Valerie Wilson Travel

Top Valentine’s Day Experiences

From Valerie Wilson Travel Advisors

Embrace the season of love with a touch of luxury. Dinner reservations and heart-shaped boxes are lovely, but plane tickets for two and a perfectly planned trip elevates the holiday to a new level. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, creating lasting memories in extraordinary destinations that will forever hold a special place in your heart.

Our expert Valerie Wilson Travel Advisors have curated exclusive recommendations and past itineraries for special experiences for two. If you’re seeking the perfect way to connect this February, consider the following experiences!

Road Trip Through Scotland – Recommended by Amy Nidds

What’s dreamier than snuggling up in overcast weather and embarking on a road trip to a castle?

After exploring Scotland with her husband, Independent Travel Advisor Amy Nidds recommends Scotland as a wonderful destination for couples. Edinburgh, a walkable city with rich Scottish history, century-old buildings, and charming streets leading to cozy pubs, boasts fabulous hotels like Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, The Gleneagles Hotel, and The Balmoral Hotel.

Amy personally stayed at Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, a collection of combined former townhomes. It offers an intimate boutique experience and features a fantastic restaurant as well.

Voted second in the reader’s choice category “Top Hotels in UK” at the Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2023, The Balmoral is a must-visit. Don’t miss the signature whiskey bar, SCOTCH, which features one of Edinburgh’s largest whiskey collections and an ambiance you won’t ever want to leave!

A two-and a-half-hour drive from the center of Edinburgh is Balmoral Castle, acquired in 1852 for Queen Victoria and currently serving as the Scottish holiday home for the British Royal Family. The estate is open for tours from April to July annually. Amy, accompanied by a retired gamekeeper for the Queen, explored exclusive parts of the grounds and the Royal Cabin, a gift from the King of Norway to Queen Victoria.

A fifteen-minute drive from Balmoral Castle is The Fife Arms, Queen Victoria’s summer retreat. This historic hotel doubles as a living museum, showcasing Braemar’s rich history through its impressive collection of 16,000 artworks, which includes a genuine Picasso among both antique and contemporary pieces.

Amidst the taxidermy mounts showcasing the area’s hunting heritage, guests can partake in activities like clay pigeon shooting, or a full-day wellness adventure, exploring an ancient scots pine forest and swimming in a river before enjoying warm drinks in a wilderness tent with a local expert.

VIP Treatment in Tahiti – Recommended by Ashley Lancer

For the epitome of a 5-star experience, French Polynesia is the quintessential destination for romantic getaways. After sending a pair of honeymooners to Tahiti, Leisure Travel Advisor Ashley Lancer highly recommends French Polynesia, particularly Bora Bora and Tahiti, for clients celebrating any special occasion. Upon arrival at Tahiti Airport, guests are greeted with a lei before being escorted to their suite, where a bottle of champagne, scattered flower petals, and breathtaking views from an overwater bungalow await.

For her honeymooners, Ashley collaborated extensively with one of VWT’s partners, Tahiti Legends, to ensure every detail of the trip was meticulously planned, from hotel bookings to the airport meet-and-greet. Tahiti Legends provides unparalleled service, catering to clients’ needs from the moment they arrive until their departure, whether it’s for an ultra-luxury vacation at The Brando or a budget-friendly honeymoon trip.

Ashley’s top recommendations for hotels in French Polynesia are (in no particular order) The Brando, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts, The St. Regis Bora Bora, Conrad Bora Bora Nui, and the InterContinental Properties. 

Wellness Weekend in the Berkshires – Recommended by Audrey Gabel

This past winter, Independent Travel Advisor Audrey Gabel indulged in a cozy weekend with her significant other at Canyon Ranch Lenox in the Berkshires. Their aim was to relax, reconnect, and eat well, all of which was achieved in this serene haven, a convenient 3-hour drive from NYC.

