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Spa Trends to Watch

A while back, we posted about vinotherapy, chocolate treatments, and spiritual spa experiences. Over time, the spa industry has evolved and innovated, transitioning from traditional relaxation-focused services to more holistic, personalized and unique experiences.

10 trends in destination spas.

As we look ahead towards the new year, many spas are continuing to embrace new approaches and redefine the spa experience. Here are 10 trends in destination spas that are shaping the future of wellness travel:

1. Eco-Conscious Retreats: In response to the growing awareness of environmental issues, spas are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices. This includes using sustainable materials in construction, harnessing renewable energy, and offering organic, locally-sourced spa products. These eco-conscious retreats not only offer a serene environment but also the satisfaction of knowing that your relaxation doesn’t come at the expense of the planet.

2. Digital Detoxes: In an era dominated by screens, more spas are offering digital detox programs. These retreats encourage guests to disconnect from their devices and reconnect with nature and their inner selves. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and nature walks are central, helping visitors break free from the digital world’s constant buzz.

3. Personalized Wellness Journeys: Spas are increasingly offering personalized wellness programs tailored to individual health goals and needs. This bespoke approach often includes consultations with wellness experts who design specific treatments, diet plans, and exercise regimens, ensuring a holistic and effective wellness experience.

4. Mindfulness and Mental Wellness: There's a growing recognition of the importance of mental wellness alongside physical health. Spas are incorporating mindfulness practices and stress management programs. From guided meditation sessions to workshops on emotional well-being, these offerings aim to provide a comprehensive approach to health.

5. Integration of Technology in Wellness: While digital detox is a trend, there's also a contrasting trend of integrating cutting-edge technology into wellness. This includes virtual reality meditations, AI-driven health assessments, and app-based wellness programs. These technological integrations offer innovative ways to enhance relaxation and health monitoring.

6. Cultural Immersion Experiences: More spas are integrating cultural experiences into their offerings, allowing guests to immerse themselves in local traditions. This might include traditional healing practices, indigenous spa treatments, or locally inspired cuisine. These experiences not only enrich the spa experience but also provide a deeper connection to the destination’s heritage.

7. Focus on Immune Health: In the wake of the global pandemic, there's an increased focus on immune health. Spas are offering programs that include immune-boosting treatments, nutritional advice focused on strengthening the immune system, and exercises that enhance bodily resilience.

8. Outdoor Wellness Spaces: The appreciation for outdoor spaces has grown, with more spas creating expansive outdoor wellness areas. These include gardens for meditation, outdoor treatment rooms, and nature-based therapies. The healing power of nature plays a crucial role in these settings.

9. Family and Multi-Generational Wellness: Spas are becoming more family-friendly, offering programs that cater to all ages. This shift recognizes the importance of wellness for everyone, from children to seniors, and provides opportunities for families to experience wellness together.

10. Sustainable Food Philosophy: Finally, the connection between diet and wellness is being emphasized with a shift towards sustainable, nutritious food offerings. Spas are partnering with local farms, focusing on plant-based menus, and educating guests on healthy eating.

These trends reflect a broader shift in the wellness industry, highlighting a holistic approach to health that is both environmentally conscious and deeply personal. Whether you choose to stick with something more familiar or branch out and try something new, the evolvoing landscape of destination spas promises something special for every traveler. So, take your pick!

December 6, 2023

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Themed Girls Getaways

Now here's a novel idea for that next trip with gal pals: themed girls getaways. The upshot is to get creative when getting together with friends and make the trip memorable and a hoot to boot! Read the full list via the link, but here are the highlights. Love them all.

  1. TV show themes: Think Charley's Angels (mystery dinners, etc.) or "split into tribes and pull a Survivor." Perhaps Saturday Night Live skits and performances instead of charades?
  2. History: Think about decades (20s flapper, 60s hippie, 70s disco, 80s valley girl) or go way, way back in time to the Renaissance or ancient Egypt with room for creative costumes.
  3. It's a small world: Budgets can be tight, so rather than blowing your whole savings on one trip, rent a vacation home and pick a country or region and cook meals from Italy, France, Mexico, Thailand. You can also choose the appropriate music and activities to match the culture.
  4. Out of this world: Space is vast, and so are the possibilities with this theme from Star Trek to superheros!
  5. Classics: Put a new twist on classic themes such as carnivals (games?), westerns/cowgirls (pie-throwing contest?), or pirates (treasure hunt?).

Any other great ideas out there?

Source: GirlTrip

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10 Best Holiday Shopping Spree Trips

For the ultimate girls getaway with a mission, I say take your gal pals to a town full of entertainment and plenty of good shopping to give a little something unique for Christmas this year. Find the perfect gift for your sister, mom, friend, cousin, boyfriend, husband, and so forth. Getting away before the holidays (when sales are on, travel deals abound, winter temperatures are at bay) can be worth the trip.

1. New York City

2. Los Angeles

3. San Francisco

4. London

5. Chicago

6. Washington, DC

7. Whistler, BC

8. Las Vegas

9. San Diego

10. Denver

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Wine-Tasting Vacations

Exploring the diverse wine regions of the United States with friends is a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and culinary delight. From the rolling hills of California to the hidden gems of Oregon and beyond, America's vineyards offer an array of wine-tasting experiences.

Whether you're planning a girls getaways, birthday celebration, wedding, or simple getaway with friends here are some great destinations for wine tasting across the U.S.:

1. Napa Valley, California: Napa Valley is a world-renowned wine region, offering an array of prestigious vineyards. Visit the famous Robert Mondavi Winery or discover smaller, intimate vineyards in the Stags Leap District. Stay: Auberge du Soleil provides luxury accommodation with stunning views of the valley.

