Love, American Style

Looking for love in all the wrong places? Left your heart in ... Detroit? Well, we have the fix. Romantic getaways in three of America’s greatest cities

By: Allen Salkin, Grace Lichtenstein and Carole Terwilliger Meyers

New York
Arts and Glamour
By Allen Salkin

There’s a reason so many love stories from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Sex in the City” have been set in New York. Nowhere else can the soaring extravagances dreamed by the heart in love be made so glamorously real.

Does the object of one’s love desire a ride in the back of a horse-drawn carriage, snuggled under blankets as the sleigh bells ring? Got it.

How about a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, when the sunlight reflects just so on the city’s skyline?

Something higher? Perhaps a view of city lights, with two lovers holding each other tight, looking out at the world? New York City has a nice little spot for that. It’s called ... the Empire State Building. Nuf said?

Wait, there’s plenty more, new and old, to do on a romantic trip to the Big Apple. Start with the arts; start on Broadway. There are a handful of hot shows on the Great White Way this season.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Bombay Dreams,” at the Broadway Theatre tells the story of a handsome young slum-dweller who dreams of becoming a Bollywood movie star. It weaves together the glamour of the movies, bombastic spectacle and epic romance. At the Booth Theatre, Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” has a new play called “The Good Body” about other aspects of the female form.

For a glorious pre-theater drink, there’s nothing to top the newly reopened The View, New York City’s only revolving restaurant, located on the 46th floor of the Marriott Marquis. The food’s great here, too, and if your clients desire stunning views and a Times Square location, this is where you’ll put them.

For a post-theater dinner, the urge to splurge will be amply rewarded at Jean-Georges, the stunningly delicious jillion-star restaurant on the ground floor of the Trump International Hotel. The hotel, with its Jean-Georges room service and elegant lobby, offers a Love Me Tender romance package complete with Cristal champagne, red roses and chocolate covered strawberries at turndown.

Absolutely essential for any arts-loving visitor this year is a trip to the completely renovated Museum of Modern Art. Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s plans have brought energy and lots of new space to the world’s cathedral of modernism. Of course, the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art has quiet galleries and alcoves among the masterpieces where a couple can steal a romantic embrace.

Downtown, Discovery Wines will be having free champagne tastings at its location on Avenue A throughout the Valentine’s Day weekend. During the promotion, the shop will deliver a bottle of champagne by messenger the same day to any New York City hotel room for no extra charge. A 20-minute walk across town is Greenwich Village, perhaps the most romantic section of the city. For years, the restaurant One If By Land Two If By Sea, located in a carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr, was known as a place for marriage proposals. But The Place, just a few blocks away, is even more romantic. A warm cave with little candlelit nooks and crannies, here couples feel like they’re the only lovers in the entire world.

For downtown kind of clients, two hot hotels are 60 Thompson, the epitome of chic, and the Hotel Gansevoort, in the trendy Meat Packing district, with its romantic vistas of the Hudson River. And then there’s Central Park. For some lovers there is no substitute for The Plaza, with its majestic location right on the park. Its Romance Packages, including a bottle of champagne in the room on arrival and in-room continental breakfast, start at $404 and are offered year-round. The new Mandarin Oriental, on the 35th through 54th floors of the Time Warner Center, has unparalleled views of the city to share with that one and only.

Across the street from both hotels, horse-drawn carriages line up every evening, as they have for decades, ready to take couples cloppity-clop-clopping along tree-dappled lanes in the center of the greatest city in the world.

And folks, it just doesn’t get more romantic than that.

Inspired by writing this story, Allen Salkin, a New York-based freelance writer, will spend this Valentine’s Day with his fiancée riding in the back of a Central Park coach.

Big Apple for Two

Romantic Icons: Empire State Building, Central Park.
Love Shacks: The Marriott Marquis, The Plaza, Trump International Hotel, 60 Thompson, Hotel Gansevoort, Mandarin Oriental.
For the Love-Starved: Jean-Georges, The View, One If By Land Two If By Sea, The Place.
Walking on Air: MOMA, The Met, Greenwich Village, the Meat Packing district, the Brooklyn Bridge.
When the Moon Hits Your Eye: Broadway show, Discovery Wines’ champagne delivery, Central Park carriage ride.

