“You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack... it grew by one. So there... there were two of us in the wolf pack... I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, "Wait a second, could it be?" And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!” - Alan Garner, The Hangover
So it is February 2008 and we have just arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica. There are 15 of us, some of Dash’s friends from college and others from high school. The group ranges in ethnicity and social strata: Persian guys from Great Neck, Wasps from Greenwich, and younger brothers in college. Some guys have wives and girlfriends, others are single, but everyone is looking to get as inebriated as humanly possible without flat-lining. Will there be more occasions when we can all be together? After a certain age, it is nearly impossible to get a group of friends together with similar means, circumstances, desires, and history. There is nothing and no one there to bother us or stand in our way. We get to the pool at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose and the jokes start flying. One guy’s slutty Mom, another guy’s crooked teeth, a Persian’s greasy hair, a Jew’s outrageously small member, or an Indian with an unusually hairy back. One guy’s name is actually Blumpkin, could you imagine that? As the Central American sun beats down on our unsuspecting skin, nothing is off limits and the possibilities are endless. The air, depending on your point of view, has an underlying aroma of sin and corruption. Life is cheap here and we shouldn’t forget that. We start with some beers, shots, and Xanax to take off the edge. In about an hour we are off to the casino in San Jose, but is it really just a casino?
All we want to do is party and bullshit, and party and bullshit…
The Classic – Las Vegas
Vegas is the classic bachelor party destination and will always be. There is something for everyone and plenty of sin. The thing is, Vegas has become a regular trip for many people, so what really makes it special for a bachelor party? If you are going to have your party in Vegas, go off the beaten path, dig a little deeper for some classic Vegas experiences or live big by taking full advantage of the city’s newest toys.
Where to stay: Constant Evolution. 10 years ago Hard Rock Hotel, five years ago The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, now Encore or Wynn.
How to get there: Virgin America, the best airline to the West Coast. Runner up: JetBlue.
Day: Tao Beach & Wet Republic. This summer: Switch Beach Club at Encore or Liquid Pool Club at Aria.
Day alternative: Las Vegas Gun Club is one of the only gun clubs that allows unlicensed civilians to handle and shoot machine guns. What could be better than staying up all night, drinking and deliriously holding a semi-automatic rifle? Now what you got to say about my momma bitch?
Nighttime: Easiest place to plan a bachelor party. More restaurants than you can imagine, as well as a nightclub for every type of person. It is easy to find “in-room” entertainment and the taxi and limo drivers will be glad to assist with this search. When you get to Vegas, the iPhone automatically downloads a girl’s number who can provide your bachelor party with private dances. I have a Blackberry, so this may just be a rumor. Spearmint Rhino and Crazy Horse 2 are the best strip clubs in Vegas. The best nightclubs, in my opinion, are Tao at the Venetian and XS at the Encore. Two great bachelor party dinners at the moment are Botero at Encore and SW Steakhouse at Wynn. For something off the strip check out Double Down, El Sombrero, or Beauty Bar.
Insider tip: When arriving at Las Vegas airport there is a sign that points to “limos” and another that points to “taxis.” They are pretty much the same price so there is no reason to turn down a town car or limo. A lot of bachelor parties get to Vegas on Thursday night. Tao and Tryst are by far the two best Thursday night parties. I hear that around 3,500 people come through the doors of Tao on an average Thursday night.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: 95% unless you're a professional golfer.
The Local – Atlantic City
Atlantic City is the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas. I happen to do a lot of business there, so I have gained an affinity for the place. It is not the easiest place to love, but when done correctly, AC has the potential to be a blast. I would highly recommend it for summer and spring parties – when it comes to the winter, Saturday nights are it, unless you are just coming to gamble. With that said, Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods, and other local casinos can’t even begin to hold a candle to AC for localized bachelor party sin.
Where to stay: The Borgata is the spot if you're looking for just a casino. For a more youthful party experience, check out The Chelsea Hotel, a brand new boutique hotel. The Chelsea is especially hot during the summer months because of their outdoor pool and nightclub.
How to get there: Last year, NJ Transit launched the “Aces Train” which goes directly from Penn Station to the heart of AC. If you don’t want to take the train, then drive; but don’t leave at rush hour unless you bring a gun with all the chambers filled. If you’re a real pimp, take a helicopter.