As avid enthusiasts of active pursuits, Audrey and her boyfriend enjoyed workout classes offered throughout the day, including HIIT workouts, yoga sessions, and Pilates. They enjoyed the opportunity to show off their skills on the indoor tennis and pickleball courts before indulging in spa treatments. His top choice was acupuncture, and her top choice was reflexology.

In addition to the plethora of indoor activities, Canyon Ranch offers expert-guided outdoor adventures. Audrey and her partner enjoyed a scenic hike and activities like the high-rope course, archery range, and kayaking. For those who prefer to stay indoors, the resort has interconnected walkways that offer glimpses of the stunning landscape and artwork dotting the halls.

A tip from Audrey for guests is to plan for an early dinner on the first night, followed by booking the couples Coconut Melt For Two massage during the last 90 minutes the spa is open – it serves as the perfect prelude to a romantic weekend at Canyon Ranch Lenox!

30th Anniversary in Indonesia – Recommended by Chris Spahr

To celebrate his 30th anniversary in a truly special way, Independent Travel Advisor Chris Spahr planned a romantic retreat to two extraordinary hotels in Indonesia: Amankila in Manggis and NIHI Sumba in Sumba. Drawing inspiration from his honeymoon at Amandari in Ubud three decades earlier, Chris aimed to recreate that unforgettable experience.

Amankila, with its breathtaking temple-like architecture descending to a private black sand beach, set the stage for an unforgettable anniversary. With the assistance of the Amankila team, Chris arranged a stunning day on a private boat and a once-in-a-lifetime lobster BBQ dinner for just him and his wife on the beach. As the evening unfolded, they were thrilled to discover that the adjacent beach club pool was exclusively reserved for their use under the twinkling stars, all night long.

Seeking a completely different experience, they ventured to NIHI Sumba, a luxurious thatched-roof retreat conceptualized by Chris Burch on a remote island. Here, guests can embark on adventurous excursions and witness the famous surfer’s break right in front of the hotel. However, NIHI’s Spa Safari Experience proved to be the highlight of their anniversary celebration. The unique “spa” is located a short drive or horseback ride from the main property and features open-air thatched roof treatment rooms overlooking a deserted crescent beach, a romantic outdoor pool, and a small dining hut built into the rocks, offering just one table for two facing the sea. Reflecting on the retreat, the couple regretted not booking the overnight spa experience, which allows couples to spend the night alone among the dark, windswept coastline in a a luxury thatched roof villa perched high above the beachfront compound.

Hawaii Honeymoon – Recommended by Gina Tarpey

In December 2023, Leisure Travel Advisor Gina Tarpey orchestrated a dreamy Hawaiian getaway for a lovely couple who were new clients to her office. In search of a warm and memorable destination for their wedding ceremony and honeymoon, the couple wanted simplicity and intimacy, with just the two of them, a beautiful location, a romantic dinner, and a photographer to capture the occasion. After careful consideration, Gina recommended 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay in Kauai.

Gina ensured the couple had everything they needed for their special occasion by connecting them to a local contact on the island, who assisted in selecting the perfect ceremony location and arranging photography services. Over their ten-day stay, the couple explored the island at their leisure, particularly falling in love with the natural beauty of Kauai’s north shore.

Reflecting on their experience, the couple said, “Our wedding ceremony was exactly how we wanted it to be.” Gina was touched to witness everything come together seamlessly for the couple, knowing that Kauai’s enchanting landscape had provided them with a magical backdrop for their special day.

Surprise Engagement in Ireland – Recommended by Jessica Siregar

When asked about her favorite romantic trip she’s planned, Independent Travel Advisor Jessica Siregar recalls a specific story from 2017. A mutual friend approached her for assistance in orchestrating a proposal trip to Ireland for Christmas. Jessica and her client worked together on an itinerary while he prepared a delightful basket of Irish treats as a gift for his then-girlfriend. Overwhelmed with excitement, the girlfriend immediately contacted Jessica to book the airfare.

