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My Free Romantic Getaway



Living in a city like San Diego has many perks. For starters, I don’t have to travel very far to whisk my husband away for a romantic getaway. So when I saw a contest to win a free night stay at the gorgeous Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown, I vowed to myself, “I am going to win this.”

The contest was right up my alley. It was sponsored by Seaport Village which is a popular tourist destination of quaint waterfront shops. Contestants were asked to submit a video shot on location about what they love about Seaport Village. I started a San Diego family travel website so I could use this video for the contest and for my website, killing two birds with one stone! Plus I had two secret weapons—my super cute photogenic kids ages four and two. Who can resist adorable little kids on camera?

My next step was talking my husband into coming to be my videographer. I enthusiastically pitched the free night’s stay at the Hyatt—”free” anything usually works to persuade him. He hadn’t really caught my vision of absolute victory, but to his credit he came along.

We shot the video with the kids on my lap. Taking the word “Seaport,” I made up an acronym of things we like. “S is for Shops,” “E is for Entertainment,” etc. The kids said a few of the words. We had about 10 takes. One of them had to work, right? Then we were off to the carousel where I made my poor four year old say, “I love Seaport Village” with enthusiasm about 100 times until he got it right!

All the qualifying entries were posted to the blog and then the public voted for one video they liked best. To be honest, the competition wasn’t too stiff. No other kids were featured except ours. We asked our friends to vote for our video, telling them it was the “Manchester Grand Hyatt or Bust!” I’m happy to say we won by a landslide!

The day I received that beautiful folder with a gift certificate for a free night’s stay at the Hyatt plus a complimentary breakfast for two valued at $60, I was all smiles. Our 10th anniversary was coming up so it was perfect timing. My husband and I are Walmart bargain hunters who love Nordstrom quality, so it was very fitting that we got to stay at a five-star hotel on our anniversary for free!

Our 10th anniversary getaway began perfectly. As we opened the door of our love suite, we were greeted by beautiful views out of all the windows. It was picture perfect. We had just settled in when there was a knock on the door. In rolled a cart with complimentary champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, and the most delicious chocolate truffles with a note from Hyatt that said, “Happy Anniversary.” Mmm, life was good!

We walked to a new restaurant in Little Italy. On the way, we stopped at a quaint bench where my hubby surprised me with a small gift box. Diamond stud earrings—totally unexpected! At the restaurant, I ordered Pipian-Rojo Chicken Breast with smoked bacon, goat cheese, cranberries, and arugula, served with grilled polenta cakes. Hardly something I’d ever seen on the kids menu!

Returning to our high rise love nest, I freshened up in the bathroom while my husband did something to the room. When I emerged, candlelight flickered from every corner. It was pure magic.

In all these moments, I can trace what getaways do for couples. Time set apart for each other silences all other voices except one—your lover’s. Gifts of any size say “you are special to me” and are tangible reminders of affection. Dining alone in a romantic restaurant reminds you of those first dates and falling in love. Surprises break you out of ruts and routines. Unrushed lovemaking nourishes the body and soul, knitting a husband and wife together in a way that nothing else can.

When the weekend was over, my love tank was full. We marked 10 years by remembering all the things God had done for us in the past decade. Equally important, we recommitted to each other and dreamt about even greater milestones in the next 10 years of marriage.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:4-6, “He made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’… Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

There are many things in this world that threaten to separate a couple: stress, unforgiveness, preoccupation with children, lack of communication or sex, and the list goes on. Yet the Bible is very clear that the marriage bond is to be strong and permanent. Getaways help glue a husband and wife together. While I’m away with my husband, I feel incredibly close to him and thoroughly enjoy his company. The new memories we make serve to further bond us together. Long after the getaways are over, I can look at pictures from our times together and all the warm feelings of closeness return.

We try to steal away together on a regular basis, usually on our anniversary and/or on my husband’s birthday. Having a few dates fixed on the calendar helps take the guesswork out of it and reminds us to getaway each year on a regular basis.

Of course, we’ve had getaways we actually had to pay for. There was that cute B&B with a cozy Jacuzzi on the roof and the elegant room at the Omni Hotel with the super soft fluffy comforter. As well as the simple times we’ve stayed at home while the kids have gone to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It just goes to show that the where isn’t as important as the when. Regular getaways for couples are essential for a healthy, growing marriage.

As it says in Song of Solomon 1:4, “Lead me away!”

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Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She is also the co-author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World (with Gary Chapman). She has been a featured guest on The Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene lives in the San Diego area with her husband James and their three children. To learn more and for free family resources such as a monthly Happy Home podcast, visit

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My Free Romantic Getaway

by Arlene Pellicane time to read: 4 min