Daytime: Check out the Spa at the Borgata or the Chelsea; both have extensive jacuzzis and treatments. In the summer, the Chelsea has daytime pool parties at The Cabana Club, which is your best option for fun before 8 p.m. For lunch, check out Stephen Starr’s, Continental at the Pier or the classic AC sub shop, White House.
Nighttime: For gamblers and a classic nightclub experience, check out the Borgata. In the summer months, the Chelsea Hotel is by far the best spot in town. For restaurants, Bobby Flay Steak at the Borgata or Chelsea Prime at the Chelsea are your best bets. Steaks at Chelsea Prime consistently rank as good, or better, than the most famous steakhouses in the country. Izakaya, Borgata’s Japanese tavern, is also a great option. For the ultimate AC experience, check out Chef Vola’s, the Rao’s of Atlantic City. Located in the basement of a house, Chef Vola’s does not take reservations, except through their network of regulars. It is BYOB and the food is delicious. I am partial to the spaghetti with sausage Bolognese, the chicken parm, and the dessert butterscotch cheesecake, which are all out of this world.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: Unless you are into toothless women of the night, all should be good.
Reliving Spring Break – Acapulco, Mexico
If Spring Break had a sophisticated and Jappy cousin, it would be Acapulco. She would be uptight for the first night and then proceed to sleep with the Devil, a Mexican in silver paint and a headdress, while her friends watched. Poco, as it is lovingly referred to, is the Bachelor party for those who want to experience a little of their college years before they take the plunge. Btw, it is not socially acceptable to go on Spring Break after 26 years of age unless you are a graduate student.
Where to stay: Rent a villa at Las Brisas. Most come with cooks, maids, and man-servants. (Love a good man-servant).
How to get there: American, Delta and Continental all fly to Acapulco. You used to have to connect, but not anymore.
Daytime: 85+ degree weather, stunning views, and Acapulco Bay will keep you busy while your man-servant serves fresh margaritas and guacamole to you and your friends.
Nighttime: Underrated restaurants, like Becco and Suntory, line the cliffs of the Acapulco Bay for amazing scenic dining experiences with great fresh local cuisine. Mandara and Palladium nightclubs are two of the best nightclubs in the world, definitely in my top 20 and they rock till 5 a.m. The Devil performs nightly at Palladium; it is an incredible show and entry to the club includes open bar. Tables begin at $1,000 dollars and college girls are available for a quick smile with a side of I don’t give a fuck.
Insider Tip: A lot of American pleasure-hounds think that March is the only month to go to Acapulco. That is Spring Break season and they know that the clubs will be crowded with Americans as opposed to just locals. While the surrounding months have more locals than Spring Break, February is also very busy because of Canadian Spring Break. For the record, despite the country’s inferiority, Canadian college girls look exactly like American college girls and the word “AY” is much more tolerable after shots of Tequila.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: Should be ok, unless your name is Mario Lopez who got caught red-handed in POCO.
Strippers, Steaks, and Open Late, Hollaaaa... – Tampa Bay, FL
Tampa is the Strip Club capital of North America… ‘nuff said.
Where to stay: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel
How to get there: Flights are dirt cheap, about $200 round trip from New York if booked far enough in advance.
Daytime: There is an outdoor pool, gambling, and a spa. There are also Tampa Bay Bucs football games during the season.
Nighttime: Have dinner at the Council Oak Steakhouse. Mons Venus is known as one of the best strip clubs in the nation. If you want to check out another, Dollhouse would be my recommendation. After gambling, dinner, and maybe hitting the strip clubs, the real action begins at Floyd's nightclub in the Hard rock. Everyone looking to party descends on this club around 2:30-3 a.m., similar to Drai’s in Vegas. It stays open to the wee hours of the morning, maybe 5 or 6 a.m. Strippers, steaks, and afterhours make the Hard Rock an ultimate bachelor party hotspot in an unexpected destination.
Insider Tip: The weather gets chilly in the winter months, sometimes limiting the daytime activities. With that said, most strip clubs are available and dark during the day also!
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: I could be wrong, but I don’t think that many people move from New York or other major hubs to Tampa. With that said, the Hard Rock in Vegas has a live feed from the pool to the internet and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tampa followed suit. Watch out now…
A little too close for comfort, but let’s roll the dice – South Beach, FL
I have written plenty about South Beach. It’s a great place to be single, which means I am sure it is a great place for a bachelor party. All of the standard bachelor party amenities exist – great strip clubs, great restaurants, great nightclubs, and sun. There is even gambling a short drive from the beach.