Their adventure began in Dublin, with highlights including visits to the Cliffs of Moher, Ring of Kerry, Blarney Castle, and Gaps of Dunloe. Initially intending to propose at the Cliffs of Moher, the client surprised his partner by popping the question in St. Stephen’s Green outside Trinity College on day one, to which she happily accepted. This magical moment set the tone for the rest of their journey as they explored Ireland’s castles, countryside, and coastal towns like Dingle and Galway.

The final two nights were spent at Ballyseede Castle, where they embraced their engagement. Today, the couple is happily married with two adorable children, and Jessica eagerly awaits the opportunity to plan their next getaway or family vacation.

Secluded in Seychelles – Recommended by Lindsey Russian

The Seychelles Islands, located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, are the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway in a unique location still undiscovered by the masses. Ideal for adventurous souls who love exploring different islands, the archipelago is dotted with numerous luxury resorts. For Independent Travel Advisor Lindsey Russian, the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles on the capital island of Mahe was a dream destination.

Featuring tree-house villas and a hill-top spa overlooking Petite Anse bay, this resort is the ultimate environment for unwinding. Find bliss lounging at your private pool, taking surfing lessons, or enjoying a sunset meal on a deserted beach, all while enjoying unmatched views of crystal blue waters and lush green hills, complemented by the renowned Four Seasons service. For those craving even more seclusion and intimacy, rustic villas and suites are available on the resort’s private Desroches Island.

Sacred Valley Engagement – Recommended by Susan and Stacey Gringauz

Independent Travel Advisors Stacey and Susan Gringauz orchestrated a tailor-made journey to Peru this past January, culminating in a memorable proposal in Sacred Valley. They highly recommend the region as an ideal destination for creating lifelong memories with luxury accommodations readily available. Sacred Valley is nestled in a culturally rich area of Peru, features well-preserved ancient Incan ruins, and is home to the renowned Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Seventh Wonder of the World.

During their stay, Susan and Stacey’s clients were upgraded to a luxurious two-bedroom villa at the Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel, Sacred Valley, enjoying daily breakfast, a $100 credit, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a personalized engagement dinner at the hotel’s main restaurant, El Huerto.

Working closely with VWT partner and Belmond’s on-site department, Journeys, the duo organized an unforgettable proposal that started with a full-day excursion through Sacred Valley, accompanied by a private guide and photographer. Highlights included visits to picturesque villages, exploration along the Urubamba River, browsing local markets, and discovering Inca terraces and fortresses.

As the day unfolded, a romantic picnic lunch overlooking the mountains at Huaypo Lagoon was arranged, providing an intimate setting with Peruvian charm. The clients expressed their gratitude for the meticulously planned proposal, saying they will cherish every detail of the experience forever!

Markets and Desert in Morocco – Recommended by Tina Montana

For those eager to explore new cultures together, Morrocco is the perfect playground. Independent Travel Advisor Tina Montana suggests starting a journey in the heart of Marrakech at La Mamounia. Steps away from the famous Jemma el-Fnaa Square, La Mamounia was honored as “The Best Hotel in the World” and “The Best Hotel in Africa” by Condé Nast Traveler in 2021. Cradled in the vibrant energy of Marrakech, immerse yourself in 20 acres of gardens shaded by 700-year-old olive trees and the sweet smell of orange blossoms. Explore sights like Musee Yves Saint Laurent and Bahia Palace before enjoying the lavish La Mamounia Spa or the Le Menzeh Par Pierre Herme tearoom.

Then, venture outside the city into the Moroccan desert to Dar Ahlam, a Small Luxury Hotel, for an experience in an ancient kasbah – a fortress or citadel. Nestled in a palm grove, surrounded by rocky desert and panoramic mountain views, Dar Ahlam’s expansive villas have mud-brick floors, adobe walls, a swimming pool, hammam, and jacuzzi. The real highlight of a stay here are the meals enjoyed in nine of the property’s gardens – each location and meal different from the last.

Ready for your next romantic getaway?