2. Sonoma County, California: Known for its diverse wine offerings, Sonoma County is home to over 400 wineries. Don't miss a visit to Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, and for a quieter experience, try the boutique wineries in Russian River Valley. Stay: The Farmhouse Inn offers a charming and luxurious stay in the heart of wine country.

3. Willamette Valley, Oregon: Celebrated for its exquisite Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley is home to over 500 wineries. Domaine Drouhin Oregon is renowned, while smaller vineyards like Bergström Wines offer a more intimate tasting experience. Stay: The Allison Inn & Spa, nestled in the valley, is a perfect luxury retreat.

4. Finger Lakes, New York: This region is known for its superb Rieslings and scenic lake views. Visit the well-known Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery or explore smaller vineyards like Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard for a more secluded experience. Stay: The Inns of Aurora provide a picturesque lakeside stay with historic charm.

5. Paso Robles, California: Paso Robles is gaining recognition for its diverse and high-quality wines. Justin Vineyards & Winery is a must-visit, and boutique wineries like Tablas Creek Vineyard offer unique tasting experiences. Stay: Hotel Cheval offers elegant accommodations in the heart of Paso Robles.

6. Walla Walla, Washington: This region is known for its friendly wine community and excellent Syrahs and Merlots. L'Ecole No 41 and Woodward Canyon are iconic, while smaller wineries like Dunham Cellars provide a cozy atmosphere. Stay: The Marcus Whitman Hotel combines historic elegance with modern comforts.

7. Santa Barbara, California: The Santa Barbara Wine Country, with its cool-climate varietals like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is a must-visit. Explore the renowned Sunstone Vineyards & Winery or discover hidden gems in the Santa Rita Hills. Stay: The Bacara Resort & Spa offers luxurious beachside accommodations.

8. Texas Hill Country, Texas: This region has emerged as a wine destination with its unique Texas-style wines. Becker Vineyards is a standout, and smaller vineyards like Grape Creek Vineyards offer a more personal experience. Stay: The Fredericksburg Herb Farm provides quaint cottages in a serene setting.

9. Virginia Wine Country, Virginia: Virginia's wine country is rich in history and diverse in its wine offerings. Visit Barboursville Vineyards for a taste of history, and explore smaller vineyards like RdV Vineyards for an exclusive experience. Stay: The Inn at Little Washington offers luxurious accommodations with acclaimed dining.

10. Michigan Wine Trails, Michigan: Michigan's wine trails offer a delightful array of vineyards, especially known for their Rieslings. Black Star Farms is a standout, and exploring the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail leads to smaller, charming vineyards. Stay: The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa provides a scenic and luxurious base for exploring the area.

While the U.S. boasts a remarkable variety of wine regions, the allure of international wine tasting destinations cannot be overstated. Globally, several regions stand out for their exceptional wines and breathtaking landscapes, drawing enthusiasts from around the world.

In Europe, France’s Bordeaux region is legendary, offering a chance to taste some of the world's most prestigious wines amidst historic vineyards. Similarly, Italy's Tuscany, with its picturesque landscapes and renowned Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, is a dream destination for wine lovers. Spain's La Rioja region is another European gem, celebrated for its rich and full-bodied red wines.

Beyond Europe, the Southern Hemisphere presents its own wine havens. Australia’s Barossa Valley is famed for its bold Shiraz, while New Zealand’s Marlborough region offers world-class Sauvignon Blanc amidst stunning scenery. In South America, Argentina’s Mendoza region captivates visitors with its high-altitude vineyards and excellent Malbec, and Chile’s Central Valley is known for its diverse and high-quality wines.

Each of these international destinations provides a unique wine tasting experience, steeped in local culture and history. From the rolling vineyards of France to the dramatic landscapes of New Zealand, these global wine regions are not just about tasting exceptional wines; they're about immersing oneself in the world's diverse and rich tapestry of viticulture and enology. A visit to these renowned wine regions is a journey through history, culture, and the art of winemaking, promising an unforgettable experience for wine enthusiasts.

Wine tasting with friends is not just about the wine; it's about the shared experiences and memories created in some of the world's most beautiful locales. From the lush valleys of Napa and Tuscany to the unique landscapes of Central Otago and Mendoza, each destination offers a unique blend of scenic beauty, cultural richness, and exceptional wines. These destinations promise an unforgettable group getaway filled with the joys of discovery and the pleasures of the palate.

So raise a glass of chardonney or merlot and bring back new bottles of wine to dazzle your friends (or yourself) when you return from vacation.

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Best Spas (updated)

Spas offer a respite from daily stress, a transformative means to health, and boost the spirit. Massages melt muscles with seductive aromatherapy, perfect pressure points, and release knots, putting your body and mind at ease. Nothing beats a good masseur or masseuse.

In the pursuit of unparalleled relaxation and rejuvenation, world-class destination spas stand out as sanctuaries of wellness and luxury. These exceptional retreats, nestled in some of the most beautiful locations across the globe, offer much more than just spa treatments. From personalized wellness programs to sumptuous accommodations and gourmet cuisine, these spas provide a holistic experience that caters to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of their guests.

What makes a world-class destination spa? Here are some of the key criteria:

Places on our hope to visit list:

Looking for more inspiration? Check out:

But are any of the spas listed in these rankings really the best? Such a subjective word: best. What makes a spa ideal for you?

From my personal experience (so far!), the best spa I've gone to was in Calistoga. Here's why it was amazing: When I walked in, the clock was at least 10 minutes slow and the front desk clerk smiled, "Welcome. No worries about the time, we're on spa time." My shoulders dropped with relief. No stress here. After calmly slipping into a robe in the dressing room, I drank cucumber-flavored water before the masseuse brought me to my sea salt soaking tub. After the soak, I had the massage of a lifetime. The masseuse was a magician with strong, experienced hands who worked every knot out of my back and shoulders, then had me doing a breathing exercise while she released tension from my neck and left my body and mind dizzy with delight. Being on vacation in Napa Valley also helped with the carefree mood. Still, I highly recommend Indian Springs Spa.

