Juliet Vercelli, a Benicia travel consultant who, with Myrtis Rimassa, founded Bye Bye Birdies, said that some of her clients pick Valentine’s Day for destination weddings. But don’t wait—now is the time to start planning for a 2020 honeymoon.
For a romantic getaway, Vercelli said the Caribbean blends tropical scenery with cultural experiences. The French, English and Dutch have influenced the islands, and visitors will hear a patois similar to Louisiana’s French Creole, she said. It’s reflected in Caribbean cuisine. Restaurants serve dishes from Africa and Europe alongside plantains and mangos. Diners may be surprised by Jamaica’s creative use of spinach and Antigua’s sweet black pineapples, a delicacy found nowhere else.
Each place has its own charm. Jamaica is ideal for those who want rich nightlife, while Saint Lucia has a milder vibe, said Vercelli. “You will have white sands and blue waters—the fish will swim right up to you.” Guests find fresh orchids tucked into folded towels, and select customized pillows and room scents. Some resorts provide personal butlers.
Italy is an alternative for those who want a romantic destination with beautiful scenery. “People are very friendly, and you feel welcome,” she said. Bali, India and Sri Lanka are popular destinations for those who want a good value. Fiji is higher-end, but it’s ideal for those who want natural beauty, personal service and plenty of privacy, she said.
Croatia also is popular, glamorized in the television series Game of Thrones,” she said, adding, “It’s like how Iceland was romanticized because of Frozen.” Iceland still remains popular with those who enjoy hiking.
Her most unusual request came from a couple who wanted to see whale sharks in Belize, she said. Another option is a river cruise, especially for those who want to spend time with their spouses while taking in some sightseeing.
Romantic trips aren’t limited to young honeymooners, said Vercelli. Older couples who couldn’t afford special experiences when they first were married, or were too busy rearing their children, often decide it’s finally time for their dream trip.
Benicians can find wonderful romantic trips close to home, too, said Vercelli. “I like Monterey and Carmel.” Those trips are ideal for those who like visiting spas and wineries. “You can take an old Route 66 trip on California 1, where there are cute bed and breakfasts and resorts.” Vercelli has stayed at the older but updated Monterey Tides. “Go sit by the fireplace with a hot beverage, do a little sight-seeing,” she said. “Then come back, get a massage and relax for the day.” Travelers can take walks on trails where they may see deer, or they can ride a train up and down the coast. “Or drive to Vichy Springs, where Mark Twain stayed,” she said.
But Benicians don’t have to leave town to create a memorable Valentine’s Day experience. Those who prefer an outdoor experience can take romantic strolls at the nature-filled Benicia State Recreation Area. Or they may decide to browse the city’s downtown, tour the Capitol and dine at one of the city’s traditional eateries or at one of the new hipster restaurants.
And those experiences don’t have to be limited to Valentine’s Day, said Vercelli. “Romance can be any time of the year!”