Trip Coach: Jan. 24, 2006

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Paris Permenter answered your questions on romantic getaways

Paris Permenter: Hi, I'm Paris Permenter from Lovetripper.com romantic travel website. I'm glad to be here, and I'm taking questions now. Thanks for joining me!

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New York, NY: Hi Paris,
Thanks so much for answering my question. I'm looking for an overnight getaway in the NYC area. We're very sporty, so we'd like both outdoor activities and a romantic setting. Any suggestions?

Paris Permenter: One option that comes to mind is Lake Placid, New York. We've hopped the train from NYC and spent the weekend in this sports capital that twice played host to the winter Olympics. The city is home to romantic resorts like the Mirror Lake Inn, known for its fine dining. Lake Placid itself is home to just about every imaginable winter sport from downhill and cross-country skiing; thrill seekers can try out the luge runs and the year-round have the chance to have a ride on a bobsled as it speeds clown the Olympic track. The summer months mean hiking, mountain biking, and other fair-weather pursuits along the shores of the lake.

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Chicago, IL: It gets gray and cold in Chicago, and we'd love to do a long weekend getaway to someplace warm that isn't California and Florida yet again, but also won't break the bank. What other romantic vacations should we consider that can warm us up while waiting for spring?

Paris Permenter: For a sure warm-up, consider heading even further south to the Caribbean or Mexico. With direct flights from Chicago, you can be one flight away from plenty of sun and sand. Be sure to stay in a resort that's not a long drive from the airport to make the most of your short stay; for example, if you fly into Jamaica, book a stay in Montego Bay rather than driving to Ocho Rios or Negril.
In Mexico, the Caribbean coast will be your closest option. You'll find many bargain packages this year as resorts work to bring travelers back to Cancun and the Riviera Maya (which had less damage than Cancun). The Cancun airport is just a short drive from the resorts of the Riviera Maya so you can optimize your beach time.

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Newark, Delaware: My husband and I are going to celebrate our 25th anniversary in October of this year. We have two boys in school and cannot really afford a big getaway. We were wondering about possibly a wine tour in Virginia or New York - something we can drive to. It would only be a two night trip and we aren't sure how to look for this. We would welcome any other suggestions!

Paris Permenter: Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! A great getaway -- that's also a classic romantic trip -- in the region is Niagara Falls. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada is home to over 20 wineries located on the Niagara Wine Route. The town itself is postcard pretty; take a romantic carriage ride along the lakeshore, stay in a B&B, and shop in one-of-a-kind stores (no franchises are allowed in the town.)
From Niagara-on-the-Lake, it's just a short drive to the town of Niagara Falls itself where you can tour the falls or try your luck at the casino. Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort has guest rooms that overlook the falls and some romantic restaurants with great views of the falls. They also have Vegas-style entertainers in the evenings (but be sure to save time to go out and see the falls lit at night!)

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Georgetown, Texas: I want to plan an anniversary trip this spring in the Caribbean but I don't have a lot of money to spend. Do you have any suggestions?

Paris Permenter: If you can hold off on your anniversary trip until after April 15th, you'll find that prices fall from high-season rates. This might open up options that would otherwise be out of your budget range.
Within the Caribbean, you'll also find that some islands are less expensive than others; look for some of the best deals in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Aruba. The Mexican Caribbean also has some good deals; look for special offers this spring from resorts along the Riviera Maya, a region that did not receive as much hurricane damage as Cancun. Many resorts are reopen and luring back travelers with excellent packages.

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Baton Rouge, LA: Dear Ms. Permenter,

My boyfriend will be turning 50 this year (August) and I would like to plan a memorable European trip for him. We are thinking of Amsterdam and possibly surrounding countries. We would like to depart from New Orleans or Houston and we have some flexiblity in timing (we could do August or September). If we had 10 days (including travel) what kind of itinerary would you suggest?

Thank you, Molly

Paris Permenter: A 10-day trip will give you eight days on the ground, plenty of time to enjoy Amsterdam for several days then explore the surrounding area. I'd suggest spending your first three or four days in Amsterdam, enjoying a walking tour of the city and maybe a canal cruise on the first day to shake the jet lag and get a feel for the city (saving museum stops for the second or third day).
Amsterdam has excellent train connections so it's easy to hop a train at the Centraal Station (located downtown) and head to Brussels or Luxembourg for a few days.
If you'd like to use Amsterdam as a home base and explore by train, several good day trips are easy hops by train from Amsterdam including the cheese markets at Alkmaar, Enkhuizen (home of the Zuider Zee Museum), and the small town of Haarlem, just 12 miles from Amsterdam. I'd recommend the Europe by Eurail book; we've used it on two train trips with Amsterdam as a home base and found it very helpful.
Also, along with train travel, you'll find that Amsterdam has low-cost flights through EasyJet; for about the same price as a train ticket (sometimes lower), you can hop a flight to Basel, Belfast, Edinburgh, London, Geneva, and other destinations.

