You know life is too busy when you can't squeeze in lunch with your favorite girlfriends. The fact is that for many moms, taking time for your own needs falls off the to-do list, unless special plans can be made well in advance. No wonder the latest trend in travel is the girlfriend getaway -- weekend packages designed to let you and a friend, or a whole group of friends, recharge your batteries and stay connected. Four Seasons hotels and resorts, for example, report an overall 50% jump in girlfriend getaway bookings in the last year. The company's public relations director, Elizabeth Pizzinato, credits movies like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood for sparking the trend and notes that "shopping and spa -- especially in-room manicures and pedicures -- are more important ingredients for a great girlfriend package than dining." Girlfriends opt for oversized or adjoining accommodations, she adds, because "you don't want to be across the hall from somebody. You want to be able to stay up until 2 a.m. talking and catching up."
Getaway packages span a range of budgets and activities, so whether your fantasy is to laze the day away in a spa, herd cattle on a dude ranch, or eat chocolate until you drop, there's a package out there just for you. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Amelia Island Plantation
Amelia Island, FL
A leisurely stroll on the beach before breakfast is a wonderful way to start the day on this secluded waterfront island property located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway near Jacksonville. Opt for adjoining rooms in the oceanfront Amelia Inn, or spread out in two- or three-bedroom villas with balconies and kitchens. Try the local seafood at the Verandah, or get active with 54 holes of golf, 23 clay tennis courts, and a whopping 21 swimming pools. Enjoy horseback riding and kayaking off-property, or let the resort staff whisk you to nearby Fernandina Beach, known for its Victorian architecture and one-of-a-kind eateries and shops. The Beach and Breakfast package costs from $136 per person per night. Reservations manager Lori Barnes will help you and your friends set up your perfect escape. 888-261-6161 or 904-277-5192; www.aipfl.com.
2. Breezy Point Resort
Breezy Point, MN
The Girlfriend Getaway special package has become so popular at this woodsy lakefront property that it's gone from seasonal to year-round. The big draw is Pelican Lake and Marina, which offers sandy beaches, boating and swimming in summer, ice-skating in winter, 36 holes of golf, and nightly dancing to oldies. Two nights in a deluxe room, four meals in the Marina dining room or Antlers restaurant, a coupon book for shopping discounts, and a $50 Breezy credit -- good for just about anything at the resort, including the pro shop, gift shop, boat rental, or golf -- cost $199 per person midweek, $229 weekends. Ask reservations manager Cheri Feil for suggestions on accommodations, which range from connecting rooms to one- to 10-bedroom vacation homes. 800-432-3777; www.breezypointresort.com.
3. The Estrella Spa at Viceroy Palm Springs
Palm Springs, CA
For a chic retreat, you and your friends can enjoy old-fashioned Hollywood-style luxury at this new resort and spa in the desert near the San Jacinto Mountains. The Spa for Your Senses package includes a pampering spa treatment, breakfast, and accommodations in a villa big enough for four guests. Each of you will receive a $30 breakfast credit at Citron restaurant, a $110 spa credit, and $40 worth of suncare products. Check out local vintage clothing and furniture shops, or head to the Desert Hills Premium Outlets for everything from Ferragamo to Motherhood Maternity. Hotel staff will arrange biking outings or yoga on the Estrella Spa Yoga Terrace. General manager Steven Cenicola will help you arrange your getaway, priced from $505 per night for a villa for four. 800-237-3687; www.estrellapalmsprings.com.
4. Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
Splurge on the Girls Just Want to Have Fun package at the European-style property in bustling City Center and let concierge Abby Hart organize your activities. How about tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show or cooking classes at Sur La Table, the gourmet cooking store adjacent to the hotel? The package includes a makeover and gift bag from Neiman Marcus; movies, CDs, spa products, and chocolate-covered strawberries upon arrival; a complimentary dessert in Seasons Lounge; and a free mimosa with dinner in the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus. The package costs from $320 a night for a deluxe king, or go all out and book the Family & Friends Suite for $1,195 a night for all six of you. 312-280-8400; www.fourseasons.com/chicagofs.
5. The Hideout at Flitner Ranch
Cowgirl wannabes can live the City Slicker experience at this 300,000-acre working cattle ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. But don't let the location fool you: Your girlfriend getaway includes nightly cocktails, fine dining, casita accommodations, and a Friday night cookout under the stars. Ranch cowboys will match you to the right horse, even if you're a first-timer. Add guided hiking, a tour of authentic dinosaur tracks, and a private tour of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Museum in Cody, and you'll be ready to relax at sunset. Hospitality and sales representative Mary Moran will help you plan your getaway, available in spring and fall for $1,300 per person, double, for four nights. 307-765-2080 or 800-354-8637; www.thehideout.com.
6. The Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast
Enjoy a welcome wine and cheese tray, see the sights in historic Galveston while sipping champagne in a horse-drawn carriage, and chat during complimentary breakfast as part of the girlfriend getaway package at this antiques-filled 1905 inn. You can also relax over tea and treats in the dining room or hit the antique shops and coffee houses nearby. Two or three friends can sleep comfortably in the ground-floor suite, while three connecting guest rooms upstairs can accommodate six (seven, counting a fold-out tapestry loveseat). Owners Ron and Jackie Metzger will offer early check-in and ideas for your getaway, which costs from $200 for two people midweek -- or add on pedicures and other spa treatments at the property's day spa. 800-472-0930; www.galvestonqueenanne.com.
7. The Spa at Norwich Inn
Celebrate a birthday or have a mini-reunion with a design-your-own Overnight Personal Escape Plan at this historic country inn. Available for one to four nights from Sundays to Thursdays, the package includes breakfast, two spa treatments, two fitness classes, a guided morning walk, and a morning meditation per day. Unwind in the sauna, steam room, whirlpool, indoor pool, and -- don't you wish you had one of these at home? -- relaxation room before ordering dinner in your four-person villa duplex. Spa sales manager Donna Russo will offer suggestions (how about joining the Spa 101 class or trying your luck at the casino?). The package costs from $298 a day. 800-ASK-4-SPA; www.thespaatnorwichinn.com.
8. Topaz Hotel
A complimentary Cyndi Lauper Greatest Hits CD sets the tone for the Girls' Getaway Package at this boutique hotel near trendy Dupont Circle. You and three friends don't even have to leave your guest room for a complimentary manicure, served with "Slumber Party" cocktails. Sales manager Linda Davis, known by staffers as the "girls' guru," will fine-tune your arrangements, suggest activities, and tell you about the hotel's yoga and "energy" guest rooms outfitted with exercise equipment. Join a "Gilded Age" walking tour of nearby mansions before heading out to one of the area's many eateries. The package costs $355 per night. 800-775-1202; www.topazhotel.com.
9. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
Perfect your swing at the two-night Fore Women Golf package, including two golf clinics and two rounds of golf, daily breakfast, two golf-themed gifts, use of the driving range, and cart and bag storage. Bring your pair of gift certificates to the Pro Shop to sharpen your look, and consult with a golf club instructor about a Fit 4 Golf pre-game workout session. Take a break to enjoy the dramatic desert scenery at the sprawling 735-room desert retreat -- complete with saguaro cacti and red sunsets -- or shop at the upscale retail stores across the street. The Fore Women package costs about $900 for two, or upgrade to a casita for a larger group. Not a golfer? The property offers a menu of other girlfriend packages designed around its full-service spa and golf options. 888-625-5144; www.kierlandresort.com.
10. White Elephant
Learn why locals love Nantucket in spring and fall with the White Elephant Sugar and Spice package for up to six girlfriends. Formerly a collection of 1920s-era cottages, this waterfront property has been renovated into an upscale hotel. A season's episodes of Sex and the City await, along with a manicure, champagne on arrival, wine daily, popcorn, and even s'mores fixings. Hang out in PJs in your three-bedroom Garden Cottage or explore the waterfront on foot or rental bike. Carol Andersson, reservations manager at Nantucket Island Resorts, can customize your three-night getaway -- which costs $2,400 for all six of you -- to include massages and other treats. 800-445-6574 or 508-228-2500; www.whiteelephanthotel.com.