Life & Style | Travel

The most romantic Valentine's Day breaks

From Cambodian tents to Turkish tree houses and a jungle eco lodge, Heidi Fuller-Love finds the most romantic options to get away from it all this Valentine’s Day

  • By Heidi Fuller-Love, Friday magazine
  • Published: 15:06 February 11, 2013
  • Friday

  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Nile Safari Lodge in Uganda is a cocooned lodge consisting of tree-top chalets with panoramic views nestles on the banks of the Nile and belongs to Uganda’s largest national park.
Image 1 of 4
1234

If variety is the spice of life, adventure is an excellent condiment when it comes to love. Luckily, however, ‘adventurous’ doesn’t have to be synonymous with ‘uncomfortable’. Whether it’s plush yurts, state-of-the-artlog cabins or floating eco lodges, there are plenty of ways to get off the beaten track in style. So why not follow our top-ten guide to the hottest sites for romance out in the wilds this Valentine’s Day and enjoy a thrilling, one-of-a-kind trip that’s guaranteed to kindle that amorous flame?

1. Nile Safari Lodge, Uganda
Cocooned in a dense papyrus forest, this luxurious lodge consisting of tree-top chalets with panoramic views nestles on the banks of the Nile and belongs to Uganda’slargest national park.

What’s so romantic? Breakfast served by your personal waiter on your elevated balcony with views of hippos, giant Nile crocodiles and other creatures cavorting in the river beneath your feet; remote bush restaurants where you can dine tête-à-tête with your loved one and nights snuggled in your tree house listening to the call of the wild.

Will we have to rough it? With five wooden chalets and five luxury tents, all kitted out with double beds and en-suite washrooms, plus a well-stocked restaurant and a beautifully landscaped pool on site, this lodge offers some of the most luxurious accommodation in Uganda.
Useful tips: Dyed-in-the-wool romantics shouldn’t miss the boat trip to Murchison Falls.
Details: Emirates flies from Dubai to Entebbe airport from Dh2,191*. Accommodation from Dh590 per person per night, full board. www.geolodgesafrica.com/nile_safari_lodge.htm

2. Troytown farm, St Agnes, UK
Ideal for couples who want to play Tarzan and Jane, this stunningly located farm campsite is on the remote island of St Agnes off the southwest coast of England. One mile across and studded with coves, this isle is just a boat trip from the Scillies’ main islands.

What’s so romantic? Private pitches with panoramic views to the uninhabited isle opposite. If you don’t fancy sleeping under canvas you can stay in one of the farm’s three apartments in a wing of the old granite farmhouse.

Will we have to rough it? With homegrown products for sale on site, power points to charge your mobile phones and laptops, and even a washing machine with tumble dryer – we don’t think so!

Useful tips: Call ahead to arrange for heavy luggage to be picked up.

Details: Emirates flies from Dubai to Heathrow, London from Dh2,840, then you can take a train to Penzance and a ferry to the Scilly Isles (see www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk for rates and more information). Accommodation from Dh350 per night in self-catering cottages and from Dh60 per night to pitch your own tent, www.troytown.co.uk.

Related Links

3.Finch Bay Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

For secluded luxury in the heart of one of the world’s most beautiful natural wildlife reserves, you can’t do better than Finch Bay, voted ‘South America’s leading green hotel’ in the prestigious World Travel Awards.

On Santa Cruz Island at the heart of the Unesco-heritage-classed Galapagos islands, this sumptuous lodge is a short plane ride from the Ecuadorian mainland.

What’s so romantic? With only the noise of waves crashing on the seashore, giant tortoises slithering across the rocks in front of you and rare birds sweeping across your seaview balcony, what’s not romantic? There’s a private beach and a plethora of activities on offer – including kayak trips to see the sea turtles and horseback rides to explore the wilderness, so there’s plenty for you and your sweetheart to do.

Will we have to rough it? The Finch’s six Ocean suites and 21 Premium rooms are fitted with all the mod cons and have an unlimited supply of fresh water. There’s also an excellent restaurant serving healthy organic food, a Jacuzzi, laundry service and satellite TV, so this is a great place to get back to nature without having to sacrifice civilisation’s perks.

Useful tips: Ask about all-inclusive packages, which include airport transfers, meals and yacht trips to see more of the Galapagos Islands’ amazing animals.

Details: United Airlines operates flights from Dubai to Quito’s brand new Mariscal airport from Dh6,954. A four-day package including accommodation, transfers and meals from Dh5,242 per person. www.metropolitan-touring.com

4. Four Rivers Floating Lodge, Koh Andet Island, Tatai Village, Koh Kong Cambodia

As its name suggests, this eco lodge floats on a bend in the river Tatai. Surrounded by the Cardamom Mountains – home to rare species like the Javan rhinoceros, cloud leopards and Asian elephants – this buoyant oasis is buried in the midst of lush jungle scenery just over the border from Thailand.

What’s so romantic? Accessible only by boat, the superb camping lodge is ideal for adoring couples who like to be active. Head out on a jungle trek, paddle downriver to visit local villages in a kayak, have fun in the waterfalls’ frothing spa-style pools, then dine on fresh shrimp, green mango salad and other Khmer delights as you watch sunset descend over the surrounding jungle.

Will we have to rough it? With cosy rattan furniture, large-screen TVs and air conditioning these structures are so stylish and luxurious that – although you’re sleeping in tents – you hardly know you’re under canvas.

Useful tips: Make things easy on yourself by asking the lodge to arrange your transport from Phnom Penh airport.

