Bachelorette parties are becoming more inventive and more exotic.
If there's a grown-up version of the no-boys-allowed slumber party, it's the bachelorette party. And this bride-to-be's last chance to kiss off the whimsies of youth and singledom has been elevated to the ultimate female-bonding fest.
Although this rite of passage has always brought the dearest of friends together to make lifetime memories (some never to be recounted in the presence of husbands), the bachelorette party has evolved in recent years.
Blaire Allison, a professional bachelorette-party organizer (bacheloretteexperts.com), summed up the shift.
"Bachelorette parties are no longer one evening of celebration but, rather, a weekend of bonding and fun," she says.
This is important, Allison says, "because once their friend gets married, the all-female vacations are less likely to occur and less acceptable, as they have husbands to travel with."
As bachelorette events grow in popularity, more women seek to defy the cliched Vegas party by searching for more personalized ways to celebrate their last moments of freedom with best friends. Here are some ideas.
DESTINATION / / Western Mexico's jungle coast
THE BRIDE-TO-BE / / Down-to-earth, outdoorsy types who aren't afraid to work for their fun; those who'd forgo an outrageous night out for a mellow, rejuvenating group getaway in a remote location.
THE PLACE / / Verana, Yelapa; 800-530-7176 or 310-360-0155; verana.com
Double rooms run from $240 to $450 per night; Jungle Suite (four guests) is $470; Casa Grand (six guests), $700. $60 per night for each additional guest. Nonoptional meal plan: $70 per person per day.
THE VIBE / / Although Verana isn't for divas (getting there involves a boat, a mule and a strenuous hike; animals turn up in rooms), its amenities are luxurious: daily yoga, organic cuisine and a sophisticated spa menu that incorporates watsu and aromatherapy treatments using locally sourced botanicals. Gal groups enjoy jungle treks, kayaking, catching up at the beach, pool or bar (which has an amazing selection of tequilas) and day trips to the Marietas Islands (perfect for snorkeling fans) or Puerto Vallarta, 30 miles north. Yelapa has a small bar scene.
Destination / / California's Central Coast and wine country (Santa Barbara-Santa Ynez area)
The bride-to-be / / Oenophiles on somewhat of a budget; female fans of the film Sideways.
The Place / / Inn by the Harbor, Santa Barbara, Calif.; 800-626-1986; innbytheharbor.com. Doubles from about $240 per night.
The vibe / / Partake of the free afternoon wine and cheese or sit by the pool. Walk 10 minutes to explore State Street and the beach, then head to Avia Spa (aviaspa.com) for simultaneous relaxation. Book with Cloud Climbers (ccjeeps.com), a company that arranges group wine-tasting tours; its open-air, six-seater Jeeps (about $100 per person, including lunch) transport clients to great wineries such as Kalyra and Foley. Do dinner and drinks at Blue Agave or Rocks; end up at O'Malley's.
Destination / / South Beach, Miami
The bride-to-be / / Attention-seeking glam girls; hard-core partyers; well- connected clubgoers who know how to get beyond the velvet rope.
The Place / / South Seas Hotel, Miami Beach, Fla., 800-345-2678; southseashotel.com
The vibe / / The popular Bachelorette Package starts at $899 for two nights and two rooms (up to four girls per room), although more rooms could be added for an additional cost. The package includes breakfast, three $80 gift certificates to its restaurant, 10 drink tickets, day passes to Nikki Beach and entry to one of two nightclubs -- Dek 23 or Indra Lounge -- and a free bottle of champagne once there. The bachelorette receives a welcome basket upon arrival that encourages fun and mischievousness: Contents include a chocolate bustier, body paint, a pedicure kit and discounts on pole-dancing lessons.
Destination / / New York City
The bride-to-be / / Urbanistas; those seeking nonstop action and entertainment in the center of it all.
The Place / / The Time Hotel, Times Square, New York City; 212-246-5252; thetimeny.com
The vibe / / The X-Bachelorette Package starts at $895 per person. Suitable for six to eight women. Reserve two months in advance. The package includes a decadent champagne dinner at Oceo, a Bloody Mary brunch, a cocktail-enhanced session with sex educator Ellen Friedrich, a mani-pedi, a facial and a massage. At night, head to sleek Spotlight Live, a Broadway venue offering the equivalent of karaoke on crack. Choose a song, inform the professional backup singers, glean sustenance from Kerry Simon's comfort cuisine and courage from done-up cocktails. Then bask in the spotlight as bachelorette and friends perform a song that's broadcast on the restaurant's large outdoor JumboTron overlooking Times Square -- and online at spotlightlive.com.