Guys get together for pampered getaways
By MATT SEDENSKY
By MATT SEDENSKY
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Gene Grabarnick longed for a hotel with all the things a man would want on a getaway with friends.
Where the concierge ushers guests to the hottest clubs. Where requests, from hand-rolled cigars to a favorite beer in the mini-bar, are unflinchingly filled. Where luxury is wrapped in sexy, swanky style.
So he built it.
The Regent South Beach, the hotel Grabarnick developed here and plans to open in October, is among businesses nationwide targeting guys vacationing — or as they like to say, "mancationing" — with their friends. They are offering everything from poker parties to hand-rolled cigars, buckets of beer to sports tickets, all in hopes of tapping a growing market.
"These trips are about a group of people that most likely met in college and are sort of just extending their yesterdays," said Josh Lesnick, president of I'm in!, a Waltham, Mass.-based business founded last year that helps organize trips for groups of men.
It's also potentially big business. Research commissioned by I'm in! found trips taken by friends — male and female alike — could annually generate $11 billion in online sales and reservations alone.
Grabarnick said his concept for the Regent — which features a glass-bottom pool, Mercedes-Benz 500S house cars and 24-hour concierge service — was partly inspired by his own getaways with friends. They jet off to places like Aspen, Colo., and Costa Rica every few months with a clear idea of what makes a perfect getaway.
The Regent will offer a package targeting men with a penthouse room, a private rooftop terrace with a hot tub and wet bar, round-the-clock butler service and a choice of a luxury rental car such as a Porsche, Bentley or Lamborghini.
Dozens of other places are getting into the mancation act, too. At the Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, S.C., the "Dudes on the Dunes" package includes a round of golf and an in-room poker game with snacks and beer from $625 per person for two nights. The Marquis Los Cabos Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, includes surfing lessons, golf, poker, cigars, beer, chips and guacamole in its man-themed package from $490 a night. And the Harbor Beach Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale is offering "The Fishing Emanation," which includes a fishing expedition and a chef to cook the catch of the day, starting at $725 per person.
An "Urban Dictionary" definition for mancation describes it as men engaging in masculine activities such as sports, camping, gambling, chasing women and drinking, without the presence of wives, mistresses or girlfriends. Vince Vaughn helped popularize the term in this summer's romantic comedy "The Break-Up."
Many businesses began mancation packages after their "girls' getaways" — vacations taken by women together with friends or female relatives — proved popular.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts began marketing girls' getaways about five years ago. Now, about half of the chain's 50 hotels offer mancations, too, and the company says it has sold hundreds of the packages.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston offers an "Entourage Package" tapping the popularity of the HBO series chronicling the enviable lives of a Hollywood actor and his circle of buddies starting at $3,000 for four people for two nights. At the Fairmont Chicago, the "Mancation Package" includes seminars on style and entertaining, cigar-sampling, whiskey-tasting and a steak dinner, starting at $399 a person. And the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa has a "Speed Meets Spa" package pairing three-day race-driving instruction with man-friendly spa treatments starting at $4,795.
Aaron Bernthal can relate. The 28-year-old financial adviser in New York says many of his high school and college friends have scattered across the country, so their annual trip is especially important.
"It's always fun to get away with the guys for a couple of days," he said. "It's even more important to try and schedule trips to get away, otherwise you never see each other."