help on the planning end, Milliken even has a special web site.
Because, while a $500,000 Valentine's is nice in theory, in real life it is the thought that counts.
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