Girlfriends’ getaway
May/Jun 2004

Above: Shoppers exploring the sprawling Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, where there are plenty of shops and restaurants. Greater Kansas City Convention & Visitors Bureau photo

Below: Diners enjoying the outdoor seating at Duff’s Restaurant in the Central West End of St. Louis, which is
filled with funky shops and cafés. St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission photo

Before You Go
For more information, contact:

The Greater Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-767-7700, www.visitkc.com;

Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau, (785) 865-4411, www.visitlawrence.com;

St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, 1-800-916-0040, www.explorestlouis.com.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks and TourBook guides. View a list of offices.

Order free information through the Reader Service Card online. Click on Reader Resources.

From a rustic Ranch to posh hotels,
escape for a weekend with these ideas.
By Deborah Reinhardt
Managing Editor

n the 1953 musical, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Marilyn Monroe sings her signature number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” I’d bet today’s woman would prefer a few days away from her office and family responsibilities.

Whether for Mother’s Day, a birthday, an anniversary or just because she deserves one, a girlfriend getaway is a gift that will keep on giving for days–even weeks. She’ll return home relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Here are a few close-to-home getaway suggestions that can be good for an overnight or a weekend.

Kansas City, here I come

A woman who knows how to plan a short getaway will seek out tips from insiders. Katie Van Luchene, editor of “Kansas City Home Design” magazine, is a girl’s best travel companion in Kansas City.

Grab a copy of her recent book, “Insider’s Guide to Kansas City” (Globe Pequot Press) for tips on entertainment, attractions and dining.

When asked about girlfriend getaway ideas, Van Luchene recommended Crossroads Arts District.

Each first Friday of the month, the district hosts a gallery walk. According to Van Luchene, it’s becoming the place to be seen.
“Here, the bohemians meet the beautiful people. You never know whom you’ll see; that’s the fun part,” she said.

The five-block district is south of downtown. Van Luchene suggested art aficionados check out the Blue Gallery on West 19th Street, Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art on Baltimore Avenue and Pearl on McGee Street.

Feather your nest at Lula Mac, High Cotton Home Furnishings and Curios Sofa, all on Southwest Boulevard.

Interesting boutiques include Birdies on West 18th Street, featuring hand-painted lingerie, and Aesthetica on Wyandotte Street, offering giftware and gourmet chocolates.

“And what’s a shopping trip without shoes?” Van Luchene asked, laughing. She said Bob Jones Shoes on Grand Boulevard has 100,000 shoes at up to 70 percent off retail.

“The whole area is like Santa Fe was decades ago,” Van Luchene said. “It exploded about two years ago.”

No need to wait until the First Friday event to explore the area.

“Most galleries are open any given weekend,” she said.

Crossroads district is best for women who’ve been to Kansas City a couple of times, or who live in the greater Kansas City area. First-time visitors should at least begin their stay at Country Club Plaza.

Developed in 1922 by J.C. Nichols as the country’s first shopping center, the plaza is a collection of sculptures, fountains, shopping, entertainment and fine dining.

Gayle Terry, marketing manager for the plaza, had a list of places girlfriends should hit, including Inner Self, a store that celebrates the art of lounging. Specialty stores like Perfect Scents perfumery or Maggie Shepherd’s handcrafted jewelry, scarves and handbags balance the bigger stores like Mark Shale, Saks Fifth Avenue and Halls.

For ladies who’d like to stay right at the plaza, treat yourself to the Fairmont Hotel (816-756-1500). The AAA Four Diamond property has 366 rooms, a great jazz bar with more than 400 martinis on the drink menu and fine dining in the Oak Room. A new girlfriend getaway package includes a room with two double beds, a disposable camera and snacks for $209 ($239 in the fall). The Fairmont is elegant, features a wonderful staff and, perhaps best of all, guests can easily walk to anywhere in the plaza.

“Kansas City is a fascinating town,” Van Luchene said. “It’s a cross between East Coast sophistication, Southern hospitality and a bit of the Wild West.”

Lollygagging in Lawrence

Remember the slumber parties with grade school girlfriends? That experience has been re-created for big girls at the Circle S Ranch and Country Inn in Lawrence, a AAA Three Diamond property.

Owner Mary Cronemeyer said the idea for a girlfriend getaway came about three years ago.

“We needed a good winter getaway after Christmas. Women like to get together. It’s just like a slumber party,” she said.

A slumber party with fajitas, margaritas and chocolate. Toss in a soak in the hot tub or in the whirlpool tub in your room and feel all cares melt away.

The ranch has been in Cronemeyer’s family since the 1860s. The 1,200 acres are loaded with ponds, trails, hills and a small herd of buffalo. If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for, it’s here at Circle S.

