Hidden in a stunning valley in the San Juan Mountains of South-western Colorado, Dunton is full of romantic contradictions: there is no cell phone service but you can go heli-skiing. Steep hiking trails and high altitude can be exhausting and physically challenging, but a first-rate spa pampers and eases sore muscles. The cabins once formed a ghost town, built by miners in the 1800s, but their historically preserved hand hewn wood exteriors now hide completely renovated interiors with world-class hotel features and high-speed wireless. Every guest has their own cabin for romantic privacy, the food, drink and service are all top shelf and all included in nightly rates, and of course, there is the namesake hot springs.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta, Canada
The Castle in the Rockies" is stunning inside and out. The hotel turns 125 this year, and occupies a very special location in the heart of Banff National Park, Canada's first and oldest, a UNESCO World heritage Site. The chairman of Canadian Pacific Railways started on the resort and a rail line to get there in 1886, his logic being, "Since we can't export the scenery, we'll have it import the tourists." People have been coming from around the world ever since to stay and see this marvel. The original wooden hotel burnt down in 1926 and was replaced with the enormous stone European-style castle famous today, rising dramatically from the surrounding mountains. The grounds teem with Elk and in winter are home to some of Canada's best skiing, and in summer to the nation's most famous golf course. Fairmont added a branch of its acclaimed Willow Spring Spa, and today the castle combines historic and modern charms with unparalleled natural beauty
Enchantment Resort, Sedona, AZ
Artists, romantics, mystics and adventurers have long been draw to Sedona by its otherworldly red rock landscape, one of the most striking places in the United States, and many feel that this is a place where magic literally occurs. Whatever your thoughts on Sedona's "vortexes," there is no doubt that the place is moving - and in a good way. Enchantment, built with stunning views of the red rock landscape, has long been the premier escape here, but is better than ever since the addition of the world class, award winning Mii Amo spa and the even more recent $25 million resort renovation. Casitas and suites are all designed to reflect the surrounding and Native American heritage and feature fixtures and decor from local artists and jewellery makers. Occupying 70-acres at the mouth of Boynton Canyon, guests can hike directly from the property into the surround rocky landscape, or simply relax by the gorgeous pool and take it all in. Don't miss one of Sedona's legendary off-road jeep tours!
Four Seasons Hualalai, Kona, HI
Four Seasons has lots of great resorts - and lots just in Hawaii. But what makes Hualalai so special is its setting where the fire meets the sea. The resort is carved from fields of black lava flow, giving it a dramatic setting, but it also has a fabulous long, broad, sandy beach. The water theme is pervasive, with a full slate of traditional Hawaiian activities including lessons in outrigger canoe paddling and surfing, and from November to May you can see whales frolicking just off the beach. Rooms are built in low rise clusters surrounding pools or overlooking the gorgeous beach, and perhaps the most unique feature is something no other hotel can claim: the King's pool, a lagoon-like complex carved from black lava and up to 15 feet deep. The pool is filled with filtered sea water and is home to over 3,500 fish, including spotted eagle rays. It's like swimming in an aquarium, with complimentary snorkel gear and full poolside food and beverage service.
Jade Mountain, St. Lucia, West Indies
Jade Mountain is a one of a kind boutique resort on St. Lucia, an island with so much natural beauty it is nicknamed the Helen of the West Indies, as in Helen of Troy. It's best known feature are the breathtaking twin mountain peaks of the Pitons, and there is no better view on the island than from where Jade Mountain sits - the resort was built with every single "Infinity Pool Sanctuary," as the suites are called, facing it. The Sanctuaries are among the most amazing hotel rooms on earth, each completely decadent, self-contained, with its own open air infinity pool, and all-inclusive of butler and room service. The current record for a couple never leaving their room, not even once, is a full five days. But if you do leave there is plenty to do, because the owners of tiny Jade Mountain also own the larger and acclaimed Anse Chastanet resort down the mountain, and the luxury all-inclusive plans at Jade Mountain give guests free run of the other resort, which has a PADI 5-Star dive centre, several more restaurants, a private beach and the largest private hiking and mountain biking reserve in the Caribbean.
Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans, LA
The most distinctive of American cities, New Orleans is also hopelessly romantic with its eclectic and action packed fusion of European and American cultures, Creole, Cajun, French and Caribbean. It's the "City That Care Forgot," a city of jazz, of the nation's best indigenous cuisine, of excess, of riverboats and gardens and wrought iron railings, unique in every way, from the food to the architecture to the history. But one thing the city lacks is great hotels, especially for romantics, and fortunately the Windsor Court fills this void with a quiet location outside the French Quarter, but not too far away, the best of both words, with easy access to the now trendy Warehouse District and its galleries, boutiques and museums. It is both a perfect base for exploring the city's charms and a perfect place to retreat back to, especially after a recent $22 million upgrade. Rooms are sumptuous, with classic French Vogue decor, ornate linens, marble baths and fresh flowers, and the hotel also boasts one of the city's most famous fine dining spots, the Grill Room, two top bars, and one of the best spas.
Twin Farms, Barnard, VT
A summer camp for adults is the best way to describe this unique over-the-top boutique property which occupies the former 300-acre estate of Nobel-prize winning novelist Sinclair Lewis. When Twin Farms says all-inclusive they mean it because rates include all activities, summer (hiking, biking, fly fishing, canoeing, tennis) and winter (downhill skiing on private runs, cross country skiing and snowshoeing on private trails) plus world-class meals and fine wines. The 14 cottages are each unique, with a whimsical theme such as dogs or fishing carried out in architecture, furnishings and a multi-million dollar artwork collection displayed around the property. Cottages are more like homes, large, comfortable and typically equipped with things like porches, hot tubs, giant soaking baths, fireplaces, and so on. There is a freestanding pub with billiards, a library, even a traditional Japanese bathhouse. Want champagne and hot chocolate chip cookies at 2AM? Just pick up the phone, it is included. This place is simply magical, with staff completely at the disposal of a small number of guests, and that is why it has won the Forbes 5-Star award for 17 straight years.
Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles, CA
The Forbes 5-Star winner is the most awarded hotel in California, and has been a Hollywood icon since it opened in 1946, catering to countless celebrities, Presidents and royalty, but it is better than ever after a closure and extensive two year facelift. It has been rated the Number One hotel in the nation by Travel + Leisure Magazine, but the main attraction is its oasis feel - you actually enter the resort by crossing a footbridge. Luxurious rooms are spread out in low rise clusters, around a swan lake and famous circular pools designed so that guests hardly ever see anyone else - or are seen by anyone else. The whole property is surrounded by foliage and tucked into a quiet canyon just minutes from downtown Beverly Hills but a world away. Like other world-class luxury "urban" hotels it offers first rate service, dining, spa and service, but unlike others it offers utter romantic escapism
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico
Envied by hotel General Managers across the globe, Las Ventanas has a sterling reputation as perhaps the finest luxury beach resort on earth. This is no accident: the place was built from the ground up to be the best, with no expense spared, including extensive hidden underground tunnels so you never see maids or room service staff walking around the low rise, spread out property. Las Ventanas has always pushed the envelope in creating new luxury touches for guests: today
many luxury hotels offer poolside Evian facial mists, but it was invented here. So was the loaner iPod, poolside Sony Location-free TV, and loaner Kindle. Rooms - all of them suites - put a great emphasis on a sense of place, with Mexican architecture and furniture, domed ceilings, arched doorways, white stucco and lots of floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors to let in the breeze. Many suites have private rooftop terraces or swimming pools, and if not, there are so many public pools - for just 71 suites - you will likely have one to yourself. The resort's name translates to "The Windows to Paradise" but it should be the Windows From Paradise, because you will feel like you are in heaven looking out.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA
"Sanctuary" is the word most often used to describe this legendary boutique resort set on dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific. The unique architecture is "organic" because of the way it fits the setting, with buildings that are cantilevered out from the cliffs or whose walls ascend outward at beguiling angles. Much of this is done to preserve the site - building walls curve around old growth trees, while some sit on stilts to protect the fragile ground beneath. All are built of reclaimed wood, glass and other materials and the affect is one of perfect coexistence with nature. The Forbes 4-Star property makes the "Best of" list of every major travel magazine, Trip Advisor’s most romantic list, and its renowned fine dining restaurant has Wine Spectator's highest Grand Award of Excellence. But the thing that really attests to the romantic setting is the staggering number of people who come to the Post Ranch Inn year in and year out specifically to make marriage proposals.