Summer is just around the corner, which means there’s no better time for a girlfriend getaway. Trips wrapped around college friends, mom groups, work friends and mothers and daughters are all on the rise, according to Kendra Thornton, president and owner of Royal Travel & Tours. However, planning for five to 10 individual folks — where everyone may have a different budget and idea of what they want to do — can be a challenge.
“In a group, it’s always a bit of a compromise when making sure that everyone is happy,” says Thornton. The destination, air travel and budget are all things that will need to be agreed upon by the group — most destinations will offer a variety of culture, lodging, experiences and dining, which will allow the group to pick and choose based on what they want to do. “Just be sure that the resort or destination that is being recommended fits whatever goals the group has outlined,” Thornton says.
To help mitigate some of these challenges, Luxury Travel Advisor has found a domestic city stay, an island vacation and a resort in our neighbor down south for a variety of options.
The good news? If you nail the trip, you’ll likely have the group coming back year after year to keep the tradition alive.
Miami immediately comes to mind when we think of a girlfriend getaway. While there are certainly plenty of options for a great vacay, few can compete with Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Located within the Faena District — a six-block stretch of Collins Avenue — and decorated by film director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, Catherine Martin, Faena is lush with red velvet, leopard print, floral motifs and exotic detailing.
Despite the encapsulating interiors, outside is where you want to be. The hotel has its own stretch of beach, as well as a pool dotted with red and white loungers and sun umbrellas. Adjacent to the pool is the Sun Bar, which serves grilled artisanal sandwiches, fresh salads and crudo specialties. Good to know: Drinks and dishes can be ordered from the pool or the beach. Then head up to the Faena Bazaar Rooftop, a shopping center, “that promotes transcultural conversations and redefines the shopping experience,” according to the hotel.
The top spot on the entire property might be the “Gone But Not Forgotten” by Damien Hirst — a 24-carat gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth in a steel and glass vitrine, sitting in the hotel gardens. Top Tip: Make sure you have your phone or camera, as this is guaranteed a bunch of hits on Instagram.
With all the offerings at the hotel, you might not even find it necessary to leave. In addition to the beach and pool scene, guests also have access to seven dining venues, including two award-winning restaurants (Los Fuegos By Francis Mallmann and Pao by Paul Qui), a 3,000-square-foot Faena Theater and the Tierra Santa Healing House, a South American-inspired spa dedicated to holistic wellbeing.
There are 169 guestrooms and suites, with the hotel’s namesake suite being one of the most impressive. The four-bedroom Faena Suite “celebrates the Golden Age of Miami glamour.” It has two and a half baths, ocean views, furnished balconies, a full kitchen and a living room. If the Faena Suite isn’t available — or for larger groups — consider the two-level Penthouse Suite, which has its own ocean views, floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious living spaces and dining rooms perfect for gatherings. Good to know: There are five bedrooms, each with its own furnished balcony, and ivory and beige with gold and black accented décor.
What we love: Each floor has its own Faena Butler who offers personalized service to guests throughout their stay. Guests also have access to an Experience Manager, who can assist in pre-arrival planning, departure arrangements and more.
For dining, Los Fuegos is Chef Mallmann’s only outpost in the U.S. The Argentine grillmaster creates authentic dishes (think: roasted meats, fish and vegetables) in an open-fire kitchen. Pao, on the other hand, showcases Asian cuisine. We suggest ordering the Uni-corn, consisting of lobes of uni surrounded by grilled sweet corn pudding infused with an Asian citrus froth made of lobster
Head back to either restaurant, the Sun Bar, Saxony Bar, La Cava or the Living Room at night to experience the lively Miami nightlife. Tip: The Saxony Bar, like the Faena Suite, evokes Miami’s Golden Age; La Cava is a 22-seat private dining space set in the hotel’s wine cellar; and the Living Room is a comfortable space where guests can enjoy live music nightly.
After a night out, head to the Tierra Santa Healing House. The 22,000-square-foot oceanfront spa has five multi-functional treatment rooms, two oceanfront treatment suites with outdoor terraces, two therapeutic rooms and one of the largest hammams available on the East Coast. Treatments meld ancient South American healing rituals, indigenous ingredients and the latest anti-aging technologies, including Shaman-developed body treatments, acupuncture, sound and color therapy, advanced enzyme therapies and advanced rejuvenating facials.
