Tania Lebrija Swasbrook, an expert in solo female travel, at Chable, a wellness resort in Merida,… [+]
The travel industry website Skift dubbed 2017 “the year of the modern female traveler,” and Conde Nast Traveler recently reported that solo female travel is more popular than ever. Just do a Google trends search for the phrase “female solo travel,” and you’ll see the spike in interest over the past five years.
I recently met three experts in solo female travel at the ILTM Americas conference — a gathering of luxury travel advisors and industry professionals that’s held every year at Mayakoba, a resort on the Riviera Maya of Mexico.
These women, who are frequent solo travelers themselves, shared their insight on the places that they think are most exciting destinations right now for female travelers. From a mountain hideaway in Italy to a wellness retreat in Mexico with an award-winning tequila collection, these are the places you want to go next.
And for more great solo-travel ideas, check out “33 Best Trips And Tips For Solo Female Travel.”
Meg Nolan in New Zealand.
Meg Nolan, founder, Friend of a Friend Consulting
Meg Nolan is a veteran travel writer, having held editorial positions at titles such as Town & Country and Vanity Fair, as well as an author of three travel books for Rizzoli (Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England’s Hideaways) that cover lesser-known hotels and villas. Currently, Meg is the editor of Goodspeed, a new in-flight magazine for Tradewind Aviation, in addition to running her own travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting, where she specializes in luxury trip design for private clients through a partnership with Valerie Wilson Travel. Meg’s work has brought her to 46 countries and counting, many of them where she dined at a table for one. As a result, Meg’s love of travel has become synonymous with quality me-time — a delicious combination of discovery of the new and introspection.
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon with a view of the Northern Lights. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Iceland: A hot destination this year, Iceland and its natural wonders are dominating social media feeds, making it tougher than ever to figure out where to go. Fortunately, the Nordic land is notoriously friendly for female travelers and with an outfitter like Iceland Luxury to help steer you, it’s not as daunting or as barren as the landscape may imply.
Beachfront at Casa Sandra on Isla Holbox, Mexico.
Isla Holbox, Mexico: If you could go back in time, wouldn’t you? At CasaSandra on Isla Holbox it feels like time stopped around 1950, and that, plus a strict barefoot-only policy and new chef is reason enough to head there solo, and maybe never leave.
A guest room at Rosa Alpina.
The Dolomites, Italy: Italy is never a bad idea, but the mountains in Italy seem an even better one at the moment, given the fresh alpine air, the skiing or hiking (depending on the season) and the gourmand fondue at Rosa Alpina, a Relais & Châteaux property. Plus the hammam and spa are a nice post-exertion retreat.
A pool at Casa San Agustin in Cartagena.
Cartagena, Colombia: The Caribbean in South America, Cartagena provides the ideal blend of culture, beach and colorful history with excellent tour guides and high-quality dining. It may feel a bit romantic to be there solo, but the jovial crowd at Casa San Agustin, with its hotel bar and open-air rum tastings in the plaza, are as convivial as any major city.
A beach in Byron Bay, Australia. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Byron Bay, Australia: Dubbed “the Hamptons of Australia,” who wouldn’t want to go check out this seaside enclave on Australia’s Gold Coast? Plus, Elements of Byron, a small privately owned property, is currently pushing wellness camps with yoga and healthy eating at the core.
Six Senses is opening on Krabey Island in Cambodia.
Cambodia: Surprisingly comfortable for female travelers, the triangle tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos maintains a strong pull to those most adventurous. And now with a new Six Senses property in Cambodia opening in April, it just got that much more luxurious to see Siam Reap and sleep, albeit exceedingly comfortably, nearby.
A view from a room at Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: With so many new hotels opening up in Cabo, it’s hard for a gal to choose. Given Starwood’s allegiance and support of women, I’d opt to stay with them at the brand new Solaz, a Luxury Collection property opening this March. Plus, it has the sleek factor bound to impress even the most hardened of travelers.
The lush grounds at Fairmont The Norfolk.
Nairobi, Kenya: As a burgeoning tech city — big-wig Google and Facebook execs pay annual visits — and with its history of heroic female residents (Beryl Markham, Karen Blixen) and an incredible artisan fashion scene, Nairobi is ripe with opportunity and interesting people doing interesting things. My pick for the best place to stay: Fairmont The Norfolk, an iconic property built in 1904.
Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman.
Oman: Surely one of the places that give credence to fairy-tale images of mirages and oases calls for a visit once in this lifetime. And then there’s Zighy Bay, a hotel with a the James Bond-like entrance that allows guests to partner up with a professional hang glider and make an entrance like none other — right over the cliffs edge down to the bay.
Tania Lebrija Swasbrook in Bilbao.
