TRAVEL Q&A

Vegas: Bridal Blowout

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By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 26, 2006

Q. Ten women are headed to Vegas for a bachelorette party weekend. Any suggestions on how to make the bride's last night as a bachelorette memorable?

Nita Lalla, Arlington

A. The first thing you need to ask: How blushing is the bride? "For bachelorettes, there are a lot of options," says Bonnie Limon, a customer service agent at Vegas.com, the online travel site. "They can choose from rowdy, mild or real rowdy."

Bride-to-be activities rank from G to XXX. For example, Vegas.com lists the Naughty Tour, which includes info on strips club for women (e.g., the Olympic Gardens) and racy revues ("Zumanity," "La Femme," etc.). Under the bachelorette party heading, you can find details on restaurants that would welcome girls wearing boxers on their heads, such as Kahunaville at Treasure Island; party places like the Rio's Flirt Lounge, which has an all-male waitstaff; and hot clubs like Bellagio's Light and MGM Grand's Studio 54. When the music stops, move the celebration to one of the Palms's Party Floor Suites, such as the Crib Suite, which comes with a deejay booth and video gaming lounge, or the Kingpin Suite, which has a bowling alley and bar. Info: 866-942-7777, http://www.palms.com/ .

If you prefer an escort (we're talking bus driver here), Vegas Pubcrawlers (702-949-0846, http://www.vegaspubcrawlers.com/ ) offers six-hour excursions that include dinner, entertainment and four bar stops. The tours can also be customized for a bachelorette party, such as having a male dancer perform on the bus, which is kitted out with a stripper pole and fog machine. Cost is $75 to $200 per person.

For fiance-approved activities, get pampered at the Canyon Ranch spa in the Venetian or Mandalay Bay's Spa Mandalay. Though it attracts an older clientele, Pubcrawlers president Michael Klein recommends Caesars Palace for upscale restaurants (Spago, Sushi Roku, etc.) and shopping, a top-ranked casino and elegant suites. However, for the hippest Sin City scene, the Hard Rock Hotel (800-HRD-ROCK, http://www.hardrockhotel.com)/ has a sandy pool beach, swim-up blackjack, live bands and the Body English nightclub. Finally, send off Miss Bachelorette on a high note -- a nighttime helicopter ride over the sparkly, sinful Strip.

For info on Las Vegas: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 877-VISIT-LV, http://www.visitlasvegas.com/ .

My husband and I will be in Quito, Ecuador, for three days and will have a personal tour guide. What should we tell him we want to see?

Robin and Nick Swerdlow, Arlington

Quito has great heights and heritage: The Ecuadorian capital, which sits 9,186 feet above sea level, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city received this designation for its historic district, which is filled with golden churches like La Compania and other examples of the Baroque School of Quito; the San Francisco Monastery; and museums including the City Museum. You can also find cafes, restaurants and shops lining its plazas and cobblestone side streets. Cristina Camacho, the embassy's cultural attache, also recommends the exhibits at the Itchimbia Crystal Palace, and says the palace is the spot to watch the sun drop and the lights of Quito click on. After dark, she suggests taking a horse-drawn carriage around the district to see the Cathedral, Presidential House and other monumental buildings.

For your remaining time, ride a cable car 9,843 feet up the Ruccu Pichincha mountain. At the top, you'll find long views of the valley and active volcanoes, restaurants, handicrafts and an amusement park. Also, visit the Middle of the Earth, where the Equatorial Monument marks the hemispheric divide.

For day trips, Otavalo is a colorful Indian crafts market, and while there, you can windsurf or zip around the lakes, taste Ecuadorian cuisine and shop for leather goods at the Cotacachi market. Another option is to soak in the spas and thermal pools of Papallacta, about 40 miles east of Quito. To see the diverse landscape, ask your guide to drive through the Andean countryside, past adobe villages and terrace farmlands. Continue onwards to the Cotopaxi National Park, or for even wilder terrain, keep going till you hit the Andes or the Amazon. Info: Ecuador Ministry of Tourism, http://www.vivecuador.com/ .

Postscript

Chris and Lori Alvord of Arlington have a suggestion for dining in Santa Fe (Feb. 5). The Alvords recommend Gabriel's (Highway 285/84, 505-455-7000), a local spot 15 minutes northwest of the city. "Gabriel's menu is more traditional Mexico than New Mexico," they wrote by e-mail. "The food is exceedingly fresh, right down to the guacamole made at your tableside." Call ahead to reserve a courtyard table with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@ washpost.com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and home town.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company


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