The signature treatment is the Tree of Life Vibrations. It begins by selecting a fragrant essential oil used for aromatherapy. As the body rests on a heated bed, a combination of Sacred Oils is poured on tension points along the spine. A hot stone massage is then applied to the body’s symbolic “Tree of Life,” starting at the lower back (the roots), along either side of the spine (the trunk), and the shoulders and neck (the branches). Sound enhances the therapeutic effect, while Nepalese singing bowls, handmade from seven different metals, are used to gently warm and soothe the lower back, slowly diffusing its vibrations to release deep-seated tension in the body. Tip: There is an option of extending the sound therapy to each of the main chakras.
Contact Diana M. Chan ([email protected]faena.com), director of leisure sales.
Rosewood Bermuda’s rooms with balconies provide sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.
A short flight from the East Coast — and recently completing a $25 million renovation — is Rosewood Bermuda. There’s plenty to do on property, but also some over-the-top experiences to be had on the island.
A few of the hotel’s favorites?
Cliff jumping at Admiralty Park, getting a spa treatment in a Bermuda cave, touring the Unfinished Church in St. Georges, a day trip to Nonsuch Island, shopping in Hamilton and experiencing Bermuda’s mysterious moongates.
Once the site of a grand home for admirals in the British Royal Navy, little remains of the Admiralty Park structure, but the underground passageways remain. Here, Clarence Cove is a hidden gem rarely visited by tourists; it has a quiet beach, lagoon-like waters and jagged cliffs where you can rock climb or jump into the ocean. At Grotto Bay Beach Resort’s tropical gardens, guests can descend into Prospero’s and Cathedral Caves, a pair of ancient underground grottos with electric blue subterranean lakes. Tip: Guests can swim in Cathedral Cave’s cool waters. Prospero’s Cave is home to Grotto Bay’s Natura Spa, offering treatments beneath the dramatic stalactites. The moongates — one of Bermuda’s national symbols — are located across the island at entrances to gardens, parks, hotel grounds and homes. Tip: Legend says that if newlyweds step through a moongate hand-in-hand, they will have enduring happiness; for others, be sure to make a wish when you step through.
Back at the property, one of the top spots to relax is the Beach Club featuring the island’s largest private pink sand beach, two fresh water pools (one specifically for adults) and the Beach Club Restaurant, which serves fresh seafood and elevated island-inspired cocktails. Tip: Be sure to order a Frozé, a frozen rosé and vodka cocktail.
Ladies looking to get pampered can enjoy the refreshed Sense, A Rosewood Spa, which has a new fitness center, locally inspired spa treatments and one of the first Deborah Lippmann nail salons in the country. The spa also offers fitness classes, including yoga and meditation that incorporate Bermuda’s lush surroundings into the wellness experience. There are eight rooms (including one duet suite) at the spa, and its two most popular treatments are the Match Me if You Can Botanical Therapy and the Beekeeper Honey & Sugarcane Treatment. The former uses the native Bermudian Match Me if You Can plant, which has long been used as a natural remedy to treat a number of ailments; the leaf was commonly soaked in hot water or white rum and applied to areas of the body. Naturalists have found the leaves to have warming properties, which increase circulation and help detoxify the body. The latter uses Bermuda honey, which soothes, hydrates and heals parched skin.
The hotel has also partnered with AERIN to offer the company’s first-ever amenity line, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body cream, body bar and facial bar in Coral Palm scent.
Feeling fresh, the best place to be seen on property is the Conservatory Bar and Lounge, which has views of Castle Harbour. Here, both guests and locals can sip on handcrafted British gin cocktails while enjoying two fireplaces and a new courtyard. Off property, travelers should consider The Swizzle Inn, one of the oldest pubs on the island slinging rum swizzles; Yours Truly, a speakeasy-type spot with handcrafted cocktails; Harry’s, for the sea captain’s special rum drinks and Bermuda Bistro at the Beach.
Dining at Rosewood Bermuda includes Island Brasserie, a vibrant and informal space serving Bermudian dishes that combine the island’s culinary traditions with new-world flavors; Tucker’s Bar, a newly transformed rum bar dedicated to teaching guests about the history of the island’s signature spirit; Sul Verde, the Golf Clubhouse restaurant, which serves southern Italian cuisine; and the Beach Club.
