Take Your Breath Away

Stop all activity for a few seconds, close your eyes and imagine your ideal romantic vacation. Are you sipping locally grown wine, sharing a gourmet meal in a Tuscan villa? Perhaps you're basking in the sun on the balcony of your overwater bungalow in a tropical paradise. Or maybe you are escaping in a romantic castle, surrounded by lush greenery and serene lakes? The opportunities for romantic getaways are virtually endless and can be found in every corner of the world. Here are a few examples of both traditional and more out-of-the-ordinary ways to share the perfect romantic experience.

Exotic Islands - Bora Bora is said to have the most beautiful lagoon in the world. The Maldives is often called the "last paradise". Fiji's mystique and culture are the perfect combination for an exotic escape. These islands, with their white sand, turquoise water, tropical flora, ultra luxurious resorts, and seclusion from the race of every day life, are virtually the definition of romance. Snorkel or dive among the sparkling coral reefs and colorful marine life, sunbathe on the balcony of your over-water bungalow or indulge at one of the gourmet restaurants.

Culinary experiences - What could be more romantic than a private tour through the luscious vineyards of Tuscany or learning to cook an authentic Italian meal to share with your sweetheart? Though Europe is one of most traditional destinations for culinary travel, unique food and wine experiences can be found all over the globe and can often be customized just for the two of you.

Private villas - From the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and everywhere in between, private villas provide couples a wonderfully spacious and private alternative to traditional resorts. Relax in the private pool or hot tub, sip champagne on the terrace or cook a romantic dinner in the fully equipped kitchen the many villas offer. Mountain escapes - Whether you're sitting atop the Kauri Cliffs in New Zealand or overlooking the Swiss Alps, there's something incredibly romantic about curling up with someone special at a quiet resort on the top of a mountain and gazing out over miles of picturesque landscape below. Mountain destinations are breathtaking in any season - you don't have to be a winter enthusiast!

Small cruising or barging - While large cruise ships overflowing with family groups and teenagers on spring break may not seem overly romantic, being on the water can be quite romantic in a more intimate setting. Small cruise ships, which vary in size but often carry fewer than 150 people, are better able to cater to individual needs and offer a greater degree of privacy. For an even more secluded vacation at sea, consider a river barge or a private yacht. River barges slowly traverse smaller waterways, such as the European canals, stopping in towns along the way. Most have hold between 4 and 10 passengers and include meal service (often personalized to guests' suggestions). Private yachts, while not inexpensive, offer the ultimate in personalized cruising, allowing you to virtually create your own itinerary.

Destination Spas - Scented oils, side-by-side massages, in room spa treatments and chocolate body wraps make destination spas a newly emerging option for couples seeking a romantic getaway. With a variety of romance and honeymoon packages, these resorts are perfect for a long weekend indulgence or a week-long honeymoon. Not to worry, gentlemen. Spas realize that they are no longer primarily women-only destinations and most offer specialized treatments catered exclusively to men.

Unique accommodations - Sometimes, all you need to add a romantic flair to your vacation is a unique place to stay. Scotland's castles, Napa's wineries, tree top hotels in Brazil, farm houses in Tuscany, lighthouse hotels and Bed and Breakfast's all over the world are just a few examples of an interesting twist on the common accommodation. Often, it's the coziness of these places, as well as the history, culture and surrounding scenery that make them ideal for couples looking to escape. People mistakenly believe that quality accommodations have to come in the form of expensive resorts. In fact, these unconventional accommodations often provide more spacious rooms and increased amenities due to their focus on creating an unforgettable experience for their guests.