PERKS & PACKAGES
GGs Made Simple
You've been talking about it for months, or even years, now: Gathering a few friends and setting off somewhere to catch up and run away from reality for a little while. Here are 40 packages that will meet your needs, whether you want to lie on the beach all day, pamper yourself at the spa, go white-water rafting, or catch the latest art exhibition in town. These trips aren't so much about rock-bottom prices--though there are some of those, too--as they are about great value. We looked for the little extras, like Godiva-chocolate turndown service and daily wine deliveries to your room, that will turn a good vacation into an experience you'll never forget.
The Fine Print
Prices are either per person or per room and may be based on single, double, or quadruple occupancy (look for details under "When:"). Packages are subject to availability and may be blacked out on holidays. Unless otherwise noted, taxes and gratuities aren't included. Where airfare is included, rates are generally based on midweek travel.
Air from Las Vegas, Phoenix, Sacramento, or Tucson; four nights at the Maison 140 hotel just off Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills; a five-day convertible rental; and one $50 certificate per room, valid for in-suite spa treatments or drinks at the hotel's Bar Noir. When: Until Dec. 31 ($599 per person, double). Other gateways: Houston (add $99), Fort Lauderdale (add $119), Chicago (add $165), New York (add $225). Contact: Leisure Link International, 888/801-8808, eleisurelink.com.
Tour Oprah's School
Oprah Winfrey's Leadership Academy for Girls is just one stop on 2Afrika's 11-day tour of South Africa. The itinerary also includes South African Airways flights from Chicago, D.C., or New York to Cape Town, five nights in Cape Town, one night in Franschhoek, two nights in Kruger National Park, one spa treatment, a cooking class, four game drives, and breakfast daily. When: Apr. 1-May 31; Aug. 21-Oct. 6 ($3,395 per person, double); June 1-Aug. 20 ($3,590). Other gateways: Atlanta (add $195); Miami, (add $225); Houston, L.A., Seattle (add $325). Contact: 2Afrika, 866/462-2374, 2afrika.com.
Soak Up Some Sun
Arawak Beach Inn on the Caribbean island of Anguilla has tailored a package expressly for Girlfriend Getaways. The deal includes round-trip airport transfers, three nights in two oceanfront rooms, a six-pack of Carib beer and a bottle of rum, four cigars, a disposable camera, a one-day car rental, a daylong excursion to the beaches of uninhabited Scrub Island (10 minutes from the resort by motorboat) with a picnic lunch, and breakfast daily. When: Until May 31 ($399 per person, quad); June 1-Oct. 31 ($299). Contact: Arawak Beach Inn, 877/427-2925, arawakbeach.com.
Sample the Good Life
The Sip in Southern California package from Temecula Creek Inn, north of San Diego, includes one night's stay, tours and tastings at three wineries, an olive oil tasting at the Temecula Olive Oil Company, a three-course dinner at Temet Grill, free overnight parking, and a basket stuffed with a bar of raspberry-olive oil soap, mint lip balm, lavender lotion, and chocolate biscotti. When: Until Dec. 30 ($149 per person, double). Contact: Temecula Creek Inn, 877/517-1823, temeculacreekinn.com.
Lie Back in Luxury
The historic US Grant hotel reopened last November after a $52 million renovation. You can enjoy the results of all that work--and the hotel's $6 million art collection--with a one-night package that covers two in-room treatments from Spa Velia, entrance to 13 museums in Balboa Park, and two trolley passes. When: Until Aug. 31 ($581 per room, double). Contact: The US Grant, 866/837-4270, usgrant.net.
Be a Cowgirl
Historic Pines Ranch, in Colorado's Sangre de Cristo mountains, runs cowgirl camps twice a year. The six-night package includes all meals, horseback-riding lessons, a weekend ladies-only rodeo, team penning and other riding activities, line-dancing lessons, a cocktail party, and a beauty treatment. When: June 10-16; Sept. 2-8 ($1,240 per person, single). Contact: Historic Pines Ranch, 800/446-9462, historicpinesranch.com.
They Went on Last Year's China Tour!
Linda Henriques spotted Champion Holidays' 12-night package to China in last year's issue of Girlfriend Getaways and signed up for it with four friends. "I want to thank you for one of the best tours I've ever taken," she wrote about her October trip. "The service, hotels, and tour guides were all excellent from beginning to end." Champion Holidays still offers the deal, which covers air from L.A. to Beijing, local transportation, 12 nights at four- and five-star hotels (in Beijing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai), most meals, and an English-speaking guide throughout. In addition to the highlights of a regular Champion Holidays trip (Great Wall, Forbidden City, Grand Canal cruise, etc.), this women-oriented itinerary includes a trip to see the pandas at the Beijing Zoo; a lesson in the Chinese art of paper cutting; a tour around a silk factory, where you can choose a fabric and have a traditional qipao dress custom-made; a home visit with a family in Beijing; and more. When: Aug. 23, Oct. 18 ($1,799 per person, double). Other gateways: New York ($1,899). Contact: Champion Holidays, 800/868-7658, china-discovery.com.