Where to stay: For an all-guys weekend I would recommend staying at the Gansevoort South. There are huge rooms and plenty of “UNTZ UNTZ” at the roof pool. If you want to really ball, rent a yacht for the weekend. This is highly recommended if you want to make it more than just another weekend in Miami.
How to get there: JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale shouldn’t be more than $300 a man.
Daytime: If you can’t get a yacht, rent one for one of the days. Otherwise sit by the pool or on the beach recruiting for the night. I suggest the brunch party at La Piaggia on Sundays.
Nighttime: Prime 112 or Prime Italian night one, then STK night two. LIV at the Fountainbleu night one, then Wall at the W, night two. At 3 a.m. head to a strip club downtown. Tootsies and Scarlets are the best, followed by Deans and Gold Rush. Don’t complicate perfection.
Insider tip: Don’t expect to get taken care of as a big group of dudes. Find a friend who knows some girls down there to accompany the crew, or even invest in a concierge service. Additionally, make sure your wives, girlfriends, their friends, or your other relatives are not doing a spa weekend at the Betsy or something. Not cool to get blown up on a Bachelor Party.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: As long as you don’t end up on a girl from Lynn or FIU’s facebook account, you should be good. For a quick getaway from your impending nuptuals, head for The Keys and jump on a boat to Cuba. Castro won’t extradite you to your former fiancé and her family. You could be the next Elian Gonzalez.
But honey I have always wanted to try surfing – San Jose & Jaco, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a paradise of rain forests and beaches, with a side of sin. As with most Latin American and Central American countries, life is cheap and there are plenty of ways to get into trouble, European style. So whether its late nights at a strip club, sunsets in a surf town, or zip lining through the rain forests, Costa Rica is a great spot for a man-cation.
Where to stay: Rent a Villa at Los Suenos Marriot in Jaco Beach. In San Jose, crash at The Whitehouse or the Intercontinental Hotel.
How to get there: Lacsa is the national airline of Costa Rica and operates out of San Jose.
Daytime: San Jose doesn’t have much going on during the day. Jaco has beautiful beaches for lying out or surfing. Zip lining through the Rain Forest is a great option for a daytime activity, but plan it for the first day so you are not that drunk. Your man-servant will arrange for a chef to cook breakfast and dinner at your villa.
Nighttime: There are casinos with strip clubs inside in San Jose. There are great beach bars and simple Taco and fish shacks in Jaco. For the big group dinners I would definitely recommend staying at the hotels or having the chef cook in your villa. There is trouble everywhere, so keep your group tight and leave the beer muscles in New York.
Insider Tip: This is no place for weak and weary.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: High, as long as you don't get too high.
Exotic Nordics who like to drink – Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is a certain type of bachelor’s paradise. It is an isolated island with limited resources, except smoking hot Nordic ass. From what I am told, Norwegian woman love American men and there are tons of beautiful girls around every corner. That combined with a culture that has one of the highest rates of alcoholism and a raging nightlife make for a perfect Stag weekend.
Where to stay: In Reykjavík, the Hotel Borg pleasantly revives its 1930s ambience and is the most centrally located hotel in the old town. The luxurious Landmark Hotel has six suites in a central, converted Jugendstil townhouse. It has lots of character, but the service could use some polishing. Newer is the four-star Nordica Hotel, owned by Iceland Air.
How to get there: Iceland Air has good fares due to the economic crisis right now.
Daytime: There are tons of nature activities in Iceland such as ice climbing and deep sea fishing. Both seem fun, but not for a bachelor party. The most appealing for a bachelor party are Heita Potturinn, hot springs/geothermal swimming pools where you can sweat out the alcohol while being waiting on hand and foot. The hottest pools have controlled temperatures of up to 44°C (108°F) and are said to have certain medical benefits. It is compulsory to take a nude shower and wash thoroughly before entering. The largest is Laugardalslaug, which has a 150-foot pool, curved waterslide, five pools of differing temperatures and a steam bath. This will rejuvenate you before the night’s debauchery.
Nighttime: Pravda, Thorvaldsen Bar and Solon are the spots that offer VIP tables and private rooms. These spots have bottle service but there are also a ton of bars in the 101 District that do not. For dinner, the spots to check out are Laekjarbrekka for an upscale meal and for something trendier, check out Café Paris or Café Solon.