The inn’s rich wood and charming western décor embraces guests from the time they set foot inside. Each of the 12 rooms has a private bath, plush towels, robes and either a king, queen or double bed. Some rooms have a fireplace and whirlpool.

The Circle S Ranch is off County Road 1045. Call (785) 843-4124 for reservations or directions.

For those who’d like to stay in downtown Lawrence near to shops, restaurants and entertainment, consider the package offered at the historic Eldridge Hotel (785-749-5011) at Seventh and Massachusetts.

The top two floors feature 48 two-room suites, each named for a person who played an important role in Lawrence history. In the lower level, visit Serenity Garden Day Spa for a variety of treatments and massages.

The Ladies Only Package includes accommodations in the double suite, wine, a party platter, one-hour massage in the spa and breakfast at Shalor’s, the hotel’s AAA Three Diamond restaurant. Prices start at $110 per person for two.

Down the street from the hotel, we found a wonderful shop, “Soap Momma,” featuring handmade soaps and girlie gifts. Stop in for a fun, inexpensive indulgence.

Meet up in St. Louis

Judy Garland in the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” gazes over the 1904 World’s Fair and remarks that it’s all right here in St. Louis. For gals in need of a getaway, St. Louis has plenty to keep them busy and happy, whether it’s for an afternoon or an entire weekend.

This is the 100th anniversary of the World’s Fair in St. Louis, and fans of this historic event have an exhibit opening in May at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. The St. Louis Art Museum, also within the park, will have an exhibit pertaining to the fair from April 30–Sept. 12, as well as “Art of the Osage,” on view now through Aug. 8. Stop for lunch at Puck’s, the museum’s new restaurant featuring the cuisine of Wolfgang Puck. The museum shop on the lower level also is excellent.

One of the city’s most fascinating neighborhoods is the Central West End, located just a few minutes from Forest Park. A collection of restaurants, shops and clubs, the “west end” is stylish and funky. For girls who crave chocolate, don’t miss Bissinger’s French Confections, one of the last handcrafted chocolatiers in the world.

The nearby AAA Four Diamond Chase Park Plaza Hotel (314-633-3000) offers a girls’ night out package for $899 for four, including accommodations in a two-bedroom suite, selected spa treatments with mimosas and champagne, movie tickets, drinks at Chaser’s Lounge or the sophisticated Café Eau and brunch or breakfast the next day in the Eau Bistro.

Other ideas for a getaway include a cooking class for small groups at the Kitchen Conservatory in the central community of Clayton. Breeze through the shops at nearby St. Louis Galleria and try the salad at the Women’s Exchange in nearby Ladue, or afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton. The AAA Four Diamond hotel has a new “Girls’ Night In” package for four guests that includes chocolate-covered strawberries and a complimentary Ritz-Carlton bathrobe.

This spring, forget the house cleaning, grab a friend and fine-tune your inner self with a girlfriend getaway. •

More Girl Getaways

an’t make up your mind for a getaway? Here are a few more ideas for a girlfriends’ weekend.

  • A shopping trip in Chicago this spring can be had for as low as $119 per night now through May 16. For reservations, call 1-877-244-2246 or click on www.877chicago.com.
  • Head to Springfield, Ill., for a two- night Ultimate Girls’ Night Out package at the Comfort Inn that includes a day at BJ’s Grand Salon, dinner at Indigo’s and limo service from the hotel to the spa and restaurant. This getaway is available through Labor Day weekend and costs $699, not including hotel tax. For reservations or more information, call the Comfort Inn, call (217) 787-2250.
  • Learn how to take time for your body, spirit and overall health during the Mother’s Day Rejuvenation Celebration, May 7–9, at Spa Shiki at the Lodge of Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, Mo. The price is $105 per person. The spa has a full selection of body massage therapies, plus treatments for the body, face, hands, legs and feet. For additional information, call 1-800-THE-LAKE (1-800-843-5253) or click on www.spashiki.com.
  • New Harmony, Ind., will host its first international wine festival at the New Harmony Inn, May 15 and 16.
  • Twenty-five wineries from around the world will participate, and guests may enjoy a luncheon with the winemakers on May 16. Festival tickets are $40; packages are available. Call (812) 682-4431 for more information.
  • Also in southern Indiana, the historic French Lick Springs Resort and Spa offers two spa pampering packages. Enjoy room accommodations and two 25-minute treatments. Another package includes breakfast and dinner for each guest per night. Prices start at $122 for weekends. Call 1-800-457-4042 or visit www.frenchlick.com for reservations.

–Deborah Reinhardt

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