Las Vegas!

By Megan Kaplan
April 24, 2006
Dave Lauridsen
How to maximize your time in America's playpen.

Stay at a hotel within a hotel

In December 2003, Mandalay Bay opened THEhotel, a separate boutique hotel east of the main property, with its own valet parking, lounge, and coffee bar (, from $170). And West Wing at MGM Grand, which debuted last March, is a tower west of the main casino with a private entrance, lobby bar, and reception desk. Each room is only 350 square feet, but the pillow-top king-size mattresses, 27-inch flat-screen TVs, and Bose alarm clocks with CD players make them seem ritzier (3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/891-7777,, from $109).

Learn to play poker

Sandi Wilson's Texas Hold 'Em lessons, weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Palms, are free and first-come-first-served. She'll lead you through a game, advising when to raise, check, hold, and fold. "When I play, I don't want the men to know I have anything," says Sandi, tossing back her blond hair. "So I act innocent and flirt." Groups can reserve Sandi for themselves, also for free, by calling poker room manager Gene Trimble (4321 W. Flamingo Rd., 702/942-7777,

Increase your odds for shopping success

Las Vegas Premium Outlets is the closest of the three outlet malls in Vegas, and the best. It takes 15 minutes and $15 to get there in a cab, but the pickings can be worth it. Of the 114 outlet stores (plus nine restaurants), a handful--Elie Tahari, Dolce & Gabbana, Lacoste, Coach, Chanel, Theory--stand out (875 S. Grand Central Pkwy., 702/474-7500,

Spend an afternoon soaking

At Bathhouse, a spa in THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, you don't need to book a service to stay at the pools all day (though they'll waive the $35 entry fee if you sign up for anything over $50). A day pass buys all-day access to the facilities, including the red-walled gym and separate men's and women's areas, each with its own pool. There are free snacks, such as nuts, oranges, bananas, and banana muffins. After a eucalyptus steam and stint in the redwood sauna, test out complimentary June Jacobs products (3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 877/632-9636,

Forget "Rocket Man"

Only die-hard Celine Dion, Elton John, and Cirque du Soleil fans can talk themselves into spending more than $100 for a seat. Two discount ticket companies--Tix4Tonight and Tickets2Nite--sell same-day, up-to-half-price tickets to those (on occasion) and dozens of other productions every day. The selection is usually heavy on hypnotists and magicians, but as one ticket vendor noted recently, "I don't think there's a single show in Vegas we haven't sold." All available remaining seats are released at 11:30 a.m. Tickets2Nite is in the giant Coke bottle at the Showcase Mall (888/484-9264,, while Tix4Tonight has four locations (877/849-4868,

Aim high for a photo op

At the northern edge of the Strip, the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere Tower has the highest observation deck west of the Mississippi. Enter the building and you'll find yourself in a mall. An elevator bank in the back goes to Top of the World, a revolving restaurant; the observation deck is one level higher. To make things all the more over the top--and back over the top again and again--there's a mini amusement park up there, too. One ride is a claw extending 64 feet beyond the tower's edge; fittingly, it's called Insanity (2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 800/998-6937,, elevator $10, Insanity $8).

Hit the jackpot at dinner

Celebrity chefs' Vegas offshoots are pale imitations of the originals. Real foodie cred goes to those who know about Lotus of Siam, a 70-seat Thai restaurant in a strip mall a mile off the Strip. Chef Saipin Chutima was raised in Chiang Mai and apprenticed under a cook for the Thai royal family. She makes an incredible nam kao tod, a spicy, crispy, rice-flavored snack with minced sour sausage, ginger, chilies, scallions, and peanuts ($8). Equally impressive is the plar dook o-cha: a fried whole catfish flavored with lime and chilies (market price). When the waiter asks how spicy you like your food on a scale of 1 to 10, know that a 5 is enough to ignite a small fire (953 E. Sahara Ave., 702/735-3033,

Sip kitsch through a straw

At Peppermill's Fireside Lounge, it's always 1974. The low-lit room is decorated with neon, mirrors, and a fire-pit centerpiece--flames erupt from a turquoise pool. Waitresses in black evening gowns look like extras from Charlie's Angels. A highlight of the cocktail list is the Scorpion ($15), a mix of cherry brandy, vodka, rum, and vanilla ice cream. It tastes like a cross between Hawaiian Punch and a Creamsicle, it comes in a 64-ounce glass with extra-long straws, and, true to its name, it can be lethal (2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/735-4177).

Skip ahead of the brunch bunch

Vegas is known worldwide for its buffets, and the Bellagio has the best for weekend brunch. There's a soup bar, bagels and lox, sushi rolls, a soft-serve ice cream station, and much, much, much more. The lines for a table are always long, but you can avoid waiting by heading straight to any open seats at the bar (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/693-7111, $23).

Go for the gold lamé

There's a hip arts-and-antiques district around Charleston Boulevard and Main Street. It costs $1 to enter the Attic, which advertises itself as the largest vintage clothing store in the world, but the buck buys you "lifetime entry" (1018 S. Main St., 702/388-4088). Expect feather boas, go-go boots, and maybe gold lamé tops. The Funk House is a mid-century furniture store (1228 S. Casino Center Blvd., 702/ 678-6278) run by one Cindy Funkhouser. The neighborhood's unofficial den mother, she also started First Friday, a popular street party with open studios and live performances ( A block south, 10 railroad cottages painted in an array of primary colors make up the Gypsy Caravan (1302 S. 3rd St., 702/868-3302). Inside, there's an assortment of beautiful junk, including squares of carnival glass, and, on a recent visit, authentic Stickley rocking chairs.

Promote yourself to V.I.P. status

Right now the hot club is Pure at Caesar's Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/731-7873). But joining the chic crowds on the 14,000-square-foot terrace overlooking the city involves suffering the indignity of the velvet rope--for men, anyway. Groups of girls should simply inform the manager that they'll be coming, and he'll likely guarantee spots on the list, which translates to entrance via the faster women-only V.I.P. line. Each club lives by its own set of rules: Sometimes the manager will be so kind as to comp the cover, as has been known to happen at Tryst, in the Wynn (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702/770-3375). And always ask your hotel's concierge, who should happily give out free passes to the property's clubs.

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading

Planning a Girlfriend Getaway to L.A.

Allison Hagman, Tracie Finney, Debbie Schutz, and Dalene Zieske met more than three decades ago as youngsters at Idaho Hill Elementary School in the small community of Oldtown, Idaho. They quickly became the best of friends, and over the years have pretended to be Nancy Drew and Charlie's Angels on the playground ("Somebody always got stuck playing Bosley," recalls Dalene), joined in high school plays, and even put on a faux Go-Go's lip-synch concert. "We've been told that we have our own language," says Allison. "When we get together, no one can understand us because we're laughing so hard and we know every one of the stories by heart." These days, the friends live within an hour of one another in Idaho and Washington, and, even though they're busy working moms, they talk a few times a week and try to have dinner once a month. Last year, Allison's mother passed away, and her friends surrounded her with support. Also present were two of her mother's sisters and four of their close friends. The older women reminisced about girls-only trips to New Orleans, San Francisco, and the Bahamas that they had taken over the years. Inspired, Allison and her crew decided to take a vacation together--and no better time than now, when they're turning 40. "We're looking for a place where there's lots to do," says Debbie. "But we also want to be able to just hang out and be with each other." Los Angeles quickly moved to the top of the list, because it offers everything from flashy nights on the town to peaceful (and recuperative) mornings at the beach. And, since they're only able to dedicate three nights to the trip, everyone likes the fact that the flight from Spokane is a mere two-and-a-half hours. "The only thing that makes me nervous is Tracie driving in L.A.," says Dalene. "Let's just say her car has one speed, and it's 'get out of my way.' " Dalene is kidding, but no one is excited about city driving. Unfortunately, a car in L.A. is pretty much a necessity. There's no shortage of rental cars in the city, but we point out an option many tourists are unaware of: Fox Rent a Car has environmentally friendly Honda Civic Hybrids for about $50 a day. It's not the cheapest rental, but it'll help them save on gas, and hybrids are exempt at parking meters in the city of Los Angeles. "Leisurely mornings mean a lot to us moms," says Allison. "We love the idea of having a sitting area with a fridge so we can make coffee and eat light breakfasts in the room." They're also hoping for a good location, in Beverly Hills or Hollywood. One option is Hotel Beverly Terrace, where the Asian-inspired rooms come in various shapes and sizes, and guests can help themselves to free breakfast and round-the-clock complimentary coffee and tea. Another possibility is the slightly more expensive Chamberlain West Hollywood, a former apartment complex that was given an elegant makeover last year by the Kor Hotel Group. Every room has a gas fireplace and a private balcony, and some include sitting areas and kitchenettes. The destination being L.A., the ladies really want to see a TV-show taping. Their first choices are The Price Is Right and Ellen. Unfortunately, tickets for The Price Is Right only guarantee a place in a preliminary line, not entry to the show. There's always a risk of getting shut out after waiting, and with limited time in town, the women don't want to risk it. So they won't have the opportunity to "Come on down" and win a kiss on the cheek from Bob Barker. Ellen DeGeneres's show, on the other hand, offers confirmed tickets via the Internet. The ladies register in advance and score tickets to a taping. "It'll be really fun to watch Ellen live," says Dalene. "She's so high-energy, just like us." If they're curious about seeing other shows, there are a few websites that give out tickets--including,, and Seats generally only become available 30 days prior to tapings. "We are truly tourists," says Allison. "And if we don't stay busy, we'll just end up yapping away at the bar." A friend of Dalene's insists that they take a Starline tour through ritzy neighborhoods to peek at some 40 celebrity homes. The bus drops off riders in the heart of historic Hollywood, near Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and The Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars. Also within walking distance is the A-list hotspot Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. "Any celebrity sightings would be cool," says Tracie, a big people-watcher and mother of three teenage sons. "I have a growing list from the boys of who to look out for." The hotel's steak house and exclusive bar are on the pricey side, but wandering around is free, and you never know which stars might be strolling through the lobby. Though Tracie is the only serious shopper in the group, everyone agrees they'll enjoy Rodeo Drive. We tell them not to miss nearby Two Rodeo, the outdoor shopping center built to look like an old European street, where a cobblestone walkway is lined by Tiffany's, Versace, and Badgley Mischka. For a break from window-shopping, they might grab a bite at Urth Caffé, known for its organic menu, excellent selection of coffees and teas, and celeb clientele. For dinner, the ladies simply request good food and a fun scene. Boisterous waiters, old-fashioned checkered tablecloths, big portions of Italian fare, and a crowd of old and young Hollywood make Dan Tana's a lively favorite. Dishes are named for industry bigwigs, and fans include Lakers owner Jerry Buss and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Barrymore, and George Clooney--it's where he went after the Oscar parties this year. "I'm looking forward to some once-in-a-lifetime event that we can talk about for a long time," says Tracie. "Anything goes, as long as we don't end up in jail." They have heard vaguely about a bar with a mechanical bull. Sure enough, two miles north of Dan Tana's is a spot that's sure to kick girls' night up a notch: The Saddle Ranch Chop House, on the raucous Sunset Strip. Inside the rowdy Western bar, "smoking" cocktails--served with dry ice so they mist--come in carafe-size glasses. Besides the mechanical bull, there's an outdoor patio and campfire pits for roasting s'mores. And the husbands don't need to know that Saddle Ranch has quite the reputation as a pickup joint after 10 p.m. "If we were to spend one day away from Hollywood," asks Allison, "where should we spend it?" No trip to sunny Southern California is complete without a day at the beach--perhaps a night as well. If the women don't mind switching hotels, they could spend the final evening of their trip at Santa Monica's oceanfront Hotel California. It's an easy walk to the Santa Monica Pier, five minutes by car to Venice Beach, and a 30-minute drive to LAX airport. For the ride to the coast, we recommend scenic Sunset Boulevard, past the Hollywood neighborhoods they saw with Starline Tours, and on through Westwood, home to UCLA, and Brentwood, former home of O.J. Simpson, eventually ending just north of Santa Monica at Will Rogers State Beach. They'll basically run right into Duke's Malibu, a waterfront restaurant dedicated to the father of surfing, Duke Kahanamoku, and famous for seafood, mai tais, a sandy barefoot bar, and incredible views. Everyone knows the community of Venice for its wild oceanfront walk: muscle-heads in the outdoor gyms, tattooed punks on skateboards, loads of folks roller-skating in bathing suits, performers strumming guitars or juggling flaming torches, and shops and tiny stalls selling tacos, T-shirts, sunglasses, jewelry, Mexican blankets, and more. Beyond the spectacle is Venice's quaint Abbot Kinney Boulevard, full of a much different kind of culture, with cooler shops as well as galleries, spas, and salons. Nitespa, barely a year old, welcomes clients from noon to midnight, and a free glass of wine is included with treatments. "Not all of us are into the spa thing," says Allison. "But this sounds good because it's more about sitting around having a few drinks during our pedicures." We can't think of a better way to end the trip: relaxed and pampered, having a few laughs--together. Surprise! Because the friends love to laugh, we hooked them up with four free tickets to Menopause the Musical, courtesy of the show. "After all, we are hitting 40 this year," says Allison. "Maybe it can help prepare us for what's ahead!" Transportation Fox Rent a Car 800/225-4369, Lodging Hotel Beverly Terrace 469 N. Doheny Dr., 310/274-8141,, from $145 Chamberlain West Hollywood 1000 Westmount Dr., 800/201-9652,, from $239 Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel 7000 Hollywood Blvd., 800/950-7667,, from $189 The Hotel California 1670 Ocean Ave., 866/751-0000,, from $179 Food Urth Caffé 276 S. Beverly Dr., 310/205-9311, latte $3.50 Dan Tana's 9071 Santa Monica Blvd., 310/275-9444, Sidney Beckerman (broiled chicken entrée) $25 Saddle Ranch Chop House 8371 W. Sunset Blvd., 323/656-2007, strip steak $29 Duke's Malibu 21150 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310/317-0777, mai tai $6.50 Activities The Price Is Right Ellen Starline Tours 800/959-3131,, $35 Nitespa 1301 Abbot Kinney Blvd., 310/396-5122,, pedicure $40 Menopause the Musical, from $41 Shopping Two Rodeo Rodeo Dr. & Wilshire Blvd.,

