Summer has lost its spark, and after twenty months of COVID-19 lockdown, so have our romantic relationships. Today’s reality is that most couples haven’t spent this much time together in modern history, and in less than idyllic circumstances (Zoom meetings while homeschooling, anyone?). Home 24/7, “hot dates” have meant Chinese takeout and rewatching Tiger King. It’s time to shrug off bad habits and start thinking about romantic winter getaways.
Sophy Singer, CEO and professional matchmaker at San Diego-based Sophy Love Exclusive Matchmaking, knows something about this pandemic lull. Her business involves intimately getting to know singles and navigating them through the dating scene — even in a pandemic. One of her secrets? It’s all about travel.
“When couples hit a lull in the relationship or feel like they need to work on it more, they plan a getaway to jumpstart things,” says Singer. “But during the lockdown, our options for getting away were limited — most of us could only do as much as move from the living room to the kitchen. Without the option to do the things that can rekindle a relationship, it can be tough to keep the spark going.”
But at long last — go science! — we’re veering from that apocalyptic phase of the pandemic and cautiously returning to “normal.” And booking one of these romantic winter getaways may be a crucial first step for relationships to rekindle the flame that’s been slowly dissipating over the last two years.
“Now, more than ever before, couples must take trips together,” explains Singer. “First of all, it finally feels safe — we understand the virus, most people are vaccinated, and the anxiety is much lower. Secondly, things have gotten stale during the pandemic, as we’ve all been dealing with stress, fear, and monotony.”
So let’s get to the sparking: Take a trip with your partner to any of these romantic winter getaways below, and watch your romance heat up again.
1. Partake in sexy time in New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans — where jazzy melodies and black magic permeate colonial balconies and smoky dive bars — has always been a mood. But in post-COVID times, it also sets the mood. Like this: The Saint Hotel has the Archangel Lucifer Suite (all in red and black with a private stage and dance pole!) and an Archangel Michael Suite (all in white, lots of glass and stainless steel).
Singer agrees that traveling somewhere sexy as a couple is a chief way to reignite bedroom sparks. “Couples, especially ones with kids, tend to ‘do it’ in their bedroom, almost every single time,” she explains. “Same time, same place. After almost two years of lockdown life, that old spot has little to offer in terms of spice and excitement. Having a new environment to be intimate in can heat things — new sounds, smells, colors, lighting, and textures.”
Not only does the Saint Hotel need to be christened in late 2021, but so do other big names in The Big Easy, such as The Four Seasons (with its unrivaled Mississippi River views) and Sir Richard Branson’s just-opened downtown Virgin Hotel in the colorfully rambunctious French Quarter.
Singer adds one vital note to evade potential mortification, however: “Don’t forget the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your doorknob, and to order room service to share when you’re done!” But you’re in New Orleans — so if that service is not beignets, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Flirt and dance in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, beloved for bachelorette parties, greasy chicken, and general raunchiness, is the ultimate city to momentarily forget this strange reality, get your body moving, and shamelessly flirt with your partner (because who doesn’t love the flirting stage?).
Singer suggests we follow the science — and the Pabst Blue Ribbon — to Music City. “Listening to music raises your heart rate and breathing, both physiological signs of arousal,” says Singer. “Pleasure from music can prepare the body and mind for sexual pleasure because it has a direct effect on bonding and the limbic system of the brain.”
If you’re looking to ride that dopamine rush with your lover, saddle up to Robert’s Western World on Broadway, where cold beer, riveting country music, and fried bologna are constantly flowing. Another surefire way to create some bedroom honky-tonk? A dancing date at the newly opened Twelve Thirty Club, a modern take on a vintage 19th-century supper club, buzzing with DJs, household names, and impromptu jam sessions every night. And once sweaty and sticky from dancing, share some late-night Hattie B’s extra-spicy hot chicken…before that extra-spicy end of your night.
3. Share an adrenaline rush in Orlando, Florida
Okay, we get it. Hugs from Goofy and zooming down the Tower of Terror may not have screamed “hot date” pre-COVID. But after so many months being cooped up back home, Orlando — with its pristine sidewalks, castle gardens, and even those exorbitantly priced ice-cream cones — now conjures up more seductive vibes.
And with ten major theme parks in Orlando’s vicinity, your itinerary will be brimming with titillation. “Sharing an exhilarating experience as a couple will give you both that adrenaline rush which instantly creates feelings of intimacy and lust,” explains Singer. Plus, there’s nothing quite like young puppy love, which is”why we never forget our first crush or our first time. Hop on a crazy roller coaster, and you just might rekindle that crazy heat of young love,” she says.
