I love traveling and I’ve dated several women in the past 20 years in different countries. While French people are thought to be very romantic, I’ve made a few mistakes that completely ruined some very exciting dates. As wise people learn from their mistakes, wiser people learn from others’ mistakes. Therefore I’ve prepared a list of the most important things that, in my opinion, you should consider before planning a romantic getaway.
1. Plan in advance
You’re planning a romantic escape with your loved one and you have something specific in mind. You’re seeing yourself resting in a hammock, sharing a nice dinner and sleeping in a cozy room. You know a few places where you can get this type of experience, and you assume they always have space. Days go by and you think you’ll have time to book. You just want to be sure about the date and that nothing will get in the way so you won't have to cancel at the last minute and get charged. You’re looking forward to it a bit more every day. You picture yourself relaxing in a pool or a lake with your favorite cocktail, sharing quality time with your other half in front of a breathtaking view. As the excursion day is getting close and you feel it’s time to make a reservation, you start contacting all the places you had in mind to compare prices. But they’re all fully booked! How come they all sold out three days in advance? You really didn’t expect that and begin to get stressed. All your expectations are starting to fall apart and a strong feeling of frustration is suddenly invading you. This is not fair. You start thinking of an emergency plan. You contact a few friends to ask for recommendations you might have not thought about, and you deepen your research. You spend a lot of time looking for other options, but nothing seems to fit your expectations. And then you have to face a choice: you either have to lower your expectations, increase your budget, or change the date of your getaway. All three options make you feel unsatisfied, you just want the romantic escape you imagined since the very first day!
Well in order to avoid this situation, there is a very simple solution, which is to plan in advance. It might not be natural for a lot of people but believe me it will save you lots of trouble. Depending on where you want to go, my recommendation is to book your hotel between one week and one month ahead. If you’re afraid some other unplanned event might get in the way, don’t worry. First of all, you can ask the establishment about their cancellation policy, so you know until when you can cancel free of charge. And you’d be surprised that many places have very flexible rules. Then, really think of what could possibly come in the way, and if it would be more important than your romantic experience (isn’t your loved one more important than anybody else?). And anyway, the probability that something really important emerges and ruins your plans is very small, so it definitely is worth booking the venue in advance.
2. Choose a quiet place (better in nature)
The best way to enjoy quality time with your partner is being on your own, isolated from people and hustle and bustle. Imagine trying to have a private conversation in a noisy restaurant or on a crowded beach. Being yourself and opening up is a crucial part of developing a healthy relationship, and it is much easier when you are in a safe environment, where you feel comfortable. And in general people having regular contact with nature feel more relaxed (and tend to live longer).
Moreover, studies on sleep showed that your sleep quality is much higher when you sleep in a dark, quiet place. Which is more easily achieved away from the city.
3. Choose a small establishment
When choosing the place, you have to know the kind of experience you want. If you’re spending a weekend with friends, you’d rather be in a place where you can make noise and socialize. But if you want to have quality time with your lover, a small place is much more recommended. You’ll have less people around and less probability to get disturbed. Moreover, small establishments usually offer a more personalized service, as they have less customers to attend. And you will definitely feel more special. You can even get to know the staff and interact with them, so you really feel at home. And I’ll come back to that later, but small restaurants also tend to have fresh products and serve higher quality meals.
4. Get recommendations and do your research (from your friends, TripAdvisor, Booking.com etc.)
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get recommendations. You know your friends, and they know what you like so they can give advice that best suits you. Websites like Tripadvisor, Booking or even Google can also give a good idea of the quality of a place, with feedback from their customers. Make sure they have enough reviews, so you have a good sample to take advice from. Small places will obviously have less reviews, but if they have at least 100, that’s statistically good enough. And don't forget to check their website (or call them directly) before reserving on the traditional booking platforms. Their prices may be more affordable, as they don't have to pay the platfom fee.
5. Pick a well-established place, not a new one
I’ve been to newly opened hotels and had the chance to be one of the first guests, and seeing the excitement of the young owners, it feels somehow special. But I also realized that it was risky, as inexperienced business owners sometimes make mistakes that can really affect your stay. It is not easy to develop this kind of hospitality, as there are many aspects to think about, and so many things can go wrong. A mishap here and there is not much when you’re traveling solo (or with a friend). It's no big deal, but for a romantic escape, you really want everything to go smoothly. So I would recommend picking a place that has been running for at least three years. In this time, owners usually have had the time to create a high quality experience and get their processes right. And in Nicaragua, as the situation in the past few years has been quite unique, businesses that survived both crises (or even stayed open) must have shown really strong determination and organization skills.
6. Pay attention to the quality of their food
Although the place is the most important thing when planning your romantic escape, if you want to bring it to the next level, you should definitely check the quality of the food served. A nice romantic meal can really make a difference in your stay. Start with your favorite cocktail or a glass of wine to get in the right mood, tickle your senses with dinner and get ready to move on with an exciting evening. Yes, food can be a powerful foreplay. The way to the heart is through the stomach, or so they say, and there’s just something about a delicious, satisfying meal that gets people invigorated. It would be a mistake to stay somewhere that does not have incredible food service on the grounds. Being able to dine in nature or near the sounds of a body of water is a huge plus! The environment is everything.
7. If it’s a remote location, check all the services they offer (make sure you’ll have everything)
A drawback with small establishments (and even sometimes with bigger ones) is that they don’t always work if they don’t have customers. It might seem obvious to find a restaurant on site but believe me, it’s not always the norm. Especially in remote locations. So before booking make sure they serve all the meals you’re planning on having there, or at least if they don’t, you can bring your own food. Other services such as free breakfast, wifi, high speed internet, parking spaces, beach towels or kayaks are not always available or only upon request. And if you’re traveling with your pet, make sure they will accept it. Something I also really enjoy once in a while to make my stay even more relaxing is booking a massage, and this is also something you want to arrange before arrival. Imagining a nice massage and then hearing it’s not going to happen because there is no availability, this is not something you would like to experience. Believe me.
8. BONUS: If you’re celebrating something, tell them in advance
This doesn’t always work, but it costs nothing to try. If you’re celebrating an anniversary or something special, you should mention it when booking your accommodation. I’ve been surprised by simple but thoughtful gestures offered by some hotels, little details that made a big difference. Fresh flowers picked from their garden, special decorations, candles and a private table for dinner with a free drink… Those represent a small extra cost for the establishment, but have an important impact on the guests’ experience. Therefore many people are willing to make little efforts to make your stay more special and personalized. You and your loved one deserve the best!