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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

No guys allowed

Banks are enjoying success with women-only trips

In reference to women’s friendships with each other, a recent study from Harvard Medical School stated, “The more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life.”

Harvard did the research and produced the official study, but women have always been aware of the importance of women friends. But to hear that experts have announced that having girlfriends is good for your health is as exciting as if they had prescribed eating ice cream twice daily. Hanging out with our women friends is an easy pill to swallow.

The travel industry is aware of the fact that women relish their time together. In past years, the obvious offering for women almost always included shopping, and these jaunts continue to hold major star power for women. One bank director reported traveling 500 miles to New York City with 44 women for a weekend shopping spree, and turning around and doing it again the next weekend with 44 more.

But today, the possibilities for bank groups extend far beyond time at Macy’s. The abundance of female-only trips includes such diverse experiences as pondering small-town goodness in Missouri and paddling amidst exotic nature in Florida. Some destinations offer women-only time at your convenience; others have specific dates for these events.

So, sorry guys: When it comes to marketing your loyalty program this time around, we’ll just quote country singer Martina McBride — “This one’s for the girls.”

Dude ranches minus the dudes

It seems that girls at least wish they had grown up to be cowgirls, because ranches are promoting Wild West opportunities for women only. Bank boomer women will love the fresh air.

The Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Montana, offers an all-inclusive package to Cowgirl Up. “It starts with a horsemanship clinic for novice and experienced riders, and extends to a honey-and-cream rock foot massage,” said Dave Leishman, spokesman for the million-acre ranch. Fly-fishing lessons, a square dance and a wagon ride are also part of the fun.

A Girlfriend Getaway is also possible at Drowsy Water Ranch near Granby Colorado. This dude ranch also caters to all levels of horse riders and encourages women to enjoy one of the weekly rodeos nearby.

“Our Cowgirl Only Week was selected as one of the 2009 Top 20 Girlfriends’ Getaways by Aspire, a hospitality company. We offer mountain bikes, rafting trips, fishing and three home-cooked meals daily,” said Justin Fosha, co-owner.

For Southern cowgirls, try a Cowgirl Kayaker trip in Everglades City, Florida. “Master naturalist Captain Laura Lee French offers half-day guided tours for novice, intermediate or advanced paddlers,” said JoNell Modys, communications manager for the Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (

“For the more adventurous, try the Cowgirl Kayakers Camp, a two-day camping trip that includes camp cooking and plenty of laughs. All gear is supplied, just bring a sense of adventure,”

Buffalo, beaches and palm readings

Many destinations have simply given their itineraries a feminine twist to attract this growing group-travel trend. No matter the age, bank women will love the fun and discovery that comes with these itineraries.

The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department is promoting its Chick Trip Program.

“This is a partnership with many different tourism entities that help us come up with awesome itineraries specifically targeted to women,” said Austin Tackett, travel communications coordinator for the department.

Just a few of these adventures are the Bartlesville/Dewey Chick Trip, which features Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and classical music; the Pawnee/Pawhuka Chick Trip, which offers Native American history, nature preserves and real buffalo; and the Wild West Tours Chick Trip. “That name says it all,” said Tackett.

The Durango Area Tourism Office in Colorado offers a one-stop Girlfriend Getaway Package that provides a list of optional components like a half-day spa treatment, dining, limousines service, tickets for the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and even a “pink” ingredient — a mammogram at the local medical center.

Bank members will love getting lost in this town surrounded by millions of acres of pine forests and lakes, and famous for its boutique shopping and art galleries.

A themed getaway, Girls’ Cape Escape Weekend, has been a grand success at the Red Jacket Beach Resorts on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. “The weekend at this oceanfront resort provides a variety of guest speakers, spa treatments, golf lessons, psychic readings, all sorts of exercise and art classes, karaoke and live entertainment,” said Beth Patkoske, a marketing representative for the resorts.

Janeen Aggen, media contact for tourism in Independence, Missouri, suggested the Girls’ Weekend Getaway in the historic town. “An abundance of Harry S. Truman attractions, including the Truman Presidential Museum and Library, are on the itinerary, along with a covered-wagon-ride tour and lunch at Girlfriends, a restaurant where guests dress up in their hats, glasses, boas and more before sitting down to lunch,” she said.

Independence also offers antique shopping, an angel store hosting 20,000 angels, and tours of historic homes and the gloomy 1859 Jail.

According to Barbara Brown, public affairs manager for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Virginia, Williamsburg is an easy city to navigate with charming resort lodging options, and is a fun and eclectic choice for women.

“Options include art museums, the world’s largest outdoor living-history museum, a new spa, golf, swimming, biking, lawn bowling, tennis and shopping at one of the largest outlet malls found anywhere,” she said.

No men allowed

Shopping is always an itinerary magnet for women, and options abound in nearly every location. But for those considering a trip to the Big Apple to enjoy some of the best and most diverse shopping opportunities anywhere, consider this for your New York extravaganza: The Premier Hotel in Times Square has one floor dedicated solely to women.

“The hotel’s Ladies Only Floor is an exclusive floor accessible through elevator key-card access only and offers special amenities like exclusive bath products, a hair straightener, curling iron and all other girl bathroom essentials you won’t find in ordinary hotel rooms,” said hotel spokeswoman Stephanie Lund.

Staying on this ladies-only floor also grants access to the hotel’s private lounge, where complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served daily, and patrons also enjoy a European-style breakfast.

Lund added that reading materials in the rooms aren’t limited to the daily newspaper. “O, The Oprah Magazine; Self; and Cosmopolitan magazines are also on hand, perks only women would be able to handle.”