By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Media Services
Such a tough decision! Should I stay stretched out on my lounge chair, waiting for the smiling beach boy named Ben Pierre to bring me a frothy concoction or make my way across the white sandy beach for a dip in the clear, turquoise water? Maybe I should go to the infinity pool — 7,000 square feet lined with blue mosaic — where the chairs are set right in the water.
There’s not a kid in sight — no beach toys, no Goldfish crumbled on the sand, no harried parents chasing toddlers down the beach or trying to reason with petulant teens, no kids doing cannonballs in the pool.
I’ve been there — more times than I can count. But this sunny weekend on the gorgeous Caribbean Turks and Caicos Islands, I’m not responsible for keeping any kids happy — except my husband, Andy, and myself.
That’s why when I wanted to plan a long just-us weekend getaway, I opted for the year-old Gansevoort Turks & Caicos (check out their romance package, www.gansevoorttc.com ). General manager Grant Friedman told me, “If we have 10 arrivals, at least half are honeymooners or couples celebrating anniversaries.”
The Turks and Caicos Islands (www.turksandcaicostourism.com ) — British Overseas Territories — are actually 40 islands and cays located halfway between Miami, Fla., and Puerto Rico. (Only half the islands are inhabited.) We’re on the island of Providenciales (Provo), which is on the western end of the Caicos archipelago. It’s easy to get here — just a 1-1/2-hour flight from Miami. (Going home, we scored a nonstop American Airlines flight to JFK — less than four hours.)
And the oh-so-hip Gansevoort couldn’t be more relaxing with its 91 rooms, open-air spa and airy elegance. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer ocean views (and spectacular views of the sunset from the deck), as well as all-white furniture and dark wood. I love that there’s a complimentary continental breakfast too and big comfy beach beds ideal for two.
We enjoyed terrific local lobster, grouper and conch fritters as we sat on the deck at the Caicos Cafe, a favorite with locals. We indulged in fancy eats, said to be the best on the island, at Soleil at the upscale Somerset on Grace Bay (www.thesomerset.com ) and went diving with Dive Provo (www.diveprovo.com ) — the Coral Reef stretches for more than 200 miles. After a long walk down the miles-long beach, we even had time for a “core fusion” class. This really good workout, held in an open-air pavilion, is so popular with locals, according to the instructor, that they often outnumber hotel guests at every class.
I confess I didn’t feel the least bit guilty not inviting the kids along. We parents deserve — and need — a break once in a while. In fact, a recent Travelzoo survey found that the vast majority of those polled — 88 percent — said they’d rather take a romantic getaway with their special someone than get chocolate, flowers or a night on the town for Valentine’s Day. Another survey from www.bedandbreakfast.com received similar results.
That getaway is a lot more doable than you might think when you can book an upscale hotel for about $100/a night on www.travelzoo.com — the same as a dozen Valentine’s Day roses — or save $50 when booking a two-night getaway on www.bedandbreakfast.com . (Use the code BBROMANCE50.)
Of course, you don’t have to travel over Valentine’s Day weekend either — just give each other the promise of a getaway to come. (Give it to yourself, if there’s no significant other in the picture.) We went before our last anniversary, but go when it’s convenient (when can Grandma baby sit?) or when you find the best deal. Vayama.com is touting a St. Valentine’s sale that will last all February and includes specially discounted airfares to the most romantic destinations in the world. Paris maybe? Travelocity’s Genevieve Shaw Brown says that with President’s Day weekend and Valentine’s Day falling so close together, more people will get away this year. Travel the following weekend to get better prices and fewer crowds. (Search for deals on www.travelocity.com/romance .)
The Bahamas are giving away free companion airfare that you can combine with a free fourth night at the megaresort Atlantis (http://www.atlantisbahamas.com). There are numerous deals in New Orleans, one of the country’s most romantic cities, including one at The New Orleans Marriott (www.neworleansmarriott.com ) that starts at just $124 a night and includes breakfast in bed and more. If you need inspiration, check out Frommer’s (www.frommers.com ) brand-new “500 Extraordinary Islands,” which includes some in the United States.
Sofitel Luxury Hotels (www.sofitel.com ) are offering “Air of Romance” packages during the month of February, complete with breakfast, Champagne, and an on-property concierge to customize your stay. Hilton (www.hilton.com/romance ), meanwhile, promises “Do Not Disturb” getaways in the Caribbean and at hotels in the United States.
If you are a snow sports lover, forget the condo where you’d stay with the kids and hole up in cozy luxury at Aspen’s Little Nell (www.thelittlenell.com ) — re-opened after an $18 million renovation and offering two free lift tickets per night. Get free lifts and a free night with the “Ski Free, Stay Free package at The Arrabelle at Vail Square (www.rockresorts.com ) or the “Skier’s Escape” package to the new Capella at Telluride (www.capellatelluride.com ) where every room comes with an assigned “personal assistant” to cater to your every whim. There are plenty of cozy B&Bs and inns to choose from in snowy Vermont too, especially in and around Stowe (www.gostowe.com ).
Prefer tennis or golf? Book a tennis package the last week in February at the Boca Raton Resort & Club (www.bocaresort.com ) in Florida. Check out the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships nearby and score half off court time, golf and spa treatments, as well as breakfast at the resort, which, with 18 clay courts, is ranked as a top tennis destination.
Even a night away is worth the effort — if only for the chance to sleep in. Expedia.com has a Drive Getaways tool that enables you to find a place you can go within a tank of gas — and then recommends hotels and activities there. Pretty easy, right?
Do yourselves a favor and pick a place that’s not teeming with kids, if you’re leaving yours behind. And keep telling yourselves that taking a break is as good for the kids as it is for you. The kids will learn that they can survive without you, as long as they’re having fun, of course, and you come home refreshed. Just don’t forget the souvenirs — for the baby sitter, too.
The day before we left the Gansevoort, I talked my husband into a couples massage at the resort spa, which sported its own private garden and outdoor shower just outside the treatment room. I was so relaxed the masseuse joked that she should check my pulse.
I just smiled.
(For more on Eileen’s Turks and Caicos getaway, read her travel diary here )
(c) 2010 EILEEN OGINTZ DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.