Some hotels go above and beyond to satisfy their guests' every need. At a few of our favorite hotels, we've encountered everything from a Genealogy Butler in Ireland to a Nightlife Concierge in Miami. While some may label these services over-the-top, we can't help but be a little excited about this new trend in all-out pampering. After all, the sommeliers, concierges, butlers, and psychics (yes, psychics!) of the hospitality world have some interesting insights for us once we tracked them down and got the skinny on just what goes on behind closed doors.
We recently sat down with Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the Romance Concierge at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie Valley. Located about 45 minutes outside of Seattle overlooking a gorgeous waterfall, the Salish is among the most romantic spots in the Pacific Northwest. It is only fitting, then, that the hotel goes the extra mile in catering to couples -- especially with Valentine's Day less than a month away! (Incidentally, the Salish is ready and waiting for the rush of couples -- check out their "Month of Love" specials here.)
Dr. Pepper, a native of Snoqualmie Valley, has a PhD in Sociology from Yale University and is currently a professor at Washington University. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, Oprah, Good Morning America, and NPR. Dr. Pepper is also the Love and Relationship Expert for AARP and the Chief Relationship Expert for Perfectmatch.com, as well as the author of 17 books on romance and relationships. Thoroughly impressed? We are!
Perfect Places for Passion and Romance at Any Age, Dr. Pepper's upcoming book (which features the Salish), will serve as a guide to the most romantic travel destinations across the globe. For her insights into romancing your special someone on vacation, read our full interview after the jump »
Q: How did you come to be at the Salish Lodge & Spa?
A: I live on a horse ranch about 5 minutes away from the Salish, and they knew about me. [My home] is a pretty romantic spot, so we hosted several off-site weddings there for the lodge. They also knew me by my reputation, of my research, and of my romantic travel books. And they said, why don’t we do something together, and we discussed how in-depth it was going to be. And then we started it recently…somewhere 8 months to a year ago.
Q: What kind of services do you provide guests? Do you assist in building the romance packages available at the Salish?
A: I help build the packages and determine what makes a romantic weekend. I also respond to people who write to me through the hotel's website. I'm currently working with one young man. He’s a person in the armed services that is going to do a proposal at the lodge. He wrote to me and said, 'Here are some of my ideas, but what do you suggest Dr. Pepper?'" Tailoring it to the couple is what is important; it's what makes this a concierge service. I had another one for a 30th anniversary. What I would do for them is very different from what I would do for a young, "in shape" army couple. It’s one-on-one, it’s very specific. You look at the programs and then you tailor them. We’ll brainstorm until we hit the nail on the head.
I arrange things very specifically for people that request something tailored for them and their partner to use the property in a way that it hasn't been before. Couples can book the entire spa for themselves, for example, at a time when it is closed to the rest of the resort. They can have complete privacy. Imagine you have that all to yourself. You can be uninhibited, you're private. And we can have champagne there for you, or a midnight snack. It's incredible.
Q: Is there something particularly romantic about the Salish that lends itself well to rediscovering an old spark or kicking off a new affair?
A: We’re right in the foothills of the cascades. It’s absolutely beautiful. You’re right over a gorgeous waterfall, it’s about 100 feet high. Sometimes in the winter it’s just roaring. It’s amazing. The rooms are just amazingly set up, with huge soaking tubs that open up so you can see the fireplace. Some have views above the falls. They're rustically elegant. There’s a little library that we can close up for a little private tete-a-tete. It just doesn’t get more romantic than this.
Q: What about going on vacation can help reinvigorate a relationship?
A: It’s getting away. It’s remembering how to be lovers. It’s about giving each other time. It’s a terrible situation that statistics tell us that people get only two weeks vacation and 50 percent of people don’t take it. And people need it. Even a long weekend. People need time to remember how to hold hands, to remember their pet names for each other, to cuddle. It sounds like little things, but they aren't. In my book The Normal Bar — what is the norm of the happiest couples is that they do call each other pet names, they do hold hands, they do cuddle, they do have date nights. I think that people usually think that they have these big problems to solve, but really they just need to remember the little things. They have to remember to laugh. To tease. To have fun. To be sensual.
I hear it from young couples, too. Those that have a new baby, they're always worried about leaving home. They say they don't have the time to get away... They say that they have to be there for their kids. Well, the best way to be there for the kids is to not have a divorce. And the best way to not have a divorce is to put something into the relationship. The couples that go away, that make time for each other, that have fun together, are the ones that aren't getting divorced.
Q: How do you help couples reconnect while on vacation?
A: I think it’s a time not to work on stuff, but to have fun, enjoy each other, have sex, go on a hike, take a jump in the hot springs. Do things that are fun and loving together. That way you have good things, good memories to talk about when you go back. Come here and enjoy it and not take the vacation somewhere dark.
Q: What advice would you give to a couple just embarking on a romantic relationship?
A: Start quick and never let it go. My son and his girlfriend do this a lot. They go away pretty systematically, about once a month, even if its to an inexpensive B&B. They’re both in school, they’re both working very hard, and sometimes the stress levels of young people trying to build a life is so high. When you're young is great time to invest in yourself and your relationship. Even if what you're doing is going outside of the city to someplace very inexpensive, take even that one night and come back the next day. You still feel like you started a tradition. You're saying, 'We’re lovers and we're going to support each other.' Any place that isn't your place is a good getaway. To the extent that you are able in your relationship, you should get away together. You will establish a pattern that will benefit you your entire life.
Q: On the flip side of that, what advice would you give an older couple looking to rekindle a spark?
A: Do it for an anniversary, a birthday, a retirement — anything that you feel like celebrating. Pick a place that is romantic. Google it if you're not sure: Romantic vacations or romantic weekends near wherever you live. Use trusted sites that you feel like will give you good information. [Ed. note: Sites like Oyster, perhaps?] Find something in your price racket. And find somewhere with activities you both enjoy. Don’t put too much pressure on a relationship. Find something to do every night. Go to a movie. Or go dancing if she likes dancing. And you’ll find that it’s amazing. Make it a tradition now: You don’t have to start when you're young, you can start at any age.