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Anaheim, California: Belated Honeymoon.

Wanting to hear of distinct 3 to 5 day Vacation ideas for a 40 something year young newlywed couple. Vaction budget is around $1,400 to $2,100. Travel dates are between Feb. 2006 and July 2006. The Husband loves fishing. Wife enjoys shopping and spa treatments. Both enjoy sightseeing, dining, dancing and karaoke.

Any ideas in making a romantic vacation out of the above.

Thanks

Paris Permenter: With your location in California, I'd recommend checking out the resorts of the west coast of Mexico. Manzanillo offers of North America's best fishing as well as some pampering resorts with great spa treatments. Cabo San Lucas is another popular option. Puerto Vallarta is also an excellent choice with top fishing and great spa resorts like the Westin and the Quinta Real. We found some great dining in Puerto Vallarta as well (the city has an amazing number of international chefs) at restaurants like Trio and Kaiser Maximilian.
Another option that we loved is Panama. The flight's not that much longer but the atmosphere is totally different. You can fly into Panama City and with just about an hour's drive be transported to the jungle. We stayed at a luxury resort, Gamboa Rainforest Resort, which is known for its peacock bass fishing but also has an excellent spa with a romantic option we haven't seen elsewhere: private pontoon massages. A couple charters their own pontoon boat, set up with massage tables, and enjoys massages on a lake cruise, surrounded by the sounds of the rainforest.

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Oshkosh, WI: I am planning a family trip to Bermuda the second week of July 2006, leaving from Oshkosh or nearby. There is limited information available from people who have gone there to find out what to expect. Some things I've heard is that you must dress for dinner. Can you provide a source to learn about what to expect from the experience?

Paris Permenter: Bermuda is a bit dressier than some other islands but, like most places, the dress code varies from restaurant to restaurant. Some restaurants require jackets for men; many others do not. A good resource is the Bermuda Tourism website: bermudatourism.com. You'll find a dining guide online with dress guidelines that specify casual (no flipflops or jeans), smart casual (think khakis and collared polo shirts), or formal (jacket).

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Windsor, CT: Hello Paris: I would like to find out about affordable tours of the Christmas markets in Germany/Austria.It will be an anniversary trip for two. I guess around the first two/three weeks of December 2006. Any suggestions would be appreciated!. Thanks, Mike

Paris Permenter: The Christmas markets of German and Austria are a great way to enjoy the holidays. Check out christmasmarkettours.com and germany-christmas-market.org.uk for a comparison of numerous Christmas market tour packages. Also, you might consider putting together your own trip. The German Tourism website, germany-tourism.de, has information on all the Christmas markets; train travel is an easy option within Germany and Austria (and you can always ship home bulky purchases.)

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Mt. Vernon, NY: My husband and I aren't kids. He'll turn 60 this year. But for a romantic birthday trip for him in early November we'd like to go to Phuket or thereabouts. Phuket City looks extremely touristy. Would you recommend anyplace in the vicinity that's quieter (for the romance) yet still near the "noisier" activities for nightlife, food and shopping? Thanks.

Maureen A.

Paris Permenter: The island of Langkawi isn't far from Phuket but is worlds apart in terms of atmosphere. Part of Malaysia, this island is a romantic enclave but still has plenty of activity including sightseeing and shopping. We especially like the resort of Tanjung Rhu; it's peaceful and private but offers plenty of touring choices and romantic options (including a private, torchlight dinner out on the beach).

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Littleton, CO: Dear Ms. Permenter, my husband and I have always loved New Orleans and would like to return soon. Of course we know things are quite different after Katrina. Should we even be considering this for the spring? We know the economy could sure use our dollars but, is it safe? What about accomodations? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you

Paris Permenter: We haven't been back to New Orleans since Katrina but we are hearing that there are a growing number of businesses reopening their doors. The New Orleans CVB reports that 75% of hotels were operating downtown by the end of October with 95% expected to be fully functional this month. Check out the New Orleans CVB website neworleanscvb.com for a full list of hotels that have reopened. Within the city, the French Quarter has had some of the fastest turnaround with many businesses such as the Royal Sonesta Hotel reopened and welcoming visitors.

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Fort Worth, Texas: I am trying to find a hotel in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I have done some looking around and read books, but I am lost. I need a romantic place for my husband and I to get away. It will be our 8th Wedding Anniversary. I ADORE my 2 1/2 year old son, but I need some Mommy-Daddy Time. I like to be pampered, but don't have the budget of a celebrity. Do you have any advice?

