Women-focused travel experiences have taken off over the last few years. There’s been an uptick in spa wellness programs customized for women-specific health issues, transformational spa retreats, next-level girls’ trips and empowering group adventures.
“As routines returned to ‘normal’ [post-pandemic], many people felt as busy or busier with daily schedules than pre-pandemic. This created the need for women to intentionally plan time to get away and nurture their friendships,” says Stephanie Hinckley, the vice president of sales and marketing for The Resort at Pelican Hill. “Many women book group getaways with us to celebrate milestones and simply enjoy time together, while others seek to decompress and focus on their mental and physical well-being.”
In addition, a growing recognition of challenges during pregnancy, postpartum and menopause has given rise to a host of new offerings designed to help women navigate the physical and emotional complexities of these experiences.
From a pioneering menopause retreat in the Maldives to a luxe surf camp with your best friends in Mexico, we’ve rounded up a few memorable trips that will help strengthen your relationships, clear your mind and better your health.
Women’s health retreats
For centuries, the unique health care needs of women have been understudied and overlooked. Realizing that women deserve more support and care when navigating difficult biological transitions, such as the postpartum period or menopause, several hotels have introduced target treatments and retreats.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Amilla Maldives Resort & Residences, for example, launched one of the world’s first resort-based perimenopause/menopause retreats in 2022. In September 2023, the Pause Retreat will return to help women manage the many physical, emotional and hormonal effects of menopause. Led by Claire O’Sullivan, a menopause wellness and nutrition expert, the four-day program will be tailored to your needs. However, a typical experience includes a personal consultation with O’Sullivan, chromotherapy and massages, plus a mix of yoga, hormone consultations, meditation, intuitive dance, health talks, healing workshops and mindfulness walks on the gorgeous private island.
In Hong Kong, a couple of luxury hotels have answered the call for more women-focused services. In 2023, Five-Star Rosewood Hong Kong debuted the Well-Women treatment series at Asaya. Overlooking famed Victoria Harbour, the lush integrated urban wellness concept has partnered with Restoring Mums — one of the city’s top pre- and post-natal specialists — to create a series of holistic treatments that support women with a focus on womb health, uterus alignment, breast health, hormonal rebalancing and more.
Four-Star Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong opened the Yun Wellness center in May with a special focus on expectant and postpartum mothers. The nature-inspired space provides traditional Asian treatments designed to help alleviate aches, pains and stress during pregnancy and aid recovery after birth.
Over in Bangkok, RAKxa Wellness also offers women’s care offerings on a peaceful island in the Chao Phraya River, which flows through the heart of the capital. Postpartum mothers will appreciate the Traditional Thai Women’s Care program — a trio of Thai herbal medicine experiences designed to rebalance hormones, reduce inflammation, relieve muscle tension, ease cramping, improve blood flow and restore overall health. The urban oasis also draws a following for its specialist doctors, physiotherapists, fitness instructors and state-of-the-art DNA diagnostics, which all combine to expedite your health goals.
Reconnecting with best friends, daughters, mothers and other special women in your life requires downtime — even better if you can enjoy some rest and relaxation simultaneously. Whether you’re looking to bond over a gentle sunrise yoga practice, spa treatments or an action-packed itinerary, Four-Star COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali has long been a leader in this space. Grab your go-to travel companions, then book an Integrated Wellness Program at this verdant Ubud haven. Customized to meet your needs, the retreat can focus on de-stressing, strengthening relationships, clearing your mind, enjoying healthy cuisine — or, if necessary, all of the above.
In the U.S., Four-Star L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona’s picturesque Red Rock area is an excellent option for mother-daughter or girls’ trips. Since 2021, the resort collaborated with inspiring personal transformation consultant Donna Bond to create a series of Revitalization Retreats, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Lasting five days, these rejuvenating stays include luxury accommodations, spa treatments, daily workshops, guided mindfulness practices and local experiences that help you grow together and forge lasting memories. While there, be sure to soak up the rugged mountain scenery, stargaze after dinner and try one of the many nearby hiking trails.
And in California, the Five-Star Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach has designed a glamorous Girlfriends’ Getaway. After unpacking your bags in a Tuscany-inspired villa, use your spa credits on relaxing treatments, enjoy a mimosa at brunch by the round Coliseum pool, join a yoga class, embark on a golden-hour hike, sail around the harbor at sunset or sink your toes in the sand on the beach.
Prefer to bond over a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? For a different kind of escape, consider Asilia Africa’s Dunia Camp — the only safari camp in Africa run entirely by women. Located in Tanzania’s storied Serengeti National Park, it is one of the best places to witness the Great Migration of roughly 2 million wildebeest across the golden savannah between January and March each year. It’s also common to see lions, gazelles, zebras and rare black rhinos on game drives. After an exhilarating day in the wild, take off on a hot air balloon ride, dine under the stars or catch up over G&Ts on your private terrace.
There’s nothing more memorable than abandoning inhibitions and learning something new together. For a beach vacation with a twist, head to Five-Star One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort in Mexico. Sprawling across 55 gorgeous acres, this celebrity magnet offers sweeping sea views, white sand beaches and introductory Art of Luxury Surfing lessons in partnership with Tropicsurf. You’ll enjoy an energizing breakfast, private group lessons and a “surfari” adventure to find the coast’s best breaks.
If you visit this year, you may even have a chance to hit the waves with professional Hawaiian surfer Coco Ho, who will host half-day group surfing expeditions during her residency at the resort. When you’re not riding the swells, giddy up on a horseback adventure on the beach, learn to scuba dive or cook authentic Mexican recipes together.
Meanwhile, Amanwana, in Indonesia’s protected Moyo Satonda National Park (about a 40-minute flight east of Bali or Lombok), lures intrepid travelers searching for world-class diving, breathtaking biodiversity and a luxurious glamping experience.
In 2023, the hotel introduced a new Underwater Wellness Retreat that makes the most of the area’s incredible marine life and peaceful environment. During this six-day or abbreviated three-day journey, you’ll try everything from underwater meditation and breathwork to free diving and a whale shark adventure. The experience continues on land, with bespoke treatments at the secluded Jungle Cove Spa, where therapists combine Indonesian traditions with Aman’s results-driven skincare line.
For those who thrive in the snow, take a winter break at Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono. Head here during ski season to soak up the incredible mountain scenery, contemporary Japanese design and fresh Hokkaido cuisine. After a day on the slopes, unwind in the hotel’s onsen (hot spring) baths and destress at the impressive spa. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, you can also try snow rafting and snowshoeing, take tours of Japanese whisky breweries or test your mettle on the Hanazono Zipflight — one of the world’s longest zip lines.
Stay tuned for our 2024 Star Awards announcement on February 7, 2024.