Weekend Trip: Six Romantic Getaways To Book Right Now

Even in the best cities in the world, there are times that escape feels so desperate a necessity that any borrowed friend-of-a-friend’s dilapidated cottage upstate seems like it would do the trick. From dreamy and not-too-far-away to dreamy and across-the-pond, these six romantic getaways are sure to get your imagination, and your heart (and libido) stirring. Book one now. You won’t regret it.

1. Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk

Just a quick Jitney trip away lies Montauk–which sheds the pretension of the neighboring Hamptons, but keeps the pristine oceanfront real estate. Thanks to a spa, salt water pool (with ocean views (!)), and yoga classes offered, you can get the perks of a tropically detoxifying retreat in just a 2.5-hour trip. End the night watching the sunset or sipping champagne by the fireplace.

Gurney's Firepit
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, New King Room
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

Gurney's Property - Sunset Image
Photo: Courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort

2. Ace Hotel and Swim Club, Palm Springs

For a west coast romantic getaway, look no further than Palm Springs: this desert mecca of mid-century modern architecture doubles as a hip destination for anyone who wants California weather, sans the glitz of L.A…and should you want for just a hint of glitz, The Ace Hotel might just be the perfect resolution. If it’s pure, unadulterated relaxation you seek, “The Feel Good Spa” offers couples packages–in fact, anything from facials and seaweed body wraps, to earth clay wraps and body brushing can be done in twosome form. And, since no vacation has ever felt long enough, couples can indulge in a personal massage lesson to learn inspired, professional techniques to use at home. Outdoorsy types can soak up the SoCal sunshine via bike rentals–even better–the hotel can arrange a private dinner on the stargazing deck, which overlooks the pool and mountains.

Photo: D.L. Thompson and Jon Johnson

aceps-spa-indoorroomPhoto: Douglas Lyle Thompson

Ace_Palm_Springs-OverviewPhoto: D.L. Johnson and Jon Johnson

3. The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, Round Top, TX
Looking for a romantic American getaway that’s truly off the beaten path? Try Texas. Just 75 miles from ultra-hip Austin lies mecca, as told by the queen of shabby chic. Each cottage offers privacy and comfort. Couples spend time reconnecting with long walks and quality time spent together.  Trying to win some extra boyfriend/girlfriend points? Flowers can be added to the room for an extra special touch.

Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Prairie Driveway Exterior
Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

Prairie Exterior copy
Photo: Courtesy of “Rachel Ashwell Couture Prairie and Flea Market Treasures,” Cico books

4. The Berkeley Hotel, London 

Here’s one for the sartorially inclined couple. If you missed the jaw-dropping Alexander McQueen retrospective when it debuted at the Met’s Costume Instutute in NYC in 2011, fear not–the corsetry, the chance to be thisclose to pieces from the groundbreaking Highland Rape collection is just one reason to head to the UK. It’s now at the V&A–a British institution, if you’ve never been. (Plus, even if you’re going for just an extended weekend, a flight to England is a solid hour less than almost any other country in Europe and the same goes for the time difference). If the exhibit isn’t enough, revel in the quirky spirit of English fashion at The Berkeley Hotel (that’s Rachel Zoe’s favorite to you) where you can enjoy Pret-a-Portea–proper high tea that pays homage to McQueen favorites. Of course, The Berkeley is more than just cookies and tea sandwiches…there are the balcony suites overlooking Hyde Park, duos can enjoy treatments at the Bamford Haybarn Spa, and unwind from the buzz of London by the rooftop pool.