Santa Fe
Health, wellness and Spas
By Grace Lichtenstein

Santa Fe is not the Wild West; it is the tri-cultural New Age West. With its terra-cotta pueblo-style buildings nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this nearly 400-year-old city has long been a great destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway in an exotic environment without leaving the U.S.

Three cultures (Native American, Spanish and American) have colored the palette of Santa Fe’s citizens. The result: an eclectic mix of artists, outdoors enthusiasts, health and wellness specialists and spiritual seekers.

Santa Fe invites couples to action (hiking, skiing, horseback riding and more), as well as to contemplation. New this year is Body, a day-spa with a cafe that specializes in raw and cooked organic dishes. Among Body’s cutting-edge activities: Anusara yoga, pilates and NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) classes, and special treatments such as Somatic Polarity, Thai massage, Ortho-Bionomy and Rolfing.

For clients who want an all-in-one base camp, try La Posada, a romantic six-acre compound with 157 rooms in casitas clustered around a historic main house, close to the Plaza and Canyon Road.

La Posada, a RockResorts property, underwent an extensive makeover several years ago. Fuego, its elegant restaurant, features New American cuisine. Its Avenyu Spa offers a variety of treatments, including a two-hour couples massage, in which a therapist guides partners on relaxing and revitalizing techniques.

The couples massage is included in La Posada’s Romance Package. Prices start at $679 for two nights and also include a three-course dinner at Fuego (commissionable).

In the category of more intimate and cozy hotels, the Inn of the Anasazi, with 59 rooms, stands out. Although it does not have its own spa, its 2005 Romance Package includes, in-room massages for each partner as well as breakfast in bed. Prices begin at $690 per couple for a two-night stay (commissionable).

Each guestroom has a four-poster bed made up with Frette linens, exposed vigas and latillas (wood ceiling beams inspired by ancient Native American dwellings) and a curved, beehive-shaped kiva fireplace, all of which makes for a very romantic ambiance.

The inn’s award-winning Anasazi Restaurant is an excellent choice for guests and non-guests alike. It has soft lighting, spacious seating and authentic Native American artwork. It serves New Mexican cuisine utilizing locally grown, often organic, produce. Guests can also arrange a more intimate dinner for two in the Library.

For clients who want a remote retreat that is still close to the city, Bishops Lodge is a 111-room hideaway located on 440 acres north of Santa Fe. The resort feels like you’re tucked away in a secluded valley, but in reality it’s a 10-minute drive from downtown.

Bishop Lamy, the first bishop of Santa Fe whose life was the basis for Willa Cather’s novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” built his own chapel here. The grounds include a centuries-old fruit orchard, restaurant, stables and lodging in 15 separate buildings.

Two years ago, Bishops Lodge opened the ShaNah Spa and Wellness Center, and last spring it added a Native American sweat lodge.

The hotel’s “Winter Nights Under Lights” package includes breakfast, dinner and a spa treatment for each partner, with prices ranging from $614.90 per night for a traditional room to $746.90 for a ridgetop room with a dramatic view of the mountains (commissionable).

With advance reservations, anyone can use one of the hotel’s horses. Wranglers will accompany riders along gentle trails, while experienced riders can take off on their own. (Approximately $45 per hour for two or more riders.) It’s a way for couples to feel like they’re straight out of a Wild West romance.

Finally, Santa Fe’s most awesome event is priceless and takes place nightly. Sunset turns the sky rose and flaming orange, and silhouettes the graceful curve of the mountains. It’s a sight that couples will always remember sharing.

Grace Lichtenstein is a former New York Times reporter who covered Santa Fe when she was the paper’s Denver bureau chief. Currently single, she divides her time between Santa Fe and New York City.

Red Hot Santa Fe

Romantic Icons: Sunset over the mountains, snow-capped hills, clear blue skies and a red desert.
Love Shacks: La Posada, Inn of the Anasazi, Bishops Lodge.
For the Love-Starved: Fuego, Anasazi Restaurant.
Walking on Air: Horseback riding in the desert, skiing, couples massage and other treatments at Body, Avenyu Spa or ShaNah Spa.
When the Moon Hits Your Eye: A warm fireplace in a cozy wood-beamed room.

San Francisco
By Carole Terwilliger Meyers

We women seem never to get enough of romance, and what better city to be romanced in than gorgeous San Francisco? A long weekend here, with days spent hand-holding and sightseeing, and nights spent cuddling and indulging in festive feasts, allows couples to shake off the real world and reignite the fire between them.