Tania Lebrija Swasbrook, vice president and luxury travel designer, Travelworld of Coronado
Tania Lebrija Swasbrook grew up in the travel industry, given that her mother founded Travelworld in 1978. She began working at the agency in high school and during college did a year in Paris at the Sorbonne. After completing her BA in international relations and business in 2001, she moved to New York where she pursued her masters and worked for the high-end travel sales and marketing company, Virtuoso. In 2006 she moved to London for continued education and decided to try a new industry, finance, for those years. She returned to the United States a few years later and with her new skill set, returned to her passion of working in the travel industry. She is now a luxury travel designer and vice president of Travelworld. An avid solo traveler herself, Tania believes in the importance of continued education. She recently returned on a solo trip to the Basque country in Spain and a visit to Mexico’s new Chable Resort in Merida.
A view of Bilbao at night. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Basque Country, Spain: Basque Country is the name of the area located in northern Spain with a celebrated cuisine, strong cultural traditions, art and a distinct language that pre-dates the Romance languages. It has Europe’s highest density of Michelin stars per inhabitants, many of them part of Relais & Chateaux properties. Bilbao, the heart of the Basque country, is also the home of the famous Guggenheim museum. It’s the perfect art and foodie adventure for any solo female traveler.
A colorful street San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Recently voted the best city in the world, San Miguel de Allende is a colonial-era city located in the Bahio mountains of central Mexico (about 150 miles from Mexico City). A World Heritage site, it became the hub of many expats starting in the 1930’s and has remained very friendly to tourists and foreigners. Many people speak English, and it is ideal for solo female travelers, as you can walk the city easily, with much to see and do around art, history, architecture and culture. My favorite hotel here is the Rosewood, which is set in the heart of the city.
The view from the Dolder Grand in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland: The Dolder Grand is situated high above Zurich, not far from the city center yet in stunning natural surroundings. With an award-winning spa covering 43,000 square feet, a two-Michelin-star restaurant and the most beautiful city in Switzerland at your feet, it is a perfect environment for solo female travelers looking for culture, exclusivity and relaxation.
Blue waters and cloudy skies in New Zealand. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
New Zealand: New Zealand is one of the most visited countries by solo travelers. It is extremely safe, easy to meet other people and lots to do and see with breathtaking beauty at every corner. Outdoor adventure is available everywhere (the first commercial bungee jump originated in New Zealand!), and it is easy to get around New Zealand. For the solo female traveler looking for luxury, there are dozens of top-rated five-star lodges throughout the two islands.
A view of Amsterdam’s Conservatorium Hotel.
Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam: The Conservatorium is ideally located in the museum and fashion district of Amsterdam, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. The hotel offers guests an experience that is locally oriented and world-class, all under the roof of a building with a unique heritage. There’s so much to do for the solo female traveler, much of it suggested to be done on bikes (there are actually more bikes than people in Amsterdam!). So each guest is connected with their own personal concierge or “host,” to make each stay even better by providing insider access for an unforgettable holiday in Amsterdam.
A street in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Charleston, South Carolina: If you are a solo female traveler interested in history and culture, Charleston is often described as a living museum and was the first domestic destination to be voted the coveted World’s Best City ranking by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2016. Located in the heart of the historic district, the Belmond Charleston Place, nicknamed Charleston’s Grand Dame, features newly renovated rooms and suites. It is located just steps from the famous historic market, antebellum homes and James Beard-awarded restaurants.
A pool area at Clinique La Prairie.
Clinique La Prairie, Montreaux, Switzerland: Marlene Dietrich, amongst many other famous women, are rumored to have come to Clinique La Prairie for its well known “rejuvenation therapy,” which uses a patented biostimulant lyophilized solution that has a boosting effect on the immune system. CLP is a world leader in medical well-being, combining a state-of-the-art medical spa and holistic approaches. From weight management to detox, from a menopause center to a sleep center, it has all aspects covered for any solo female traveler to completely revitalize their health.
The natural hot springs at Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa.
Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa, Costa Rica: For any solo female traveler looking for adventure but also relaxation, wellness and to bond with nature, the sustainability-focused Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa is ideal. It is situated in Costa Rica’s rainforest region of Fortuna de San Carlos at the base of the Arenal volcano. The spa’s unique healing thermal mineral spring river emerges from the volcanic earth.
Poolside at SHA Wellness Clinic.
SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain: SHA Wellness Clinic is a sexy mix of a medical spa and modern Mediterranean resort. Located in a picturesque town in Alicante, it has perfect weather year round (declared to be one of the places with the best weather in the world by the World Health Organization) and blends eastern and western approaches to health. Cutting-edge genetic testing and traditional Chinese medicine are given equal emphasis. It is ideal for solo female travelers looking to indulge and focus on themselves. Their motto says it all: “Be a better version of yourself.”
Leah Winck in Sydney, Australia.
Leah Winck, owner/president, Journey On Travel
Born of Chilean heritage on her father’s side and German on her mother’s side, Leah grew up with lots of international influences. From an early age, languages, culture and travel were part of her life. During college, Leah spent two years in Spain and traveled solo extensively throughout Europe and Northern Africa. Involved in different areas of the travel industry for over 15 years, Leah truly enjoys creating unforgettable trips for her clients, primarily for families and solo female travelers. Owner/president of Journey On Travel, Leah is an independent consultant affiliated with First in Service Travel’s Santa Monica office. Whether her clients need a weekend getaway, a cruise or a multi-destination adventure, Leah loves to give her clients special attention and care when it comes to creating their ideal travel experiences. Leah frequently attends industry events and travels herself to discover new destinations.
