Travel agents have been selling honeymoons almost since the dawn of the industry, and destination weddings have blossomed into a lucrative niche over the last decade or so. All well and good, but if that’s all you’re selling to your newlyweds-to-be, you’re missing out on another revenue-generating opportunity—bachelor/bachelorette parties.
These pre-wedding celebrations that were once held primarily in local bars, lodge halls, or the best man’s or bridesmaid’s basements have evolved into stylish gatherings hosted by the best hotels and resorts (and cruise ships) and often include spa treatments, sports or soft adventure activities, and maybe even, in keeping with tradition, something just a little bit naughty.
In some destination wedding locales the couple may have to wait a day or two anyway for the paperwork to go through, so they might as well bring some friends along and party hearty. Following is a sampling of some popular wedding and honeymoon venues where opportunities for pre-nuptial festivities abound.
In Las Vegas, bachelor and bachelorette parties can be as wild as The Hangover or as swank as an evening with the Rat Pack. Here are just a few casinos that offer special perks for groups visiting for a pre-wedding send-off.
When guys reserve five or more rooms for a bachelor party at Caesars Palace or at any Caesars Entertainment property in Las Vegas, they get assigned their own personal VIP Manager to customize their trip. Perks might include reservations to suites that are not sold to the general public, chef’s table dinners at Guy Savoy, bottle service at Pure Nightclub, or resort VIP seats to Absinthe or Peepshow. Similarly, if ladies reserve five or more rooms, their personal concierge can arrange private dinners at Serendipity 3, spa appointments at Qua Baths & Spa, bottle service at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens, great seats at shows like Chippendales and of course, VIP passes to multiple clubs.
On the top three floors of the Octavius Tower, the 20 individual Penthouses range from one to four bedrooms, and many have full kitchens and dining areas—all the better for private gatherings for close friends. Good to know: The Octavius Tower penthouses offer private butler service upon request. And for something really special, request one of the villas, which all have private elevators, dedicated billiard rooms, eight-foot custom-made beds and private terraces with spa tubs, fire pits, and a dining area with old-fashioned gas lanterns and wall sconces. The villas all have full kitchens and dining rooms, and staff can enter through a private entrance to bring food (or anything else) unobtrusively. The villas also come with 24-hour butler service. The Claudius Villa has four bedrooms and a dining room that can seat 10. The four-bedroom Constantine Villa is the largest at 9,930 square feet with a 1,380-square-foot terrace. For watching games or movies, the villa has a media room with a 120-inch TV. (Yes, that’s 10 feet.) And the Marcus Aurelius Villa has a double-sided fireplace and massage chairs.
|A lively bar with a festive atmosphere is de rigueur for any bachelor party getaway.|
To unwind after partying, guys and gals alike should book time at the 51-room Qua Spa. The Hourglass Treatment is a popular pick, and all party participants should spend time in the glass-enclosed Arctic Ice Room, which has heated floors and benches to balance real falling snow for an invigorating experience (don’t worry, the room is kept at a constant 55 degrees —well above freezing). Guys will want to try the Emperor Face & Body Ritual, which uses Arabica coffee grounds mixed with Dead Sea salts to smooth away dead skin cells. An in-house master barber performs traditional barber-style hot lather shaves, hot towel facials, haircuts and other hair services just for men. Gents manicure and pedicure services are also available. Contact Spa Director Shannon Stringert (866-782-0655) for suggestions or reservations.
All activities involving bachelor and bachelorette parties go through an in-house specialized concierge service, Total Experiences, comprising a team of specialists that represent all eight Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas resorts.
The Venetian hosts a good range of packages that are good for bachelors and bachelorettes. The Ultimate Guys Getaway Package includes two nights in a suite, food and beverage credit at Lagasse’s Stadium, complimentary admission to Lavo, and a bar credit at the Bourbon Room. Ladies will like the suite package for Canyon Ranch SpaClub, which includes spa credit and dining credit, or the Canyon Ranch SpaClub Girlfriends Getaway for groups of four or more. Tip: Be sure to request the Girls Night Out gift basket, which includes a tiara, a “bride to be” or “naughty girl” button, pink feather boa and champagne among other goodies.
|Octavius Tower at Caesars offers party groups multi-bedroom penthouses and private villas.|
And for ladies who need to get their shopping on, there are plenty of shops onsite, including Barney’s New York, Burberry, Cole Haan, Diane von Furstenberg, Guerlain and more.
On site, we say the 2,900-square-foot Penthouse Suite is the best pick for groups: It can sleep up to 10 and has a dining area for eight. Agents should reach out to Gerald DiPietro ([email protected], 702-414-1741), travel agent liaison for The Venetian and The Palazzo.