Lodging is probably the most important factor in a memorable romantic weekend, and San Francisco offers something for everyone.

Your clients can pull out all the stops at the sophisticated Pan Pacific Hotel, located just one block from Union Square. Rooms have marble bathrooms equipped with a TV, beds topped with cozy feather comforters and pillows fluffed-to-order with a unique on-site fluffing machine. All this and the services of a butler with just the push of a button, too. The hotel is commissionable at 10 percent, and its Celebrate Romance package is available throughout the month of February.

Also in this area is the well-priced Handlery Union Square Hotel, a family-owned-and-operated hotel dating from 1908. Rooms are available in both a historical section and in a more contemporary club section, and the courtyard pool is a rare find downtown. The hotel’s Romantic Escape package includes chocolates, champagne and breakfast in bed. The hotel is commissionable at 10 percent.

Though it’s not hard to find a good meal in Food City, why bother with something less than great? A dim sum breakfast in Chinatown is a must, especially since the name for the delicacies translates as “touch your heart” or “heart’s desire.” Bustling Gold Mountain and New Asia are both popular venues.

For lunch, clients can trek out to the edge of the Pacific Ocean and try the Cliff House. They can go for broke with a fresh seafood meal and Bloody Mary at Sutro’s, or enjoy a more casual snack of fish and chips and beer at the adjacent Bistro. Clients will love the killer views.

For dinner, a booth in the subterranean dining room at Shanghai 1930 is primo. Dreamy live jazz drifts in from the bar, and the intriguing menu includes sweet tangerine beef with celery hearts, fabulous hot and red firecracker chicken and a dessert of flambéed sesame seed-covered bananas.

Or reserve a table for two for your clients at the highly acclaimed and very expensive Masa’s, where they can sit at a luxuriously set table and dine on a menu of contemporary French cuisine. Tasty tidbits are sent out from the kitchen throughout, and a dessert cart laden with housemade lollipops, candies and cookies provides a sweet conclusion. A dress code requests that men wear jackets.

TeatroZinZanni: Love, Chaos & Dinner, which operates inside a gorgeous, antique Art Nouveau-style mirrored spiegeltent from Belgium, is another dazzling option. Circus acts take place between five preset courses that are delivered to tables with great fanfare by both performers and wait staff.

In between all this feasting, one really must get in some sightseeing and a bit of exercise. Cuddling on a famous San Francisco cable car is first on the list. Do tell clients to get off for some strolling and shopping at Ghirardelli Square and of course share a sundae at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory, where all of the chocolate is made on site.

In Golden Gate Park, lovers can relax on a blanket at Shakespeare Garden, drift in a rowboat on Stow Lake or sip tea in the open-air teahouse in the Japanese Tea Garden. Better yet, they can do all three and finish it off with a visit to the newly restored Conservatory of Flowers. Like so many other lovers before them, after all these great experiences, your clients will surely leave their hearts in San Francisco.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers is the author of “Weekend Adventures in Northern California” and the editor of “Dream Sleeps: Castle & Palace Hotels of Europe,” both by Carousel Press. She met her mate in Berkeley, Calif., where she’s been a resident for more than 30 years.

City by the Bay

Romantic Icons: Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Golden Gate Park.
Love Shacks: Pan Pacific Hotel, Handlery Union Square.
For the Love-Starved: Gold Mountain, New Asia, Cliff House, Sutro’s Bistro, Masa’s.
Walking on Air: Cable car ride, Ghirardelli Square chocolate, rowboat, Japanese Teahouse and Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.
When the Moon Hits Your Eye: Jazz and dinner at Shanghai 1930, dinner show at TeatroZinZanni.



New York City Info:

New York Marriott

Museum of Modern

Metropolitan Museum of

Trump International Hotel:


60 Thompson:

Hotel Gansevoort:

Discovery Wines:

One If By Land Two If By Sea:

The Place: 212-924-2711

The Plaza Hotel:

Central Park Carriages:



La Posada:

Inn of the Anasazi:

Bishops Lodge:


San Francisco Info:

Pan Pacific Hotel:

Handlery Union Square Hotel:

The Archbishop’s Mansion:

Cliff House:



Teatro ZinZanni:

Ghirardelli Square: