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The Mancation Comes of Age
Real men take mancations.
Although the term is kind of, well, lame, the idea of an all-bro getaway is hot and getting hotter. According to Wikipedia, an estimated 20 million American men go on mancations, most of them married and between the ages of 30 and 55. More men are taking a break from family and work to bond with their buddies, deepen or reconnect friendships or maybe pursue a sport or extreme adventure not popular with their partner. Although a bachelor party is one reason for testosterone travel, these trips tend to not be as raging as the typical pre-nup escape. And the hotel and resort biz is hip to this emerging market, touting extras like man caves and amenities like golf massages, poker tournaments and cigar bars.
The beautiful people aren’t just celebs in Aspen, Colo., a famously gorgeous destination that attracts attractive outdoorsy types. There are four mountains to ski, the très chic village to wander, a great dining scene and nightlife, and lots of special events during the winter season. Ski-and-stay packages begin at $209 per night at Hotel Aspen. www.ski.com/aspen
Eats: Finbarr’s Irish Pub & Kitchen is a swell gastro pub and sports bar with deliciousness like the Meat Lover’s Wedge salad. The game is always on — and because it’s not a dump, women like to go there, too. Not a bad thing. www.finbarrsaspen.com For a big-ticket beef palace, the locally owned Steak House No. 316 is prime and pricey. steakhouse316.com
Manly Must: Take a 45-minute hike to the peak of Highland Bowl, a massive chunk of terrain with a sheer slope falling to treeline. The Temerity lift allows experts to ski or ride down the bowl’s bottom half, delivering 2,582 feet of back-country vertical terrain. Aspen Expeditions will guide you and teach backcountry ski techniques along the way. www.aspenexpeditions.com
Channel Your Inner Hemingway
The Caribbean is always a good idea, better yet when an all-inclusive as sweet as Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort puts out the welcome mat with a “Boys Will Be Boys” package on the ruggedly beautiful island of St. Lucia. Take your pick of thrills, from hiking to the top of Grand Piton, a zip line adventure, island golf, sailing the Caribbean, charter fishing and more. The package runs $1,259.75 for four nights and is based on four dudes in a two-bedroom villa with a private pool. Resort activities, food and beverage including booze and a $150 per person credit to be used for one of the adventures rounds out the deal.
Eats: Throw back a few Pitons, the St. Lucian beer, and head to The Coal Pot, five minutes from central Castries on the waterfront of Vigie Marina. This is the place for amazing fresh local fish, simply grilled and served with kickin’ coconut curry or Creole sauce. www.coalpotrestaurant.com
Manly Must: Just try not talking like a pirate during the 90-minute Rhythm of Rum tour offered seven days a week by St. Lucia Distillers, which produces Bounty and Chairman’s Reserve rums. Hear about the history of sugar, the distillation process and, of course, do plenty of sipping at the factory located on the island’s largest banana plantation, just south of Castries. www.saintluciarums.com
Sideways to Finger Lakes Country
Recreate the wining bro road trip from the movie Sideways — but without the flying — by heading four hours north, to the gorgeous Finger Lakes region of central New York State. The 11 long, narrow lakes are only about 100 miles across in total, but the winding two-lane roads, Amish farmsteads and sleepy red-brick Main Street towns will keep you from racking up too many miles a day. Consider taking a brewcation at the Rogues Harbor Inn and Brewery, a National Historic Landmark and highlight of the Finger Lakes Beer Trail. Spend a day filled with hops, brewery tours and craft beer pairings, and crash at the inn, which has a $550 special for a two-night stay (for single or double occupancy) that includes breakfast and a day of beer activities. www.RoguesHarbor.com; www.fingerlakes.org
Eats: There are more than 100 wineries in this part of the state, but the mellow vibe is more Willamette Valley than Napa. Definitely visit Konstantin D. Frank & Sons, (www.frankfamilyvineyards.com) with its stunning views of Keuka Lake. Frank pioneered growing the same cold-resistant vines here that thrive in the cool climes of northern Europe. The result is bright and fruity Riesling, aromatic Gerwurtztraminer and the more obscure Rkatsiteli, an off-dry Georgian varietal still rare in the U.S. For chow, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is the go-to spot in Syracuse, a haven for ’cue swathed in award winning sauce. www.dinosaurbarbque.com
Manly Must: If you’re ready to walk on the wild side, the Wilderness Way School in Oswego teaches survival techniques and personal awareness abilities in order to conquer the great outdoors. A bunch of guys learning ancient firemaking techniques? At least they’re supervised. www.wildernesswayschool.com
Do AC Golf
If your posse would rather drive than fly. Atlantic City is an ideal option, with its swank hotels, gaming, celebrity chef eateries, outdoor activities and sizzling nightlife. You may not know that Atlantic City recently made the Top 10 Best Bachelor Party Cities for Golfers list in Golf Magazine, which touted the Atlantic City Country Club for its first-class service, superb conditioning and zippy play. Architect Tom Doak re-designed the 1897 classic in 1999. Go for a double eagle at one of more than 30 golf courses within 30 miles of Atlantic City. Many of the courses are championship-caliber, designed by some of the top course consultants in the country. And if you’re looking for diversity, these links offer everything from Scottish-style greens and sea views to a vineyard setting. www.PlayACGolf.com; www.atlanticcitynj.com
Eats: AC dishes prime beef at well known upmarket beef palaces including Robert’s Steakhouse of New York (Taj Mahal), just named “Best Steakhouse” in the Philadelphia metro region by Philadelphia Magazine. Then there’s the Palm Restaurant (Tropicana), Vic & Anthony’s (Golden Nugget), Gallagher’s Steakhouse (Resorts), Old Homestead and Bobby Flay (Borgata) and The Steakhouse at Harrah’s.
Manly Must: Uphold your end of the bro code with a night at the new $25 million, supersized Scores complex at the Taj, operated by Bob Gans, whose Scores New York raised the bar for gentlemen’s clubs when it opened in 1991. The place is divided into themed clubs: one that mimics Amsterdam’s red light district, another that’s futuristic — you get the idea. There’s also a VIP private entrance for the shy and famous. www.scoresatlanticcity.com
An Outdoorsy Escape to Florida’s West Coast
Want to kayak remote, wild areas, learn to skydive, sail or see an amazing collection of muscle cars with your best buds? Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands, located between Sarasota and Fort Myers, is an outdoor adventure paradise loaded with off-the-beaten-path experiences away from crowds and theme-parkers. Paddleboarding, skydiving, fishing, off-road biking and sailing will get your heart rate up without a pack of people on your tail. www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com
Eats: Head to Peace River Seafood, a locally owned restaurant and seafood market set in a circa 1927 Craftsman-style bungalow just a few miles east of Punta Gorda on I-75. Sit on the front porch under the shade of ancient oaks draped in Spanish moss and roll your sleeves up to feast on locally caught fish from the Gulf of Mexico. 5337 Duncan Road, east of Interstate, 750-505-8440, no website.
Manly Must: Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City Museum will have motorheads swooning over more than 200 classic cars and trucks, along with automotive memorabilia and accessories. Get your motor running with ganders at sweet rides like Cutlass 442s, Camaros and high-horsepower Impalas. If all that muscle revs up your appetite, there’s a diner with car hop service for a bite. www.musclecarcity.net
Golf and Spa Package with Palm Trees
With 45 holes of golf to choose from, guys can play until the sun goes down and then enjoy their $100 daily spa credit at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, a beachfront property near Sarasota. The Island House Spa offers signature “Just for Men” treatments such as the Golf & Tennis Agility Stretch, Island Sports Massage, Gentleman’s Manicure & Pedicure or Gentleman’s Facial. No need to lug your clubs around either: cart and rental fees are included. Rates are from $349 on weekdays and $389 Friday and Saturday. www.longboatkeyclub.com
Eats: Sip small-batch bourbon and savor the food at the resort’s excellent Tavern & Whiskey Bar, with its emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients and heirloom produce. Executive chef Ed Geyfman works with more than 30 local growers, and the proof is in the flavor. It’s spendy, but the eight-ounce dry-aged grass-fed filet ($38) with local mushrooms and herb demiglace will mooooove you to tears.
Manly Musts: It’s cool to be green, so explore the clear, protected waters of Sarasota Bay under your own steam, by kayak. Diving osprey and pelicans, tropical birds, bottlenose dolphins and manatees are plentiful. If you’ve never done it, kayaking through mangroves can be like going to services without the bricks and mortar. www.adventurekayakoutfitters.com
Retreat to Atlantis
With the Battle 4 Atlantis preseason men’s college basketball tournament coming up in November (a “brosgiving,” anyone?) this resort delivers a good bang for your buck. Pluses include daily direct nonstop flight from Philly to Nassau, an adults-only pool scene and the largest casino in the Bahamas, with a brand-new late-night bar designed by Jeffrey Beers, with a winning menu of martinis, mojitos, and cigars. From $189. www.atlantis.com
Eats: Meal plan options ($80-$130 per day) give access to some or all of the 40 dining outlets, including Virgil’s Real BBQ, Nobu, Mesa Grill, and the new Olives by Todd English, the resort’s first late-night dining option (open til 3 a.m.) in the casino.
Manly Musts: Battle 4 Atlantis 2013 (November 28-30) is a 12-game basketball tournament featuring eight Division 1 teams — including University of Kansas, University of Iowa and USC — held in a state-of-the-art arena at Atlantis, televised live to millions of fans nationwide. Ticket packages starting at $55, rooms from $199. www.battle4atlantis.com
Spread Out Wherever You Go
If the idea of sharing a hotel room and bathroom with your oversized snoring pal leaves you feeling queasy, step up and do some research on a website like VacationHomeRentals.com. With more than 13,000 properties in the United States and abroad, the site allows guys to pick a home that caters to their personalities and even add in a bit of luxury like a pool or Jacuzzi. Options might be a lake-view home in Tahoe that fits up to 19 for $650 a night, complete with a pool table, entertainment center and hot tub. Or a Vegas villa that sleeps 22 for $595 a night, outfitted with tons of manly toys like a pool table, poker table, ping-pong, Jacuzzis and a swimming pool. Or head to Miami Beach and settle into a penthouse apartment with ocean views close to nightlife, golf and restaurants, from $275-$250 a night.
Beth D’Addono is glad to see the mancation take off — but sad that Bro-ed Trips never caught on as an alternative. This article originally appeared in Simchas, a Jewish Exponent supplement.