Supporting international findings that girlfriend getaways have become an increasingly popular trend, independent online travel website and hotel booking company Agoda.com, has noted a marked increase in the number of reservations made by Western women to Asian destinations in the past year.
As a specialist in the Asian travel market, Agoda Company lists thousands of hotels in a variety of Asian destinations. Their internal data revealed a 70% boost in the number of bookings made by women - mostly from Australia and the U.S. - to hotspots such as Bali, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand from July 2006 to present.
These figures coincide with other research such as a recent Mastercard report ‘Women Travelers of Asia Pacific’ which suggests that around 4 in every 10 Asian trips are made by women travelers - a big jump up from the 1970s estimate of 1 in 10.
According to Australian national and frequent traveler to Asia, Maryanne Jaques, a holiday with the girls is always fun and relaxing as there is no pressure to appease the opposite sex and its safe when traveling with a group.
“Going somewhere exotic with a tropical climate that’s accessible and has great hotel options at great rates makes places like Bali and Thailand favorites among my friends,” said the radio DJ.
Marion Walsh, an expat living in Thailand and Brand Manager for the boutique Anantara Resort Group, agrees with Jaques that a weekend away with the girls is one of those moments that should be cherished; where everyone is free and comfortable to be themselves.
“Without fail, Thailand is always a favorite for a relaxation holiday, whilst Hong Kong and Shanghai are high energy, high octane weekends. It goes without saying that Asia provides a well priced option in comparison to Europe or the US .Also the diverse cultures, beautiful scenery and the friendly smiles that you find here in Asia are second to none!”
In light of this trend, hotels are fast realizing the profitability of girlfriends going East. From indulgent spa treatments and shopping marathons to beach getaways and fine wining and dining options, hotels are catering, promoting and pandering to the sisters and their traveling pants.
In Thailand, hotels such as the Banyan Tree, JW Marriott Hotel, Marriott Resort & Spa, Millennium Hilton and Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok have all hosted exclusive women-only packages, often incorporating shopping and spa into itineraries with temple visits and river tours. Meanwhile, Phuket has strong female appeal with its mixture of nightlife, beaches and national parks. Popular hotel choices for girl’s wanting to have fun are the Mom Tri’s Villa Resort, Centara Karon Resort Phuket, Hilton Arcadia Resort & Spa and TwinPalms Hotel.
In Indonesia, women traveling with their mates might stop for a sojourn in the bustling city of Jakarta for its shopping, followed by the beautiful beaches and hillside environs of Bali. The Alila Hotel in Jakarta has a women’s only executive level floor and the same group’s Kemang Icon boutique hotel is situated within one of the city’s most affluent and chic suburbs.
Meanwhile, the spirituality and natural charm of Bali keeps it popular for women traveling with women. Beyond the stunning environment, surfing beaches and friendly people, Bali also has fantastic entertainment options. Luxury resorts are heavily promoting their spa services to women in need of relaxation - including the exclusive Amandari and Amanusa resorts, the Melia Bali Villas and Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.
For avid shoppers looking for an Asian cultural experience where everything is clean, convenient and organized, the metropolises of Hong Kong and Singapore are a girl’s best bet. Hong Kong’s plush Fleming Hotel has a dedicated ladies floor aptly called “Her Space” which involves all sorts of female-friendly touches from a health-conscious mini-bar and yoga mat to L’Occitane toiletries and aromatherapy. Meanwhile centrally-located, shopper friendly hotels in Singapore include the Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Pan Pacific and the charming colonial-styled hotels Fullerton and Raffles.
And besides women traveling from the West to the East there is also the set of Asian-born, Internationally-educated and travel-savvy women who relish the options that their home country or neighborhood can offer. Pittrapim Arora, a Thai national who has lived half her life abroad in the US and UK, finds travel options nearer to home always appealing. “Anywhere with cheap scuba rental, awesome diving choices and good beaches is definitely attractive, for example, Krabi and Bali. Going with only female friends also ensures the trip is safe and fun. I like to get massages on the beach, gossip and drink ice cold beer,” said the 29 year-old.
For Yuka Kishida, a Japanese national educated in both International Schools and the U.S, beach holidays in Thailand and Vietnam are personal favorites. “When going with the girls there’s no need to fuss about anything. We can also gossip and check out guys, because hey, I’m a single gal!”
Commenting on the importance of the market for female travelers, Agoda Chief Operating Officer Robert Rosenstein said: “As this trend matures, it will be increasingly important for online merchants like Agoda to develop travel product and websites that appeal to women, which is something we’ve been keen to do for many years now.”