While traveling during a pandemic remains challenging and ever-changing as we closely monitor protocols and regulations daily, we can still put together a wish list for future travel and plan trips while carefully watching Covid parameters and restrictions. Just because you may not be able to take one of these trips on Valentine’s Day, these are all new, romance-inspired experiences that are doable throughout the year.
For the Ultimate Ted Lasso Fan
Soccer or professional “football” is widely popular in Europe, but there are still fans on this side of the pond who love and follow the international sport. If your special someone is enthusiastic about soccer and has always dreamt about seeing the sport live in one the iconic stadiums in Europe while learning about its history and culture, here is the perfect gift for the soccer lover in your life. Global soccer legend and former Manchester United captain Eric Cantona just announced the launch of a series of curated travel experiences called Looking FC. Looking FC features 4-day trips uniquely crafted by Cantona himself that take guests on an immersive sporting pilgrimage to explore global football cities through the lens of the world’s most vibrant clubs and their loyal fans. Cantona collaborates with DHARMA, a startup that has launched travel brands for iconic people and companies such as Equinox and Culture Trip.
Trips culminate with a Game Day experience seated in the passion sections of iconic stadiums for big League and Champions League matches. In addition to the big game, trips feature unique experiences such as fan chant workshops with superfans, sports-themed graffiti walking tours with local historians, and tactics briefings with leading journalists. Manchester (United), Buenos Aires (Boca), Liverpool (Liverpool), Milan (Inter), Madrid (Real Madrid), Barcelona (Barca), Paris (PSG), Lisbon (Sporting), and Casablanca (Raja) are the nine trips that are offered this season, with thrilling fixtures on the calendar including a Liverpool vs. Manchester United at Anfield, a Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona El Clásico at Bernabeu, and a PSG vs. Marseille Le Classique at the Parc des Princes.
Each signature itinerary is designed for groups but is also bookable privately for friends and families. Prices start from 1,290 Euros per person based on double occupancy and include all accommodations, experiences, most meals, guides, and match tickets. In line with Cantona’s persona, Looking FC has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Common Goal, donating 1% of its revenue to supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Initiative. Each trip is built with an emphasis on supporting local businesses and all trips are carbon offset through Thrust Carbon. For more information, visit www.lookingfc.com.
Working Up a Sweat Together in Costa Rica
The new year is all about fitness and wellness resolutions, so for couples that want to be as active as possible while on vacation, look no further than Las Catalinas in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Check out the new outdoor beachfront gym there, CORE by Chakfitness, and sign up for a week of personal training and unlimited gym and class access — including a personalized take-home program designed by owner Chakiris Menafacio for $400USD. CORE by Chakfitness is also offering a special two-for-one for friends and couples training simultaneously through May 2022. There is a wide range of fantastic accommodation options in town, starting at $200USD per night at the Santarena Hotel or you can check out any of their villa offerings atBeach Town Travel.
An outdoor paradise for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, yogis, and water enthusiasts, Las Catalinas has an exciting array of activities for all ability levels. With over 26 miles of world-class, single-track trails that feature stunning views of the coastline and valley vistas, Las Catalinas is the most prominent mountain biking destination in the American tropics. All hiking and running trails feature spectacular viewpoints and opportunities to get a glimpse of some of the area’s amazing local wildlife, including monkeys, peccaries, and coatis, not to mention a wide variety of exotic birds. Trails vary in difficulty and length, from high-intensity hills to low-impact flatter tracks. The town is flanked by two of the best beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Sheltered just enough from the southern swell, Las Catalinas is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, and consistent moderate waves make it ideal for body surfing and boogie boarding as well as standup paddle-boarding and sea kayaking. For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.
To the Ends of the Earth – Ultimate Polar Luxury
For those hoping to take that one trip of a lifetime this year, bespoke travel operator Blue Parallel recently launched journeys in the Polar regions. They offer a new romantic journey in Lapland in the north of Sweden featuring a combination of remote wilderness lodges, charming private log cabins, and impressively designed tree houses deep in the Swedish woods. It is easy to understand how these unforgettable experiential lodges are not only incredible to stay at, but naturally provide ideal privacy for couples as they are located in one of the most remote and pristine regions in the world. In addition, Blue Parallel organizes once-in-a-lifetime experiences completely in private ranging from special picnics in the wild with private chefs and nighttime sessions of gazing up at the northern lights, which is more than dreamy for couples to enjoy. To top it off and in true Scandinavian fashion, guests can then end their full day of winter adventures by relaxing in their private jacuzzi and sauna with the backdrop of an enchanting snow-covered forest. Overall, this destination guarantees impressive romantic landscapes with little to no other people around, which is ideal for couples looking to spend time together.
