10 Tips for Planning the Perfect Girls' Weekend
One of the best ways to enjoy quality time with friends is to plan a girls’ weekend—not only is it a great way to reconnect and catch up, but it also gives you the chance to take a break from your busy lives and indulge in some much-needed relaxation time.
Recently, I rounded up a group of my close girl friends for the ultimate staycation at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, where we pampered ourselves at the spa, explored our town and tried a new restaurant, enjoyed Sunday brunch, and more. Based on my experience, I share 10 tips for planning the perfect girls’ weekend so that your next getaway with your friends will be a guaranteed success:
Tip #1: Choose a group you can be yourself around.
The first step to planning a weekend with the girls is deciding on who to plan it with. For me, this was the easiest part since I have a group of 10 girlfriends who are my ride-or-die tribe. I met them all *cough cough* over a decade ago in high school and we have remained very close throughout the years.
It’s best to include personalities that mesh well together, whether that means old friends or new. The size of your group is important, too. Eight women were able to attend the getaway, which made the group dynamic and fun without being overwhelming. Making dinner reservations was easy as the group wasn’t too large, and splitting up into smaller groups to chat or carpool wasn’t hard to manage.
Tip #2: Choose a venue outside of the home so you aren’t distracted by the stresses of daily live. This should be a welcomed escape!
When my friends and I started discussing the idea of a girls’ staycation, The Grand America Hotel was top-of-mind. Truthfully, I have been itching to go back since my visit last year. The Grand America Hotel is in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, making it a convenient meeting place—not to mention the endless list of incredible amenities, including room service, pools and hot tubs, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and The Spa at The Grand. This was our obvious choice. The spacious hotel sits on 10 acres and is very luxe indeed with original art, marble bathrooms, beautiful grounds including a charming courtyard, and fresh, fragrant flowers to enjoy.
We planned to spend a Saturday afternoon together, and stay overnight through Sunday brunch at the hotel the next morning. Our group opted for two executive suites which didn’t disappoint. Each suite was nearly 900 sq. feet, which included a long entryway, living room with separate sleeping area, two vanities, and a spacious high-end bathroom. The rooms were quiet and clean with comfortable seating and beds. We all lounged in one suite with plenty of room to spare until the wee hours of the night. We kept the other room free, as a sleep sanctuary to retire to when our eyes started to grow heavy.
Tip #3: Plan ahead for best results.
When multiple schedules are involved it can be tough to pin down a time that will work for everyone. Planning is crucial for several reasons:
It ensures the likelihood of many/all guests being able to attend.
Availability to book your dream lodging/room/activities.
Anticipation—you have something to look forward to.
When it comes to planning, the earlier the better. We booked our girls’ weekend about six weeks in advance, which was manageable since we were all local. This gave us ample time to make reservations, plan activities, and of course, get excited! The anticipation of the weekend really did contribute to the overall fun, as research has shown.
Tip #4: Carve out time for quiet, calm, and relaxation.
As much fun as it is to catch up and chat, having a few moments of peace and quiet was also important during the weekend. Thankfully, The Spa at The Grand was our destination for relaxation. It features multiple relaxation rooms, a sauna, steam room, indoor pool, and hot tub. We spent several hours being pampered and using the amenities. As busy moms, taking the time to recharge and enjoy peace and quiet is worth its weight in gold!
Guest can book treatments ranging from massage, facials, and body treatments to nail and hair care at The Spa at The Grand, or simply use the facilities. As an overnight guest, you have the option to pay $10 per room for all-access to the spa amenities, which are open from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
A couple of ladies in our group took advantage of the bath salts provided in our suite as a VIP perk, and enjoyed a soak in the tub. The salts smell of sweet honey, and are sourced locally from none other than The Great Salt Lake and honey from local bees. There are numerous benefits of taking salt baths, including detoxification and easing muscle tension.
Unplug and Be Present
Tip #5: Put your devices away and live in the moment.
Calls, texts, emails, social media—the distractions can be endless. One rule of the weekend was to be present and unplug to truly enjoy each other’s company and our surroundings. If I’m honest, I can’t imagine living life without the luxury and convenience of my smart phone, but every once and a while it’s nice to put it away for a day or two, especially since cell phone addiction is the real deal. Life sometimes requires you to be near your phone, but if at all possible, stash it away during your staycation.
