This Valentine's Day, while others are surprising their lovers with routine island getaways, or for a lucky few, trips to romantic, and increasingly expensive Europe, wouldn't it be nice to rekindle your flame with a trip to an exotic destination?
These vacation spots, some undiscovered by Americans, and others now on the beaten path, but no less intriguing, are guaranteed to make anyone other beg for more.
Faraya Mzaar, Lebanon
Faraya Mzaar (from the New York Times)
While the Middle East may conjure up images of heat and sand for most, Lebanon's mountains can give you another reason to stay in bed or curled up next to a fire. With some of the best skiing in the region, Lebanon's Faraya Mzaar is the perfect place to hit the slopes while taking in the ambience of Lebanon. Only 45 minutes from Beirut this resort offers a world-class spa, 19 runs, night skiing, and some of the steepest grades of any ski resort. Prices are reasonable for accommodation and lift tickets, so it might surprise you to find yourself wining and dining with affluent Lebanese couples, families, and even some oil sheiks honing their sand-boarding skills.
The Nile, Egypt
The Nile (from WikiMedia)
Nile cruises have been popular for as long as Egypt has been a tourist destination. Watching the sun set over the oases spanning the southern Nile is an unforgettable memory for any couple looking to shack up and still see some of the most amazing ancient sites in the world. This time of year weather on the Nile ranges from temperate to cold, far better than the sweltering heat of summer, though prices are higher. Cruises range from several nights to a week or more, and can include food, though alcoholic beverages tend to be either expensive, or moonshine (steer clear of the moonshine, if you actually want to watch that sunset). Boats can range from nice to gritty, depending on price and who you book through.
The Burj al-Arab (from WikiMedia)
No Middle Eastern travel list is complete without the inclusion of extravagant Dubai. For the couple who wants to be able to do anything, anytime (besides drink or kiss in public), and has the money to back that up, Dubai is the ultimate in exotic luxury. Want to go skiing in a mall? Shop? Go to the beach? Do it all in one trip. If your Valentine's Day getaway gets too hot for you, head over to Chillout, the Middle East's first ice bar. Plus, if money really is no object, why not stay in the ultra-luxurious Burj al-Arab, with vacation packages starting at $1,620 a night (breakfast included)? You can even tack on a romantic Valentine's Day dinner in the Burj's acclaimed underwater restaurant for $445 a person.
The vast Libyan desert (from WikiMedia)
For the couple that loves to explore together, few places could beat Libya. Since the easing of travel requirements for Westerners, Libya has become a favorite for tourists who want to explore deserts and archeological sites, uninterrupted by the clicking cameras of tour groups. It is dirt cheap, and is still an undiscovered gem. Between Tripoli and the desert there is plenty to explore, thought most tourists recount the desert as a highlight. This time of year it is advisable to get a hotel room when visiting the desert, since sleeping under the stars isn't fun in sub-zero weather, even with two in a sleeping bag.
When you plan your next romantic getaway, don't forget, nothing is as romantic as a surprise.
Middle Eastern Innovation Writer