Steamy Love in South America

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p.s. Vik’s sister property, Playa Vik, is another marvelous blend of contemporary art and design, located on Playa Mansa, the calmer of Jose Ignacio’s two beaches.

Contact: (877) 355-2227;

love among the ruins South America is dotted with the remains of pre-Columbian civilizations, but Peru has Machu Picchu, the magical, mystical “Lost City” (but actually a retreat for Inca nobility), tucked into the vastness of green jungle peaks, accessible on foot after a 4-day trek along the Inca Trail or by a dramatically beautiful 3-hour train ride from Cusco. Capture the magic in two ways: stay mountaintop right by the ruins at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, an Orient-Express property that offers a Celebration Package, priced from $875 per room per night, and includes full board accommodations, one 60-minute massage per guest per stay, and champagne on arrival; or book into the luxury Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel at the base of the mountain and enjoy a 2-night Honeymoon Package. Priced from $988, the stay starts with a welcome “Celebration Pack” of cake, bottle of champagne, special gift and VIP toiletries. In addition to all meals—including romantic cocktails and dinner under the moonlight—and accommodations, other features include a dual massage at the UNU spa, guided walk of the grounds, tea in the tea house, and a private 3-hour excursion at the Machu Picchu citadel.

Contact: (800) 237-1236; or (800) 442-5042;

beach time Brazil boasts thousands of miles of truly spectacular beaches, stretching along the southern Atlantic from Fortaleza to Florianapolis (a.k.a. Island of Santa Catarina). In between is Rio de Janeiro, a city-resort icon of good times around the clock and fun in the sun, where from sunrise to sunset, the action is focused on the beaches: crescents of white sand from Copacabana to Barra da Tijuca. For honeymooners, the Sofitel Rio de Janeiro Copacabana sits on top of the list of most romantic and glamorous hotels in town. In addition to a choice beachside location, the property offers spacious, elegant rooms, all with terraces. Of course, for an occasion as memorable as a honeymoon, a room with a view of Copacabana Beach and of Sugarloaf Mountain would be icing on the wedding cake, as would booking a Magnifique Romance package that includes breakfast served in the room daily, chocolates or flowers on arrival, and a bottle of champagne delivered to the room anytime during a stay. Hotel amenities include two pools—one with grand views and a pool bar for cocktails and local appetizers—and two restaurants, one the famous Le Pre Catelan, whose chef Roland Villard prepares haute French cuisine, as well as a specialty “Menu Amazonia.” Room rates start at $445 per room, per night.

Contact: (800) SOFITEL;

p.s. For an utterly romantic addition to a Rio honeymoon, consider the close-by (two hours away) and sublime seaside resort of Buzios (a.k.a. St. Tropez of South America).

colonial charm There is something terribly romantic about historic, legendry, captivating Cartagena. Think balmy Caribbean nights and romantic carriage rides through a fairy-tale, walled city that could have been lifted out of the 17th century, complete with cobblestone streets, bougainvillea-clad balconies and flower-filled courtyards and plazas. The city’s historical richness—evident in its fortresses and old walled city—is complemented by a Caribbean setting of clear waters, white beaches and a handful of balmy islands offshore. Add to this ambiance an inventory of luxury hotels and B&Bs occupying historic buildings, superlative seafood dining and the sounds of cumbia, the dance of Caribbean Colombia, and you’ve got a numero uno honeymoon haven—just two hours by air from Miami. While Cartagena’s resort hotels are strung along the Bocagrande peninsula of beaches, the town’s most romantic retreats are in the historic center. The Sofitel Santa Clara, a five-star boutique hotel occupying a beautifully restored, 17th century convent, would be one pick. The property has 134 spacious and beautifully furnished rooms and suites (with luxury amenities and Internet access) with views of the city, gardens or sea. Guest amenities include its LeSpa, fitness club, jacuzzi, and outdoor swimming pool. The gourmet restaurant was formerly the Clarisas nuns’ dining room. For guests, the concierge arranges boat excursions, snorkeling and scuba diving. Deluxe double rooms start at $330.

Contact: (800) SOFITEL;

a walk on the wild side Ah Patagonia…and particularly Torres del Paine National Park, by far the most spectacular place to be in southern in Chile. While inhabited by few people, this UNESCO World Heritage park is full of wildlife, including guanacos, flamingos, rhea and condors. The signature park feature is the “towers” of Paine, strange needle-like formations of gray granite, dusted with snow. Experience the rugged grandeur of the Andes from the total comfort of Patagonia Camp, set harmoniously and ecologically correctly in the landscape beside Lake Toro, just at the edge of the park. The entire complex is built on wooden stilts and platforms, including 18 yurts, a stylish dining room, bar, and lounge (with Internet) and are all connected by wooden walkways. Guests tuck into spacious yurts—heated and decorated with woven fabrics and handcrafted furniture—which have private bathroom, private terrace, king beds (or two singles). Yurts are constructed with windows for amazing views and skylights for stargazing while lying in bed. There’s no better base for excursions: walking hand in hand through fields of wildflowers, cantering on horseback through the valleys, or taking a boat ride to view massive glaciers. The 3-night package cost is $1,780 pp dbl, for four nights it’s $2,290. Included are transfers from/to Punta Arenas airport (a 4.5-hour drive), accommodations, all meals (including Patagonian bbq) and house wines, and all half- and full-day excursions.

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