Mancations Florida-Style

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The Florida Keys and the Everglades are made for manly-man vacations, although tell your metrosexual clients there’s room for them, too.

Pick up a brochure lauding the glories of a destination and you’re bound to see bright photos showing an exquisite getaway where seclusion leads to romance amid splendor and opulence. There will be sunsets, flowers, chilled champagne and the inevitable photograph of footprints in the sand—not exactly the magnet to pull in the macho crowd.

Publishers of these tracts know what they’re doing. They’re fully aware that females invariably have the final say on picking the destination for a much-anticipated vacation and, naturally, print brochures with women in mind.

Let’s face it: vacations are generally geared for couples traveling together or for females traveling in groups.

That’s all fine and dandy. But what if a man is toying with the idea of getting away with a couple of buddies to do manly things that normally would be so far off the feminine radar most women would rather chip a freshly manicured nail than consider doing?

We’re talking hair-on-the-chest escapes in toughened places that would be more at home in a Norman McLean or Jim Harrison book than in travel brochures—trips where clients want a smoke-jumper or a big, two-hearted river rush with a little down time in rough hewn bars or sitting fireside on a moonlit beach drinking and saying things like, “The sumbitch came like a rocket to the bait and made a run for the deep. Took two hours to land ‘im.”

In short, what if a man is contemplating a “mancation”?

No one knows where the word “mancation” originated; conventional wisdom has it that it first reared its head in the 2006 movie “The Break-Up.” Others maintain the word was lurking in the bushes way before then.

It really doesn’t matter. Mancation is now a familiar term used to denote the polar opposite of the successful and profitable “all-female getaway packages” that have been the mainstay of many resorts for years.

This new branch of the travel industry is mirrored on the fact that so-called “all-male bonding” packages are appearing regularly and feature, among other activities, extreme sports, poker tournaments, and whiskey and cigar tasting.

Also the fact that 20 million U.S. males between the ages of 30-55 go on mancations every year, collectively spending between $10 and $12 billion during such trips, was a sure way to make the travel industry sit up and take notice of the concept. And although golf remains the most popular activity for male vacationers, other activities are rapidly giving the old passive sport a run for its money.

Two years ago, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts dipped its toe into this market, creating the country’s first mancation packages featuring whiskey tasting, cigars, poker, cocktail seminars and 3-course steak dinners. Last September, Kentucky used these statistics to promote a highly successful all-male trek down the state’s Bourbon Trail to celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month.

Despite those feathers on the mancation cap, most travel agents overall remain at a loss when asked to point out places tailored for this sort of getaway. Sure, a cursory look into male-oriented vacations will probably result in viewing lots of brochures and visiting a ton of websites describing places where drumming, chanting and meditation is the course du jour, and where men gather to get in touch with the silliness of their inner Phil Jackson.

But what about dynamic things? Men things?

Perhaps no place suits a vacationer looking for this type of pursuit as well as the Florida Keys, the enchanting and alluring islands known for their unparalleled outdoor action; a sun-drenched land on the go where the waft of Tampa cigars goes down as sweetly as a Ted Williams swing in an old newsreel.

The most tropical tract of land in the Lower 48 has everything. Here, action junkies can experience first-hand the thrills that serve as a backdrop to Florida’s energetic lifestyle. Some of the most alluring activities in which men can partake during a mancation include hiking through mangroves, fishing, kayaking and diving.

The most appealing, of course, center around watersports. After all, this is a land that lives off the ocean.