If you’re anything like me, then you love to do it big for your birthday (or any celebratory affair for that matter). But as turning 31 loomed over me, I decided I was done with the days of bottle service in the club, party buses throughout the city, and extravagant affairs that didn’t really leave me as fulfilled as just spending some downtime and good laughs with my closest girlfriends. I’m sure we can all relate to the fact that scheduling a few days away with your girls is good for the soul. That’s why a girlfriend’s wellness staycation was the best thing to satisfy my need to celebrate, enjoy a bit of luxury, but also not be left with a hefty receipt following all of my birthday festivities. And the best part about it is, it doesn’t require a lot of time or money if you plan it right. With staycations, you get to save the hassle that comes with the booking of air tickets, last-minute packing, currency exchange, the mad airport dash, planning of leave, complex itinerary planning and so on. So once I decided on my theme, I was sold. Here’s how I planned a wellness girls’ weekend in New York City, and how you can too, anywhere in the world.   Where If your budget allows and you want the true “vacation” experience, seek out a nice room or suite, at a hotel such as the Embassy Suites Midtown Manhattan (or any Embassy Suites brand hotel). Staying in a hotel automatically puts you in a vacation frame of mind, but it’s not as expensive as having to dish out a lot of cash when you’re abroad, once you tack on all of the additional out of town expenses. For me, the location was perfect — it’s in the heart of New York City, and close to Times Square, which meant almost everything you need is walkable. The hotel has gorgeous decor (neutrals mostly, but lots of textures to help keep it cozy) and the most inviting lobby as soon as you walk inside. We checked into our King Bed studio rooms on a Saturday night, popped some bottles of Empower Cocktails and Courvoisier to kick off the evening, and then went down to the SkyLawn Terrace to continue our drinks in their rooftop space.  We ordered in that night from their menu and spent our dinner laughing and spilling all kinds of tea to one another — it seriously felt like home! The guest rooms were spacious and comfortable — with tons of space, a mini-fridge, and an oversized bathroom, with plenty of vanity space for all of the girls to get ready for the night in. So when choosing your location, make sure it has all of the amenities and needs that will fill what you are trying to accomplish for your staycation weekend? Have a lot of girls coming? Maybe, you’ll need a suite. Want to be able to cook? Make sure there is a kitchen. Want to have drinks flowing all night? Make sure there’s a bar (or an option to BYOB). Your location is the most critical component in planning, that’s why for me, the Embassy Suites was perfect.   What When planning a staycation, it is important to abandon your typical routine. The idea is that you’re being a tourist in your own city. A good way to start is to plan a visit to at least one place you’ve never been to during your staycation.  This could be a new restaurant, museum, local attraction, spa or whatever you want. Chances are, you may discover a new favorite place right in your own backyard. For us, since our weekend was wellness-themed, we opted for Sojo Spa Club, a luxury Korean bath spa, just outside of the city featuring a rooftop infinity pool and breathtaking views of NYC. We spent the day here before checking into our humble abodes at the Embassy Suites, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect afternoon. Later, we continued our wellness-themed night, by pampered in-suite massages, and games such as For The Culture and Black Card Revoked. We laughed and played games until the wee hours of the morning, but called it quits around 2 AM, because a boot camp was waiting for us in the morning. We arose the next morning by 10 AM, ready to start the day. Because we’re a black girl group that loves the peace of mind and tranquility, a medication was the first thing on the agenda the next morning, before an intense workout in the hotel’s fitness center led by trainer and health coach Thomas Boatswain of JTW Fit. The icing on the weekend was brunch, where we toasted not only to my birthday but one another’s accomplishments.   Who Perhaps the most simple aspect of your staycation planning is deciding who all will be attending. When deciding on the crew, make sure you invite your closest girlfriends, who also are the ones who leave the drama at the door. Your weekend should be filled with good vibes, good laughs, good food and good conversation. If you do it right, your weekend will feel just as good as a week-long celebration out of the country.