Casitas on the Riviera Maya
Want to stay in a thatched-roof casita? No need to jet to Tahiti; you can get the goods at the adults-only El Dorado Casitas Royal on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. According to Deb Bixby of Paradise Weddings and Travel, the destination known for family-friendly all-inclusive resorts “has really become a romantic destination with many luxury resorts.” El Dorado Casitas Royal — with outdoor showers, Jacuzzis, daybeds on the balconies and the relaxed air that can come with the absence of children — is a case in point. Just down the beach, a sister property, El Dorado Maroma, is creating over-the-water casitas that will be available soon, Bixby said. She works in Maple Grove (612-834-8020; paradiseweddingsandtravel.com/mn).
Chateau in Georgia
Kathy Skadsberg of Skads Travel in Minneapolis sends clients to the St. Paul Hotel or Canoe Bay in Chetek, Wis., for close-to-home romantic getaways. But for those willing to get on a plane, she suggests Chateau Élan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Ga. The resort, surrounded by vineyards, offers the triumvirate of romance: wine tastings, couples massages and gourmet meals. Its chefs also teach weekly cooking classes. Another perk: The resort is a 45-minute drive from the Atlanta airport, where many direct flights from Minneapolis land daily (952-927-7311 or skadstravel.com).
Castles in Ireland
“Ireland is just a mystical, magical place,” said Sara Butruff of Travel Leaders in Apple Valley. Castles there have been turned into luxury hotels, yet are small enough to feel intimate. People are friendly and helpful. Natural beauty is everywhere. And the weather also enhances the romantic feel. “It rained every day we were there, either in the morning or the afternoon, and when it stopped, a mist hovered over everything and slowly lifted,” she said of the trip she took to Ireland with her husband. Kilkea Castle, in county Kildare, “was spooky and beautiful all at the same time.” On the Mayo-Galway border, Ashford Castle — parts of which date to 1226, once home to the Guinness family — makes people swoon as a five-star luxury hotel (952-4326272; travelleaders.com/applevalleymn).