For groups looking to stay together, the two- and three-bedroom residential-style villas overlooking the ocean are the perfect getaway. These rooms have private terraces, spacious sitting rooms, kitchens that serve as large wetbars, dining areas, outdoor grills and laundry rooms, as well as bespoke furnishings and artwork from local Bermudian artists.
Reach out to Katie Barr ([email protected]), leisure sales manager.
Andaz Mayakoba’s Presidential Suite has a terrace with pool. The hotel is surrounded by tranquil lagoons and lush vegetation.
For groups who would prefer to go a little further away, we suggest Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, which opened last year.
Guests looking to stay together should opt for the multi-level Presidential Suite. It has a host of amenities, including an expansive ground-floor living and dining area with a full kitchen, private balcony and a whirlpool, a sweeping private terrace overlooking the Caribbean Sea, a private pool, separate outdoor dining area and hammock, and walk-in closets.
Some deluxe experiences that groups can book range from the resort’s chef preparing authentic Mexican meals in-suite, guacamole making and craft beer and mezcal tastings to private yoga lessons and bike tours through the resort’s two and a half miles of nature trails in tropical gardens, mangroves and the lagoon. Have a group of yogis? We say opt for beach yoga. Or maybe the group would rather enjoy some bubbly? Book a private eco-cruise with champagne and canapes.
Popular day trips, according to the hotel, include swimming in cenotes, taking a catamaran to Isla Mujeres, kitesurfing in Isla Blanca and visiting the Mayan ruins. Looking to bring a little bit of Mexico back with you? Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is great for luxury shopping as well as finding locally crafted goods. In addition to Fifth Avenue, other nearby shopping options include the open-air mall Paseo del Carmen Shopping Center and La Isla Shopping Village in Cancun. Good to know: The resort can arrange transfers upon request.
If you’re off property and looking for a place to grab a bite or enjoy a drink, consider Catch, which has an open-air dining room and rooftop terrace. It’s “the place to be in Playa del Carmen” to enjoy a cocktail and sunset, according to Andaz Mayakoba. Other options include Almirante Pech, a Mexican tropical tavern located in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue, offering a variety of mixology happenings; and Trujillos, also on Fifth Avenue, a cantina concept offering creative cocktails.
Most of the cuisine at Andaz Mayakoba is Mexican- and Latin Amerincan-inspired but Cocina Milagro, the all-day dining venue serves American and other international dishes. There are four restaurants on property: OllaTaco and OllaCeviche, the causal poolside beachfront dining venues specializing in tacos and ceviche; Casa Amate, the resort’s upscale, Latin-inspired restaurant; and Cocina Milagro. Casa Amate, which is open only for dinner, serves its dishes in a residential-style setting. Each room has a theme, such as the Bar Studio, Library, Estancia (living room) and The Comedor (dining room). Top Tip: Casa Amate serves Sunday brunch with live music — be sure to make reservations ahead of time.
At the spa, ask for Carmen and Abigail — they’re the most requested therapists. If you got a little bit too much sun, opt for the Vitamin C Facial by BABOR, it nourishes, reactivates the synthesis of collagen, reinforces the skin’s own defenses against oxidative damage and regulates the tone, leaving skin glowing. For a local treatment, the Mezcal, Lima & Chaya Body Wrap uses the invigorating synergy of mezcal, lime and Chaya to detoxify your organs, allowing to recover the harmony between mind and body.
“My advice is to just really nail down the goals, purpose and budget,” says Kendra Thornton, president and owner of Royal Travel & Tours. “Help the group to find a clear vision and a clear budget before you get started because if you start without that, it’s really going to be a painful process as everyone’s going to have an opinion or some may want to spend twice as much as someone else.
“In terms of the goal and the intent of the trip: What do they all agree they want to get out of it? Maybe that’s a fitness experience, or just a fun experience, or relaxing or a cultural or foodie trip. When they’re aligned on the goals, it helps the advisor really focus their time and effort into places that are going to make the group happy.”
As for top destinations, Thornton recommends Peru, where clients of hers recently visited; Iceland — or “anywhere in Europe” — and even Morocco, where she’s planning a trip for her group of friends. Her clients opted for Peru for its safety, “the amazing food, great outdoor activities, beautiful culture and sights.”