13_053Berkley Hotel30078 1-1
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Treatment Room 028 copy
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Berkeley Opus Suite_28-08-13_0207a
Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Pret-A-Portea, Spring/Summer 2015Photo: Courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

5. St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico

Though leaving the premises of the St. Regis Bahia Beach would be, by no means, necessary, the couple who likes their vacation with a healthy mix of the highest-end luxury (think: a Jean-Georges restaurant on the premises) and a bit of authentic culture, look no further than this gorgeous Puerto Rican retreat, where the ocean is warm, the pool is massive and the cabanas are made for making out–but the charm and pastel colors of Old San Juan are just a short drive away. Kayak in the on-property lake, hike holding hands through the nearby El Yunque rainforest, or simply read by the pool, you’ll leave having enjoyed a restorative serving of both piña coladas and Vitamin D. Though adventure on and around the premises abounds, rooms come equipped with sun-drenched patios and walk-in showers. Even better, giant baths that are an insanely simple dial-zero to the butler away from filled with bubbly–in the bath and your glasses. Prepare for 24/7 romance.

St.Regis Bahia Beach Resort Puerto Rico
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

St. Regis Bahia Beach Pool
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

Suite Room
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

The St. Regis Bahia Beach private beach
Photo: Courtesy of St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

6. KiCHIC Resort, Peru

Located on the edge of a traditional Peruvian fishing village, Mancora is fast emerging as one of the world’s best beach destinations (you heard it here first)! KiCHIC offers a unique hideaway where guests find call rooms, located between gardens of coconut palms and maye pepper trees facing the northern ocean breeze, home. For an especially romantic indulgence, spring for the Piedra room which has its own open-air bathtub on a private terrace made out of local flagstone, or the Himalaya. Should you decide (and no judgement, if not) to ever get out of bed, you can take your pick of surf lessons, kayaking, and outdoor movies every weekend.

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

357A0789Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Photo: Courtesy of KiCHIC

Coachella Shopping: Festival Wardrobe Preparedness 101

If you’re heading to Coachella this weekend, chances are your current activities include intensive wardrobe preparedness practices. Good news: We’ve rounded up the best festival shopping for you. With temperatures in the desert hitting the high 80s, (and an unforgiving sun blaring down just as intensely as music from the speakers) you’re going to want your whole body to breathe. Enter comfortable, effortlessly chic sandals, airy camis and tanks, shorts you can sit in, and the hands-free bags you need to carry all the essentials, from your favorite designers like Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, Frame Denim, and more.

Happy shopping, Coachella-goers. Don’t forget the SPF and sunnies.

Above, clockwise from top left: Etro silk crepe camisole; The Row fringed Hunting bag; Etoile Isabel Marant mini dress; T by Alexander Wang silk-twill camisole; Alexander Wang backpack; Michael Michael Kors macrame tank; MSGM floral-applique shorts; Rag & Bone cotton and leather sandals; Stella McCartney denim shoulder bag; NewbarK belt bag; R13 layered distressed denim shorts; Proenza Schouler slingback espadrilles; Pierre Hardy tasseled suede sandals; Antik Batik beaded shoulder bag; Maslin & Co espadrille slides; Frame Denim distressed shorts 

One Night in Palm Springs: See the Moonlit Photographs of Tom Blachford While You Can

Tom Blanchford, 1070 E Apache, Palm Springs, 2015. Courtesy of Tom Blanchford.

Palm Spring’s Modernism Week is here, which means it’s time for sublime mid-century architecture, lavish art, and gorgeous weather. The whole week is shaping up to be a great series of events, and standing out to us most is Tom Blachford‘s moonlit photographs of the famed Menrad House, showing exclusively on Friday, February 20. This one night only exhibition, appropriately named Midnight Modern, will be shown in the Menrad House in thirty minute tours, after which guests can enjoy cocktails later in the night.

1044 E San Lorenzo Rd ATom Blanchford, 1044 E San Lorenzo Rd, Palm Springs, 2015. Courtesy of Tom Blanchford.

The work features the last installment in Blachford’s ongoing series of iconic Palm Springs architecture under the light of the California moon. The photographs create a dreamlike return to the 1950s, complete with a Thunderbird and canary yellow patio furniture. The gleaming stars and milky blanket of moonlight illuminate a car door left open and lights from a premiere can be seen in the distance. There is an intense experience of nostalgia, or as Chris Menrad, owner of the house, says, “His photographs seem to capture that mystery, and offer an entirely unique perspective on the area.”