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Food Tours

I recently wrote about culinary tours and just read a CNN article about the trend in culinary tours and cooking classes, shedding light on why we travel for food. Here are some excerpts about the growing popular movement to experience culinary delights up close and personal while on vacation.

"I think that the foodie market is related more or less to the baby boomer demographic," said Dr. Rich Harrill, director of the International Tourism Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. "You have people who are retiring, people with lots of discretionary time and income, some level of sophistication. They're educated, they're interested in wine, they're interested in food."

The article goes on to suggest that while countries like Italy, France, and Spain are "hot spots for culinary tourism," you don't have to travel too far off the beaten path or make a major time commitment to participate.

One culinary class pupil reminisces fondly, "When you travel through the world exploring food, you get this interesting window about the culture and the environment because food is the bridge between the land and the culture."

Courses are limited to Arizona, Las Vegas, Hawaii, California, Carolinas, Florida, and Mexico but those are golf hot spots anyway. The descriptions, photos, par stats, player ratings all come in handy. But the fact that you can actually book a tee time is highly convenient. Now all you need to do is practice your putt.

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Culinary Tours

Food and wine touring is one of the best methods of travel, and a growing trend. You meet locals, often take the road less traveled, taste exquisite regional cuisine, sample rare wines, and try a culture on for size. These scrumptious tours come in all flavors and cater to groups.

Cooking classes abroad

My mom and I participated in a group cooking class while in Florence for a destination wedding. 20 guests from the wedding bonded, made new friends, and spread the spirit of the wedding through the days leading up to the ceremony. With the chef supervising, ingredients prepped, and kitchen utensils at hand, we broke into smaller groups and worked on our respective culinary assignments. Mom and I were with the tort table following a simple recipe for a lemon tort while others prepared a beef entrée, appetizers, and salads. After baking and cooking, we all feasted on our homemade Italian food and drank vino at a big banquet table. Bonus: We all got to take home the recipes and aprons. To this day, it's still one of my most memorable meals. Thanks to Apicius, the Culinary Institute of Florence.

Wine-tasting abroad

The same destination wedding trip to Italy also gave me the opportunity to take a small group wine-tasting tour. We visited quaint, lesser-known wineries and stopped for lunch at a local restaurant in a rural village just outside of Florence. Chianti's 300 acres between Florence and Siena are filled with hills and various wine-growing conditions, producing a range of bouquets. We sampled soft wines, dry wines, and robust wines not marketed in the U.S. Apparently, the American market demands certain grapes and types of wine, but often the local vintners shake their heads in wonder because they know the superior bottles don't sell well on the mass market. Reason alone to do a wine-tasting tour: rare finds. These tours are a great way to meld with the rural areas, sample the fruits of its earth, and pass the time with a little culture.

Pick and choose your favorite culinary tour. Your body, mind, and gut will thank you for it, and it's ideal for group trips. A few suggestions to whet your appetite:

Wine-tasting tours
Bordeaux wine tours
Napa Valley wineries
South Australia wine-tasting tours

Beer-tasting tours
Guinness tours in Dublin
Anheuser-Busch Brewery tours
Redhook Brewery tours in Washington state (near Seattle) or New Hampshire
Samuel Adams Brewery tours in Boston

Food & culinary tours and classes
Cooking classes in France, Spain, and Italy

Food & music tours (eat 'til you ache, dance 'til you drop)
Chateau St. Michelle Winery concerts in Woodinville (near Seattle)
Celtic music and food tours in Ireland and Scotland

Taking a culinary or wine tour with family or friends is a priceless experience, great for girls getaways, bachelorette parties, wedding guest activities, and so on.

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Group Getaways with Friends

We all get by with a little help from our friends. Traveling is no exception. Vacations are more enjoyable with buddies from college, girlfriends from home, friends from life (soccer or baseball teams), and any other groups.

Reconnect with old friends, reminisce about the good old days, and make new memories that make you laugh 'til you cry with these getaway tips.

Girls getaways
Ladies, start your engines. The games, the energy, the synergy, and the drinks are about to begin. Take a wild or relaxing vacation with your gal pals on a spa getaway, wine-tasting soiree, birthday celebration, or anything goes. Can't go far? Try a mini girls getaway?

Beach getaways
Hit the beach year-round (and more heavily in the summer) at your favorite beach. Try a nude beach, join your friends at your most memorable beach, or find a new beach while on a weekend away. Here are TripAdvisor's top 10 U.S. beaches.

Road trip planning guide
Zoom, zoom. Friends, families, and other vacationers are hitting the highways and dusty roads for campgrounds, national parks, family reunions, and zero obligations. Along with sunblock, prepare for a stress-free road trip with these tips. 10 gas and money-saving tips should help as well.

Golf trips
Swing and putt your way down the fairways, slugging beer and making bets against your comrades the whole time. Golf is a great way to relax and visit with friends while working on your game. Also, here are quick tips for planning a group golf getaway.

Bachelor and bachelorette parties
Are you the best man with no clue how to honor your pal with a party? If the only thing that comes to mind is a stripper, see these bachelor party tips first. Ladies, looking to make the bride smile and proud to call you her friends? Here are helpful hints for bachelorette party planning.

Spa Getaways
Just say ahhhh. Spa vactions are on the rise and spas are increasingly catering to groups (girls getaways in particular). Before you go, brush up on some basic group etiquette (so the spa invites you back!). Try vinotherapy at a wine spa, chocolate massages, or any other spa treatments for you and the gang.

