girl/guy getaways

by Elaine LaBalme





The family that travels together stays together?  Physically, for sure, but let’s face it, we don’t always want to go where our significant other suggests.  That’s one reason why girl and guy getaways can be a good thing.  It’s an opportunity to have fun, decompress and indulge pursuits that will likely appeal to the same sex.  Where to go?

Ladies first!
It should come as no surprise that the Hotel Hershey has a Chocolate Spa.

The Chocolate Spa at the Hotel Hershey is the kind of place women never want to leave.  Plan on a full day and play eenie-miney-moe in deciding on a relaxation lounge for your crew:  the Aromatherapy Lounge may be scented in lavender, jasmine or candy cane, the Silent Room is womb-like and the Quiet Room is a glass-walled space that allows for conversation over coffee and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mini-muffins.  Choose that last one and relax in a leather lounger as you enjoy the view of rolling hills and sparkling pools.  Soon, you’ll be whisked away for a Chocolate Bean Polish or Chocolate Fondue Wrap or, if you prefer your choco whims in small doses, a Mojito Sugar Scrub.  Lunch is at The Oasis, the spa’s indoor/outdoor cafe where you can feast on a healthy buffet while swaddled in robe and slippers.  An afternoon massage will send you dancing into the street and over to The Hershey Story, where you’ll learn all about Milton Hershey and his candy factory, create a white/dark chocolate treat of your own and partake of a chocolate tasting that rivals any Napa Valley wine tasting thanks to six shot glasses filled with warm, single-origin chocolate.  Spend a night (or two) at the Hotel Hershey, awash in Spanish-Moorish splendor and with superb food at every turn.

Hop a Carnival cruise ship out of Baltimore and set sail for the islands.

A Carnival cruise is as close as Baltimore, where you’ll board the Carnival Pride for a seven-day sail with port calls in the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.  They call these the “fun ships” for a reason—the daily newsletter lists no less than 20 activities that keep you busy from dawn till dusk and beyond.  Make no mistake, ladies, this isn’t frat-boy fun:  there’s a luxe patina to the pools, piano lounge and suite life of a balconied cabin.  Grand Turk boasts 350 days of sunshine a year and room to relax thanks to less than 4,000 inhabitants; port calls in the Bahamas include Half Moon Cay, a private island where you can go horseback riding or sip a bloody Mary in a beach front cabana.  Packed that sunscreen yet?

Annapolis has the U.S. Naval Academy and the Annapolis Sailing School. One of them requires a congressional appointment and a 5-year commitment after graduation. The other one requires about $500 and a weekend of your time. So you choose.

It’s all about the water in Annapolis, the sailing capital of the U.S. (though Newport, R.I. would object).  Spread out at the Westin Annapolis, where adjoining rooms can meet in a parlor suite and the décor is as fresh as the outdoor breeze.  Time your visit for the Wednesday Night Races, best viewed aboard the Schooner Woodwind, a 74’ sailing vessel whose wood gleams from bow to stern.  If the bug hits, a few lessons at the Annapolis Sailing School will give you bragging rights back home.  Water taxis whisk you about Annapolis harbor in style and a stop in Eastport leads you to the Boatyard Bar and Grill, one of the best sailing bars in the world (no salty dogs here, rather a polite crowd feasting on lump crab cakes and shellfish in a citrus glaze).  The downtown district is filled with boutiques and a haven for antiquing while raising a glass to another glorious day at one of the many outdoor cafes is de rigueur.

Ready, fellas?
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton is one leg of a major-sport hall-of-fame roadtrip that includes Cooperstown, Springfield and Toronto.

While you may have considered a visit to one sports hall of fame or another, how about a road trip to four of them?  It’s easier than you think.  Start at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, less than two hours away.  Touch screens allow you to research Hall inductees, the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery takes a peek at all 45 winners and you’ll find a Steeler at every turn.  Head north to Toronto for the Hockey Hall of Fame and dangit, those Canadians sure are nice—they let you touch the Stanley Cup as you pose for photos. The showcases devoted to Sid and Mario are terrific, and Gretzky’s bar is across the street. Due east is the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and while the Buccos haven’t given us much to cheer about lately, icons Clemente and Stargell and members of the Series-winning 1960, 1971 and 1979  teams have all found their way to the Hall. The Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. completes the circuit and it ain’t a “Hangover” trip unless you make it one.

They don’t call West Virginia “wild and wonderful” for nothing. Cheat River Outfitters allows you to navigate Class II rapids in a one-person “ducky” and this light-as-air craft makes for a rollicking ride. Springtime’s Class V rapids should be negotiated in an eight-man boat and if your buddy isn’t pulling his weight, he’s buying. The hiking and mountain biking in and around Blackwater Falls State Park is excellent, especially the climb to Seneca Rocks and a side trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness, the latter a rocky plateau that’s alpine in nature and home to nearly 50 miles of trails. Fishing and boating on Summersville Lake is a rite of passage for anglers of all stripes.

If golf’s your game, head for Bedford County, home to half a dozen golf courses.  With names like Iron Masters and King Valley, you’d best be ready.  Granddaddy of ‘em all is the Bedford Springs Old Course, which has undergone a complete renovation that restored the course to its original layout.  Take in breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains as you play, secure in the knowledge that the 19th hole at the adjacent Omni Bedford Springs Resort is a slice o’heaven.

Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia offers outdoor fun for everyone, about three hours' drive from here.

You can have it both ways on a girl and guy getaway although choosing the right destination is key.  Make a list of your favorite couples and make your way to the Tides Inn, a whitewashed resort astride Carters Creek on Virginia’s Northern Neck.  Gals can lounge poolside, play tennis and visit a spa reeking of British Colonial splendor while guys ply the waters aboard canoes, kayaks or sailboats headed for Chesapeake Bay.  Or guys can spa while gals sail.  In any case, everyone reconvenes for dinner at local establishments such as Nate’s Trick Dog Cafe, where farm-to-table cuisine is served in a stylish setting and the Virginia wines are laudable.