470 W Vista Chino PoolTom Blachford, 470 West Vista Chino, Palm Springs, 2014. Courtesty of Tom Blachford.

Blachford was given exclusive access to the Kaufman House (designed by Richard Neutra in 1947) and the Menrad House, which was built by Alexander Construction Company, one of the most famous influencers in Palms Springs residential building design. The architecture is on full display with Blachford’s careful framing, dynamic composition, and high contrast use of moonlight and shadows. The photographic works highlight a space that is quintessentially Palm Springs: the softly rippling turquoise pools, the sharp shadows of a mid-century modern roof and the still beauty of the midnight hour.

Amanda Lepore, David LaChapelle, Jake Shears… It’s Getting Pretty Gay at Skylark Palms Springs

How gay is the new Skylark Hotel in Palm Springs? Let us count the ways…

1) The owners are gay, one of whom "werks" the web site homepage with his catwalk pose.
2) Staff is gay, most of whom don’t have much hotel experience but, hey, they look good!
3) Skylark was formerly Camp Palm Springs, a clothing optional resort. Repeat guests are still coming, but now wearing briefs.
4) Skylark served as the film set of many gay porn flicks. Don’t you recognize that pool?
5) It’s an LGBT hotel but "hetero" friendly, which means you probably won’t run into straight people.
6) Amanda Lepore, David LaChapelle, Jake Shears, Rose McGowan and Kelly Osbourne are invading this weekend for a crazy-ass grand opening that coincides with socialite Reggie Cameron’s birthday.

While Skylark has taken over Camp Palm Springs whose history is basically that sex resort, the bareback reputation will soon poof, thanks to the image Skylark wants. It’s going to be more of a chill, cosmopolitan, social hot spot. Sure, gay sex is going to happen but behind closed doors now that that sling is gone. Skylark is super boutique with only 28 rooms, a large, deep pool and shamrock-shaped hot tub to boot. The Crazy Coconut Bar & Grill is doing all their dining (YUM) and the bar in the back will be busy for both locals and visitors alike. And let’s stress the "social" aspect here. All rooms look out into the central pool area, so whether you’re voyeuristic or egotistic, everyone wins. And if you end up crashing the all-day, Saturday pool party (it’s free!), do a shot for us. It will probably be gay-flavored. 

The GM of the Colony Palms Hotel Will Drive You to Blockbuster: A Q&A with David Dittmer

Constructed in 1936 by Purple Gang mobster Al Wertheimer (best known for co-orchestrating the Valentine’s Day Massacre with Al Capone), the hotel known as The Colonial House quickly became the town’s hot destination, known primarily as a speakeasy, brothel and gambling house. In 1951, during the heyday of Palm Springs, the property was sold to Robert Howard and renamed the Howard Manor, where it welcomed guests like Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and boxing great Jack Dempsey over the next 25 years. After an extensive $17-million renovation with designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, the Colony Palms Hotel is back to reassert its place in the new vibrant-again Palm Springs. We spoke with David Dittmer, the General Manager of the Colony Palms Hotel, to get an insider’s look at his hotel:

Where is your hotel located within your city? It’s in Palm Springs, and we’re located more towards Uptown, which is the newer and more up-and-coming area, called the Design District. All the trendier places are located here, and we’re in Palm Springs proper, so you can take advantage of both neighborhoods.

How long have you been with the property? I’ve been on since the opening of the hotel in 2007.

How would you characterize the overall feel of your property? If you’ve ever been to the Chateau Marmont, it’s a very historical feel, like that, but with a lushness to the landscape and the design, done by Martin Lawrence Bullard. Rather than feeling like you’re in the desert, which a lot of hotels here play up, it actually feels more like the South of France, or somewhere more tropical. It lends itself to that sophisticated glamour. I think one of the things that really defines the Colony Palms hotel from more design-centric hotels is that is really has soul. The physical part of the property has a lot of character and history. Everywhere you walk around, there’s a real heartbeat, which I think is why we’ve been popular with a very creative clientele.