More Tips for Group Getaways with Friends

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Mini Getaways for Girls

After my recent girls getaway post, I discovered some helpful tips for women who need to get together, but can't travel (whether for budgetary reasons, weather, work, or other mishaps). That shouldn't prevent women from planning outings closer to home, perhaps as a way to discuss longer-term vacations together. has 10 mini girls getaway tips when you're squeezed on time, but still need a time out. Here are my 3 favorites:

What a delicious way to spend a day! Mental health days should be more normal for a country built on hard work and two-week long vacations per year (what's up with that?).

I love this idea. I can't tell you how often I've gone to the movie with my "movie friend" or walking with my "walking friend" or dished on guys with my "gossip boy-crazy friend" or philosophized about the state of the world and the inter-relatedness of chaos and order with my "deep friend" and I've drunk like a fish with my "party friend." Nice to gather them every so often to find the surprising similarities.

Everything's better with coffee. I couldn't agree more.

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Great Girls Getaways

Men are hunters. Women are gatherers. This is who we are by nature (just ask Rob Becker in his Defending the Caveman comedy act). Women have long been highly social beings, capable of multi-tasking (something that mystifies men to this day) and nurturing. Doesn't it then seem natural that we'd also want to travel together? We can talk freely, giggle openly, be our silly girly (or rugged, not-so-girly) selves together. We accept each other for who we are, emotionally supportive and all.

Part of the fun for me in going on a girls getaway is the gossip. I don't mean the bad gossip. I mean the good gossip. The dish. The latest. How my friends are doing and how they feel about their jobs, relationships, life, hobbies, etc. And while I also enjoy vacationing with guys, girls (only) getaways have their merit. Girls can be 100% unabashed girls.

Here are some special types:

1. Dude Ranch - The men are gone, but the dudes aren't. What better way to reconnect with the girl friends than by riding horses just like you know you all did in your dreams. Make it even more fun with cowboy hats to match - they'll shade the sun, you'll look about as country chic as can be, and you can knock your man over with a nod of your cowboy hat head and a wink when you return.

2. Spa Haven - As cliché as "girls getaway to the spa" is becoming, I say turn that word into an acronym for each girl who fully deserves the pampering. CLICHE is Caress Lovingly: I Can Have Everything. Make this your motto. There are countless services and an increasing number of spas recognizing the girls getaway trend as a way to offer discounts, special accommodation, etc. Work it. Call or book well in advance and shop around until you find the atmosphere, cost, and spa services just right for your group.

3. Theater - There are three premier places to see sophisticated, highly elaborate shows. Take Manhattan by storm on a theater extravaganza and walk down Broadway cherry-picking your shows (better yet, plan well in advance to ensure you get a good seat to Spamelot or other shows). London is another world-famous theatre-going city. The theatre district is a bustling, gentrified area with restaurants, bars, and a bevy of classic plays as well as long-running popular shows such as Phantom of the Opera. Las Vegas seems to be Cirque du Soleil central with Mystere, O, Zumanity, as well as other shows and concerts.

4. Shopping Spree - Take the ladies to outlets that make wallets squeal with delight (or at least the girls clutching them). There are plenty of outlets in major metropolitan areas, usually just a quick road trip out of town. Or go glitzy on New York City's Fifth Avenue, Los Angeles' Rodeo Drive, at Chicago's Marshall Field's department store, along London's streets, inside Las Vegas resort casinos shoppies, and nearly anywhere else. Do a theme and take your friends antique shopping, or to flea markets in the Big Apple, Washington, DC, or Sunday markets in other cities such as Seattle or San Francisco.

5. Outdoor Adventure - Take a vote and decide on which outdoor sport suits your crew best. Whether toting firewood from car to campsite is recreation enough or white water rafting is desired, find the activities you love but have little time for, and plan a weekend escape from everything - work, men, bills, cars, cities. Live in the elements by biking, kayaking, canoeing, or parasailing. Rent a cottage or house by a lake or water body and spend all your free time swimming. Whatever the group energy level, a girl trip like this inevitably brings friends closer together, leaving great stories to tell for those who couldn't make it (ahem, or weren't invited). When the boys aren't around, there's less tension about looking good or not screwing up. Especially if bathing suits are involved.

I've adored traveling with my friends for get-togethers over the years. I raise my glass to any girl planning a getaway with friends. May traveling with girl friends bring you great joy, a wee bit of luck, no hangovers, and many reasons to continue staying in touch. What other types of girls getaways are out there?

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Romance Via Traveling

I'm not sure if it's the thrill of traveling, alcohol shared among friends, a romantic new setting, or the free feeling of being away from home and responsibilities. My guess is it's a combination of all that can convert travelers to accidental romantics, leading to travel trysts and even some long-lasting relationships.

But be careful. Traveling can also raise toxic levels of flirtation. Enough to make any travel companion gag.

How can group trips increase your chances of meeting that Mr. or Ms. Right Now (or, better yet, that special someone for longer)?

  1. Meeting up for drinks or activities with other like-minded travelers is a great benefit of traveling when you're still single. When traveling solo (especially as a woman), it's not necessarily as easy to meet someone (or safe). However, when with a group of family or friends, you can meet other travelers, knowing you're in the safe comfort of traveling with those you trust.
  2. Destination weddings are naturally themed with romance. Attending a destination wedding as a singleton is a sure fire way to meet at least one eligible bachelor or bachelorette. Be proactive or non-chalant. Ask your friends to introduce you to anyone "special" they know who's attending. Or casually scan the ceremony for singles, and then find yourself next to them in the buffet line at the reception.

True story: A bride groom and groomsman at a destination wedding of a friend of mine met at the wedding and struck up a long-distance relationship for over a year. They also toured around the destination immediately after the wedding day with other wedding guests. Last I'd heard, after taking a 6-month break, they are back together and may try to live in the same city. 3. Vacationing with friends opens doors to meeting someone. Whether camping, skiing, road tripping, gambling in Las Vegas, or just doing a weekend getaway, friends of friends usually come well-recommended or at least well-researched.