Table of Contents

Highlights from the April 2005 issue of Budget Travel Amsterdam's Eastern DocklandsThe long-neglected New East is a glowing example of 21st-century urban planning with prime examples of modern architecture and high-design. Learning To Love LondonIt sounds easy, right? But the dropping dollar has London playing hard to get, so it takes the knowledge of an expert to find the deals and local secrets in this charming city. How To Buy Broadway TicketsGoing to see a Broadway show is a magical experience, but sky-high prices mean that it may take some digging to score great tickets at affordable prices. The Motel Gets Its Groove BackA new generation of moteliers is giving the roadside classic the respect it deserves across the country. 40 Best Bargain VacationsCurrent bargain vacations. Travel the World and Write it OffIf you travel for business, you can deduct nearly all of your expenses. Eat Like a Local: BostonBoston is full of fine dining bargains with plenty of fresh fish and new options. What To Ask Before You Rent an RVTraveling by RV offers the ability to personalize your travel space, avoid costly hotels and tote along bulky items. Find the answers to your RV questions before you hit the road. Northern VietnamThough Vietnam is a popular tourist destination, lose the crowds at My Son Sanctuary and Bach Ma National Park. Singapore: This Article Has Not Been AuthorizedSingapore is trying to change its image to boost tourism, but there are many things to appreciate about Singapore as it is. Crash the Party: Kentucky Derby Get in on the fun of this Louisville racing event with a mint julep and a big, overstated hat. Trip Coach: AlaskaA couple tries to figure out an affordable trip to Alaska with three adolescent sons. The Easy, Breezy Riviera MayaThis fast-growing coastal area in Mexico is home to 372 hotels. We've narrowed them down to five favorites.

