August 24, 2014

Great girls’ getaways to Austin, Miami and more

Plan a hanging-with-the-gal-pals weekend to match your favorite theme.

Rants, raves, reviews and resources for Dallas-Fort Worth parents

Who doesn’t love a girls’ trip? A fun getaway with a group of your girlfriends is the perfect way to catch up and reconnect, whether you live in different cities or the same neighborhood. After visiting countless hotels and resorts all over the world, we’ve found several that are particularly well-suited to precious girlfriend getaways.

Relaxing at the spa: Travaasa Austin

Travaasa Austin is set on its own nature preserve on a hilltop amid forested canyons, 20 miles northwest of downtown Austin. Its 72 rooms are housed in seven buildings built on three levels, with correspondingly different views from their balconies.

Hiking trails, an infinity-edge pool enclosed by a wooden deck, a luxurious spa and a restaurant with panoramic views are just some of the amenities providing inspiration and relaxation.

The tranquil spa has a sauna and hot tub, and uses only organic, bioenergetic products for personal treatments. The farm-to-face pumpkin facial and lavender-vanilla hand treatment are two unique options found here.

If you’re combining a little relaxation with a bachelorette party, you might note that Austin is reportedly one of the most popular spots in the U.S. for prenuptial soirees.

A wine-tasting adventure: Harvest Inn, Napa Valley

The Harvest Inn is a great choice if you’re daydreaming of a luxury stay in the heart of wine country — complete with impressive views, Old World rustic charm and luxe amenities. It’s a bit pricey (and has no full restaurant), but it certainly doesn’t skimp on the pampering, and amenities include fireplaces, private terraces, designer furnishings, two pools and a spa.

Numerous freebies — including a bottle of wine for new guests, water and juice in the mini-fridges, Wi-Fi, and self-parking — are great perks, as is the location. But the biggest draw just might be the spectacular views, especially from the Vineyard View rooms with terraces.

Free breakfast is offered in the Wine Country Kitchen, and the Wine Bar serves local wines and has free weekend tastings. Whether or not members of your group become certified sommeliers, you’ll enjoy your fill of vino.

A weekend on the wild side: Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas

Sometimes a Vegas getaway is just what the doctor ordered, and we prescribe The Palazzo, which has some of the best and biggest standard rooms on The Strip. Its world-class spa, seven pools, busy casino and name-brand fine dining all connect to its sister property, the Venetian, via a haute-couture mall.

Less theme-y than many Vegas hotels, The Palazzo is nonetheless at the top of the list in terms of glitz and extravagance. In the evening, the Italian restaurant and bar LAVO transforms into a bustling nightclub where you and your crew can dance the night away.

Culinary curiosities: Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah

The Mansion on Forsyth Park is arguably one of the best and most special hotels in town, with a wonderful art collection, a solid spa and an outdoor relaxation pool. There’s also a popular restaurant on-site, and for guests looking to improve their culinary skills, the hotel offers well-regarded cooking classes.

The classes at 700 Kitchen Cooking School require a fee but are a fun and hands-on way to learn how to make a few new dishes. Plus, you and your friends get to dine on what you create to really enjoy the fruits (or pizzas or pastas) of your labor.

Fun for beach bums: The Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki

The 528-room luxury Royal Hawaiian provides stunning design, warm service and a solid collection of free extras such as turndown treats and welcome leis.

The property borders the sandy section called Queen’s Beach, which is the part of the coast you see most often on postcards of Waikiki: Manicured, palm tree-dotted lawns lead to a sunny white-sand beach.

The resort also offers free nightly activities like hula lessons. The Royal Hawaiian’s beach gets crowded, but you and your girlfriends will probably be too busy soaking in the Hawaiian sun to notice.

For the fitness-minded: Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach

With some of the most beautifully decorated (and largest) rooms in Miami, a beachfront location, a great spa and a huge fitness center with a rock-climbing wall, Canyon Ranch is a great choice for a healthy vacation.

In addition to the expansive gym, which has floor-to-ceiling ocean views, the hotel offers dozens of daily fitness classes and lectures taught by fitness professionals. Options range from yoga and beach conditioning to a boxer’s workout and Qigong.

The hotel will also arrange outings like golfing, kayaking and surfing. With so many options, it’s safe to say you and your friends will never be bored — although things might get a bit competitive.

Getting serious about shopping: Shoreham Hotel, New York City

The 177-room Shoreham is a stylish boutique hotel located a half-block from Fifth Avenue’s high-end shopping and five blocks from Central Park. Upscale department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York are a short walk away, and there are several other less expensive options in the area.

Standard rooms are a bit small, but their modern, minimalist design makes good use of the space. Room upgrades include unique treats like the iJoy massage chair. And even if you can’t afford the high-end merchandise found at nearby stores like Prada and Tiffany’s, window shopping is always fun.

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