The Cosmopolitan offers bachelors and bachelorettes an exclusive experience at the Sahra Spa & Hammam in the Sahra Suite, which has living and entertaining area with private spa accommodations. The treatment area in the suite includes two side-by-side whirlpool tubs, a steam room, shower, changing and vanity area. The party can have anything from manicures and pedicures, hair and makeup, massages or various other treatments. Also, available to them is champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and an assortment of fruit. To book, contact Resort Services at 702-698-7100.
Other perks at the resort include special meals (geared for all guys or all girls) at the STK restaurant and special access to the nightclubs with table service or other deals. A popular venue at The Cosmopolitan is the Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub, for which Leah Lopez ([email protected]) is the bachelorette coordinator.
New Orleans is another popular party town, with great music and food on just about every street. Here are a few suggestions for guys and gals out for their last fling with their best friends.
NOLA Motorsports Park is a race track a few miles outside the city offering road racing, go-karts, drag racing in a real race car, dyno tuning and more.
Burlesque Ballroom, situated in Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, becomes a hot spot on Friday nights. Trixie Minx performs a tasteful burlesque routine, while guests sip cocktails and enjoy the entertainment.
The New Orleans Cocktail Walking Tour conducts groups through the French Quarter’s most famous bars and restaurants to discover the “spirits” of New Orleans. The tour guide shares the history of the cocktail and the city while the group sips on some popular local libations.
|KapohoKine Adventures adds an element of excitement and awe with helicopter tours over the Island of Hawaii.|
Ladies who want to get a bit of shopping done should head to Uptown New Orleans on Magazine Street, specifically between Louisiana Avenue and Washington Avenue. Lined with antiques stores, boutiques and funky T-shirt shops, Magazine Street is a great place for the ladies to spend the day. (We hear that Fleurty Girl is a must-visit T-shirt shop). After a day of shopping, there are plenty of outdoor eateries or pubs to grab a bite and a cocktail.
Harrah’s Casino is also a good spot for bachelors and bachelorettes to test their luck. The casino is right at the foot of Canal Street and is walking distance to the rest of the downtown area. With all the excitement happening at Harrah’s around the clock, it is a popular hotel for these types of groups. Attached to Harrah’s is a new restaurant called Manning’s, which is set up to be the ultimate guys’ playground. This upscale sports bar is owned by pro football legend Archie Manning and has rows of leather recliners set up to watch sports on one of their many TVs around the restaurant. As with Caesars in Las Vegas, reach out to the Total Experiences team to make arrangements.
The Shops at Canal Place is a great upscale mall on the riverfront in downtown New Orleans, home to stores such as Anthropologie, Saks Fifth Avenue and Brooks Brothers. The onsite movie theater has a complete menu with entrées and cocktails to help visitors unwind while watching a film.
Where to Stay in “N’awlins”
W French Quarter: This modern hotel is situated in the heart of the French Quarter. It has a very modern decor and is home to the new SoBou restaurant and bar (part of the Commander’s Palace family of restaurants), with beer taps at some of the tables. Wedding Specialist Beth-Anne Grassa ([email protected], 504-207-5039) is available to assist you.
|Hawaii’s waterfalls beckon groups to take a swim as seen on ABC’s The Bachelorette.|
The newly reopened Hyatt Regency is another good spot for groups. The hotel itself has eight bars and restaurants and a rooftop pool, not to mention it is within walking distance of the area on Poydras Street newly named the “sports district” because it is home to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and a number of new sports bars. It is also along the new Loyola streetcar line, which connects the sports district to the French Quarter. Contact a representative at the catering department (504-613-3930) or [email protected]
And for a higher-end option, there’s the The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, which has live entertainment Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, plus a spa with 22 treatment rooms and over 100 therapies. Head Concierge Karen Ford (504-524-1331) can help plan the festivities.
With Aston Hotels & Resorts, wedding parties enjoy access to a wide variety of onsite locations to hold rehearsal dinners, bachelor parties, themed bridal showers or any event leading up to the big day. Aston has 24 properties covering the four main islands. Get in touch with local sales mangers Nicola Shanley ([email protected]) or Diane Fraser ([email protected]). Check the Aston website to see which one covers your area.
Also, the villas at The Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui are the perfect choice for bachelor/bachelorette parties. The three-bedroom villa sleeps eight (the two bedroom sleeps six) and includes a private living room, plunge pool and full kitchen. Guys can enjoy the nearby Wailea Golf Club, accessible by the hotel’s complimentary shuttle during the day, and enjoy grilling out on the villa’s private terrace at night. The ladies can enjoy Spa Kea Lani and the serene adults-only pool during the day and the laid-back atmosphere of Luana Lounge at night, where tropical cocktails and desserts are served. Agents should reach out to Leisure Sales Manager Erin Frank ([email protected], 808-270-5407) with any questions.