True story: A good friend met a woman who was equally as crazy about skiing as he was. Shortly after they met through friends, a big group of them planned a European ski trip in January, where they got closer and have been dating seriously ever since. 4. Friends serve as "wing men." If you're single and traveling with a group of friends and you meet someone intriguing, chances are your friends will be encouraging. And they'll have your back in case things go awry. This makes it all the more fun to flirt and get to know someone at a bar in a different destination than when at home, you may be more likely to play it safe and stay in your comfort zone of just visiting with friends. If nothing else, you can come home and brag about the best kiss you've ever had while on the London Eye with a saucy Brit you and your friends met while on vacation.

True story: Being as vague as I possibly can be to protect a friend of mine, let's just say I've heard the Italian Riviera is a great aphrodisiac. Limoncello helps. 5. Travel where singles travel. Club Med caters to groups such as golf pals, sewing cirlce (many singles, too). Hedonism resorts in the Caribbean have singles activities and welcome groups. And we all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Beaches around the world are also laden with possibilities. Plus, ski resorts and towns during the winter months are group gathering meccas and ideal for warming up with a cozy kiss.

In general, when traveling with friends or families, have fun, be yourself, and get into the groove of the trip. Play it safe. And be cool. In no time, the natural relaxation of the destination and comfortable group could lead to a romance of a lifetime.

Any other ways group trips can add a little romantic spice to a trip?

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Wine and Spa Lovers Unite

A European trend is quickly spreading. Two heavenly pleasures - spas and wine - are now joined in a marriage of grape bliss.

Vinotherapy, an alluring wellness concept, intertwines the luxurious world of spas with the age-old indulgence of wine. Originating in the lush vineyards of France, this unique therapy was pioneered by the French skincare brand Caudalie, co-founded by Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas. The couple discovered the potential of grape seeds in enhancing skin health during a chance meeting with Professor Joseph Vercauteren, a polyphenols specialist, at their family vineyard in Bordeaux. Fascinated by the antioxidant properties of grape seeds, which are potent in combating aging, they developed a skincare line and spa treatments revolving around this concept, thus birthing vinotherapy.

Vinotherapy has since garnered global acclaim, becoming a coveted experience for wellness enthusiasts and wine lovers alike. The treatments typically involve the use of grape-based products such as grape seed oil, crushed Cabernet scrubs, and wine baths, believed to harness the rejuvenating and revitalizing properties of grapes. This luxurious therapy transcends beyond mere relaxation, promising anti-aging benefits and improved skin vitality, making it popular among those seeking a unique pampering experience. Its popularity has grown not only because of its supposed health benefits but also due to the sheer indulgence and novelty it offers.

In the heart of Bordeaux, Les Sources de Caudalie, stands as the epitome of vinotherapy luxury. This exquisite spa, nestled amidst vineyards, offers an array of treatments that showcase the essence of vinotherapy. From barrel baths filled with warm water and vine extracts to Merlot wraps and grape-seed oil massages, the spa promises a holistic experience that celebrates the vine's life cycle. Another notable mention is the Spa Vinothérapie Caudalie at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, where urban dwellers can escape into a world of wine-inspired relaxation.

Italy, too, has embraced vinotherapy with open arms. At the Adler Thermae Spa in Tuscany, guests can immerse themselves in baths of local Brunello di Montalcino, renowned for its rejuvenating properties. The spa combines traditional Italian thermal waters with the antioxidant benefits of grapes, offering a unique blend of health and heritage. In the picturesque region of Piedmont, the L’Andana Spa offers treatments using grapes from their own vineyards, epitomizing the farm-to-face ethos.

As vinotherapy continues to captivate the wellness world, more spas across the globe are incorporating wine-based treatments into their offerings. From the rolling vineyards of South Africa to the sun-kissed valleys of California, these treatments celebrate the natural bounty and timeless allure of the vine. Whether it’s a wine bath in Bordeaux or a grape seed scrub in Tuscany, vinotherapy offers an intoxicating journey into the heart of wellness and luxury, making it a must-try experience for those seeking a unique blend of indulgence and health.

Why drink the elixir of centuries when you can swim in it?  I say dive in. The water (bubbly, blush, red, or white) should be divine.

Updated December 2023.

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Girls Getaways - Celebrating Friendship

That's right, men. Step aside. This doesn't mean women don't adore traveling with you - it just means quality girl friend time is like nothing else; so when women gather in giggly gaggles or small, serious groups, the travel industry takes notice.

There's something uniquely special about traveling with other women. Whether it's sharing laughter over a misread map or bonding over a breathtaking sunset, these moments create memories that last a lifetime. Traveling with other women means embracing the freedom to be yourself, away from daily responsibilities. It's about sharing experiences and supporting each other.

So pack your bags, gather your girlfriends, and set off on an adventure that will deepen your bonds and fill your heart with joy. A world of options to consider:

Of course, not all memorable trips require a flight. Staycations with your girlfriends can be just as enriching. Consider a weekend retreat at a local bed and breakfast, exploring hidden gems in your own city, or even a themed movie night with travel-inspired food and films.

Men: who knows? You just might find your girlfriend becoming more passionate about travel (and life) on her adventure away with the girls, which should spilleth over to your relationship. Concerned about couples traveling separately on vacation? Here are tips on how healthy it can be.

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Secrets for Sharing Rooms and Personal Space

Nothing is worse than going on a group trip and discovering an incompatibility with your roomie. Traveling can become a bit of a petrie dish for issues, psychology, life... You never really know someone until you've traveled with them (or shared a room on a trip).

How do you survive an escorted group tour or trip with close traveling companions without throttling each other? For starters, it goes both ways. You may be a perfect travel companion in your own mind, but not in someone else's. Your passion for shopping might bore or exhaust others. Their passion for fragrant perfume may give your gag reflexes a work-out. What to do?