Good Friends, Great Times

Alas, the heat probably exacerbates the stink Long before I was married, my friend and I went to Italy. We were basically looking for Italian boyfriends, and it was man heaven. We couldn't believe how gorgeous they all were. We just giggled and stared everyplace we went. A couple days into the trip, we were fighting over this guy on a bench. We decided to approach him at the same time. As we got closer, however, we realized he was smelly. He was a gorgeous Italian homeless guy. In Italy, even the homeless guys are hot! --Jennifer Belle Go on, rock that boat! Four girlfriends and I take a cruise on The Rock Boat each year. The band Sister Hazel charters a Carnival ship and invites about 30 other bands to come along. There are concerts nearly 24 hours a day, and after the scheduled concerts are over, many of the bands jam. Two trips ago, we were lounging by the pool when the guys from Sister Hazel came out and played an awesome acoustic set. The year before that, we were in a bar when another singer, Edwin McCain, materialized and serenaded us for nearly an hour. We get all the perks of a cruise--great food, spa treatments, time away from our normal lives. Plus, there's something about being on a cruise ship that makes you lose that reluctance to approach other people. --Kristin Harmel Everyone deserves a little spring break now and again I have three girlfriends I've known since kindergarten. We grew up in New York City, but now one's in Chicago, one's in London, and one's in Sun Valley. Several years ago, we were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, when we ran into some people we knew. We all decided to go to a club. At the time, we were in our mid-20s and considered ourselves composed adults. Suddenly there we were, surrounded by spring breakers, all of whom were going crazy. My friends and I used to go dancing a lot when were in high school, and we totally got into it. You have to understand, my husband and I don't dance--ever. We didn't even have a first dance at our wedding. But with old friends, you have that comfort level. It was so much fun to let loose, have some margaritas, and know that no one's going to cart you off to A.A. --Carrie Karasyov It's safe to say that Charlotte is never going back to India My friend Charlotte and I were feeling low, so we planned a week away. I booked us a trip to Goa, India. Luckily Charlotte's not the sort of friend who has to control every detail. The highlight for me was a day at an ayurvedic spa. We got the most amazing massages. My skin was glowing for days. A doctor told us about our chakras and explained how we could live more healthfully. Poor Charlotte was admonished to eat less and to exercise alone because she has a competitive nature. I was told not to exert myself and to drink soothing beverages. That's medical advice I can follow! --Gemma Townley Spas charge hundreds for that Jamie and I have been best friends for 32 years, and every October we go to San Francisco for our birthdays. We're klutzes, so something crazy always happens. On our last trip, Jamie wanted to check out the Japanese Tea Garden. I put on overalls, and she came out in a long wool skirt and pearls. She said that she'd heard a lot of dignitaries go there. In the park, we passed signs reading Caution! and Danger! Not seeing much to be afraid of, we totally made fun of them, yelling "Danger!" and "Caution!" at the slightest provocation. Meanwhile, this woman showed up in gold lamé and stilettos. Jamie, totally transfixed by the woman, was about to step off a bridge. "Jamie!" I called out. "Caution!" She went into the pond. It was filled with green scum, and she came out like a lake monster, dripping in all of her wool. She was like a human tampon! I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life. Now, everyone we know clips pictures of the Japanese Tea Garden and sends them to Jamie. --Laurie Notaro

