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Valentine’s Day romantic accoms under your nose

LOVE IS IN THE AIR at this time of year, but romantics be warned

Many of the more celebrated dream destinations in the world can turn out to be as romantic as bad breath. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to look at accommodation closer to home.

Venice can provide the perfect backdrop for passion but as you lock lips with your beloved on a Venetian gondola and a musician croons a tender melody, beware the pong from the canal and the angry shouts from the bottleneck of gondolas up ahead.

Florence is one of the most iconic destinations in the world for lovers, but an evening of fine dining by the Arno, wonderful wine and softly whispered heart-to-hearts can be blown apart by flocks of street peddlers accosting you outside the Duomo as they try to flog yo-yos that light up in the dark.

And while Paris might be the city of light and love, the ambience created by stunning architecture and cobblestone lanes, can be quickly ruined when nine out of 10 people jostling their way through the cafes and historic attractions are loud-mouthed tourists in t-shirts, shorts and sandals armed with cameras and attitude.

I love things closer to home.

The Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat in the Sunshine Coast hinterland still boasts the title of being the best romantic hotel in the world.

The Montville property was last year voted number one, ahead of many prestige properties around the globe, in TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice Awards.

Narrows Escape is nestled on three hectares of tropical forest surrounded by wondrous wildlife and offers guests fine dining, a jacuzzi, log fireplaces and a veranda for lovebirds to drink in the atmosphere of the virgin forest.

Passions are stirred on the range as the nearby The Falls cottages and Bli Bli House were also named as premier romantic stays last year.

Of course, love is a many splendored thing that comes in many variations. For some lovers, a romantic escape is all about getting away into a wilderness surrounded by nature. For others its decadent luxury, private dining, French champagne, Belgian chocolates and poolside spa treatments.

While subscribers to TripAdvisor obviously have a thing for big trees and waterfalls, other romantics go for Italianate style.

At the luxurious Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast, if someone wants to propose marriage, staff will light tea candles on the beach that spell out “Marry Me”. The Versace also has a service called ‘Bath Bliss’.

They run oils in the bath and light candles and put out marshmallows, chocolate strawberries and fondue or champagne for the guests. If that doesn’t get a partner’s heart racing, maybe it’s time to take a cold shower and a dip in the hotel pool.

There are some spectacular properties around the world built on a foundation of amour. All 29 suites at Jade Mountain on the Caribbean island of St Lucia have panoramic views of twin volcanic peaks, while the infinity pools are tiled in striking shades of ruby and indigo. Room service runs to six-course, butler-served dinners, and some couples never venture out of the bedroom.

Dalhousie House on the outskirts of Edinburgh is an ancient castle with four-poster beds, magnificent views of deer in the park, and displays of falconry for those whose fire is aroused by the hunt.

Not far away is the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel,  which legend says once held the Holy Grail.

The white-marble-and-mosaic Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, India, rises like a mirage from Lake Pichola.

The palace dates back to 1746 when it was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II. Guests are given the royal treatment by a small army of uniformed butlers.

The Hôtel De Crillon, in Paris, built in 1758, overlooks the Place de la Concorde. Designer Karl Lagerfeld has decorated two of the sumptuous suites.

The Brando, meanwhile, features 35 villas on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small white-sand islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 50km northeast of Tahiti.

Katikies in Santorini, Greece, features sparkling white washed suites spilling down the cliffs and offering majestic views of the Aegean Sea, sublime sunsets and perfectly manicured pink bougainvillea.

Huka Lodge, in Taupo, New Zealand, is located 300m upstream from the Huka Falls on the banks of the Waikato River. There are 25 guest suites and two superb private cottages on 8 hectares of perfect peace and quiet.

And what could be more romantic than the Aman in Venice, with its stunning entrance located within the exquisite 16th-century Palazzo Papadopolion on the Grand Canal?

Closer to home there are the golden sunsets of O’Reilly’s Guesthouse overlooking Queensland’s Scenic Rim, and for lovers of water the astounding Reefsuites, where couples holidaying on the Great Barrier Reef can now spend a romantic night in a luxury underwater suite.

It’s very different, but there is something soothing about a night of romance as fish and turtles glide past your bedroom window through the soft relaxing glow of a blue underwater light.




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