A quick way to ruin an otherwise fabulous trip is to find resentment building as you throw pillows, socks, apples at a roomie who snores, or roll your eyes each time your travel "buddy" wants to settle in late... showering and/or loudly fumbling through luggage and bags to find some long lost earring at 2 a.m. while you are jet-lagged as hell trying to nap.

Here are some helpful hints for common problems faced when sharing rooms and space:

Snoring -- Solution: Ask if this is an issue. Caveat: if your friend lives alone he/she might not know or agree on what to do if either of you snores. Consider ear plugs, white noise, or seeing if you can take a new room. Proper etiquette is for the person who wants to change to pay for their new room.

Scents -- Solution: Strong cologne or perfumes can be intrusive to others; best left at home. Go through routine personal products to make sure you are both happy with the steam wafting from the shower or the acetone from the nails.

Smoking -- Sharing with a smoker means a smoking room, a smoking floor and smoking tables at meals. Smokers will also be handicapped even isolated on tours as buses do not allow smoking. Solution: Take separate rooms and talk about the consequences; there is no other way out.

Stamina -- Solution: Compare walking, step climbing, ability to carry luggage, deal with lack of sleep or dietary changes. Compare how long you like to linger over meals, need to get organized each day etc. Toleration works to a point, but if you are a marathon walker and she is taxi-er, this trip will not end in friendship. Spend a long day together to see where you differ and work out compromises. Example: if only one of you is taxi dependent, she should pay that expense. Same with porterage, excess baggage on tour, etc.

Spending -- Solution: Be honest about the budget. Do you use porters? Always tip? Expect to take taxis instead of public transportation? Order expensive drinks? Each choose 2 splurges that add up to the same money and time. And compromise on those. Put all your joint expense money in a zip lock bag and pay from the bag. When the bag is empty, refill it together. Do not keep a ledger and settle up later on complicated overseas trips, either both use frequent flyer tickets or neither use them; if a flight is changed, you will at least be in the same situation.

Seeing vs. shopping -- Solution: Every one hopes for different things from a trip. What you expect should be agreed on before you book. "Walk" through the trip, decide how you will use the free time. You each get to choose two options. If shopping annoys either of you, make a specific time to reconnect and part ways for a bit. Do not ask your room share to help you with your additional cumbersome packages. You bought it, you carry it.

Scared or feared -- Solution: Make a list of your fears and absolutely 'will not do's'. You really don't want to find out your friend will not use elevators when you arrive at a high rise hotel!

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Spa Etiquette for Groups

When getting together on a spa trip with your friends for a bachelorette (or bachelor) party, birthday, or other getaway, you'll want to make sure the group is aware of some basic spa etiquette.

Nothing is more certain when a group of good friends gets together (at least with my friends) than lively conversation and side-splitting laughter. But spas offer a place of tranquility, and sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that other guests are also paying for that peaceful away-from-reality setting.

Here are a few etiquette tips (so your group is welcome at the spa next year):

Group Appointments: If you're heading to resort, schedule your stays and spa treatments several months in advance to ensure your group has enough room, can secure rooms next to each other, and can schedule appointments together (steam room, wellness classes, etc.). Scheduling massages and other treatments simultaneously or around the same time allows you to go into the pools, steam rooms and ante rooms ahead of time together.

By scheduling appointments in sync or timed closely together, you can plan other activities before and after the spa service time. That way the whole group can continue to enjoy the trip together. You can set each day's agenda for the group loosely based around spa appointments.

Quiet Times: When entering treatment areas and rooms, you'll get the most out of the experience (and so will others) if you stay quiet. Breathe deeply, absorb the relaxing air to its fullest, bring a good book for down times, and save the chit-chat with friends for meals (a time when others at the spa are likely to be more social), drinks out at a local restaurant or bars, on hikes or while doing activities outside of the spa, or create a happy hour haven for the gang in your room.

Tipping: If you're organizing a group for a spa vacation, don't assume everyone has the same tipping policy in mind. While individuals can pay for individual massage or other appointments (and tip accordingly), you may want to remind the group before the trip to tip therapists (or if you as a planner are collecting money, be sure to collect enough to cover a 15-20% tip). While individuals can vary their tipping amount depending on service quality, when in a group, it seems especially polite to tip at least 15%. Here are the Spa Industry Association's recommendations for tipping.

Nudity: Be sure to check with the spa for their general policy and ambience on nudity to prepare the group. Most likely there will be varying levels of comfort and familiarity about spa services within your group. Some destination spas or resorts offer services where you and others may be partially or fully nude, such as steam rooms, mud bath areas, etc. Phone the spa before scheduling appointments for the group so you can communicate clearly and set expectations, and the whole group can relax in their own comfort zone by choosing whichever spa services they prefer.

Read more helpful hints for group spa travel.

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Helpful Hints for Group Spa Travel

Whether your group travel plans take you on a getaway weekend with friends to a luxurious destination spa, spa appointments while golfing with the guys, or a visit to a day spa for a bachelorette party, spa etiquette is paramount.

While there are no set "rules" for spa-going (other than to lie back and relax while getting the pampering you deserve!) here are some tips and hints:

Spa Getaways

    1. Mixing activities: On the day of treatment, try to stay out of the sun and avoid alcoholic beverages. Also, don't schedule a physically demanding endeavor after a spa appointment. When in doubt, contact the spa to ask whether it's advisable to engage in a particular activity prior to your appointment.

    2. Pets: Some animals are welcome at certain resorts (likely not at day spas) but should not be brought to the spa. Be considerate of others by keeping your pet quiet and following the spa rules.

    3. Phones: Leave phones in your locker or room; or turn them off before entering the spa.

    4. Perfume: Because the emphasis should be on relaxation and others may be allergic, it's best not to wear perfume to exercise classes offered at the resort or destination spa.

