Creative Valentine’s Day Experiences from the Experts

The staff at the Peninsula Hotels deals with some of the most discerning guests in the world, so we turned to Todd Nelson, the chief concierge at the Peninsula Chicago, LeeAnn Brown, the guest relations manager at the Peninsula Chicago, and James Little, the chief concierge at the Peninsula Beverly Hills for tips on making this February 14 a memorable one.

Dating a few weeks:

Lette MacaronsTN: I would keep it light, but serious with a gift that revolves around the fabric of our lives…cashmere. Spring into summer and maybe a long term relationship with bright Spring colors and a pair of cashmere gloves, a scarf, or a smart sweater. Cashmere can border on the moderately priced, but can also ring the register in the affluent range; regardless, it will always have a couture connotation of refined luxury. What’s more, your paramour will think of you each time that luscious fabric touches skin.

LB: I like something whimsical and fun. Maybe a gift basket with fun activities you can do together like a board game, deck of cards, or dominoes, indoor toys like Nerf guns or paddle ball, and fun candy or snacks (not the typical Valentine’s Day heart, but things you used to love when you were a kid like red vines and Cracker Jacks). Think of things that will keep you active and make you laugh. Things that you can use inside during the winter. Or buy a new sled and hit the snow!

JL: Whip up or pick up an assortment of delicious truffles and colorful macaroons to have beautifully boxed with a personalized note.


Dating a few years:

TN: Prepare for the future and that first dance by arranging for a private dance instructor to inspire your tango prowess. Then, have some sparkling libations and fresh banter at a romantic bar.

LB: This is when it’s time to be romantic. You should know by now what kind of person you’re dating; for example, if they’re a foodie, you can investigate having a personal chef come to your home and prepare a meal (local culinary schools are a great place to find “up-and-coming” future chefs and affordable servers). They can do all of the shopping, cooking, serving, and most importantly — the clean up.


Just Married:

TN: En garde! You’ve done the dance and now it might be time for some fencing lessons? Touche?  No, really, luxuriate in The Peninsula Spa with a couple’s treatment. Release the tension and celebrate wedded bliss with a twinkling glass of Krug Grande Cuvee Brut.

LB:  This is time to start a tradition. Maybe start a keepsake box where every year you can add a memory or souvenir from something that you did that year. Another option is the “add-a-pearl” necklace where you start with a necklace and a single pearl, then add a new pearl every year.

JL: To set the stage for future hallmarks, this occasion should exude romance. A beautiful convertible car can be rented for a scenic drive followed by a romantic picnic with snacks and wine. Or, if you’re not in a sunny climate, rent a hotel room with a romantic rooftop garden or head out for a romantic dinner set to the sounds of a live harpist or piano player.


Married for 10-plus years:

TN: Conquer history and tour the city in which you live with a private architectural docent and relive that nascent feeling together that brought you to this moment.

LB: Go for something sentimental. Something your spouse has always wanted, but would never buy for themselves or something that you used to enjoy doing when you were still dating.

JL: This occasion calls for a stay in one of the private garden villas at The Peninsula Beverly Hills where the concierge staff would decorate a selected suite with a variety of pictures from the wedding and have the musical hits from the reception playing en suite upon arrival. Champagne on ice and a replica of the floral arrangements from the wedding would also be awaiting to greet the couple.


Single gal friends:

TN: Gal pals can celebrate the release of “A Different Kind of Truth”, the first full album by Van Halen and their original lead singer David Lee Roth in almost 30 years, with tickets to the group’s North American tour. Van Halen’s relationship with Roth has been a stormy one over the years. Roth left the band in a bitter breakup in 1985, only to rejoin for a performance in 1996 at the MTV Music Awards. Roth quickly departed in another bitter split shortly thereafter. Take solace in knowing that couples and rock bands share the same destiny, they always end up reunited…at least for one more tour.

LB: My friends and I love progressive dinner parties. You start at one person’s house for cocktails and appetizers, go to the second house for soup/salad, third for entrees, and fourth for dessert. It’s a great way to spend several hours and no one has to spend all day making a 4-course meal for the whole gang.


Single guy friends:

TN: Be bullish with the boys on your future as a king…catch the Chicago Bulls and the Sacramento Kings at the United Center on February 14.

LB: Pamper yourselves! Traditional shaving services are making a comeback. Find a barber shop or men’s salon that offers a classic, straight-razor shave and a steam. Group whisky tastings are also fun. If you don’t want to go out, meet at one friend’s home and everyone bring a bottle of your favorite bourbon or scotch. You can do blind tastings to see what you like better or just get to know all of the different options so you’ll know what to order the next time you do venture out.