What’s more, Orlando’s racking up more ways for you to get extra cozy with BAE. Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando‘s first launch coaster, showcases four new backward and forward launches, culminating in the steepest vertical drop in Florida (it’s anticipated to open in late 2021). And for that ultimate adrenaline rush, ICON Park is about to open two major thrill rides: The Orlando Slingshot catapults guests 450 feet in the air, and The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower, the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower, sending riders downward at speeds over 75 miles per hour. Yikes — we’re getting hot and heavy just thinking about it.
4. Bask in the chaotic energy of Manhattan, New York
Feeling sexy is a state of mind, and the energy in New York City is nothing short of electrifying. And Manhattan, that little-known island home to about 1.7 million folks from all walks of life, is the ultimate spot to un-social distance and relish in that chaotic energy with your partner (and, seriously, there’s no energy quite like the L train after 8:00 PM).
“Having access to romantic dinners and a buzzing nightlife within blocks of any hotel is a hot spark of a change, compared to the cold takeout dinners couples have been calling ‘date night’ throughout the pandemic,” says Singer.
Choose a hotel room in the center of the action, such as the Arlo Nomad, where a corner room with glass walls legitimately sits 46 stories above Midtown’s pulsating sidewalks. For a science experiment of your own, enjoy Manhattan’s just-opened Chemistry Room at Sushi Lab, which serves omakase complemented by eccentric cocktail and sake pairings. After all, says Singer, “The city that doesn’t sleep also doesn’t skimp on romance.”
5. Castaway to the Maldives
The Maldives, an archipelago of coral islands nestled in the Indian Ocean, may seem like a Windows 95 screensaver, but we promise it’s pretty accessible. Only an hour’s flight from mainland India and with a one-island-one-resort concept, this post-COVID escape epitomizes privacy within striking nature, which is a much sexier way to get intimate than the living room couch.
And a beach vacation is a no-brainer for a romance reboot. Singer says they’re ideal for sexual experimentation with your partner. Why? “Couples can recharge their COVID-drained batteries on the beach and then take that energy back to their hotel room later that evening,” she says.
Consider adults-only properties in the Maldives to relish with your lover, such as Hurawalhi Resort, home to the world’s largest all-glass undersea restaurant, or the isolated Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa Maldives, surrounded by exotic marine creatures blissfully swimming in turquoise lagoons.
Plus, the Maldives welcomes a plethora of new properties in winter 2021 to enjoy with your babe, including Siyam World Maldives, a playground-like escape with Southeast Asia’s biggest floating waterpark, and JOALI Being, an immersive nature wellness retreat that curates an individual menu of experiences for couples to relax and feel reinvigorated (in all the ways).
6. Hit the slopes and get your groove on in Vail, Colorado
If you’re guilty of watching Hallmark holiday films, you know that all mountain towns somehow have this ability to make even Solo Sam feel sexy and desired (generally in a hot tub, clinking cocktails with the hometown prom queen). While we don’t think it works quite like that IRL, crisp mountain getaways can renew a stale relationship, especially if they involve activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.
“Being active together also produces a natural sensation of connection,” explains Singer. “Activities give us endorphins, so doing those things as a couple provides the chance to end the day melting and relaxing into each other.” She says that emotions follow body movement, so if we go somewhere cold and then snuggle up with our partner, that physical act of warming up will translate into how we feel for each other. “To turn up the thermostat on your relationship, head somewhere cold and then literally turn up the heat.”
And Vail, the Austrian-modeled ski village just two hours from Denver, is the pinnacle of mountain resorts, pun intended. This amorous getaway boasts palatial hotels, innovative dining, and, of course, miles and miles of scenic skiing and hiking trails. But Vail stands out amongst the country’s many mountain towns not only for its luxurious caliber of literally everything but also as a mecca for winter music festivals, including their signature outdoor Vail Snow Days in early December. Be sure to spend a night at Vail’s newest resort: The Hythe, in the nucleus of Rocky Mountain action, set to debut in winter 2021.
7. Relish in nature in Tucson, Arizona
They say that Mother Nature is the best (and cheapest) therapist. And while all us city folks are still psychologically recovering from isolating in 50-foot apartments, there is no better place to head with our partners than somewhere that epitomizes space and fresh air.
Singer gives many reasons we should head into nature right now, but one of the most obvious is its immediate mood-boosting ability. “When the air is stale, so goes the relationship,” she explains. “Retreating to a ranch, the desert, or the mountains together forces couples to turn off their phones and look up — and you become more fully present in the moment as well as more fully present in the company you’re with.”
Tucson, that naturally and culturally rich city in Arizona, is the optimal post-COVID romantic retreat: with relaxed charm and stark desert scenery surrounded by snaggletoothed mountain ranges, the cacti-rich Saguaro National Park, and incessant night skies, being present comes naturally here.
The region also offers plenty of outdoor activities, which Singer says will increase your brain function, reduce stress, and offer feelings of vitality. “When you play outside together, those feelings translate into the emotions you feel about each other,” she says.”Then there’s the opportunity to cozy up together in front of a fire, staring up at a clear sky filled with stars.”