    5. Massage Therapists & Estheticians: If you prefer either a male or female provider, but the spa fails to ask, don't hesitate to let your choice be known. Also, if you have enjoyed the services of a particular individual on a prior visit, feel free to request that person.

    6. Punctuality: Arrive on time or early. If you are late, your treatment time will need to be shortened since the treatment room (and provider) is generally booked after your session. After a treatment, it's customary to vacate the room within five or ten minutes. However, you are free to spend additional time unwinding in the day spa's relaxation or waiting rooms.

    7. Socializing: Meals can often be arranged and, in general, a sense of community is encouraged in a destination spa. Feel free to engage fellow spa goers in conversation, though try to stay away from stressful topics: Guests generally use spa visits as an opportunity to get away from the pressures of everyday life. If, on the other hand, you choose to maintain privacy, that can also be arranged. Though it is easy to form cliques in such surroundings, be considerate of engaging others as getting to know many of your fellow spa-goers is part of emotional wellness. Celebrity guests should be treated just like other guests and not disturbed by requests for autographs or other mementos.

    8. Advance Booking: As resort and hotel spas often fill up quickly, book as far in advance as possible. Some resort/hotel spas can accommodate groups if you reserve treatments at check-in; others suggest booking prior to your arrival. Want to avoid the crowds? Try reserving a treatment during off-peak hours or during the week. If you do, you may also receive a discount. Popular spa treatment times are usually in the late afternoon and mornings.

    9. Cancellation: Unexpected things do happen, and sometimes it's impossible to keep an appointment. If you must cancel, give the spa as much advance notice as possible. Be sure to ask if your money will be refunded; cancellation policies vary widely.

    10. Group Discounts: Many spas offer group discounts, especially for special occasions (bridal showers or birthdays). Simply call and ask.

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Adventurous Women Tours

Are you a woman of adventure? Love traveling to remote areas, stepping off the beaten path, but prefer the comfort of a group for safety and comaraderie?

Adventure travel has grown immensely popular, and a significant segment of this market is now focused on and led by women. Demand for tours that cater to women's interests and provide a supportive environment for female travelers has led to an amazing and growing number of options for adventurous women. Women-owned tour operators travel to destinations around the world (from Costa Rica to Tuscany and Sedona to Patagonia) where women can relax while experiencing new cultures and invigorating activities. These trips offer a unique blend of physical challenges, cultural immersion, and the camaraderie that comes from traveling with like-minded women.

Women focused and led adventure travel options abound.

Select Tour Operators Specializing in Women's Adventure Travel

These companies feature female guides and create itineraries focused on experiences that appeal to women of all ages and backgrounds:

Many of the larger, leading adventure travel companies also now offer trips tailored for groups of women. For example, REI Adventures offers several trips for women, guided by women. Energizing, inspiring and empowering—there’s nothing like an adventure with an all-woman crew.

Popular Destinations for Women's Adventure Travel

Women's adventure travel is not limited to any particular part of the world, but some destinations have become favorites due to their unique offerings, safety, and accessibility.

Looking for more travel ideas and inspiration? Go Girl Guides offers a broad set of articles about dozens of destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

All women's adventure travel tours provide more than just physical challenges and scenic vistas. They offer a space for personal growth, empowerment, and the breaking of stereotypes. The sense of community and support that comes from these all-female groups creates a unique and nurturing environment, encouraging more women to step out of their comfort zones and explore the world on their terms.

Article updated December 2023.

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Girls Getaway Spa Specials

Spas are my life. OK, not exactly. But if I could afford a massage daily, I'd schedule them. My favorite massage thus far was at Indian Springs Spa. The raw talent of the masseuse, the relaxed, unpretentious setting, outdoor pool, and fact that I was on a Napa Valley vacation all helped bliss me out like never before. Closer to home (in Seattle), the Zen-like spa at Salish Lodge & Spa offers tranquility amid a mountain setting. And overseas, I sampled a famous eastern European-style spa in the Czech Republic (a little more clinical than I'd expected).

Nothing's better than experiencing a spa get-away with friends. Pedicures, facials, decadent settings, cucumber eyes, laughing and relaxing all at once. Ah, that's the life!

Girls getaway spa specials

Ready to plan a girls getaway at the spa of your choice? For inspiration, here's a very short and incomplete list of spas that offer packages for friends groups and events.

Want more options? Spafinder has partnered with a number of luxury spas to offer options just for girls getaway weekends.

Article updated November 2023.

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10 Bachelorette Party Ideas

She's engaged. Your best friend. Your sister. Your cousin. Hard to believe the day is coming when she may take a new last name, have babies, and will settle into a home with her husband.

Send the bride-to-be off to married life with a bang or celebrate quietly. You be the judge of her taste. Ask her for input so you don't find her yawning through a theater show when she'd rather be doing Jell-O shots and giggling at "pleasure props," or vice versa, rolling her eyes at strippers when she’d rather have gone for pedicures and wine-tasting with her best girlfriends.

Here are some ideas I've seen (or helped organize) to punctuate the bride's last days (or night) being single with an all girls get-together.

1. Go gambling – Take the girls to Vegas with its concerts and shows galore, spa splendor, and outlet shopping. Walk down the Strip and take your pick of pleasures in Sin City. Book a hotel in any of the themed hotels on the Strip such as Wynn Las Vegas (newest Strip hotel with 18-hole golf course, spa, Cirque du Soleil shows and more), MGM Grand Hotel (tropical oasis created with multiple pools, and a river for tubing), Caeser's Palace (a tribute to the Roman Empire's decadence) and others. Other gambling hot spots with casinos, entertainment, restaurants, bars, and more for the bridal gathering include Atlantic City, New Jersey or Reno.

