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Weekend Getaways
Girlfriend Getaways On The Rise
The “independent woman,” as popularized in music, TV, and other aspects of pop culture, is doing more than paying her own bills, driving her own car, and buying her own jewelry without a man’s help. Now more than ever, women everywhere are taking an extended “girls night out,” leaving their men at home to travel around the globe. “Girlfriend getaways,” as this phenomenon is called, involve women traveling with their female friends and/or family members without their families. These female-centric excursions — which are sometimes taken solo — allow women to take a break from their hectic daily lives and do things that their husbands or boyfriends may not have any interest in, such as shopping, cooking classes, or going to the spa.

The notion of girlfriend getaways is hardly a passing trend; the media and the travel industry have definitely responded to the demand for women-only travel. Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine launched their bi-annual “Girlfriend Getaways” publication back in 2006, and the Fine Living Network featured a series called “All-Girl Getaways,” hosted by Stephanie Oswald, editor-in-chief for TravelGirl magazine. Meanwhile, luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent rolled out women’s only trips to international locales such as India, China, France, and Argentina. Several hotels throughout the U.S. and worldwide offer “girl getaway” packages, which include spa treatments, cocktails, and other fun amenities with their stay.

Marybeth Bond, author of “50 Best Girlfriend Getaways Worldwide,” said there has been a 230 percent increase in the number of women-only travel companies in the past nine years. Girlfriend getaways tend to be domestic weekend trips, but international travel is also growing. Recently, Asia has benefited from the rise of women’s travel, with women traveling to Thailand, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia to unwind in the idyllic beaches, immerse themselves in exotic cultures, and take advantage of the low exchange rate for shopping.

This growing movement has caught the attention of tourism boards worldwide. For example, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, Dato’Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen, says, “Our country sees a great opportunity to cater to these women, and plans to emphasize this market in the near future. As a woman myself, I believe that Malaysia has many enriching experiences to offer, like spas, food, parks and gardens, and much more.” Malaysia has been taking steps to accommodate female travelers. For example, according to a survey by Intelligent Spas, the number of spas in Malaysia has grown over 200 percent since 2002, with more than 170 spas currently operating and even more to come. Its emerging fashion scene, led by high-profile shoe designer Jimmy Choo, fusion cuisine, and lush natural scenery are other likely attractions for women looking for the ideal vacation spot.

Other destinations, such as Paris and Morocco, have already jumped on the girlfriend getaway bandwagon, offering sassy tours and luxury spa resorts. As more and more women embrace ladies-only travel, expect even more travel offerings to appear in the market for this special audience.
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