Valentine’s Day is just a week away. Lots of vibrant pink and red colors are everywhere, flowers and chocolate are in abundance, and so is the bubbly. But for me, celebrating Valentine’s Day is more fun when it’s not on Valentine’s Day.
One year, when my firefighter husband and I were newly married, he had to work a 24-hour shift on February 14th. I was disappointed but he had a better idea.
On the evening of the 13th, he hired a car with a driver to pick us up and we went out for a cocktail, then to an elegant Italian place for dinner. The restaurant was empty except for us. We were given the best seat in the house, excellent service and we focused solely on each other. No distractions. It was a very romantic, memorable and stress-free evening.
Last year we went out for dinner on the 14th to a popular restaurant. The place was overflowing with people, the staff was tense and inattentive, the food was not as great as it normally is, and the noise levels in the restaurant made conversation challenging.
That is not a romantic evening in our book. Though we used to enjoy going out to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, neither of us love a crowd or noisy, frenetic places anymore. We opted this year not to go out for Valentine’s Day on the 14th.
Instead we decided to go away for the weekend, but stay local and stay in January, the slowest and most reasonable month of the year for most hotels in the wine country.
We have lived in Kenwood for 14 years and have never stayed at Kenwood Inn and Spa, a world-renown hotel that is stunningly beautiful, a unique luxury retreat. It’s something I have always wanted to do. Quite pricey during the high season, we were glad to take advantage of their terrific winter rates. It was just where we wanted to go for our Valentine’s Day getaway, and only 2 miles from home.
Entering the Kenwood Inn and Spa is like stepping into a Tuscan estate.
Small, charming buildings dot the property. These two buildings are near the pool area but far enough away to be private and quiet.
A koi pond and watermill were right next to our room. A soothing place to stop and reflect.
The luxurious pool area is located off the spa. Plenty of chaise lounges are available for guests along with fluffy towels and fresh water.
These tables looked like a great place to have lunch or a glass of wine. Or maybe do some outdoor blogging.
Once we got the lay of the land, we checked out our plush room. We were upgraded to a Junior Suite. Occupancy is usually very high in the spring, summer and fall but winter months are low. Lucky us!
A charming and welcoming living area greeted us when we first walked in. A fireplace, big cushy chairs, and stunning views out the windows made us hesitate to venture outside again.
The spacious bathroom boasted a big, deep whirlpool tub and a large shower.
The bedroom was grand and cozy with its king-sized bed, soft linens, and antique furnishings.
Just off the bathroom door was a small semi-private patio with two chaise lounges, a lovely place to sit and listen to the nearby watermill, maybe read a book.
Once we unpacked our things, we cracked open a bottle of champagne to celebrate our decision to finally experience the Kenwood Inn.
After spending most of the day either relaxing in front of the fire or in the hot tub on the other side of the inn, we got ready for dinner.
On our way to the bar, adjacent to the small on-site restaurant, we glimpsed a view of the vineyards across the street, so familiar to us having passed them countless times. But the view somehow looked like a faraway land in that moment and context. We felt as though we were thousands of miles away in Europe.
Another wonderful thing about off-season and not doing our Valentine’s getaway on Valentine’s Day weekend is that we had the best table in the house for dinner, both nights! Sitting fireside, enjoying and incredible farm-to-table dinner prepared by a chef professionally taught by Gordon Ramsey himself, with the one you love more than anyone…well, you just can’t get too much better than that.
Until you start your day like this: soaking in a magnificent 104 degree pool with the sun on your face, birds chirping away, and your husband nearby. It was a spectacular Valentine’s Day that wasn’t on Valentine’s Day!
Just because we have already celebrated doesn’t mean we won’t do anything when the 14th arrives. We’ll just do something low-key, low cost and avoid the crowds.
Maybe we will go out for an afternoon picnic – outdoors if the weather cooperates, or on the living room floor in front of the fireplace if it doesn’t.
Or I might make heart-shaped toast and egg for breakfast and serve it to my husband while wearing one of his button-down shirts as a nighty.
And I may sneak a bar of chocolate with a little note into his briefcase for him to see when he gets to work.
Valentine’s Day is a reason for my husband and I to reconnect, do things a little more romantically than usual, and treat ourselves to something special that we both enjoy. It doesn’t have to be on the 14th. It can be any old time we want it to be!
What are your Valentine’s Day plans?
Do you celebrate early? Stay home? Go out on the town? Skip it all together?
Make it a rich day!