As more and more women are traveling on their own (i.e., without their husbands/boyfriends/kids) and have more of their own money to spend, suppliers are increasingly meeting the demand with specialized “girlfriend getaway” packages. According to expert Marybeth Bond, the number of women-only tour operators has increased 230 percent in the past six years.
Ocean Club Resort in Turks & Caicos.
Why is it, then, that Ralph Iantosca, agency owner of GoGirl Travel, is having a difficult time recruiting agents who are willing to cater to this growing niche? “They don’t see the big picture,” Iantosca says. “I don’t think the agents see the full potential of one woman sitting in front of them.”
Although money has played a part in women not traveling in the past, Iantosca also says that guilt is a major factor. A mother might feel guilty spending money for her own enjoyment when that money can be spent on her children’s clothing, activities, school needs, etc. Then there are the feelings of shame for leaving her children behind and her responsibilities in the hands of someone else.
The irony is that regardless of who they travel with, where they travel or when, women are the major travel planners. This is the person Iantosca calls the “decision maker.”
Travel agents are in the position to encourage women—moms in particular—to see that a girlfriend getaway is not just the luxurious, extravagant escape it seems to be. “Women have to balance the entire weight of the world on their shoulders and make it all happen, no matter what,” Iantosca says. “A break is not only appealing, but crucial to maintaining mental wellness.”
And what makes girlfriend getaways different from traveling with a husband or boyfriend? “Being with like-minded people is what makes the trips great. Being with others who understand your stress can really help you unwind.”
Moms Are Girls, Too
When agents think of girlfriend getaways, young, active, 20-somethings may come to mind. But older, more established women might be a stronger bet. This market has the money, the leisure time and, perhaps most importantly, the need to get away. For instance, the mom who has kids graduating from school won’t be held back by the guilt of leaving her baby at home. She can now take that vacation that she’s been putting off for years and enjoy a reward for all her hard work. Moms are girls, too, and friends and daughters can both get in some bonding time. As Iantosca says, targeting the decision maker makes mom “feel good about herself as we recognize what she is doing.”
Packages being offered are geared toward women’s needs, but those needs may surprise you. Yes, women love to be pampered, to get the tension rubbed out of their bodies in a beautiful spa, to luxuriate in mud baths and to clear their heads with aromatherapy. But women like adventure, too. Marybeth Bond did some research and found that the average adventure traveler is a 47-year-old female and that women overall spent $55 billion in outdoor equipment this past year. From facials to yoga, hiking to golf, there are many packages women can choose from to share with their girlfriends. Below is just a brief listing:
Sivory Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic has a three-day, four-night Diva’s Getaway rejuvenation package. The program includes a series of various body treatments, manicures, pedicures and facials, including a luxury caviar and gold laminate facial. Also included in this package is a $150 resort credit when booked through Island Destinations; accommodations in a Deluxe Junior Suite or higher category; private helicopter arrival transfer from Punta Cana International Airport; private beach check-in with chilled towel service and complimentary champagne; morning gourmet treats daily; complimentary spa gift bag; and private ground transfer for departure. Rates start at $3,890 per room, based on double occupancy. It is valid for new bookings and travel through December 21.
Parrot Cay & Como Shambhala Spa in Turks and Caicos is offering a Rejuvenation Escape. This three-night getaway includes a private yoga session for two in the yoga pavilion; a Gardenview or Ocean Facing room; round-trip airport transfers by boat and hotel car; full American breakfast, lunch and three-course dinner daily in one of the restaurants (excluding beverages); a bottle of champagne on arrival; a fruit basket replenished daily; a group yoga and Pilates class per person, per stay; and a one-hour massage per person, per stay. Rates start at $2,550 per room, based on double occupancy, and are valid for new bookings through October 31 and travel from May 1 through October 31, 2008.
