Heart-shaped Croatian island attracts curious, lovebirds

Croatia’s geography lends itself to love. The country is blessed with a scenic coastline along the Adriatic Sea – a stretch of land that is dotted with picturesque rocky islands and scenic beach towns like Dubrovnik and Hvar. Not surprisingly, Croatia has long attracted tourists and couples – during the summer months, it’s the perfect spot for laying on the beach, island-hopping and plenty of outdoor fun.

According to the Daily Mail, Croatia’s coast is also home to another unintentionally romantic destination – a heart-shaped island recently highlighted on Google Maps. Though the island is uninhabited, tourists have recently caught on and have been clamoring for access. The island’s owners, overwhelmed by requests to visit, have renamed the small landmass as “Lover’s Island” to capitalize on the demand. I guess the original name, Galesnjak, didn’t exactly roll off the tongue…

As romantic as it may sound to head off to this remote heart-shaped landmass, take note – the island has no buildings and no access to fresh water. February temperatures are also hovering in the high 30’s. Still for some, access to one of the world’s more remote destinations (and with a theme to boot!) is powerful motivation. I guess when it comes to love, emotion sometimes trumps proper logic.

[Via Buzzfeed]

Love stinks (this year), V-Day spending down

Don’t expect an expensive gesture this year. Valentine’s Day spending is expected to drop 4.8 percent this year, after suffering to the tune of 6.8 percent a year ago. The good news is that we’re becoming less romantic at a slower rate this year. Nonetheless, don’t plan on a surprise weekend getaway this year.

According research firm IBISWorld, the passionate are only going to commit $28.6 billion to their fellow lovebirds this year. The reason is simple: Valentine’s Day just isn’t Christmas.

According to George Van Horn, a senior analyst at IBISWorld, events like birthdays and Christmas don’t involve a whole lot of choice. You have to commit some cash. “Valentine’s Day is more of a discretionary occasion,” he says, “which means it will be hit particularly hard by the current economic climate.” As we tighten our belts, this non-day off is among the casualties.

IBISWorld believes that couples are going to swap out trips, dinners out and the like for romantic meals at home, walks on the beach or writing a love letter or poem. Yes, this was actually in the press release! I have to admit, a walk on the beach right now, here in New York, would probably be better than a poem.

So, how does 2009 look? Travel is pretty grim. IBISWorld forecasts that close to $3.45 billion will be spent on romantic getaways this year, compared to $3.58 billion last year. It’s a drop of 3.5 percent.

M&M’s Valentine’s Day Contest

Most would argue that red is the color of love and therefore the color for Valentine’s Day, but the M&M’s chocolate company begs to differ. While to most green is the color of envy, it is Ms. Green who will have you seeing some green ($1500 to be exact) — as well as experiencing two nights in quintessentially romantic Paris.

The only thing you have to do is visit the contest website and write a 150-word essay explaining why you and your sweetie need Ms. Green’s help to heat up your romance this Valentine’s Day. (No purchase necessary!). The sight adds, “Brevity is the soul of wit, darling,” so I’m guessing my essay, which went something like, “I would really like a holiday” is neither witty nor the kind of brevity they’re looking for.

According to the always long-winded contest rules, you must be 21 years or older to enter and live within the 50 United States. The top five essays will be selected based on the following criteria: Relevance, Creativity, and Style and Panache (???), and then judged one more time by a separate panel to select the winner. The prize includes two roundtrip ticket to Paris, a two-night stay in the city, and $1500 to spend on romantic dining and activities.

Seems rather straightforward, my friends. You must submit your essay by February 12, so think green (or red) and get to it!

Hôtel de Glace version 9 is coming soon

When the nights are long and the weather is icky, you can make like a bear and tuck in until spring, or you can make the most of it and have fun with the cold weather. Maybe you’ve outgrown your sledding and snowman days, but you can still live it up in a real winter wonderland at Québec’s Hôtel de Glace.

Open every year from January through March, this ice hotel is newly rebuilt every year with a new design, featuring sculpted archways and enchanting ice sculptures. There are 36 rooms and theme suites for overnight visitors, all featuring ice beds with heavy duty sleeping bags. Temperatures inside the hotel are steady between -3°C and -5°C, no matter what the weather is like outdoors. The hotel’s information guide tells you everything you need to know about dressing for a trip like this.

You can tour the hotel without spending the night, or you can take advantage of the special packages the Hôtel de Glace offers — they have special couples packages, a dogsledding adventure, and even several wedding packages.

Visit the Hôtel de Glace website between now and November 26th, and you can enter to win a free stay at the ice hotel.


All photos courtesy Hôtel de Glace and used by permission.