Where The Boys Are

When I've gone on vacations with my girlfriends in the past, our goal has been to unwind, not hook up. But as a newly single woman in my early 30s, I've had it with being cloistered in some desert spa where the only man for miles is a ponytailed craniosacral therapist. These days, I want action! Adventure! And men! And evidently, the men are in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With its frontier history and extreme skiing, Jackson Hole is legendary for having major manly appeal. (And we're talking men with money.) Hard numbers are tough to come by, but the male-to-female ratio in Jackson Hole is informally touted as 7 to 1, and it spikes to 10 to 1 in peak ski season, between December and March. But when my friend Debbie and I arrive in Jackson on a blustery, frosty Thursday evening in mid-January, the ratio feels more like 100 to 1. A flurry of men dash about baggage claim. There are hunky cowboys, stubble-chinned ski bums, moneyed mega moguls, and, if all goes future husband. Hoisting zeppelin-size duffel bags over their shoulders, they high-five each other with thunderous claps and deftly handle six-foot-long skis with the agility of ninjas. "I think our plane crashed," I say to Debbie as we stand, slack-jawed. "And we're in heaven." On our bus, we are the only two women out of about 30 ridiculously attractive men. In the row ahead of us, a quartet of 20-something professionals is so over-the-top handsome, they look like they were genetically engineered for the J. Crew catalog. The guys explain that they're buddies who met in college and trek to a different ski resort each year. "It's a dude trip, essentially," says Dan Sutherland, 26, a real estate investment analyst who lives in San Francisco. "The focus is on skiing and having a good time...." He bats his giraffe-like eyelashes. "So, are you skiers? Or 'boarders?" "Uh...skiers?" ventures Debbie, then looks at me, pleading for rescue. There's a slight complication: We don't ski. At least, neither of us has skied since junior high school. In fact, during our flight from Los Angeles, we sheepishly admitted that we both secretly hate skiing. It's simply too much hassle--the stinky boots, the unwieldy skis, the creaky chairlift, the freezing weather--and for what, 30 terrifying seconds of flailing down a mountain? So we agreed not to let skiing ruin our fun. Naturally, we're not about to advertise this revelation, because as a rule, you don't come to Jackson Hole if you don't ski. Everyone knows you go to Aspen for that. "Oh yeah, we're skiers," I fib. "Then you're going to love it," Dan explains. "At the top of the mountain, there's a sign that warns you that the skiing here is so dangerous, so treacherous, you could die." The bus lurches to a stop--as does, for a moment, my heart. Did he just say die? What have we gotten ourselves into? I had rented us a one-bedroom condo, walking distance from Teton Village, through the aptly named Rendezvous Mountain Rentals. Over the phone, when I told the rental agent about our quest, she laughed and replied, "Well, you're definitely coming to the right place. There certainly are a lot of men here." It worked for her: The native New Yorker came to Jackson three years ago and met her husband. "I'll see if I can put you in next door to some cute guys," she added conspiratorially. We arrive just after midnight at our groovy '70s-style one-bedroom, cluttered with moose-themed knickknacks. As we unpack, we count up our "conquests." On the hour-long drive from the airport, we chatted up over a dozen guys. Debbie crunches the numbers. "That works out to be," she says, "one man every five minutes." We put our coats right back on and head for a place the boys from the shuttle told us about. The Mangy Moose Saloon is a local hangout with live music and microbrews on tap (Snake River Pale Ale is a local favorite). It's a five-minute walk from our condo. A reggae band is playing to a packed house: ruddy-faced gents in ski hats swill beer and bob their heads to the beat. I strike up a conversation with Pascal, a swarthy 30-year-old from Denver wearing a faded University of Colorado at Boulder hoodie. We chat about Jackson Hole, where he's been "shredding" on his snowboard for nearly two weeks. "Guess how many days I skied last year!" he commands. "How many?" I ask. "Seventy-five! And guess how many I surfed." "How many?" "Forty-five freakin' days, man!" I nudge Debbie. "He surfs and skis," I say, with a wiggle of my eyebrows. "Isn't that great?" Back home, of course, a 30-year-old guy who calls me "man," doesn't have a job, and lives in his van isn't too great a catch. But here--well, when in