Now that the December holidays are behind us, hotels have begun promoting themselves as ideal escapes for Valentine's Day. In many cases, they're putting together romantic offerings that, if nothing else, provide needed employment for the world's suppliers of loose rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Not to be outdone, luxury hotels, which make a point of never being outdone, compete to come up with ever more extravagant couples packages with prices so obscene and perks so excessive that even the mild-mannered among us could feel a passing urge to storm the Bastille.
Taking the cake for let-them-eat-cake-ness in 2023? That would have to be the February couples package on offer from the Velaa Private Island resort in the Maldives.
For this ludicrously lavish getaway, the ultra-exclusive cluster of villas in the Indian Ocean archipelago is opening its one-bedroom Romantic Pool Residence (pictured above), a 6,400-square-foot overwater home that can only be reached by boat.
As detailed by the luxury lifestyle lookie-loos at Robb Report magazine, the new package, available now for February bookings, includes the inevitable carpet of rose petals, the expected pampering from a staff of butlers, private chefs, and spa workers, and the requisite "blisteringly blue" ocean views untroubled by glimpses of other vacationers or other Maldivians—not counting, of course, the ones presumably waiting on you hand and foot.
The villa has a hot tub, infinity pool, "sunken outdoor bath," and steps leading right into the ocean lagoon, but the real liquid-based draw, per Robb Report, is the chance for you and your significant other to immerse yourselves in a couples bath filled with 600 liters (159 gallons) of Delamotte Champagne.
The grand total for this package starts at $200,000 for the first night, with a mere $12,000 tacked on for each additional night.
We'll set aside for a moment the question of how tone deaf it is, in a time of record inflation around the globe, to set the cost of a hotel stay at roughly the same as the median price for a single-family home in Ohio.
We'll even try to forget that anybody who buys this thing is literally pouring money down the drain.
But what we can't understand is why in the name of Midas someone would want to sit in a giant tub brimming with champagne—a beverage that's supposed to be iced, is often sticky, and is the color of pee.
Yes, champagne is delicious. But so is broccoli cheddar soup. Do you want to lower yourself into a vat of that stuff?
(Ocean House hotel in Westerly, Rhode Island | Credit: Ocean House)
Bargain hunters among the ultrarich may prefer one of the Valentine's experiences available at—sorry, "specially curated for"—a pair of Rhode Island hotels under the Relais & Châteaux brand of fancy-schmancy properties.
The historic, hilltop Ocean House in coastal Watch Hill is selling a "Sea the Love" February package featuring a 2-night stay and several "ocean-inspired extras" such as private helicopter transportation, an aquamarine Tiffany & Co. ring, spa services, culinary offerings, and, oh yeah, a 2023 nautical-blue Mercedes-Benz electric sedan to take home.
This package will set you back $153,600, but at least you get a car out of it. To bring home a souvenir from the champagne bath, you'd have to remember to pack a ladle.
The nearby Weekapaug Inn is also including a car—a 2023 Volvo plug-in hybrid—with its $119,900 "For the Love of Nature Package." Positioning itself as the more ecological option, the property is throwing in guided nature walks and a return trip for bird-watching along with the 2-night suite stay, cocktails, private dinners, and breakfasts in bed.
To its credit, Weekapaug Inn has undertaken noteworthy steps to protect its natural surroundings and promote sustainable methods.
But as Sarah Stodola writes in her 2022 book The Last Resort, too many of the world's beach resorts dedicated to conspicuous consumption continue to profit from paradise without addressing how they have "bred economic and social inequalities in many a locale, as well as contributed to the climate crisis while coming under existential threat from it—a paradise both threatening and threatened."
In a place like the Maldives, where rising sea levels and dying corals pose increasing dangers, it seems more than likely that when it comes time to tally up the terrible price of damages caused by outsiders, it will be local communities that will end up having to pay.
Did you think it would be the multinational developers and #blessed tourists? That's rich.