After exhausting all the verbs — hiking, trekking, star-gazing, relaxing — take your beloved to The Citizen Hotel, Tucson’s first wine hotel opening in late 2021, located in the city’s historic newspaper building. Not only will this boutique property feature a robust partnership with a local wine producer, but will also have freestanding soaking tubs in every room, which we hear pair perfectly with bubbles — of the soap and champagne variety.
8. Nerd out at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, UAE
Part of the reason our relationships have gotten stale throughout these months of pandemic life is because we’ve already discussed every topic imaginable with our partner — or so we think. Singer suggests that a simple way to reinvigorate sparks in a relationship is to introduce newness and discovery. “We do this by seeking out things you wouldn’t otherwise encounter in day-to-day life.”
Singer says that nerding out on cool topics together can reignite the parts of the brain that thrive on surprise and connection, increasing passion and jumpstarting a cold relationship. “Studies have shown that couples who participate in new and novel activities reported improved relationship quality, and more importantly, increased passion for each other.”
The reason? Vulnerability. “When you’ve been with someone for a long time, you’re used to a certain level of vulnerability with each other, and there isn’t anything new about that. But when you enter an environment where one of you isn’t an expert, and you can learn together, that newness and vulnerability you experience with the subject matter can translate into a deeper shared connection.”
And getting your geek on is even more accessible in late 2021 because the postponed World Expo 2020 is finally happening in Dubai. After an eternity of getting our meager cultural fix by rewatching Emily in Paris, you’ll finally unearth some new material at the Expo. The multi-month event will showcase some 190 country pavilions and address concerns surrounding sustainability, the future of transport, and global coexistence.
“The Expo might reveal that your partner has deep knowledge about a scientific topic you had no idea they knew about, or you might be able to show off your own skills in something unexpected,” said Singer. This sense of surprise and wonder is sexy and a huge turn-on.” Oui, some heartier conversation starters than Emily’s love triangle.
9. Get pampered in Miami, Florida
It’ll take more than a few foot rubs to decompress after these last twenty months. But a good place to start is by heading on a much-needed spa holiday with BAE.
Singer attests that spalidays can be therapeutic for a suffering relationship. “You can’t be a good partner or lover if you aren’t also good to yourself, and one paramount way for couples to tap back into their passion and reconnect after a year and a half of pandemic stress is to head to the spa and practice self-care, together,” she explains.
Singer maintains that getting a massage or facial together as a couple accomplishes two important goals: It allows a couple to reconnect through a shared experience and lowers stress and anxiety levels, paving the way for feelings of reconnection and intimacy to come powering back.
The third benefit, she says, is that massages encourage intimacy. “Any human touch, and especially the sort of deep therapeutic touch of massage, will release hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, the love hormone. While you’re getting a couples’ massage, your feelings of affection and your desire for intimacy will naturally rise as your therapist works out on your knots,” she explains. “A spa is the ideal spot for working out your muscle kinks to getting kinky with your partner after.”
And few places bring that heat quite like Miami, a haven for shameless self-indulgence in our own backyard. Treat your partner to a pampering day at Acqualina Resort, which re-debuts an exclusive experience, inviting couples to rent out the entire spa with a private after-hours Royal Spa Suite. Or head to The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for a sensory-stimulating Signature Guava Massage with your lover. And afterward, jump hand-in-hand into the Biltmore’s iconic column-lined pool, because how romantic does that sound?
10. Eat your heart out in Napa Valley, California
There’s a sixth all-powerful love language that’s somehow been neglected thus far: food. Whether experimenting on a new recipe or indulging in something delicious, sharing a meal with a partner incorporates the five other love languages and all five senses. But twenty months of monotonous takeout or the same banana bread recipe from TikTok may have turned our tastebuds — and relationships — stale.
“Relationships turn stale when two people spend so much time together and fall into such an easy routine that they begin to think they know everything there is to know about each other,” explains Singer. “With familiarity comes fatigue, and an easy way out of this rut is to try something entirely new together, like food.”
Napa Valley may be heralded for its wine, but it’s also becoming quite the tantalizing gastronomy destination with food offerings for every palate. Truffle connoisseurs should book it to NorCal in December 2021 for the Napa Truffle Festival, which will showcase the delicacy prepared in several ways and teach festival-goers about their history and how to serve them.
And the sheer variety of Napa’s culinary choices — from progressive Michelin-starred restaurants such as La Toque to taco fixes at Gran Electrica — stimulate more than just the appetite. “Food on its own can be an aphrodisiac. Watching your partner take on an adventurous spirit while enjoying the sensual pleasure of food can be such a turn-on, and sharing that experience builds passion and connection that lasts long after the plates are cleared.” If you ask us, that’s a good excuse for seconds.
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