Travel can rekinkle flame of passion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 February, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 February, 1996, 12:00am

TRAVEL, they say, broadens the mind. It can also light a fire. Or rekindle the flame in a relationship.

The quickest way to revive a romance is to take it to a new environment.

For those tired of crowded sand-and-sea resorts, here is a selection of different Valentine's Day destinations.

Do not delay. The heart you save may be your own.

For sun and sand, the Philippines offers scores of resorts but, for a different Valentine's Day holiday, why not try the Lagoon Explorer, a cosy 24-metre Swiss-built catamaran designed to explore the remote islands of northern Palawan.

There are 10 comfortable air-conditioned cabins, a crew of 10, a restaurant and bar.

The ship's schedule is leisurely, covering about 320 kilometres in a week. The captain will stop at any island that interests the guests.

Expect long days of sun-bathing on the top deck, swimming in gin-clear waters over rainbow-coloured coral gardens, exploring tiny fishing villages and dining on lobster, crab, steamed fish and garlic prawns.

For more information contact: Cruise and Hotel Centre, Maripola Bldg, 109 Perea Street, Legaspi Village, Makati, Manila. Tel: (632) 815-3008, Fax: (632) 819-0289, or contact the Philippine Department of Tourism, 6th Floor, United Centre, 95 Queensway. Tel: 2866-6471. Fax:2866-6521. If a saltwater breeze and sunshine are not your idea of romance, how about celebrating Valentine's Day at a hot spring spa? The Japanese city of Kagoshima on the southern island of Kyushu is home to hundreds of spas.

The charming Furusato Hotel has one of the few outdoor hot spas overlooking the sea. Mixed bathing is the rule but, for the modest, a white cotton yukata (robe) is allowed. A double room with soft tatami mat floors and sliding rice-paper doors overlooking the moonlit sea is an ideal romantic setting.

A room attendant brings fresh green tea to guests on their arrival and rolls out the soft bed every evening.

For more information contact the Kagoshima Tourist Information Centre, 9-1 Meizan-cho, Kagoshima 892. Tel: (81) 992-23-5771. Fax: (81) 992-25-7484. Or contact the Japanese National Tourist Organisation, Suite 3606, Exchange Square Two, Central. Tel: 2522-7913. Fax: 2868-4930. They say that cold hands mean a warm heart and those who really want to impress their favourite heart on Valentine's Day should whisk her away to the beautiful Russian city of St Petersburg.

In February, it is a winter wonderland, an elegant northern version of Paris, filled with golden palaces, candle-lit churches and charming turn-of-the century hotels.

Treat her to breakfast in bed with sweet Crimean champagne ($50 per bottle) and fresh strawberries from sunny Yalta. Then take her for an enchanting troika (horse-drawn sleigh) ride through the delightful snow-covered birch forests that encircle the city.

For more information, contact: Global Union Express, Room 93, New Henry House, Ice House Street, Central. Tel: 2845-4232. Fax: 2845-5078. If a snow-filled Valentine's Day escape has its appeal, but getting to Europe is too costly and time-consuming, do not despair. All-inclusive Korean ski holidays are cheaper than the air fare to Europe.

The Korean National Tourist Corporation never used to mention South Korea's long snowy winters, but now they are a key attraction.

South Korea has seven ski resorts with nearly 75 slopes. The season runs from November until March.

February offers the best powder snow. The tranquil Shilla Hotel offers traditional charm with authentic Korean-style rooms.

For more information, contact: the Korean Tourism Corporation, Suite 3203, 32nd Floor, Citibank Tower, Garden Road, Central. Tel: 2523-8065. Fax: 2845-0765.