Valentine's Day 2012- Frugally Fabulous Fun in February

By Rader Ochea

Done the same ole' places over and over? Me? Never! I'm always on the look out for new places to keep the "ooh la la" in life. The Frugal Socialite has some ideas for the Frugal, the Fantasizer, the Fun Lover and even, for the Folks in a Funk because February 14th is not the day of Love they'd envisioned...

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Gone are the days of the Cotton Club type supper clubs where ladies wore sequins and gents donned suits with hankies. The Carlyle Club revitalizes the era of elegant dining and swing dancing, bringing it into a modern area. Only open on the weekends and for private events, The Carlyle is a hidden jewel tucked off of Duke Street in Alexandria. Now I know why I could never get a ticket when I tried to visit many times on the spur of the moment. Regulars find their favorite music on the Carlyle's event calendar and buy tickets right away.

I saw a tribute to the music of Frank Sinatra on my last visit. Frank, you say? Sinatra's music is timeless. The crowd was diverse, wearing everything from jeans to tuxes. I was glad to see many people under 30 on the dance floor, keeping step with seniors whose waltzes were flawless.

Even though swing, big bands and the show era of the 1940's is authentically duplicated here, Rock/Pop, Motown Tributes, R&B, and jazz frequent the schedule. There's nothing missing. The ambiance is romantic, hushed and classy. Servers are dressed in full suits and deliver efficient, highly polished and personable service. The menu prices are comparable and even a little less than other Alexandria restaurants who don't offer the upscale amenities of the Carlyle. Most places with great music tend to fall down when it comes to the food. Cuisine is not an after thought here. Crab cakes were meaty with no detectable filler. The Cuban style mashed potatoes had a firm consistency and a slight sweetness that I'm still craving. Lamb chops tender and flavorful. The brownie topped with ice cream had an extra special twist in the chocolate.

I can't wait to return to The Carlyle for almost any show, whether the music is my genre or not! Even if it's just calamari and a cocktail at the bar, it's an evening that lingers on the mind for days.

Weekend before Valentine’s Day: Doc Scanlin, a regular sell-out ticket.

Valentine’s Day: No cover charge for entertainment. $55 per person for 2 seatings.

The Frugal Socialite's sexiest spa pick: The Elemental Journey at Elements Spa - Minerals Hotel in New Jersey

The Frugal Socialite's water romance without going on the high seas: Arban Yacht Charters

Ever spent the night on a yacht? Even in cold weather, water has a romantic, soothing effect that sets the tone for an extraordinary evening. Arban's Yachts, in Annapolis/Chesapeake Bay, is one of the few companies that still offers a package in the Winter time. Guests can board the yacht at 3 PM, enjoying hors d'oevres upon arrival. Each cabin is fully equipped with a private bathroom and luxury amenities. Dinner options like Back Creek Bistro are right on the dock and several others within walking distance. Full breakfasts can feature Peach Creme Brulee French Toast, Spinach Quiche or another specialty, plus in-room strawberries and champagne round out the stay. $125- $135 per night, which includes everything except dinner.

The Frugal Socialite's Romantic Flight and New Rooms Pick: The Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville, VA

The historic becomes sparkling brand new. The Boar's Head rolls out completely new rooms in February. I've visited and stayed at this resort several times since the 1990's and it's never disappointed. The new rooms have a tranquil cream/sage green color scheme, coupled with the Presidential stylings that dominate the Charlottesville area. The new bedding almost held me hostage -- it was so comfortable and plush. There are so many special discoveries tucked around the sprawling resort that aren't apparent until you wander around.

At night, the small lake that sits behind the main buildings, has small candle-like lights surrounding the perimeter. It was such a serene, flickering scene, that we decided to brave the icy chill and take a stroll. Those are the kinds of things most couples don't do at home, where daily life fills every minute.

At first glance, The Boar's Head spa seems intimate, small and not a place where you could spend a lot of time. Wrong! Again, the atmosphere is punctuated by the rhythmic backdrop of a stone fountain in the spa's entryway. The lounge is cozy and the steam room pumped a lot of great vapor. In fact, my skin and whole body felt so cleansed that I returned the next morning steam myself into the day. The staff is very accomodating and goes beyond the norm, suggesting products to address your health and beauty concerns. I was impressed because they showed me their retail products and talked about some that were readily available in any drugstore.

The sports club is massive, unusually large for a hotel. Their indoor tennis complex is home to University of Virginia's teams and hosts national games.

Parents- There's a complete licensed daycare for kids within the club, plus babysitting provided by the Inn's staff. So, there's no excuse for not being able to get some romance in. Request the fireside tables in the Old Mill Room. The food presentations are creative, well prepared, yet hearty.

The best thing about Boar's Head? Their signature hot air balloon. If you've never taken a hot air balloon ride because you're afraid of heights or nervous about the safety-dismiss all the fears. You can literally board the balloon, close your eyes, count to ten, open and marvel at how you're almost touching tree tops without knowing you'd left the earth. It's the most relaxing float you can ever imagine. With the weather being so mild this Winter, The Boar's Head balloon will launch almost any morning that's rain and snow-free.

Valentine's Day and February packages are on their site:

Check back for more posts and the complete round-up, by Friday, February 3rd... Email me to receive the update, FRUGAL SOCIALITE SPECIAL MERCHANT OFFERS from places mentioned on my last broadcast and more!