Honua Kai Resort & Spa on Maui’s Kaanapali North Beach invites guests to enjoy one of the resort’s deluxe Specialty Three Bedroom Suites. Reserve a stay for five nights or longer and receive a $1,000 resort credit and a complimentary full-size rental car.
The aforementioned suites are suitable for bachelor/bachelorette parties, groups or just for friends to reconnect. They offer nonstop ocean views, expansive floor plans, professionally equipped kitchens, and furnished lanais. When clients book the Specialty Suites package, the resort credit can be used for dining at their onsite restaurant, Duke’s Beach House, or for goodies to go at Aina Gourmet Market.
Guests may also use the resort credit to book island activities such as helicopter tours, snorkeling and zipline tours through Honua Kai’s concierge. For information, the go-to person is General Manager Steven Rose ([email protected], 808-662-2810).
At KapohoKine Adventures, clients can take part in a similar helicopter excursion that was featured in season five of ABC’s The Bachelorette with Jillian Harris. Cast members did the company’s Big Island Grand tour with a helicopter flight over a volcano, a private barbecue and a waterfall swim.
The actual location though has changed since the time of the filming; the company moved properties, but the tour description is the same. Agents should contact Owner Gary Marrow ([email protected], 808-964-1000) for details.
The island of Maui in general is “an awesome bachelorette/bachelor party spot,” says Dilworth E. Daley of Daley’s Destinations in Severn, Maryland, adding that the Westin Maui on Kaanapali beach is “a cool, fun resort. It has pools, a great spa...golf course nearby and an onsite restaurant, Tropica, for oceanfront dining. A few doors down, there are more restaurants to choose from at the Sheraton Maui.” And for the adventurous, “the Maui Zipline tours in the nearby Kapalua area are recommended.”
For Caribbean hot spots where clients can enjoy quality bachelor and bachelorette parties, Travel Agent turned to seasoned Caribbean specialist, Sharon Strelzer of Elite Travel International, and got a wealth of selling points. She cites Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua, Nevis, Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas and Puerto Rico as great bachelor/bachelorette locales, since these islands offer easy airlift from the States along with a wide variety of soft adventure activities and spas to keep travelers entertained, plus all these islands have plenty of great bar and restaurant options. Here are a few examples of some of the perfect experiences in the Caribbean that Strelzer recommends pitching to your clients.
The Westin St. John Resort & Villas, in conjunction with Magic Moments Luxury Excursions and Nauti Nymph Powerboat Rentals, the largest powerboat rental company in the U.S. Virgin Islands, now offers an “Island Hopping Scavenger Hunt” that affords pre-wedding revelers the opportunity to explore the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
The Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino’s all-inclusive Bahamas package provides bachelors and bachelorettes a carefree Caribbean vacation. Guests get to choose from a wide variety of à la carte offerings from three of the resort’s restaurants, including Amici, A Trattoria for gatherings, and unlimited water sports to enjoy all that The Bahamas’ crystal blue waters have to offer.
|The pool bar at Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas is a suitable venue for bachelor/bachelorette parties.|
Another option is Strawberry Hill, which is not your average Jamaican accommodation. Situated 3,100 feet above sea level, the destination is “a haven for the outdoorsman,” says Strelzer, offering numerous hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderately insane. Guys can bond while taking advantage of the hotel’s complimentary mountain bikes to explore the region or choose to ascend the Blue Mountains on an 18-mile hike and experience a change in altitude from 3,500 to 7,000 feet. Afterward, hikers can soothe their tired muscles at the hotel’s full-service spa with a deep tissue, Swedish or sports massage. The hotel also has an infinity edge pool overlooking the city of Kingston, miles away.
Direct any questions to Dominique Debay ([email protected]), president/owner of Dominique Debay Hotel & Resort Marketing.
Saint Lucia, featured on ABC’s The Bachelor, is a good place to escape to. Friday evenings are famous for its Rodney Bay, Gros Islet “Jump Up” near the Lime restaurant. Opposite the Lime is a new bar and gatehring place, Turbulence.
Over on the island’s west coast, the women might wish to try a girls’ getaway at Viceroy’s Sugar Beach with its Rejuvenation Package and enjoy butler service, access to the Rainforest Spa, white-sand beach between the imposing Pitons, complimentary yoga and Pilates, with breakfast and dinner included. Agents should reach out to Director of Sales and Marketing Nick Monteleone ([email protected], 758-456-8000) for rates and other queries.
