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Taking the kids: Managing some romance this pandemic year

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By Eileen Ogintz

Tribune Content Agency

Allison and Mark Jonez had to postpone their February romantic getaway to Mexico, but it was not because of the pandemic.

The Colorado couple discovered their passports were expiring (they must be valid at least six months after the trip) and couldn’t get them renewed in time. (With all the government closures and resulting backlogs this past year, even passport services that expedite delivery wouldn’t offer any guarantee.)

“We haven’t rebooked yet until we are sure our passports make it in time,” said Allison Jonez, a hairdresser, and my niece. She added that meanwhile, they aren’t out any money because there were no cancellation fees.

Gant Aspen has partnered with local outfitters to create private experiences from dog sled tours, guided snowshoe tours, uphill skiing and more.
Gant Aspen has partnered with local outfitters to create private experiences from dog sled tours, guided snowshoe tours, uphill skiing and more.

Nor are they worried about catching COVID-19. She has had it and her husband, a Denver firefighter, has been vaccinated. The couple, parents of a toddler (who will stay with her grandparents, who are in their “pod”), had to cancel their 10th anniversary getaway last summer and are anxious for some “adult” time.

Sound familiar? With Valentine’s Day this month and the pressure of working as well as overseeing young children and older ones’ remote schooling, everyone is desperate for some adult time, as well as a change of scene.

“We recently took a trip to the mountains to escape from the monotony of pandemic life,” said Denverite Meghan McCloskey, noting that taking a trip during the pandemic “forces you to problem solve and be creative as a couple to stay safe.”

Certainly it’s not as easy as it once was to get away as a couple when you could have grandparents fly in, hire your child’s pre-school teacher, or send the kids to a friend’s house. If you don’t have kids, you can’t be as spontaneous as you might have been in the past.

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree, Arizona.
CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree, Arizona.

Consider an IOU for a post-pandemic getaway, perhaps along with some artisanal truffles or for the beer lovers, Craft Beer Caramels or Craft Beer Brittle from family-owned Hilliards Chocolates.

For the foodie who is the love of your life, sign on for a virtual cooking class or virtual food tour in the region you hope to visit. Alternatively, order something edible from that region to go with your IOU — lobster from Maine, a selection of salsas from New Mexico, cheesecake from New York.

There are plenty of affordable socially distanced options, if you want to getaway right now.

Love private outdoors adventure? Escape Adventures is touting a six-day, private, multi-sport getaway (mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, glamping starting at $1,895 per person) in Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah.

The historic Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, California, one of my favorite California wine country hotels, has now reopened its Willow Stream Spa geo-thermal pools with special romance packages and outdoor dining. You have plenty of places in Sonoma County to explore, including at socially distanced wine tastings, at the same time supporting an economy buffeted by wildfires, as well as the pandemic. How about a hot-air balloon trip over the vineyards?

Velas Resorts, just named by U.S. News and World Report as the Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Mexico, have unveiled a menu of socially distant romantic experiences, including a private Brunch at Sea on a 55-foot yacht and a Los Cabos Stargazing Package on the Baja Peninsula, considered by NASA as a top place to view the night sky. Perhaps an outdoor Moonlight Massage by the sea? Velas Resorts now provide air passengers the COVID-19 test free. The test is required before flying back to the United States and the resort has received the global safety stamp of approval from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) for its Stay Safe with Velas program.

Romantic carriage ride in Charleston, S.C.
Romantic carriage ride in Charleston, S.C.

Focus on wellness as well as romance at the Civana Wellness Resort & Spa in the Sonoran Desert just outside Scottsdale. Civana’s couple’s connection package includes a $250 nightly stay resort credit per person to use for dining, spa or wellness experiences. Each day, choose from more than a dozen complimentary classes or relax by the pool, enjoying meals sourced from local farmers and growers. There are three pools and everything from an invigorating morning hike to aerial yoga and TRX training.

Emeline, Charleston’s newest luxury boutique hotel has launched a new Winter Wandering package, including a tour of the famous historic district while sipping hot chocolate in a horse-drawn carriage.

For socially distanced fun in the snow, consider a getaway to a dude ranch. My son and his girlfriend got engaged last February, just before the lockdown, after a 28-mile snowmobile tour in the Routt National Forest at Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado. The ranch is open this winter, albeit with fewer guests and social distancing in the dining room.

Many couples believe there is no place better than snow country for romance. “When it’s cold, you want to be close to someone you love,” explained Cameron Stewart, who had eloped and married at the top of Breckinridge Mountain.

Nor is romance limited to the young, said Russell Watt, 66, from Australia. “Don’t watch the news and focus on each other!” he suggested.

Though it isn’t possible to be as spontaneous with reduced capacity, limited dining and COVID-19 tests requirements, you will find more deals, even if you book shortly before you want to go. “As short as within the week,” said Lou Eppelsheimer, director of sales and marketing at the Gant Aspen, which has partnered with local outfitters to create private experiences from dog sled tours, guided snowshoe tours, uphill skiing and more.

Not only did they feel safe with the COVID-19 protocols at their hotel and on the slopes, Meghan McCloskey said, “But we found that take-out from local restaurants in our lovely hotel room was just as romantic as eating out.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

©2021 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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