Holly from Texas

Paris Permenter: Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary! The Turks and Caicos are beautiful islands with some top beaches and great snorkeling/scuba opportunities. You'll find some great, romantic resorts along Grace Bay on the island of Providenciales (best known as Provo). If you're going to be traveling with your son, check out the Beaches resort (an all-inclusive that's a sister of the Sandals chain; they have a supervised kids' program and a great waterscape.) If you're keeping a strict eye on the budget, you'll find properties like Comfort Suites across the street from the beach but within easy walking distance of the beach and area restaurants.

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New York, NY: Hi! My fiance and I would like to get married in Florence/Tuscany next spring (2007). No details have been finalised but we are planning on traveling with 4 other family members. We would like to spend 3 weeks (2 with family before wedding) and 1 after wedding (just us).We also wanted to explore three distinct regions all three weeks (Venice, Tuscany, coastal town..). We want to finance the entire trip and were wondering what we could accomplish in $10,000. We are willing to cut it down to 2 weeks also.

Please help,
Sudhin

Paris Permenter: Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Traveling in the spring, you'll squeak in before the summer high season (but be careful of the Easter holidays when demand can increase and prices can rise.) A cost-cutting option you might want to consider is renting a villa for your family to share; it sounds very extravagant but can actually be less costly than renting separate hotel rooms for everyone. This is especially a good option for Tuscany.
You'll find that Venice will be the most costly stop of the three stops but try to schedule your days there from Sunday through Thursday; prices are highest on Friday and Saturday nights. For transportation from destination to destination, consider train travel; train service into Venice will take you within a boat ride of hotels.

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Alpharetta, GA: My wife wants to go to the South Pacific for our anniversary. I
would like some recommendations on which island in the South Pacific you would recommend?

Paris Permenter: The island of Moorea, home of Tahiti's capital city Papeete, is a top romantic option for lots of reasons. The island is known for its bures, those dreamy overwater bungalows, mostly found on the north coast. With its French culture, the island is also known for its French food and romantic restaurants.

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Sherman Oaks, California: My wife and I are celebrating her 50th birthday in Paris, March, 13-18. Can you suggest one or two restaurants for us to dine in. The style of the food isn't important as long as it's good. I was hoping to spend somewhere around 75 to 100 dollars per person. Many thanks, David

Paris Permenter: You've got a lot of good options in Paris for fine dining; to keep an eye on the budget at the costliest establishments, check to see if the restaurant offers a lunch menu. At lunch, you can often have a comparable dining experience at far less price than dinner.
Le Cinq, in the Hotel Four Seasons George V, is well known both for its menu and luxurious setting; it offers an affordable lunch menu that's a good option. Another good choice, also on the Champs-Elysses, is Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. For the best view, reserve a table (start trying now!) at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. The scenic restaurant isn't a tourist trap; it's a fine dining showcase that's out of budget for evening but more affordable for lunch.

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Houston, Texas: We want to have a destination wedding in the spring of 2007. Can you recommend a place where we can have a fairly inexpensive wedding
with a few guests? We like the idea of going to some place like the Caribbean but also would consider Mexico. We want to have a nice ceremony (not an assembly-line type) but not extravagant. Is this doable or should we be
realistic and plan a wedding at home?

Paris Permenter: You'll find lots of choices in the Caribbean including free weddings with a minimum stay. We just returned from Couples Ocho Rios in Jamaica; their free wedding package includes the services of a wedding planner and minister, a wedding cake, champagne, flowers for the bride and groom, and more. SuperClubs and Sandals also offer good wedding options.

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Atlanta, Georgia: I'm getting married this fall and my fiance and I want to take a driving trip into the mountains for our honeymoon. Do you know of any mountain cabins with in-room hot tubs?

Paris Permenter: From Atlanta, a good option is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is known as the honeymoon capital of the South. You'll find lots of romantic cabins near town and in the mountains; many include in-room hot tubs (some heart-shaped!) The town also has many wedding chapels if you're considering a destination wedding.

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Cincinnati, Ohio: Hi Paris, we live in Cincinnati, and would like to find some nice 3 nights weekend getaway (not too expensive) in February or March. Fly or drive is ok. We like fishing, off roading (my husband is Land Rover enthaustis), relaxing environment. Any good suggestion? What about Arizona or New Mexico, never been there, but thought weather might be suitable in Feb-March. Thanks!!! Oh, one more thing, any other good recommendation for outdoor hot spring resort so we can soak in the water for relaxation?

Paris Permenter: New Mexico might be a good option for you; the state has numerous outdoor hot springs. Gila Hot Springs, about two hours from Silver City, has natural hot springs; you'll also find some in the Taos area as well as other destinations around the state. At the higher elevations, look for chilly weather in February and March (but perfect for hot springs!)

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Paris Permenter: Thanks for your questions...and lovely travels! Paris

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