2. Spa daySpending a day at a spa is one of the best ways to bond. Many spas offer packages with a multiple services combined (pedicure, massage, facial, manicure, etc.) for a discount. Still a spendy affair, but worth it for a special occasion like this and a great way to let girls be girls. Ask a spa if they have specials for bachelorette or bridal groups.

3. Swanky slumber party – Plan a weekend "get-away" to a local, luxury hotel for a night. Rent a big suite-sized room (or two, depending on your group size) to split costs while still enjoying luxury. The concept is ripe for variation. When I helped organized an event like this, my friends opted to bring food to the room and our own spa accoutrements to cut costs. We painted our nails and rented chick flicks, then swam in the hotel's pool before drinking and visiting in the room.

4. Wine-tasting – Women are a sophisticated and silly lot. Nearly every woman I know roars with wisdom on every subject under the sun: life, men, work, current affairs, gardening, the latest fashion fads, whathaveyou. All we need is a few good bottles of wine and the company of other women to let the laugher and conversation unfold organically. Give the bride a night (or entire weekend) of this quality time with the girls. Napa Valley is ideal for this flavor of weekend get-away.

5. Pub crawl in style – Create a map of the top five (or so) pubs, designate a limo driver for your group, and hit the town. Don't forget the playful props that will properly embarrass the bride (you know, that candy necklace for guys to take a bite of and pay her a dollar, or a tiara worn proudly to direct attention to the bride, and so forth). This tends to work best for younger brides and bridesmaids, of course.

6. Do lunch – Simply pick a favorite local restaurant of the newly engaged woman and make reservations. This is a classic way to involve co-workers or family friends and multi-generations. Create a festive air by making arrangements with the restaurant to decorate the table an hour ahead of time so when the bride walks in, the seating area is festive with streamers, her favorite colors, etc.

7. Camping and the great outdoors – Ahhh, the great outdoors. I've always found that camping with a group of my girl friends is a great way to relax, get some much-needed time away from city stress and obligations, and focus on each other. Some of the best friendship bonding time has been while camping or doing something else outdoors such as kayaking, hiking, or biking. If your bride is highly active and her closest friends are, organize an outdoor adventure. The options are endless. Ask her for suggestions and then plan the trip or day excursion.

8. Lingerie party – Prep the bride for her new bedroom and give her something pretty in pink or bad-ass black. You know her personality – pick something fitting. Careful not to embarrass the poor girl too much if her mom or grandmother is attending the shower.

9. Dinner theater – Options here are nearly endless, but are best geared for something that suits the bride's tastes and can offer a chance for group interaction. Do dinner before a show (Cirque du Soleil, comedy club, or a touring Broadway show), or find a dinner theater event such as a cabaret (Teatro Zinzanni in SF or Seattle) or restaurant that has live entertainment. If you're anywhere near New York, I highly recommend Mamma Mia! on Broadway. The wedding theme and disco dancing lend themselves perfectly to a bridal party.

10. Traditional bridal shower – Shower the bride with stories (funniest story about her), photos (funniest picture – everyone brings one and tells the story behind it), and focus the day on the bride. Whereas the wedding is all about the couple, this event should be solely focused on her and why she's such a great friend, sister, cousin, roommate, person. Traditional showers usually include a lunch or appetizers by the hostess at someone's house. Silly games are played like creating wedding dresses out of toilet paper and having the bride be the judge or opening gifts and tying the bows together to create a faux bouquet for her to hold while walking through the dress rehearsal. It's always a bonus when small door prizes are given out.

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Vacation with Friends, without Your Mate

Ladies, how about a weekend getaway filled with massages and wine-tasting with your girlfriends? And guys, ever dreamed of playing unlimited golf with your college buddies, guilt-free, on vacation?

Even in a committed relationship, finding some space for yourself, to do your own thing, can be important. But how comfortable are you with the idea of vacationing without your significant other? And what types of vacations are best suited for friends versus with your partner?

Traveling with friends offers a number of benefits, including the chance to strengthen those relationships. Friends often bring different perspectives and can challenge you to try new things that you might not consider with your partner, leading to personal growth and self-discovery. Traveling with friends can also be safer than traveling alone. Additionally, it can provide a level of independence and personal space that is harder to find when traveling with your partner.

“What a lot of people expect from their partner is perfection. But that’s not possible. Your partner can be your best friend and your companion, but it’s unfair to then suggest they have to like everything you like and to do everything you do,” says relationship experts Dr. Patrick Wanis.

Similarly, Hannah Guy, a licensed clinical social worker, shares “there is a misconception that once you are in a relationship, you need to do all the big things with them, but I would actually argue the importance of doing some of the big things on your own or with people outside of your relationship. Our relationships are at their best when we as individuals are at our best.”

Of course, spending time away from a significant other, can be stressful too. It's essential that trust and a sense of security are well-established. Ensuring that both parties are at ease is important, particularly if the journey involves destinations where cell coverage and Wi-Fi are scarce.

Finally, if you do decide to travel with friends without your mate, we hope you return home feeling refreshed and eager to share your experiences with your partner. Afterall, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Here are a couple of the great comments we’ve received:

Erik S. wrote, “Travel with groups is great, but make sure that they are people who don't mind if you decide to do your own thing here and there. Being attached at the hip can get old. Oh, and if you have a feeling that something is not right with the group, work it out beforehand. It's your trip.”

John G. wrote, ”I'm heading off to the World Cup next month, and I'm leaving my gal behind. Frankly, she doesn't know the obsessive, soccer fanatic side of me, and I'm just as happy she's not going to witness 30 days of it! Instead, I'm going with one of my soccer buddies, and meeting another old friend in Geneva where she lives. Yup, she. The trip isn't so much gender-specific as it is activity specific. But so often in this culture the method we choose to relax varies by gender.”

Article updated November 2023.

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