A perfect birthday celebration, bachelorette weekend or mini college reunion for girlfriends doesn’t have to require a lot of planning or long-distance travel. Consider the necessities of the friends involved. Are they fitness fanatics or food lovers? Wine geeks or shopaholics? Choose a compatible resort hotel within driving distance, and you’ll be enjoying good company and good times in no time...
A perfect birthday celebration, bachelorette weekend or mini college reunion for girlfriends doesn’t have to require a lot of planning or long-distance travel. Consider the necessities of the friends involved. Are they fitness fanatics or food lovers? Wine geeks or shopaholics? Choose a compatible resort hotel within driving distance, and you’ll be enjoying good company and good times in no time at all.
Wine weekend: Belhurst Castle in New York
Whether you are a longtime oenophile or a novice, a wine-focused weekend is a fun way to bond with your besties. Reserve rooms at Belhurst Castle, a grand 19th-century residence, now an inn, overlooking Seneca Lake in upstate Geneva, New York. Suites (accommodating up to four) have beamed ceilings, gas fireplaces and stained glass windows. A complimentary wine spigot on the second floor of the hotel can ensure that you will never go thirsty. The hotel has an on-site winery where you can compare Belhurst’s pinot grigio to its Petit Verdot. Or have the hotel book you a limo for a day of tastings on the nearby wine trails. When you’re not imbibing, seek out unusual wine-related souvenirs: Visit the Corning Museum of Glass (cmog.org) and bring home a handblown decanter. The Geneva Antique Co-op (geneva-antique-coop.com) has more than 70 dealers and plenty of opportunities to purchase vintage corkscrews, wine coasters, glasses and pitchers. At the end of the day, the hotel’s chef can prepare a special food and wine pairing dinner for your group.
WHERE Belhurst Castle, 4069 West Lake Rd., Geneva, New York
INFO Rooms from $115 per night, 315-781-0201, belhurst.com
Ocean spa weekend: Gurney's in Montauk
Enjoy the healing waters of the Atlantic year-round at the iconic and impeccably updated Gurney’s in Montauk. This one-of-a-kind Hamptons resort offers plenty of opportunities for pampering, In addition to a Russian steam room, a Finnish rock sauna and an indoor pool filled with sand-filtered and heated water from Montauk’s coast, there is a large menu of spa services and wellness activities. Many treatments are sea-themed, including a sea mineral scrub, a seaweed wrap and an ocean radiance facial using seaweed-based products. A full schedule of exercise classes includes paddle board yoga and a vigorous aerobics workout in a pool. On Saturdays at 4 p.m. the hotel hosts wine tastings with visiting winemakers and cocktail classes with expert mixologists. With a coffee bar; a farm-to-table dining room for breakfast, brunch, and lunch; and an elegant offshoot of Manhattan eatery Scarpetta that serves dinner, you won’t go hungry. Ocean-view suites and oceanfront cottages, with one, two and three bedrooms can accommodate a couple of girlfriends or a large bridal party.
WHERE Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa, 290 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk, New York
INFO Rooms from $243 per night, 401-851-3366, gurneysresorts.com
Foodie weekend: Essex Resort and Spa in Vermont
The Essex Resort and Spa in Vermont is an 18-acre resort with all of the usual bells and whistles (spa, fitness center, tennis, a large menu of outdoor activities). It is also a renowned culinary school where girlfriends can take classes together in a variety of cuisines and techniques. Classes are small (between 8 and 12 students) with plenty of individual attention from the instructor. The curriculum is wide-ranging. Topics have included making fresh pasta, cooking with Vermont beer, and Sunday brunch. Most include the preparation of a three- or four-course meal. Wine classes are also on the menu. Other culinary highlights of the resort: a bakery-café offering house-baked breads and pastries as well as espresso and wine, an “interactive” restaurant with an open kitchen and many dishes prepared tableside, a pub featuring microbrews and specialty cocktails that overlooks the property’s vegetable garden. Hotel staff will eagerly direct you to foodie destinations in nearby Burlington, including Lake Champlain Chocolates, Shy Guy Gelato and Doughnut Dilemma.
WHERE The Essex Resort and Spa, 70 Essex Way, Essex, Vermont
INFO Rooms from $119 per night, 800-727-4295, essexresort.com
Wellness weekend: Sivananda Yoga Ranch in the Catskills
Take your yoga practice and your friendships to the next level during a weekend at the Sivananda Yoga Ranch in the Catskills. This ashram and retreat trains and certifies yoga teachers, but also offers yoga vacations for amateurs of all levels. Weekend programs include two to three yoga classes a day, two vegetarian meals a day (food here is strictly vegetarian, and there is no alcohol allowed), meditation instruction and spiritual lectures. A wellness center offers massage and ayurveda oil body treatments, while a Russian banya (or wood-burning) bath house helps guests detoxify and soothe sore muscles. Classes in cooking and Sanskrit round out the offerings. Spare but comfortable rooms have twin beds and shared baths. There are apartments with four twin beds and a private bath, perfect for a small group. In the warm months, bring a tent and reconnect with nature while you sleep. Silence is observed from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., so you know you’ll get your rest.
WHERE Sivananda Yoga Ranch, 500 Budd Rd., Woodbourne, New York
INFO Rooms from $80 per night, 845-436-6492, sivanandayogaranch.org
Luxe weekend: The Taj Boston
Girlfriends in search of a luxurious urban adventure can check into the 4-star Taj Boston overlooking the Boston Common. This is America’s oldest public park and one of the official sites of the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk that tells the story of the American Revolution. But let’s get real — the walking tour that you came for is along nearby Newbury Street, where luxury goods from Chanel, Loro Piana and Bulgari are available alongside fast fashion like Zara and Uniqlo. High-end salons dot the street. Stop for a Mario Russo (mariorusso.com) expert blowout. MiniLuxe (miniluxe.com) offers manicures and pedicures. Return to the Taj after a full day of shopping to enjoy a British-style afternoon tea.
The hotel is adjacent to Boston’s thriving theater district and near the Boston Opera House, where upcoming productions include the ballet “Romeo and Juliet,” crooner Tony Bennett, and later in the year “Hamilton.” (bostonoperahouse.com) See “Hamlet” at the Cutler Majestic (cutlermajestic.org), or a k.d. lang concert at the Orpheum. (OrpheumTheatreEvents) Post-theater, check out one of many great new places showcasing updated New England cuisine. Row 34 (row34.com) in the newly developed Seaport neighborhood serves clam chowder with housemade saltines. In Little Italy, Neptune Oyster (neptuneoyster.com) features a Maine lobster and sea greens salad. Saltie Girl (saltiegirl.com), a new Back Bay favorite, offers fried lobster and waffles with sweet corn butter and spicy maple syrup.
WHERE Taj Boston, 15 Arlington St., Boston, Massachusetts
INFO Rooms from $175 per night, 617-536-5700, thetajboston.com