Insider tip: Go tanning before you go, the people love dark skin. They will look at you like you are a celebrity.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: Dependant on whether you like light-skinned or dark-skinned women. Personally I could not live on this island; they have a terrible diet based on fish prepared in every possible way, including their national dish of putrefied shark.
The Sideways: a Food, Wine, and Golf Alternative – Napa Valley
Sometimes you feel like nut, sometimes you don’t. Vegas gets nuts, Napa don’t. Different strokes for different folks, as you get tired and older, and if you just want a relaxing weekend before you get married, Napa is the spot. Perfect scenery, great food, and great golf… need I say more?
Where to stay: Carneros Inn
How to get there: Most major airlines fly to San Francisco or Oakland. JetBlue flies to Oakland. You will need transportation from the airport.
Daytime: Wine tasting, sitting by the pool, playing golf, going to the spa. We recommend boutique vineyards where you can have lunch and meet the winemakers. Some of our favorites include Kelham, Shwieger, and Hall-Rutherford.
Nighttime: There is not much nightlife in Napa; this trip will be much more about the meals. I wouldn’t go to the super fancy spots for your bachelor party, but setting up some great steak dinners would be a good move. I would recommend Press and Cole’s Chophouse for steak, Thomas Keller’s ADHOC for fried chicken, and Michael Chiarello’s Bottega for Italian.
Insider Tip: Get a driver to take you to the vineyards during the day so you don’t kill yourself before your wedding. Make the driver stop into Taylor’s Refresher for a snack between Vineyards.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: 100%, unless she calls it off because you come back too fat.
The Local – New York
Sometimes people just cannot getaway, but luckily we live in the city that never sleeps. The best part of New York is that you can have anything you want whenever you want it. Why should your bachelor party be any different? Free your mind and the rest will follow. I think they call this a “staycation.”
Where to stay: Home, The Standard or The Gansevoort.
How to get there: Limos are the way to go. Party buses are super gauche. Book at NewYorkLimos.com.
Daytime: Manhattan has a little bit of everything for everyone. I am personally partial to a day at a Russian bathhouse for steams, sauna, and some vodka. If you’re looking for more activity, I think the Revel or Bagatelle brunch would be the way to go.
Nighttime: Robert’s Steakhouse at the Penthouse Club, no question. I would stay away from nightclubs; bar hopping on the LES or maybe even a bar crawl seems like it will end up better. Most importantly, be creative and do something you wouldn’t normally do.
Insider Tip: Get a suite at the hotel and get the strippers there. It’s a better option than going to the club and your whole crew can relax.
Likelihood of the marriage happening after the trip: You will be a-ok, just don’t be an idiot. I know this is hard for some of us, but just try.
As we piled into the van to leave our villa in Jaco Beach and head to the airport, the group had a look of shell shock. What had occurred on this trip was unholy and things would never be the same. If they built the most luxurious resort in the world in Costa Rica, I am not sure we would be able to return due to trauma. There were highs and lows, humor and fear, sadness and elation. As our manservant, Humberto, drives, he looks at me and smiles just enough so that I can see his man-braces. I think he is happy to see me quivering in pain as he maneuvers his aged Suzuki over the rugged terrain. The radio screeches and we stop. One of the boys in the van behind is puking out the window as some Costa Rican farmers point and laugh. We have just enough energy left to get on the plane and hopefully fall asleep. Mac turns to Cam on the plane and says, “Listen, if one of us doesn’t make it, let’s not cause a scene. I could really use the couple of hours of sleep.” Cam replies, “Have you lost your mind? If I die on this plane you’re just going to sit there and wait so you don’t disrupt your rest? Just kidding, I like where your head’s at… DEAL.” They slap each other five and fade away, not opening them again until they are back in the good ol’ US of A.
As we return to the everyday grind, the only thing keeping us going are the memories and the knowledge that we left every bit of hope we had on that beach in Costa Rica. Dash’s marriage will begin the next phase of our lives, the bachelor parties will get tame, and things will never be the same. But for one last weekend we had it all, we were kings of the castle, masters of our domain.
“Tigers love pepper… They hate Cinnamon.”
-Alan Garner, The Hangover
For assistance in planning your bachelor party to the above destinations and many others email Deluxe Experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks to Joshua Shames for his contribution to this piece.
See you next time at Cocktail Hour, where more often than not one drink turns into ten and no one knows where and when the night will end.