What are some of its unique design features? We pull a lot from other parts of the world—two of our signature features, which you’ll find in every room are the custom Suzani tapestries on the headboards, which have become kind of the de facto signature of the hotel, and these French tiles which are handpainted cement. They’re sort of a pain to work with, they were all handmade in the South of France and shipped over, but they line our restaurant, the Purple Palm, and there’s a tile carpet in every room in front of the vanity. In general, the hotel is very colorful. I think modern, luxury hotels are scared of bright, vivid colors because when it goes bad, it’s very bad, but Martin Bullard is an expert—the restaurant is an amazing example of that.

What’s the best dish on the menu? As of right now, I think the handmade pastas which we do daily are pretty amazing. If I had to pick a signature dish, which is hard since the menu changes four times a year, the short ribs are really amazing on the fall menu. The chef is really into the farm-to-table thing; originally it was a very traditional fine-dining restaurant, but there’s an earthiness now too it, in the ingredients and the plating, that feels a bit more fresh.

Which room or suite is your favorite, and why? The casita is by far our most popular room type, and I love them—the interior is very basic, but it has these sliding glass doors that go out onto a private patio with an oversize sofabed, and a bathtub—it’s outside living that feels very luxurious and private. Even the TV is positioned so you can watch it from the patio and stay outside.

What’s a special amenity or service guests should be aware of? Our spa is small but the treatments are really amazing—we use this body product that’s very fresh and we’ve been known for these very unique treatments; our signature treatment is a facial detox.

Where do you send guests for a great night out? For a drink we’d send you to Birba, a really cool bar uptown with great cocktails and small plates, it’s got a lot of outdoor space. And Melvyn’s we love because it’s like a time warp of Palm Springs. It’s a remnant of the old resort culture from 50 years ago, with an old-school lounge and piano bar.

What’s the best place to shop in your city? The number one store in terms of furniture is BLVD, by far the best source of that midcentury modern furniture that everyone comes here for. Uptown is full of great little shops for all kinds of things, including Trina Turk for clothing, which was here right at the beginning of the resurgence of Palm Springs—she’s a big supporter of the place.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen happen at the hotel during your time there?

Robert Downey Jr. stayed here, and one day he was kind of hanging around, and he asked me where he could go rent a movie. I told him I’d run and get it for him, but rather than giving me a title he wanted, he jumped in the car with me and was like, “Why don’t we just go together?” So for a couple hours, it was just me and Robert Downey Jr. going to get some DVDs. He’s an incredibly smart and brilliant artist, and a really nice guy, but I think it also speaks to how comfortable our guests get with the staff, and how much they feel like a part of the family here.

Ace Hotel Palm Springs Spa Now Open

I have a soft spot for Ace hotels. This loving relationship began when I visited the Ace in Portland and stayed in a guestroom that overlooked the historic Powell’s bookstore, the perfect view, in Portland’s case. The amenities in my room included a Gibson guitar, turntables, and comfy sofas upholstered in vintage materials. The room itself was masculine and modern without being pretentious – spacious and simple. The staff was just as hip as the clientele. Ace soon opened a year later in New York in the Flatiron, bringing that whole “downtown” scene above 14th street. Partnering with cult-status brands like Opening Ceremony and Stumptown Coffee, it’s spurred a lifestyle concept that many hotels don’t yet know how to do emulate. In fact, the Ace lobby lounge is just as busy during the day, functioning as a “hang out” space, as the Breslin restaurant is on any given night. So it’s good to know that Ace keeps on truckin’ outside the Big Apple with new ideas and plans. In fact, the Palm Springs location—Ace Hotel & Swim Club—just opened up a spa last week.

Feel Good Spa opened under the full moon weekend with a poolside gathering to the beat of a pagan drum circle and belly dancers. Seriously, could there have been a better launch party? The whole philosophy of the spa is to “bring your physical, emotional, and spiritual being back into a healthy balance.” This can be done with detoxifying massages, facials, muddy body treatments, mani/pedis, or even the 24-hour compact gym. The first spa of the Ace brand is off to a Feel Good start. I think it could use a moon dance every weekend.