The spa at Chable in Mexico.
Chable, Chocholá, Mexico: With recent accolades including Best New Hotel in the World by Conde Nast Traveler, Chable is a perfect spot for women seeking wellness and peace. Located 25 minutes from Merida, Chable is located in a 19th century restored hacienda. Divided into two parts — the hotel and the spa — wellness here is focused around yoga, meditation, tai chi and traditional Mayan spa therapies. The lush gardens and sense of peace are inviting to any woman in need of relaxation or recharging. In addition to its stunning gardens, Chable is one of the only spas in the world with its own cenote. The hotel also has the world’s largest private collection of tequila, with over 750 bottles.
A nighttime view of Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Spain.
Alfonso XVIII, Seville, Spain: An historic hotel of choice from the Starwood Luxury Collection, Alfonso XVIII is a beauty that lies in the heart of Seville’s center. For any solo traveler, the location can’t be beat, as you are steps from the Rio Guadalquiver, La Giralda, Plaza de España, el Torre de Oro and many other treasures. The service is top notch and rooms are beautifully appointed with a sense of traditional Andalusian design. During hot summer months, it’s a blessing to have the gorgeous pool.
The exterior of the St. James Trafalgar Square, London.
St. James Trafalgar Square, London: The newest member of the Hilton Curio brand, the St. James Trafalgar Square is the perfect base in London, as it is situated a mere 15-minute walk to some of the city’s most sought-after museums, galleries, restaurants and bars, as well as trendy spots like Covent Garden, Leicester Square and Soho. For solo traveling women, the hotel’s living room, “Biblio,” provides a cozy retreat to read and have afternoon tea.
Qualia on Hamilton Island in Australia.
Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia: Qualia embodies all that is calm, peaceful, beautiful and unique for a solo traveler. The beauty of the resort, exquisitely appointed large rooms and delicious award-winning food make Qualia a natural choice for any woman heading to the Great Barrier Reef. With your own golf cart to tootle around town, you can venture a bit to see the views around the island and try out different restaurants in town near the marina.
The pool at the Alvear Palace Hotel.
Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires: An iconic hotel in the heart of Recoleta neighborhood, the Alvear Palace Hotel in Buenos Aires is a mecca of traditional Argentinian design. Upon entering, one immediately feels the history of the city. The lobby bar is like something out of a classic movie. The rooftop bar and atrium, accessible from the new suites, have a wonderful view of the surroundings. The location is fantastic, as it’s within walking distance of restaurants, shops, museums and the famous cemetery, not to mention the best empanadas in the city. For solo female travelers, the services, location and overall vibe make the Alvear my top pick for Buenos Aires.
The Grand Hotel Minerva’s rooftop pool.
Grand Hotel Minerva, Florence, Italy: Newly refurbished, the 100-room Grand Hotel Minerva in the heart of Florence emits the perfect place for a solo traveler’s journey to Florence. With views of the old historic buildings, you are surrounded by the warmth of Florence with major sites within minutes of this boutique hotel’s door. The rooftop bar and pool (yes, a rooftop pool in the center of Florence!) is a plus, with amazing views of the church of Santa Maria Novella.
Hotel B in Barranco, Lima.
Hotel B, Lima, Peru: The only Relais & Chateaux property in Lima situated near the Malecon Souza and Playa Barranquito, the Hotel B is a 20-key beauty that’s the perfect hub for travelers looking to explore Lima’s rich culture. Traditional Peruvian hospitality awaits you, as does its award-winning restaurant.
A suite at Hotel Esencia in the Yucatan.
Hotel Esencia, Yucatan, Mexico: With six new suites and a new dining venue, Esencia captures the authentic flavors of Mexico. The rooms are tucked away in the lush greens, makes for a relaxing, safe getaway for any woman who wants a true escape. Daily yoga, delicious food, non-motorized water activities and an amazing spa, featuring natural traditional Mayan remedies, oils and fragrances, make Esencia my top pick for a reawakening getaway. The master suites in the main building are my personal favorites, with inviting views of the Caribbean Sea.
Llao Llao in Bariloche, Argentina.
Llao Llao, Bariloche, Argentina: Llao Llao is an iconic lodge overlooking the majestic Andes and Lake Nahuel in Argentina’s Patagonia region that is not to be missed. With new suites added on to the main hotel and amazing bathtub views of the lake and mountains, Llao Llao is a top pick for any nature loving explorer. Hiking, picnics, sailing, kayaking and mountain bike riding are all plentiful in spring and summer, while skiing is a must in winter.
Want more great solo-travel ideas? Check out “33 Best Trips And Tips For Solo Female Travel.”
Tania Lebrija Swasbrook, an expert in solo female travel, at Chable, a wellness resort in Merida,… [+]