If you anticipate media being an issue with your group, designate a drawer or special space to stow devices. The first one to dig in has to buy everyone drinks!
Try something new
Tip #6: Become a tourist in your own city.
I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first read about it in Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller, The Happiness Project. The idea is simple: open your eyes, explore the city you live in, and discover the interesting, fun, and beautiful things and places it has to offer. We tackled this object in a simple way: trying a new restaurant.
We didn’t want to travel far from our sanctuary at The Grand America, so we researched online, checked out menus, and read reviews. We decided on Saffron Colonial, an Indian restaurant just a few minutes’ drive away. None of us had dined there and we really enjoyed it! I had driven past it countless times, and it was fun to finally try it out. I plan on stopping in next time I’m in the neighborhood for more of the delicious tikka masala and garlic naan.
Tip #7: Eat well, eat often.
As you just read above, we enjoyed a flavorful feast for dinner and food was an important overall factor in the weekend. Girls’ getaways are a time to enjoy every bite, which started upon check-in. Prior to dinner, we snacked on fresh fruit trays in our rooms, as well as housemade granola at the spa. We also brought our own loot, including Chex Muddy Buddies—a completely addicting chocolate and peanut snack that we enjoyed late into the night.
Sunday Brunch at The Grand America is unlike anything I have ever experienced. We had made a reservation early on and when we arrived, we were promptly seated to enjoy the buffet-style spread. There is such a large range of delicious options, it’s hard to know where to begin. Executive Chef Fernando Soberanis dishes up the works—everything from seafood, egg Benedict, crêpes, Al pastor tacos, and desserts—including macaroons and beautifully-crafted parfaits. We spent a glorious morning trying out nearly every dish and enjoying the sunshine coming in from the large windows as we overlooked the beautiful courtyard.
Tip #8: Schedule things to do, but leave some time open.
Running from activity to activity doesn’t make for a very relaxing weekend. It’s nice to have a few things scheduled, but also leave time to open to lounge, wander, stroll around, or do nothing at all. It’s also fun to stay open to the possibility of whatever may come up.
I felt like we had a good balance in this aspect. Some of the group planned to meet early Saturday for shopping and lunch at City Creek Center n downtown Salt Lake City. We planned to meet at the hotel for check-in late afternoon, get settled in, and then head to the spa. Dinner was next, followed by hanging out in the suite.
We had a few loose activities planned for this time, which included some in-room pampering thanks to Baby Foot Foot Peel, which is available for purchase at The Spa at The Grand. Each Baby Foot box comes with everything you need for both feet: a pair of booties that contains a ‘peel’ mixture formulated with 16 fruit acids. Instructions advise letting the solution sit on the bottoms of feet for an hour, during which time we swapped stories, chatted, and listened to music. Feet begin to really ‘peel’ in the coming days, and soaking feet in water daily is suggested for best results.
Go All Out/Splurge
Tip #9: Don’t be afraid to indulge.
A special weekend that you’ve been anticipating should allow for a little indulgence. Set aside some extra funds to go all0out and #treatyoself, guilt-free. Book yourself a spa treatment, order that fancy dessert you’ve always craved, or buy a new outfit to mark the occasion. You don’t have to break the bank, but giving yourself permission to splurge from time to time makes life a little sweeter.
The Reason Why
Tip #10: Have something to celebrate.
Giving a meaning to an event gives it more purpose, even if the reason is as simple as spending time bonding with friends. There is much research indicating the importance that friendship plays when it comes to life satisfaction and overall health—another reason to schedule your next girls’ getaway! Holidays, birthdays, milestones, and accomplishments are always good go-to excuses to party as well.
We had several reasons to celebrate, especially since one of the girls in our group will be moving across the country. We took the opportunity to treat the weekend as a “farewell” event, sharing stories, memories, and offering toasts.
The memories made during our staycation at The Grand America will last a lifetime—and here’s to more girls’ getaways to come! What are you waiting for? Call up your besties and start planning your next retreat!
[Photos by Alisha Racker]
Alisha Racker’s beauty career has spanned over a decade as she's worked as a master esthetician, skin care PR-pro and freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful mountains of Salt Lake City with her husband and daughter.