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5 romantic getaways to get the blood boiling
When crowded parks, noisy apartments and love hotels just won’t do
These five romantic getaways in Asia each offer something a little bit different from one another, but they all pump up the heat for couples looking to spend some quality time.
1. Eastern & Oriental Express, Bangkok to Singapore
Taking three days to wind from Bangkok to Singapore through the timeless jungles of the Malay Peninsula, the plush Eastern & Oriental Express recalls the era of Somerset Maugham, Singapore Slings, and travel without backpacks.
The 22-carriage train includes three classes of private cabins with Old World touches like cherry wood with intricate carved inlays, dining and bar cars with top-shelf food and service, a library, and pièce de résistance observation car with huge gallery windows and an outdoor area offering uninterrupted views of passing forests and villages. Day excursions to the Bridge on the River Kwai, of WWII infamy, and the Malaysian island city of Penang, one of the best eating cities in Asia, punctuate an unforgettable trip. (US$2210, $3410, $4420 -- one way, Orient Express)
2. Bon Ton Resort and Restaurant, Langkawi, Malaysia
By placing bathtubs built for two people on the verandahs of its renovated century-old Malaysian villas, the Bon Ton Resort pretty much announces up front its position on romance.
Though guests may be too distracted by such creative amenities to notice, the secluded boutique resort overlooks scenic wetlands and a lagoon filled with flowering lotus and tropical birds. The thatch-roof dining room on stilts brings in everything from spaghetti Bolognese to giant platters of Malay and Chinese dishes summoning the golden age of the spice trade. (RM 500-950, Bon Ton Resort and Restaurant, Spice Trade dishes and menu)
3. Taj Lake Palace, India
On a small island in the middle of Lake Pichola facing the typically chaotic Indian rumble of Udaipur sits a white marble and mosaic refuge of tranquility. Like the original owner -- Maharana Jagat Singh II built the place in 1746 -- today’s Lake Palace hotel remains obsessed with class, style and separation from the masses.
Courtyards, fountains, lily ponds, sitar players, dancers and floating restaurants decorated with flowers and illuminated by candles set the mood, but it’s the relentlessly royal service, artsy furnishings and beautifully manicured four-acre spread that makes a stay worth plundering your bank account for. (RS 30,000-125,000, Taj Lake Palace)
4. The Village, Pohnpei
Between Guam and Hawaii, the emerald island of Pohnpei has escaped the scourge of mass tourism, preserving its pristine beaches, jagged mountains and thick jungles, and leaving locals free to live life at a pace that would embarrass a glacier.
Plunked onto the shore of this tropical Eden, The Village resort is a collection of thatch bungalows overlooking an impossibly scenic South Seas lagoon. Visitors need not worry about being interrupted during their dives with manta rays, swims beneath Keperhoi waterfall or meals in the open-air restaurant, since there are no phones or TVs, and few other devices of modern torture on the premises. (US$100-$130, The Village Pohnpei)
5. Le Taha'a Island Resort and Spa, Tahiti
What’s more romantic than golden beaches and turquoise water? How about golden beaches, turquoise water and the rich perfume of native vanilla plants washing over one of the prettiest resorts in French Polynesia?
That’s the scene on dinky Taha’a island, 230 kilometers west of Tahiti in the Society Islands, where fully equipped villas are built over gin-clear water. Resort activities range from diving and snorkeling to jet skiing and whale watching to inventing more excuses for not bothering to leave the near-perfect pool and lagoon. (US$220-$1,500, Le Taha Island Resort and Spa)