Another popular resort choice is The BodyHoliday, with plenty of spas and spa services. St. Lucia also offers opportunities for hiking, golf, and horseback riding on the beach, plus there’s a tropical rain forest that can be enjoyed via ziplining. The property recently hired Stephen Husbands ([email protected]; 758-457-7800) as its new general manager.
Antigua, with 365 beaches, one for each day of the year, has a new hot spot in St. John’s called C&C Wine Bar. With its cool vibe, selection of South African wines, and bar snacks, Strelzer recommends it for pre-wedding groups to hang out. Resorts catering to prenuptial travelers include Curtain Bluff, St. James’s Club and Galley Bay Resort & Spa, all offering all-inclusive pricing with plenty of water sports. Antigua has ziplining too.
Agents should direct any questions regarding St. James’s Club and Galley Bay Resort & Spa to Heather Gray ([email protected], 954-481-8787, ext. 120), agency sales and service manager for Elite Island Resorts. For Curtain Bluff, reach out to Resident Manager Wendy Eardley ([email protected], 268-462-8400).
Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island is well-suited for bachelors and bachelorettes. The W Retreat & Spa, with its private setting, provides a spot for adults-only escapes. Guests can elect to rent a Jeep and beach-hop, or guys and gals can see the phenomenal Bioluminescent Bay, which is full of light-producing microscopic organisms that make the water sparkle at night.
The W also offers an adults-only beach, Whisper Beach, which accommodates guests hoping to relax with their friends in an exclusive and exotic location. The newly opened Sorcé restaurant features local recipes passed down through generations of Viequense, from traditional mofongo to an enticing churrasco. Party participants can choose from a list of signature cocktails plus a complimentary “sunset” cocktail is passed out to guests every nightfall. For additional information, get in touch with General Manager Greg White ([email protected], 787-741-7044).
Mexico is a convenient location for bachelors and bachelorettes looking for something a little more exotic in their pre-wedding celebrations. With a multitude of cheap flights at reasonable prices, and a hotel scene that has the groups market down, we say sending groups of guys or gals south of the border is a sure bet.
Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas is an exclusive resort on Mexico’s Baja peninsula. There are just 96 rooms, which gives the property an intimate feeling. However, the resort is close enough to downtown Cabo so your clients will have easy access to nightlife partying.
Book your parties in the three-bedroom Beachfront Suites, which, as the name implies, sit right on the beach, with 35 feet of roped-off area for privacy. Guests enjoy a shared living room, a fireplace, personal assistant, dining cabanas, hammocks, an LCD TV, iPod docks and free use of iPads.
Last fall, Capella Pedregal debuted Crudo Bar. Tell your clients that this should be their spot before hitting the town, as they can enjoy an afternoon or early-evening snack. The bar’s menu includes a variety of ceviches, tiraditos, sushi rolls and sake cocktails.
Bachelor or bachelorette parties will like the resort’s Tequila Tastings, where they can learn about the history of tequila making. The resort also offers a La Cava Tour/Wine Tasting in the wine cellar with a master sommelier.
The ladies (and maybe the gents) ought to make full use of the 12,000-square-foot Auriga Spa. There are eight treatment pods floating on a private, saltwater pool with waterfalls.
To book Capella Pedregal, reach out to Director of Sales and Marketing Shirley Dunn Hanks ([email protected], 214-315-4303).
Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach has a vacation offer for groups of friends traveling together, which would fit bachelor and bachelorette parties quite nicely. The Los Cabos Friends Getaway provides plenty of time to relax and unwind, before or after hitting the legendary nightlife scene. The getaway includes a welcome bucket of Coronas on arrival, a private happy hour on the guests’ suite balcony or patio (including wine, cheese and crackers), and in-room continental breakfast.
For a ladies-only event we suggest booking the Cabo San Lucas Girls Getaway package at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica. This getaway includes deluxe oceanview accommodations, champagne on arrival, private “Beds on the Beach” with complimentary signature cocktails, snacks, use of a preloaded iPod, spa pedicures at Armonia Spa, and tequila and wine tastings.
To book these getaways, reach out to Enrique Gandara ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing, Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resorts & Spas.
Celebrations at Sea
As an alternative to land-based bachelor/bachelorette parties, consider booking such groups on a cruise. A number of lines such as Carnival, Norwegian and Disney offer one- and two-night “cruises to nowhere,” primarily from New York and Miami. Ships offer all manner of activities and amenities for guests to take advantage of. Golf and wall climbing are popular on many of today’s ships, for example, and there are spas, beauty salons, multiple dining options and bars/lounges galore. Carnival, for one, also offers destination wedding packages to the Caribbean, so everyone can party all the way to their destination before disembarking to attend the nuptials.