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 February 1, 1998

Give your valentine a romantic getaway

February has to be the year’s worst month.

One day there’ll be a tantalizing taste of spring; the next week it will be 10 degrees below freezing for five straight days. And the idea of winter hibernation, which seemed so attractive in January, has completely lost its appeal in February.

Fortunately, February comes with built-in relief. Valentine’s Day encourages romantic getaways right about the time you feel like you’re going to go postal if you spend one more day commuting to and from work in the dark.

Romantic getaways can take many forms. You can pamper yourself and your significant other with hotel room service. You can learn to tango or take a couple’s massage class. You can plan an intimate dinner at home. You can make out on Flagstaff Mountain. Or, for the adventurous, you can try tandem paragliding or a hot air balloon ride over the Flatirons.

For those whose idea of romance is getting away from your home/hovel, Boulder County is packed with romantic little hotels and bed and breakfasts. Try the Gold Lake Resort and Ranch, on 100 acres of pristine woodlands three miles off the Peak-to-Peak Highway above Ward. The resort has 13 private cabins, with a co-ed bath house and sauna. Gold Lake’s Alice’s Restaurant is well-known for its fresh juices, vegan dishes, stews and wild game.

Also close to the mountains are The Alps in Boulder Canyon, the Allenspark Lodge off Colorado 7 and The Best Western Lodge at Nederland, which features one night of lodging and one lift ticket to Eldora for $69 per person. Or try the Boulder Mountain Lodge, up Four Mile Canyon, where you can relax in a hot tub by the creek.

If you want the amenities of a big hotel, Louisville’s Courtyard by Marriott offers $49-a-night weekend deals. The Boulder Broker has a fabulous buffet Sunday brunch, but if it’s too much trouble to leave your Victorian-style room, the hotel’s room service menu is extensive. The new Boulder Marriott, in the Village shopping center at Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue, not only features posh rooms, but downstairs is the Essentiels Beauty Clinic, where you and your mate can get a massage.

If you prefer a do-it-yourself massage, the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, 6255 Longbow Drive, offers a basic massage weekend where you and your partner can learn Swedish massage techniques. A two-day class is $200 per couple. Or try the reflexology session Saturday, Feb. 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For $65 a person, you’ll learn the basics of zone therapy and the locations of the reflex points in the foot.

If a nice dinner out is your idea of bliss, try old romantic favorites like the Greenbriar, 8735 N. Foothills Highway, or Q’s in the historic Hotel Boulderado, named the Best in Colorado by the 1997 Zagat Survey.

To make sure you get there in style, rent a horse-drawn carriage from Louisville’s Cowboy Meadows (778-0851). For $250 for an hour and a half, driver Verle Hamm will pick you up at your door and take you wherever you want to go (with a few limits) within the county.

But let’s say you and your mate are both Taureans or Cancers or some other sign known for its domesticity, and find it way too much trouble to leave your home. It’s still possible to have a romantic getaway in your own living room.

First of all, since there’s nothing romantic about vacuuming or cleaning toilets, hire a maid service to spruce up the manse. Home Maid of Boulder (443-3701) charges $17 an hour to clean your house.

Then, you’ll want to make sure your dining room is decked out for a nice dinner. Call A Formal Affair, located at 15th Street and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. Manager Zoe Wolstenholme will lay place settings (using your dishes or hers), provide candles and decorate with flowers for a $100 fee.

Boulder’s New World Cuisine will design a custom gourmet dinner and deliver it for $80 to $100. Or you can do it yourself — Cooking School of the Rockies offers “Aphrodisiacs — A Sensuous Approach to Food & Cooking” Thursday, Feb. 12, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the school, which is at 637 S. Broadway.

The course, which costs $50 per person or $90 a couple, shows you how to cook such love potions as bluepoint oysters on the half shell with champagne vinegar and caviar, grilled breast of pheasant with asparagus, pommes d’amour and chocolate cheesecake hearts.

After all this preparation for the table, don’t forget about your own appearance. The Ritz, at 959 Walnut St., rents semi-formal gowns, tuxedos and all the accessories (including boas!) at prices ranging from $30 to $50.

If you want a more permanent physical reminder of your love, Bound by Design, at 1119 13th St. in Boulder, offers custom tattooing.

For around $75 an hour, with a $50 minimum, head tattooist Matt Victor, who has a master’s degree in fine art, will tattoo you and your mate with a design of either your or his making.

If you prefer a less painful way to celebrate your love, local guitarist/singer/songwriter Trevor Clendenin (415-0849) can write a song just for you and deliver a two-hour serenade for around $150 to $200. To make sure you really appreciate Clendenin’s music, brush up on your footwork at Dance West, 1637 Pearl St.

Dance West offers classes in tango — “the dance of love” — Sunday nights on a drop-in basis. The hour-and-15-minute classes are $9.50; $8.50 for students.

If all of this sounds great except for one little catch — you are currently bereft of a significant other — don’t let that ruin a perfect evening. There are five different escort services in Boulder, where it’s possible to rent a date for $100 and up.

But say you’re one of those adventurous signs like a Sagittarius or Aquarius and an evening home leaves you uninspired. Broomfield’s Aero-Cruise Balloon Adventure Ltd. (469-1243) offers sunrise hot-air balloon rides from its launch site off of Highway 287, between Lafayette and Longmont.

For a half-hour ride, the fee is $110 per person; for an hour, it’s $150 per person. The price includes a champagne continental breakfast after the ride.

If you can’t wait for breakfast, spice up your ride with a gift basket from the House of Fire, 1108 Spruce St. in Boulder. For $25 to $100, House of Fire can pack up a basket with salsa, chips, pistachios, spicy chocolate and the hottest condiments you can find.

You’ll need the extra nourishment if you decide to sign up for paragliding lessons with Fly Away Paragliding (642-0849). Owner Bill Laurence recommends that couples take the school’s introductory course, held most weekends. The two-day course, usually held in north Boulder around Wonderland Lake or to the south near Eldorado Springs, covers basics like aerodynamics and flat-ground practice, with the second day reserved for flying. The fee is $225 a person.

And finally, if you want to be outdoors on the most romantic day of the year, but find yourself cash-impaired, a trip up Flagstaff Mountain (take Baseline Road) or Bald Mountain (up Canyon Boulevard) allows you and your loved one to snuggle up, gaze out over the city lights and discuss the meaning of life for free.

February has to be the year’s worst month.

One day there’ll be a tantalizing taste of spring; the next week it will be 10 degrees below freezing for five straight days. And the idea of winter hibernation, which seemed so attractive in January, has completely lost its appeal in February.

Fortunately, February comes with built-in relief. Valentine’s Day encourages romantic getaways right about the time you feel like you’re going to go postal if you spend one more day commuting to and from work in the dark.

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