Also in Turks and Caicos, Ocean Club Resorts is offering a special four-night Girls’ Getaway Package, which includes three breakfasts, lunch and dinner vouchers and a $25 onsite merchant gift certificate. Guests can indulge in spa treatments, sailing on a catamaran, horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, diving, parasailing or golfing. Rates start at $699 per person, based on double occupancy (includes taxes and service fees). The package is valid through December 21. For reservations call 800-457-8787, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.oceanclub resorts.com.
The Colony-Palm Beach in Florida.
The Colony-Palm Beach, a AAA Four-Diamond property in Palm Beach, FL, has a special summer package: Girls Just Want To Have Fun. The price for this package is $490 ($245 per person), based on double occupancy, plus tax. It includes a choice of mini-facial or manicure and pedicure, a full breakfast daily, a Colony Beach Bag containing discounts for stores on Worth Avenue and other goodies, valet parking in the hotel’s lot and two $15 gift certificates per guest that can be used for meals in the Polo Steakhouse or Cafe 155, or for bicycle rentals or Colony clothing. Also included in the deal are complimentary admission to MoTown for those staying over on a Friday night and use of umbrellas, chairs and towels for the beach and pool. This package is valid May 8 through October 14. Contact Ruth Young, director of sales and marketing, at 561-655-5490 or [email protected].
The Enchantment Resort in Boynton Canyon, AZ, offers its Girlfriend Getaway package, which includes four nights for four people in an adobe-style casita, featuring a separate living room with a fireplace, kitchenette/dining area and private decks and porch with views of Boynton Canyon and Coconino National Forest; daily breakfast, including Sunday brunch, per person, with diners’ choice of Yavapai Restaurant, Mii amo Café or in-room dining; nonalcoholic, non-
specialty beverages and gratuities; choice of one Jeep tour or hiking tour per person; choice of one 60-minute private group yoga or meditation session, gratuity included; choice of “wine and welcome plate” or “Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries” ; and access to all of the resort’s amenities and services, including multiple swimming pools, daily activities and Native American cultural events. Rates start at $3,320, depending on season and type of accommodations, inclusive of daily resort fees and taxes. To book, call 800-826-4180 or visit www.enchantmentresort.com.
Daytona Oceanfront Hotels is offering a Girls & Golf deal at Bahama House in Daytona Beach, FL. Starting at $269 per person, it includes two nights’ deluxe accommodations in an oceanview room or efficiency; a 30-minute YonKa Aroma Charm Hydralift & Deep Brightening Facial and a 30-minute Swedish massage for each person; one round of golf for two at Golf Club at Cypress Head; and a gift basket filled with snacks, a make-your-own-cosmo kit, a picture frame, magazines and more. Continental breakfast is offered daily. The package is valid through December 31. To book, call Reggie Hunter at 877-302-4653 or visit www.bwakutiki.com/girlsandgolf or www.daytonabahamahouse.com/girlsandgolf.com.
The Inn on Fifth in Naples, FL, has a three-day, two-night Beauty & the Beach Package. Guests will enjoy a room with private patio; complimentary bottle of wine upon arrival; a day of beauty (each guest chooses one from a Skin Firming Facial, Swedish Zen Massage or Salt Glow Body Scrub); lunch for two served poolside on the tropical rooftop terrace; a makeover, including makeup application, hair wash and style at a posh 5th Avenue salon; a gift certificate for dinner at BICE restaurant; complimentary luxury transportation to nearby Naples Beach; beach towel and suntan lotion; and late checkout. Rates start at $402 per person, double occupancy, based on dates. To book, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.innonfifth.com.
On St. Pete’s Beach, an island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, TradeWinds Island Grand has a two-night, three-day Girlfriends Beach Getaway package. Starting at $602 (rooms) and $756 (suites), the deal includes two $100 TradeWinds Gift Cards for use in the spa, restaurants or shops, two welcome cocktails and beach cabana. Rates are for two adults. To book, call 866-587-8538 or visit www.justletgo.com.