Cash in on hen and stag breaks, no matter what the budget
Some questions are fairly obvious for a wedding or honeymoon booking. What sort of ceremony would you like? How about a flight upgrade? Do you want to jet off straight after the wedding or wait a while?
Yet the conversation rarely strays on to the subject of the stag or hen do. With an increasing number of brides and grooms-to-be celebrating their last hurrah abroad, this is a lucrative groups market with too much potential to pass over.
It will probably be down to the best man and bridesmaids to make the arrangements, but there’s no harm in pointing out at this stage that a travel agent can make light work of a complicated group booking, with a view to securing a sale down the line.
As with any big booking, price is key, so here are a few options for stags and hens no matter how much they have to spend.
Save: Keep it simple
For the boys: Budget-conscious stags should focus on conserving their beer money with no-frills flights and basic accommodation; shared apartments and self-catering hotels keep costs low, and how often would they make it down for breakfast after a heavy night anyway?
Eastern Europe is an obvious contender, with stag break favourites such as Prague, Budapest and Krakow already well-established, while Vilnius in Lithuania, Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia are starting to nip at their heels.
These all rank among the best-value European cities, according to the Post Office City Costs Barometer, where the price of a beer is one measure taken into account.
However, it might surprise some to see Lisbon, Athens and Dubrovnik also in the top 10.
SuperBreak has also seen more stag break bookings in German cities such as Hamburg, Munich and Berlin, especially during special events such as Oktoberfest, proving that good beer, cheap flights and plentiful activities are still top priorities.
For the girls: The same rules apply to the hens, albeit with less focus on beer halls and more on cocktail bars and beaches.
They might lack the budget to get off the beaten track, but established party towns such as Magaluf and Benidorm are both “hugely popular” according to SuperBreak, with prices from as little as £30 for three nights’self-catering in the latter.
And if they want sun without the clubbing crowd, budget options such as Sunny Beach in Bulgaria and Ayia Napa in Cyprus offer the nightlife but without the fear of missing out if they fancy the odd night in.
It’s also worth reminding couples that agents can organise a UK hen do too.
University cities such as Oxford and Cambridge are popular for refined weekends away, and it’s easy to add activities such as cocktail-making classes, makeovers, spa treatments and casino nights in most major cities through providers such as Attraction World and Do Something Different.
Spend: Fun comes first
For the boys: With more cash to spend, it’s easier to go big on activities. If the groom is into football, book a tour of Barcelona FC’s Nou Camp, Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium or Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena (prices start at £15 with Do Something Different).
For adrenaline addicts, suggest white-water rafting in Prague (£88 with SuperBreak), quad-biking in Turkey (available at most resorts), or opt for fun and games with an It’s a Knockout-style assault course near Barcelona, which brings together sumo wrestling, gladiator fights, human table football and bungee ropes for two hours of guaranteed laughs (at Humor Amarillo, costing £65 via SuperBreak).
Alternatively, channel those extra funds into the likes of Dublin or Amsterdam, where the lack of bargain beer is more than made up for in character and entertainment.
For the girls: For every bride who wants classic crowd-pleasers such as spas and shopping, there’s another who would rather be out paintballing or off-road driving, so getting to know the group is key.
A safe choice for sun, shopping and spa is Jersey. Head to its pretty beaches and boutique shops by day, then the bars and restaurants of lively St Helier by night.
Choose a spa hotel so bridesmaids can have at least one day where they don’t have to plan too many activities, with good facilities at the four-star Radisson Blu on the waterfront, or the two-floor spa and champagne bar at the five-star Grand Hotel Jersey.
Or forget the spas and go for a fun-packed break instead: a quick jaunt over to the French capital should be a sure-fire hit, and can be livened up with trips to Disneyland Paris or the world’s most famous cabaret, the Moulin Rouge (from £97 with champagne from Attraction World).
Image credit: Atout France, Cedric Helsly Paris cabaret
Splurge: Go further
For the boys: Don’t let money cramp your stags’ style – for those who want to see off their single days with a bang, take this opportunity to go long-haul or upgrade a short-haul holiday to something special.
The party doesn’t get much bigger than Ibiza, where stags can be out all night then come home and sleep it off in luxury pool villas from the likes of Thomson and CV Villas, or similarly comfortable options across the other Balearic and Canary islands.
But the daddy of all lads’ destinations is Las Vegas. This is a city devoted to fun in every form, from old-school casinos and showgirls to a new generation of blockbuster shows and heart-pumping rides.
If the budget is generous enough, throw in extras such as limos, helicopter flights and pool parties. Funway has a tour with unlimited drinks in a limo party bus plus entry to A-list pool parties at the Venetian and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (from £35).
Marketing executive Rebecca Evans says: “For an authentic stag weekend in Vegas, we recommend the palatial MGM Grand, the largest hotel on the strip, but the real draw is Wet Republic, a pool scene that can get out of control – in a good way!”
For the girls: New York is an equally popular option as no matter how many times hens have been, there’s always more to see.
Tune it to the group’s interests with tours of key filming locations from shows such as Sex and the City or Gossip Girl (from £32 and £31 with Attraction World), or book in for some retail therapy with an excursion to Woodbury Common Outlets.
One interest they’re all likely to agree on is New York’s cocktail culture, so suggest they head straight to the best spots with the help of a local guide on Urban Adventures’ craft cocktail tour (£51) which goes beyond mojitos and Manhattans to sample spirits from micro-distilleries, learn about speakeasies and gangsters, and visit some of East Village’s best bars.
Image credit: Intrepid Travel, Urban Adventures
Alternatively, blow the budget on a luxury spa break to La Residence des Cascades in Soma Bay, Egypt, which offers girls’ getaway packages that include vouchers for spa treatments such as Thai massage or reflexology.
There’s also kite-surfing, diving, tennis courts and a championship golf course for hens who would rather skip the spa.
SuperBreak offers two nights’ bed and breakfast to Bournemouth with a cocktail class and casino package with a drink, bar meal and £5 starter chip for £119. superbreak.com/agents
Three nights’ B&B at the Grand Hotel in Jersey starts at £375 with Premier Holidays with flights from Gatwick. premierholidays.co.uk
Funway Holidays offers four nights at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas with flights from Manchester, a Grand Canyon helicopter tour and limo transfers, from £999. funway.co.uk
Book central accommodation on city breaks, so guests can get back easily even if others want to stay out later
Forget to pre-book activities – it helps with budgeting in advance and saves arguments over what to do
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