Details: Etihad flies from Abu Dhabi (including bus service from Dubai) to Phnom Penh from Dh3,474. Accommodation from Dh658 for two. www.ecolodges.asia

5. Mashpi Lodge, Mindo Cloud Forest Ecuador

This gorgeous conservation project sits at the heart of Ecuador’s unique 2,700-square-metre Mindo cloud forests, one of the earth’s richest reserves for flora and fauna, and home to a plethora of rare species ranging from spectacled bears to sloths and pumas.

What’s so romantic? Almost entirely made of glass, this brand new hideaway buried deep in pristine forest is a transparent cocoon that will suit starry-eyed lovers who want to spend time together whilst getting close up and friendly with nature.

The lodge relies solely on hydroelectric power, so there are no noisy generators. There’s also no street noise, although if you feel the need to get even further away from it all, there’s an aerial tram to take you. 

Closer to earth you can learn to make dark arriba chocolate and other local delights in the lodge’s well-equipped kitchen, then cool off in one of its private natural pools.
Will we have to rough it? The Mashpi Eco Lodge has 19 rooms and three vast suites. With succulent cuisine in the lodge’s high-roofed restaurant and Jacuzzi and massage facilities to put you back on your feet after a jungle trek, you won’t find yourself suffering here.

Useful tips: Combining this trip with a visit to the nearby Unesco-heritage-classed town of Quito will really impress the one you love.

Details: United Airlines operates flights from Dubai to Quito’s Mariscal airport from Dh6,954. Accommodation from Dh4,760 for a three-day/two-night package including meals and activities.
www.mashpilodge.com

6. Whitepod, Geneva, Switzerland

Whitepod’s six, electricity-free geodesic domes cluster around a beautifully refurbished, spa-equipped chalet high up in the Swiss Alps.

What’s so romantic? Sheepskin throws, oil lamps and wood-burning fireplaces, or chilling out in the spa are a recipe for romance.

Will we have to rough it? A private ski zone, meals selected by a qualified nutritionist and comfy double beds show that eco-friendly doesn’t mean comfort-antagonistic.
Useful tips: Pack light – there are no roads to the camp, so you have to hike there by ski, or on foot.

Details: Egyptair flies from Dubai to Geneva from Dh2,077. Accommodation from Dh2,382 per night for a double room.
www.whitepod.com

7. Camping du Col, Toussuire, France
Perched at a 1,650-metre altitude, near the snowy slopes of the Arvan-Villard mountain range in the Savoie, this campsite – which has several fully equipped chalets – is just a short slalom away from La Toussuire’s pistes.

What’s so romantic? A picture postcard muffled in snow, this tiny site spread over one hectare is a great place for romantic snowshoe treks, and après ski gourmet food before returning to your chalet or tent to snuggle up with the one you love.

Will we have to rough it? With lashings of hot water, cosy beds and restaurants serving home-cooked food, not likely!

Useful tips: A free ski bus runs four times per hour to the village centre and stops about 365 metres from the campsite.

Details: See previous point for flight details to Geneva airport. From here there are airport transfers to Savoie. Accommodation from Dh1,659 per week for a luxury chalet. www.camping-du-col.com

8. Straw bale house, Podlachania, Warsaw, Poland
Poland’s first straw bale house is a cosy cottage near Lake Hancza, in the Podlachia, a region renowned for its natural beauty.

What’s so romantic? Clay walls, an old-fashioned wood-burning stove and as much nature as you could want on your doorstep.

Will we have to rough it? With all the basics in place, this comfortable love nest is ideal for back-to-nature-ists.

Useful tips: If you fall in love with your straw bale hideaway, you can join one of the organisation’s courses and learn how to build your own.

Details: KLM flies from Dubai to Warsaw from Dh2,308. Accommodation from Dh244 per night. http://earthhandsandhouses.org/rent.htm.

9. Sundance Nature Village, Tekirova, Turkey
This eco-friendly campsite with tent pitches, tree houses and bungalows south-west of Antalya, is close to the ancient Lycian city of Phaselis.

What’s so romantic? No phones or TVs, a bonfire burning brightly every night, a restaurant serving home-made yogurt, jam and pickles, and a lovely secluded beach-front setting within a private bay make this a great place for lovers.

Will we have to rough it? Although the emphasis is on getting back to nature, there are plenty of creature comforts.

Useful tips: Book for at least a week because you won’t want to leave.
Details: Turkish Airlines flies from Dubai to Antalya for Dh2,527. Accommodation for two in a seaview tree lodge from Dh310 per night. www.sundancecamp.com

10. Argentina and Brazil, South America
Splurge on this dreamy trip skipping from sultry Buenos Aires to love-soaked Brazil organised by a leading South American travel company.

What’s so romantic? From tangoing in Buenos Aires, to strolling secret beaches, candlelit dining in gourmet restaurants or discovering Brazil’s sassiest city, this steamy two-week tour is ideal for loved-up couples.

Will we have to rough it? With expert guides, elegant accommodation and flight transfers between destinations, this trip is satin-smooth.

Useful tips: Bring a good camera – you’ll want plenty of photos.

Details: Turkish Airlines flies from Dubai to Buenos Aires from Dh6,600. Tours from Dh25,100. www.enchanting-southamerica.com.

The complete magazine

Friday
Quick Links

  1. Business

  2. Sport

  3. The latest Entertainment news

  4. The latest Lifestyle stories

  5. Blogs

  6. Opinion

In Life

  1. Food

  2. Shopping

  3. Motoring

  4. Travel

  5. Gadgets

  6. Beauty & Fashion

  7. Interiors

  8. People

  9. Health

  10. Education

Latest in Life

  1. How star power creates beauty super brands

  2. Give these pets a home

  3. Exclusive: Dubai-born Parul Shah on beauty title

  4. Q&A with Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti

  5. Who will win world peace award in Dubai?

  6. Novel twist to home cooking in Dubai