Rome, dude. Debbie and I order a second round of Jäger shots and strike up a conversation with one of the few other women in the bar: Kristin, a 23-year-old cocktail waitress from Kentucky. She has lived here a year and is, we're surprised to discover, single. "We have a sayin' about all the men up here," she says. "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." We scoff at her and spend the rest of the evening snapping up cell-phone numbers like they're lottery tickets. By the end of the evening, as we strut back to our wood-paneled palace, Debbie and I are feeling so irresistible that we can barely fit our wool caps over our swollen heads. "," I pant. The cluster of mountains framing Jackson Hole has long seduced adventurers. In the early 1800s, a group of French-Canadian fur trappers gazed lustily upon the voluptuous peaks and named them Les Trois Tetons (politely translated, it means "the three breasts"). Two hundred years later, the area is known as the Grand Tetons, and in the center of it all is Teton Village--a dozen or so hotels, ski shops, bars, and restaurants. When we finally make it to the Village Center, it's nearly noon--and the place is dead. "Where is everyone?" I ask. "There," says Debbie, pointing up at the mountain, where a red aerial tram carries sardine cans of begoggled people to the 10,450-foot summit. In the distance, we can see vague sprinkles of skiers carving their way down the mountain. "If we're going to meet anyone, the skiing thing is inevitable," Debbie sighs. "But I bet they have hot instructors." We sign up for a full day of "advanced beginner" lessons at the Mountain Sports School for Saturday at 9 a.m. Then we chase away the dread with mochas at the ground-floor café. The town of Jackson is roughly a 20-minute ride from Teton Village, and a shuttle bus runs between the two. We head to Jackson--a quaint, quirky town--for dinner of miso-glazed cod and spicy salmon rolls at Nikai Sushi. The fish is surprisingly fresh, but the restaurant is like a Noah's ark of cute couples paired off in booths. After dinner, we trek several icy blocks to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, a Jackson landmark. Inside, this gloriously kitschy dive appears to have been decorated by Liberace in a John Wayne moment. Wagon-wheel chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and real saddles line the bar instead of stools. In the back of the room is a modest dance floor, where couples two-step to a live band through a musty wall of smoke. Unlike the one at upscale Teton Village, this crowd is more Deadwood than Dartmouth. It's a lively hodgepodge of older locals and 40-something tourists, clinking shot glasses, smoothing down handlebar mustaches, and tipping real ten-gallon hats at any and all ladies who pass their way. A particularly weathered cowpoke nearly drags Debbie over to the dance floor, but I somehow manage to save her. It's 10:45 p.m., and time to catch the last shuttle back up the mountain. After all, we have a ski lesson in the morning. Our hot instructor is waiting for us at 9 a.m., poles in hand. Her name is Liz. She's hollering at our 10-person group (half of whom are women) to make a "cheese wedge" shape with our skis. As I wobble down the Pooh Bear slope, I consider bolting into the woods. Instead, I lose my grip on the rope tow and land on my back like a dead beetle, praying no one has seen me. After two hours of basic introduction, we're chairlifted to an intermediate slice of mountain and told to follow Liz back down. At first, it's terrifying: What if I can't stop? But a few C-turns later, I start to get the rhythm of things. All around us, guys zip past as if they're being filmed for a Mountain Dew commercial. Some give us friendly nods as they whip by. Suddenly, skiing is infinitely more fun. Back at our condo, our neighbor, whom we'll call Keanu, welcomes us with a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon. "We're having a party at our place?" says Keanu. "You girls should definitely stop by?" We apply fresh lip gloss and chandelier earrings (hey, with so many layers involved, it's all about accessorizing) and knock on their door 20 minutes later. It swings open to reveal Keanu, his roommate, a big-screen TV, and a lamp-size bong. "Didn't you say you're having a party?" I ask. "Oh, yeah, I kinda made that up, you know?" We hightail it back to the Mangy Moose for buffalo wings and beer. Now that we're real skiers, we've earned the right to some après-ski fun. As we belly up to the bar, however, we discover that a football game is captivating the crowd: Clusters of men laugh, shout at the TV, and punch each other in the arm. It's