Inspired by the old leap-year tradition of women getting down on one knee, Laura French lines up some of the best spots to pop the question.

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If you hadn’t clocked it yet, 2020 is a leap year, which means February 29 – the day women can traditionally propose to men, thanks to a strange deal supposedly struck by St Patrick in the fifth century – is looming close.

Fortunately we’re no longer in the middle ages, and our power to propose is no longer restricted to one day every four years – but there’s no reason you can’t take inspiration from this old convention for clients thinking about popping the question to their other half (whenever they fancy it, we might add). So where should you look when it comes to planning the perfect proposal trip?

The thrillseekers

When it comes to global icons, few spots have the same prowess as Sydney Harbour Bridge, so how about proposing right on top of it just as the sun rears its head?

Rachel McMurdo, assistant product manager for Oceania at Gold Medal, suggests thrillseeking clients do exactly that, with an adrenaline-pumping BridgeClimb to the summit, where 360-degree views await.

“Offering spectacular views over Sydney Harbour and beyond, a dawn climb would be the perfect time to pop the question,” says McMurdo. “To complete the experience, the bridge staff will be more than happy to help with the planning of the proposal. It’s also possible to have their wedding ceremony in this beautiful spot.”

“How about proposing right on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge just as the sun rears its head?”

Book it: From £140 per person for the summit climb (warning: there are 1,390 steps and several ladders, so clients need to be fairly fit). Gold Medal offers a nine-night trip to Sydney and the surrounding area from £2,459, including stays at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa and Novotel Pacific Manly Beach, including flights and car hire, departing February 24.


The golfer

Ever thought about popping the question on a golf course? Possibly not – but if you’re going to break with tradition, you might as well do it properly, especially if he’s a keen golfer. From clifftop courses overlooking the ocean to movie-set mountain backdrops, there are plenty of scenic spots in which to dig out the ring for the wannabe Tiger Woods of the world, whether in Europe or farther afield.

For those angling towards the latter, suggest Sandals Emerald Bay Golf, Tennis & Spa Resort in the Bahamas, whose 18-hole, Greg Norman-designed course juts out on a peninsula with spectacular views over the sea. There’s a huge spa where couples can retreat for some post-proposal pampering, and it’s all set in a secluded, hidden-away location surrounded by 500 acres of tropical greenery.

Book it: A week’s all-inclusive in a Beachfront Honeymoon Walkout Butler Villa Suite costs from £3,463, including flights and transfers, for travel between February 27 and March 5.


The beach lover

For a romantic proposal that does away with the airs and graces, nothing beats a deserted, velvet-sand beach – but where do you find it? In Nevis, according to Malcolm Davies, who recommends the aptly named Lovers Beach on the north coast for those who want a remote hideaway. “This white-sand beach is hidden from the road and has a real castaway feel,” he says. “There are no facilities and that adds to its appeal – it’s just a special place with stunning views across St Kitts.”

“For a romantic proposal that does away with the airs and graces, nothing beats a deserted, velvet-sand beach.”

It’s also a turtle nesting site from April to November, making it an ideal spot for wildlife fans. If guests want to follow it up with a bit of adventure to celebrate, they should make a beeline for Nevis Peak, a jungle-clad, dormant volcano that offers a challenging climb.

Book it: Family-run Oualie Beach Resort is a five-minute walk from Lovers Beach and makes a good base for exploring the surrounding coastline; seven nights with Funway costs from £1,430, including flights on February 27.


The traditionalist 

Even on a leap year, you can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned romance – and for that, the Maldives is hard to top. For a couple-focused, adult-only option, Emirates Holidays recommends You & Me by Cocoon, where overwater spa treatments for two, champagne toasts at the Veuve Clicquot bar and snorkelling together in the peaceful Raa Atoll are all part of the daily routine.

There’s no shortage of scenic proposal spots, but one of the most interesting is underwater restaurant H2O where diners sit several metres below the surface of the ocean, surrounded by 360-degree views of the coral garden.

Book it: Emirates Holidays offers a seven-night all-inclusive stay in a Manta Villa from £2,849 per person, including transfers and Emirates flights for travel between January 4 and March 31.

The skier

Fancy the idea of popping the question at the top of a deserted slope, with snow-blanketed mountains stretching as far as the eye can see? It might be tricky to get down on one knee with your skis on, but for active types, few settings can beat it – and from Banff to Whisper and far beyond, Canada has some of the most impressive mountain scenery going.

“It might be tricky to get down on one knee with your skis on, but for active types, few settings can beat the slopes.”

Suggest Canadian Affair’s Ski Banff & Lake Louise guided tour for an adventure that takes guests off the beaten slopes, offering “secret views” that make for memorable proposal territory – as well as some Instagrammable photo opportunities.

Book it: A 10-day trip costs from £1,308 including accommodation in Banff, a three-day guided adventure, transfers and flights from Gatwick (room-only, twin-share).


The city-dweller

For clients into their culture, nothing cuts it like a city break – and with Gaudi architecture visible at every turn, Barcelona has some unique backdrops against which to propose.

Among its more secluded spots you’ll find Bunkers del Carmel, a cluster of remains from the Spanish Civil War perched on a hill overlooking the entire city, reachable by a short hike. It gets busy at sunset, but clamber up at dawn and you’ll have it to yourself.

“With Gaudi architecture visible at every turn, Barcelona has some unique backdrops against which to propose.”

Elsewhere there’s Parc del Laberint, a quiet park home to a maze you can follow to find a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, at the centre, as well as the better-known Park Güell, where you’ll find plenty of private enclaves that are perfect for a proposal.

Book it: Jet2CityBreaks recommends The One Barcelona for an especially romantic stay just outside the city centre, complete with a rooftop plunge pool offering panoramic city views. Three nights’ B&B costs from £479, based on two sharing and including flights from Manchester on February 28.


The romantic

If food is the way to his heart, a romantic meal for two is always going to be a winner. The world is full of memorable locations, but to make sure you won’t be interrupted, suggest a dining-under-the-stars experience. You’ll find a whole raft of options from African safari lodges to deserted sandbars in the Maldives, but for those wanting take it up a notch, suggest The Sarojin in Thailand, which was featured in the region’s latest Michelin Guide.

Dinner in front of a candlelit jungle waterfall are among its menu of romantic options. Couples feeling spiritual can opt for a Buddhist Blessing of Love at a local temple to celebrate their engagement, or sail away on an evening yacht cruise around the islands, cocktail in hand, sun dipping below the horizon and painting the sky a perfect peach.

Book it: Rooms cost from £120 per night based on two sharing a Garden Residence, including all-day à la carte breakfast with sparkling wine. Private dining options for two start at £197.

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