Money can’t buy you love, but it sure can buy you a memorable Valentine’s Day. Whether you snag a $5,500 bottle of “The World’s Most Expensive Perfume” or drop $50,000 on a bracelet, here are five over-the-top ways to dazzle your main squeeze this Feb 14.
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Take a Dip in a Chocolate Bath
If the traditional heart-shaped box of candy fails to satisfy your sweetie’s sweet tooth, a trip to Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley may be in order.
Couples who stay at the luxury inn during the month of February can sign up for a special spa package that begins with a cacao and grapeseed exfoliation session. From there, they are invited to relax in a milk-chocolate bath in the spa’s private outdoor garden where they are treated to an assortment of wine and dessert pairings crafted by Paul Lemieux, the Auberge’s executive pastry chef. The experience ends with a full-body massage in an oil of chocolate and spice.
“It is decadent, playful and romantic – everything you look for in a Valentine’s experience,” says Amy Wilson-Moghina, the spa’s director. “Every detail--from flowers adorning the garden tub to a warmed robe to put on after your service concludes--will be attended to and personalized.”
Auberge du Soleil is hardly a stranger to providing unique and luxurious Valentine’s Day services --last year, the hotel offered a spa package that included a fresh strawberry and sugar scrub, the chocolate bath and a massage with champagne massage oil.
Wilson-Moghina estimates about five couples purchased last year’s package and says three have signed up so far this year, with more on a waiting list. (The spa typically does not accept reservations from people who are staying outside of the hotel, but puts them on a waiting list and considers requests based on the hotel’s business demands.)
The price? $570 per couple for a 90-minute session and $760 per couple for a 120-minute session.
For those less concerned about the price and more concerned about what indulging in so much chocolate might do to one’s waistline and skin, Wilson-Moghina says not to worry. She explains that moderate amounts of chocolate are good for your overall health, and argues that when applied in the form of a warm bath and massage, chocolate can help reduce cellulite and improve skin tone.
“Plus, it smells absolutely fabulous,” she says.
Don’t Say It – Spray It
A nice bottle of perfume or cologne makes a great Valentine’s Day gift, but for those who can afford the fanciest of the fanciest, Clive Christian No. 1 is it.
At $5,500 in pure-perfume form or $875 in spray form, No. 1 is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s priciest fragrance. And, with only 1,000 bottles each of the women’s and men’s versions making their way to the market annually, it’s also one of the most exclusive.
“The natural, absolute ingredients that we use at Clive Christian are usually worth more than their weight in gold,” says Victoria Christian, an ambassador of the brand and daughter of its creator. Christian explains that the perfume contains ingredients of the highest quality and deepest concentration, noting that the Tahitian vanilla in the product is left to fatten and crystallize over a six-month period and that it takes 170 rose heads to produce the rose extract.
If you’ve never heard of Clive Christian, it’s most likely because the company has steered clear of the promotional, incentive-driven strategies that characterize brands in the both the mainstream and luxury fragrance markets.
“The price was never the vision,” Christian says. “It was simply the result of reviving the original values of the house and, in turn, the luxury perfume world.”
A storied brand that began in the U.K. in 1999, Clive Christian made its U.S. debut at Bergdorf Goodman a decade ago. The company’s line of perfumes are now carried by fellow high-end retailers Neiman Marcus and Saks (NYSE:SKS). (A disclaimer on Saks’s Web site states that customers cannot purchase more than six units of its perfume every 30 days due to high demand. Christian says this policy is in place at other retailers as well, as the brand’s customers like to stock up.)
Perhaps the only thing richer than the company’s history is its clients. Sir Elton John is a devoted fan, Katie Holmes wore No. 1 when she married Tom Cruise and Aretha Franklin reportedly stocks up on two of each perfume in the brand’s line at a time, Christian notes.
“There is also a request for No.1 for men and women to grace the Royal Wedding in Britain in April,” she says.
Spend Two Nights as King and Queen of the Castle
Hotels across the country are offering special packages for Valentine’s Day, but the one that trumps them all – at least in price – is the exclusive $80,000 getaway at The Pierre in New York City.
A typical night at The Pierre is no bargain, with a standard room costing about $895. But the hotel’s Valentine’s Day package represents a new level of luxury, offering an array of romantic and ritzy touches that include a two-night stay in the hotel’s presidential suite (typically $20,000 a night), beauty treatments for him and her at the Julien Farel salon and a private dinner in the Pierre ballroom, where everything from the five-course menu to the flowers on the table are crafted especially for the couple.
“This is a unique experience, custom designed specifically for the most romantic couple in the world,” says Nora Walsh, the hotel’s director of public relations, who adds that giving guests private access to the hotel’s ballroom has never been done before. “This is not something that any regular guest at The Pierre could book.”
The offer is available to only one couple. So far, the hotel has received no bites.
Send an Unforgettable Bouquet
Nothing screams romance quite like roses do, and so for florists and floral-delivery services across the country, Valentine’s Day tends to be a very busy time of year.
As one of the largest floral companies in the world, FTD understands this well. While the company’s most popular Valentine’s Day bouquet may be the classic Long Stem Red Rose Bouquet ($79.99 for 12 stems; $139.99 for 24 stems), it’s the floral arrangements in the “Luxury Collection” that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your loved one and your wallet.
The highest-priced bouquets in the group are the Dramatic Luxury Rose Bouquet and the Ravishing Luxury Rose Bouquet, each of which consists of 18 long-stemmed (20-in.) roses in a crystal Steuben Glass vase. The price? $999.
“We offer that arrangement as a response to customers who want to give a very special gift,” says Scott Matulis, vice president of corporate communications for FTD’s parent company, United Online (NASDAQ:UNTD).
If crystal isn’t your sweetheart’s style, you may want to go for the Breathless Luxury Rose Bouquet. At $519.99 (a bargain!) the bouquet contains 100 long-stemmed (24-in.) roses in a glass pillow vase.
While the company is hush-hush about sales, Matulis says the luxury line has been a meaningful addition to the company’s business.
“We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the FTD Luxury Collection both in terms of sales and in terms of how it reinforces our goal, further differentiating FTD as a provider of the highest quality, beautiful, floral arrangements.”
Bring out the Bling
A little piece of jewelry can be the icing on your perfectly lavish Valentine’s Day. For those who want the very, very best, they can find it at Cartier, whose “Love” product line fits the V-Day theme perfectly. While the collection offers plenty in the range of standard luxury ($2,000 or $3,000), it also offers quite a bit in the $25,000+ category. The most expensive piece is the white-gold and diamond Love bracelet, which starts at $51,600.
Finally – if shoes are the way to your sweetheart’s heart, Neiman Marcus has a pair of crystal-encrusted suede Christian Louboutins for $3,095.