like something you might see on the Discovery Channel: the Ski Bumus Erectus in his natural habitat. "Hey! Where are you girls from?" This is the top opening line in Jackson Hole. We make our way over to a table of late-20s/early-30s dot-com guys from Seattle who are totally our speed: sweet, cute, sporty, yet not steroidal. There are 12 of them and two of us. "We need more girls," begs Gil Zalmanovitch, a 32-year-old program manager at Microsoft. "We don't care if they can't ski. If they're cute and can do a C-turn, tell them to come!" Gil and his friends invite us to their ski-in, ski-out chateau, which has a pool table and hot tub. "Maybe tomorrow," I say, barely able to keep my eyes open. Alas, the downside to a physically rigorous vacation: I actually pass up partying with dot-com millionaires for a good night's sleep. It's not too much of a loss, however. Debbie and I are meeting so many men--while waiting for coffee, standing in line for lift tickets, trying on ski boots--that we're beginning to feel like Lucy and Ethel in that I Love Lucy episode at the chocolate factory. We are rushing conversations just to keep up with the never-ending assembly line of guys. By Sunday, our last full day in Jackson Hole, Debbie actually chooses to spend her time skiing while I sit at an outdoor fire pit at the Four Seasons Resort, drinking champagne, eating elk-meat hot dogs, and seeing what happens if I just remain still. I'm a third of the way through my Veuve Clicquot when a trio of snowboarders takes a nearby table. "Where are you from?" asks Jim Stehli, a handsome, 40-year-old Manhattan banker. Over nachos and more champagne with him and his two (unavailable) friends, we talked. He said he didn't understand why more women don't come to Jackson, instead of going to spas. "Yeah, and then we all come back complaining we can't find any men," I answer with a laugh. Still, I wouldn't mind a little Canyon Ranch action. My neck muscles whine in agony. They're sore from skiing, of course, but also, I suspect, from a touch of whiplash after repeated check-him-out double takes. I'm numb with man-meeting fatigue. As we head to the airport Monday morning, our pockets overflowing with scribbled-on cocktail napkins, we are elated--and exhausted. The men of Jackson are a pleasure to look at and a whole lot of fun, but I never did meet that future husband. And it makes sense: Back in the real world, I'm a stiletto-sporting Angeleno who won't even bother to hike two blocks to my favorite café. What would I have in common, long-term, with one of these mountain climbers, who are far more interested in L.L. Bean? My brief stint as nature babe was fun while it lasted. "Hey ladies!" At security, doe-eyed Dan Sutherland, our first friend, smiles and waves. I can almost see his arm muscles rippling beneath his Patagonia parka. "We're going to Switzerland next year. Are you guys coming?" Debbie and I look at each other. Probably not. Then again, let's wait and see how the summer pans out before we decide once and for all. Three More Spots With Great Odds Witch's Rock Surf Camp, Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica Surfers are just as sexy as skiers--without all the extra clothes. This camp was created by surfers and caters to all levels and both sexes. Weeklong beginner packages start at $768, for groups of four. 888/318-7873, The Arctic Open golf tournament, Akureyri, Iceland Every June, the world's northernmost 18-hole golf course, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Reykjavík, is the site of a weekend of hard-core golf and late-night partying under the glow of the midnight sun. Middlemarch Singles Dance, Middlemarch, New Zealand A small town on the South Island hosts a dance every spring for lonely farmers in the area. Women from all over the world come to meet them. The transportation of choice is the "Love Train"--a.k.a. the Taieri Gorge Railway--which starts in Dunedin and stops an hour later at the veritable make-out Mardi Gras. Transportation Jackson Shuttle 307/733-4521,, $3 Cowboy Cab 307/413-1000, Teton Village to Jackson $30 Lodging Rendezvous Mountain Rentals 3610 N. Moose Wilson Rd., Wilson, 888/739-2565,, one-bedroom condos from $110 Food Nikai Sushi 225 N. Cache St., Jackson, 307/734-6490 Four Seasons Resort 7680 Granite Loop Rd., Teton Village, 307/732-5000, elk hot dog $7 Activities Mountain Sports School 3395 West Village Dr., Teton Village, 800/450-0477, ski packages available Nightlife Mangy Moose Saloon 3285 Teton Village Rd., Teton Village, 307/733-4913, pint of Snake River Pale Ale $4 Million Dollar Cowboy Bar 25 N. Cache St., Jackson, 307/733-2207, bottle of Teton Ale $4.50