Make this Valentine's Day weekend--or any weekend--special at one of these dreamy retreats.
Big Sur, CA
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
The most dramatically situated and architecturally ambitious of the Big Sur inns, Post Ranch Inn has rooms set along the bluffs and others tucked away in the forest. And what do we think of the clifftop rooms? Wow. As in: Wow, check out those end-of-the-earth ocean views and get a load of those James Bond-worthy bells and whistles. But also as in: Wow, $1,060 to $2,185 a night? Youch. Regular rooms start at $675--still a splurge, yes, but there's no dreamier perch. postranchinn.com.
A bit steep? Try these more affordable romantic getaways.
Methow Valley, WA
Rolling Huts, Methow Valley, WA
Skip the snow cave, and check into a stylish winter perch. Tucked into the tranquil upper end of northern Washington's Methow Valley--where the loudest noise is the swish of cross-country skis--are the Rolling Huts, tricked out with platform beds, wood-burning fireplaces, and sleek kitchenettes. If cooking isn't your thing, order tapas to go from the Wesola Polana Diner, and snuggle in to watch shadows play on the peaks above the ponderosas. Or ski out your door 6 miles for an espresso and fresh-baked goods at the Mazama Store (509/996-2855). No tickets necessary for the nightly show: a gazillion stars and, if you're lucky, the aurora borealis. 2-night minimum; rollinghuts.com.
Petit Hotel Hafa, Sayulita, Mexico
Relax on the stylish rooftop lounge at Petit Hotel Hafa, a tiny boutique hotel two blocks from the beach, where the Moroccan-inspired decor in the middle of the Mexican tropics draws both design enthusiasts and hideaway seekers. Owners Christophe and Marina Mignot know everyone in town and are happy to share all off-season secrets, so a stay here feels like the real local's-eye-view. 2-night minimum; hotelhafasayulita.com.
Ranch, Greer, AZ
Hidden Meadow Ranch, Greer, AZ
Six miles up a forest road, 10 miles to the nearest village, the seclusion and often-snowy setting make this super-luxe guest ranch in the White Mountains the ideal winter retreat. By day, sleigh-ride à deux, ride horseback through pines, or snowshoe. At night, dine on elk tenderloin in the candlelit lodge, then relax in the steamy hot tub under dizzying stars before bedding down by the crackling fire. Nightly rate includes meals, horseback riding, and other ranch activities; hiddenmeadow.com.
Big Island, HI
Volcano Rainforest Retreat, Big Island, HI
In the secluded Sanctuary, light candles, make the Tibetan chimes kiss, play a CD of sensuous Indian music, and whisper words from a bedside book of meditations on love. As you snuggle under the Balinese-print quilt, you'll feel a glow that comes only partly from the ornate cast-iron fireplace. Hide out in the open-air pavilion's Japanese soaking tub, just big enough for two, surrounded by glistening ferns and sweet flowering ginger. Nightly rate includes breakfast; two-night minimum; volcanoretreat.com.
More on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Halfmoon Bay, B.C.
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, near Halfmoon Bay, B.C.
This ragged stretch of the Sunshine Coast is so unspoiled and awe-inspiring, it's sometimes hard to imagine that anyone but a bald eagle or two has been here before you. Wooden walkways meander through the forest where Rockwater Secret Cove Resort's 13 roomy, light-filled, adults-only canvas tent suites--with fluffy king-size duvets and tubs for two--perch above the blue water. Each suite has a deck and views to inspire castaway fantasies. At Rockwater's Spa Without Walls, treatments are on a platform at the water's edge with stunning views. rockwatersecretcoveresort.com.
Secluded Vancouver Island retreats
Monument Valley, UT
View Hotel, Monument Valley, UT
Daydreaming is the main activity at the View Hotel, where every room has a balcony with vistas of those iconic sandstone spires--and nothing else. Occasionally guests rally from their reveries and bundle up to wander out into red rock scenery made completely new by a fairy dusting of snow. monumentvalleyview.com.
Los Angeles, CA
Figueroa Hotel, Los Angeles
Humphrey Bogart would fit right in at this cinematic Moroccan oasis in the middle of downtown's flurry. For a fun date night, catch a concert at the nearby L.A. Live entertainment complex before you head back to North Africa. figueroahotel.com.
Dining out in L.A.
Indian Springs, Calistoga, CA
There's no better way to warm up, literally and figuratively, for an amorous evening than with a soak in steamy water so rich with minerals it feels like silk--especially when your private cottage is just footsteps away. To make it even more interesting, try Watsu on each other in the pool. Wat-what? Enthusiasts claim that this aquatic massage technique--which involves rocking and cradling--promotes a blissful sense of letting go. Ask about winter Sunday-through-Thursday spa packages. indianspringscalistoga.com.
More mid-week escapes
Coast Cabins, Manzanita, OR
A group of "cabins" in name only, the Zen-like Coast Cabins is set in a bamboo grove a couple of blocks from the beach, with private outdoor spas, sculptural firepits, and heated floors. And wait 'til you see that beach: seven wide-open miles of sand, big boomy waves, and poetry-worthy sunsets. coastcabins.com.