In Iceland, Blue Parallel utilizes private villas which translates well for couples looking to be far from the crowds. A great highlight of this trip is when they take travelers on an exhilarating private helicopter adventure through the dramatic Icelandic landscape where they can set-up romantic picnics in curated locations to guarantee their privacy. Then at the end of their trip they can experience true rest and relaxation while staying at a property near the famous Blue Lagoon, where they can relax and be pampered in the curative thermal waters. For more information, visit www.blueparallel.com..
Desert Discovery in Utah
For those looking for romantic experiences within the US, bathe your soul in the silence and majesty of Canyon Country in Utah. With the highest concentration of national parks in America, the Colorado Plateau offers endless opportunities to explore the likes of Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park by air, by car and on foot. For those looking to restore and rebalance, it is the perfect place to delve into the ancient healing traditions of the Navajo, drawing on the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. For the desert dwellers, Naya Traveler can put together one-of-a-kind experiences that bring you closer to the culture and history of the Navajo people.
Some highlights include Navajo-guided tours of the slot canyons and Monument Valley Tribal Park to powerful storytelling sessions and ritual dances by the fire. Graded by difficulty, guided hikes and climbing offer guests the opportunity to discover the geological wonders of the landscape. Navigate the vast reservoir of Lake Powell by kayak, take a stand-up paddleboard across the glassy waters, or explore from the comfort of a luxury private boat. Explore the sweeping Utah desert on horseback with seasoned wranglers and ride trails available both in the area and beyond. More challenging rides include ridge-top hacks high above the maze of ridges and canyons. Fly over this incredible landscape by plane, helicopter, or on a sunrise balloon trip, an inspiring way to discover the breadth of the backcountry. Working closely with the area’s best pilots, guests will experience the awe-inspiring scale of Canyon Country from on high. Indulge in native wellness with Hózhó healing, relaxing massages, restorative therapies, Yoga practice and grounding rituals. Amangiri blends into untouched red-rock country, claiming 600 acres of the vast and majestic Colorado Plateau, the original Wild West. In this desert landscape of canyons, mesas, ridges and gorges, the modernist Suites of Amangiri, and the tented Pavilions of Camp Sarika offer an inspiring welcome to one of the world’s most dramatic secluded settings. Naya Traveler organizes private, tailor-made trips to Utah, starting at $1200USD per person per day. Rates do not include airfare. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com.
Love All Things – Going Vegan in the Caribbean
Whether you’re opting for a plant-based diet for health, environmental, animal-rights or other reasons, travel options for vegans are more accessible and easier to find. If you or your partner are vegan, planning a getaway with vegan-friendly offerings is less cumbersome than it used to be. One of the most popular all-inclusive, adults-only boutique hotels in Saint Lucia, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa now offers an all-vegan dinner for the first time ever. The vegan dinner menu features dishes including Yellow Split Peas Soup with sweet potato, Tempura Cauliflower Bites, Sesame Braised Eggplant, Pan Seared Tofu, Vegetable Stroganoff, Grilled Cinnamon Pineapple and more. The cost is $195USD per couple inclusive of taxes and includes a bottle of Prosecco. The culinary team at Windsong Restaurant can accommodate guests’ special diet needs and personal requests. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Windsong Restaurant offers an eclectic menu inspired by Asian cuisine using the freshest, local ingredients in every dish. The restaurant offers diverse vegetarian and vegan dishes with an international flare. For more information, visit www.calabashcove.com.
A Pizza My Heart – Napolitan Pizza Making Classes in Rome
Some say that cooking as a couple can be a bonding experience and the key to someone’s heart can be found through food. What better to way to say “I love you” than together in one of the most romantic cities in the world – Rome. Take a romantic pizza making class with Bettoja Hotels and discover the history of this traditional dish and learn how to make a real Napoletan Pizza from scratch during a one-our workshop inside one of the best roman pizzerias in the Eternal City. Learn the most important secrets to creating one of the most loved Italian recipes. This new package includes a one-hour pizza class for two people led by a professional pizza chef, pizza tasting with your classmates accompanied by a drink and bruschetta or crisps, daily breakfast included, room upgrade, early check-in, and late check-out and a 10% discount in the hotel restaurants and bars. Starting price €149 per room per day with a minimum stay of two nights. For more information, visit www.bettojahotels.it.
Media release and images provided by Katherine Han, Katherine Han PR. Feature image: Las Catalinas Fotos Pablo Cambronero.