Girlfriend Getaways

YOU COULD CALL IT the sisterhood of the traveling...well, travelers! These days, it seems that more and more women are leaving the men and kids at home and taking a vacation focused around good old-fashioned female bonding—a "girlfriend getaway." The Iyari Suite at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa awaits guests for a "No Boys Allowed" Girls' Getaway

Luckily for agents, it looks like hotels and spas have gotten the memo: We found hundreds of packages catering to the all-female crowd of travelers who seek pampering, fun and excitement, great dining and lots of time for girl-talk on their trips.

"We've been noticing this trend for a while," says Mark Grenoble, president of the Enchantment Group, which comprises Mii amo Spa, Enchantment Resorts and Tides Inn. "In the last couple of years, it has really bloomed." He notes that Monday holidays that create three-day long weekends are prime time for girlfriend getaways, so booking well ahead of time is important. "This past Martin Luther King Day, we hosted seven different groups of girlfriends at one time," he says. "One was a group of college friends in about their mid-40s that gets together once a year. The husbands watch the kids, and the women all meet at Mii amo." Grenoble says that most groups he sees are between four and eight women, usually in the 35- to 50-year-old age range.

If you have a client who wants to plan a girls' trip, remember that flexibility is key. "The women we see just like to go to nice dinners, spend time in the spa," says Grenoble. He notes that the groups don't usually pre-schedule themselves for too rigid of an itinerary; rather, the women will simply book a couple of hotel rooms and maybe dinner reservations at various restaurants. "During the day, there are no set plans. A few in the group will be off having spa treatments; the others will be talking and hanging out by the pool, which serves as sort of their home base or meeting spot throughout the day. At night, they'll get dressed up and reconvene for dinner," says Grenoble, who adds that it's common for girls' groups to push their dinner reservations back a bit later.

The "0 Day" Trend

So to what kind of client should you suggest a girls' getaway? Surely bachelorette parties are often a reason for the celebratory trip. Women looking for a long weekend away with friends can be lucrative for travel agents

"We're sort of the 'anti-Vegas,'" says Grenoble. "People are getting married later these days, and the brides in their 30s and 40s are looking for something more low-key and relaxed than bar- and club-hopping. They just want to spend time together and be pampered."

Another frequent customer, he says, are those marking milestones that he dubbed the "0 Birthdays."

"We get many women who are celebrating their 30th, 40th or 50th birthdays with their girlfriends. In a lot of cases, it's actually the husband's birthday gift to his wife."

Whether it's spa, sunbathing or even adventure that a group of girlfriends is seeking, a plethora of packages exist to make your job as an agent easier. Below, we've handpicked a few of the more unique options out there; just be sure to ask your client about the reason for the trip and how busy or relaxed the women want to be.

No Boys Allowed

Ohtli Spa at the CasaMagna Marriott in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers the "No Boys Allowed" Girls' Getaway in its special Iyari Grand Luxury Suite, a 280-square-foot private room designed for small groups or celebrities seeking privacy. There's enough room in the suite for women to have their spa treatments at the same time, so the conversation and relaxation can be easily combined.

The package starts at $1,611 per person and includes a three-day, four-night stay, daily breakfast, and four signature spa treatments per stay. Agents can book online at www.casamagnapuertovallarta.com and refer to rate code FLP.

For Sporty Girlfriends

Daytona Oceanfront Hotels in Daytona Beach, FL, provides an opportunity for women to to bond over links and drinks with its "Girls and Golf" package, which starts at $269 per person. The deal includes two nights' deluxe accommodations, a 30-minute hydralift facial and a 30-minute Swedish massage for each person, a round of golf for two at Golf Club at Cypress Head, and a girls' gift basket filled with snacks, a make-your-own-cosmo kit and a picture frame.

To book the "Girls and Golf" package, call Reggie Hunter at 1-877-302-GOLF or visit www.bwakutiki.com/girlsandgolf and www.daytonabahamahouse.com/girlsandgolf.

Elements at The Ritz-Carlton Spa

The Ritz-Carlton Naples just unveiled a unique offering for girlfriends at its spa. The new Elements Signature Treatment, which can be combined with its two-hour Spa Party package (for two or more women), begins with a consultation to determine what "element" the woman is—wood, fire, earth, metal or water—according to Chinese astrology. Each woman then receives an aromatic foot soak, face and body mask, scalp treatment, and massage with essential oils and therapies specially formulated for her element type.

For more information about the Spa Party packages, Elements therapies, or other new offerings at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, visit www.ritzcarlton.com or call 239-514-6100.

A Girls' Getaway Gone "Pink"

The Durango Area Tourism Office of Durango, CO, is offering women a fresh and healthy twist to the girl's mini vacation. To encourage awareness of breast cancer and effective screening, Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, CO, encourages groups of girlfriends to include their annual mammograms on their weekend activity list. Girlfriends' packages also include accommodations at one of a number of participating hotels in the historic mountain town and any combination of boutique shopping, art galleries, dining, outdoor activities and spa treatments. Call 970-749-0991 or visit www.durangoreservations.org/girlfriends.

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