Celebrated globally on March 8th, International Women’s Day inspires people around the world to recognize the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women.  As the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, the travel and hospitality industry is seeing an influx of female-focused experiences and trips, in addition to more hotels and destinations appealing to female travelers by making every woman feel encouraged and inspired while traveling.

In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s some destinations encouraging women to go outside their comfort zone, intriguing new female-only trips, and destinations making a difference by investing in women.

Build Confidence and Learn a New Skill at Las Catalinas in Costa Rica

Travel encourages people to go beyond their comfort zone. Engaging in new experiences and pursuits builds confidence, independence, and opens new horizons. Located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the car-free, seaside town of Las Catalinas is a destination that is ideal for female travelers whether traveling solo or with other women looking to embrace change, go beyond the ordinary and try something new. Access to Las Catalinas is easy with several non-stop, direct flights from cities including Miami, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto and more. Once in town, the self-discovery begins in a welcoming, pedestrian-friendly hardscape that embraces nature – a place that is perfect for learning a new skill or activity with an array of pursuits and activities ideal for a restorative getaway.

Beach Town Travel, the preferred travel agency in Las Catalinas, can curate an unforgettable stay focusing on soft to extreme adventure ideal for women looking to get outside of their comfort zone. For solo guests or two friends or family traveling together, the stylish boutique Santarena Hotel is in the heart of town offering a convenient base camp in the center of it all.  For women traveling in a bigger group, Beach Town Travel can arrange villa accommodations in the Las Catalinas Collection with over 100 lodging accommodations across their three lodging types: BarandaBon Vivant and 229 Las Catalinas. Take advantage of the current 4th night free promotion at both Santarena Hotel and Las Catalinas Collection or any of their other special offers. For the adventurous at heart, guests can learn a new activity and take surfing lessons, horseback riding at La Estancia, scuba diving, mountain biking, paddle boarding or kayaking with Pura Vida Ride, trail running through the tropical dry forest and more. Gather with other like-minded women for meditations, visualizations, forest bathing or take a sound healing journey, yoga class, organic cooking class, ice bath therapy, cold plunge or other wellness-focused activities at Center of Joy, the town’s wellness center.

The conscious town of Las Catalinas is Costa Rica’s newest desirable beach town inspired by New Urbanist philosophy. The car-free, highly walkable town includes several inns and intimate hotels, shops, restaurants, retail, day spas, pedestrian streets, parks, plazas, and recreational facilities, all located between two of Costa Rica’s loveliest Pacific beaches and 1,000 acres of protected tropical dry forest, which are interlaced with extensive hiking and biking trails. Within the town, the walkable public spaces are interwoven with nature, and the architecture emphasizes indoor-outdoor living and scenic views. Cars are refreshingly absent. For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.

Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler

Embark on a transformative Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler, where curated experiences promise to immerse participants in the untamed beauty of the land of fire and ice. From savoring culinary delights in Reykjavik to rejuvenating at the Sky Lagoon, travelers delve into steaming hot springs and ancient glaciers, culminating in a journey of a lifetime. Guided explorations of Thingvellir National Park, black lava beaches, and private ice climbs reveal the mysteries of Iceland’s landscapes, while retreats at Umi Hotel offer spa experiences amidst breathtaking vistas. From steaming hot springs to ancient glaciers, this exclusive women-only adventure promises an immersive experience in the enchanting landscapes of Iceland.

Naya Traveler extends an invitation for women to experience the extraordinary, where every moment is curated for a lifetime of memories. With rates starting at $1200USD per person per day, inclusive of accommodations, private transfers, and personal local guides, this extraordinary adventure awaits, best experienced between September and early April for a chance to witness the captivating aurora borealis.

Founded in 2016, Naya Traveler offers tailor-made experiential journeys to a curated selection of destinations steeped in ancient traditions and customs. Rooted in first-hand expertise and intimate knowledge, Naya Traveler’s highly personalized itineraries focus on exclusive insider experiences that bring back purpose and value to travel and provide a unique space to discover a destination through the eyes and knowledge of those who know it best. Naya Traveler works with an exceptional group of local hosts and expert guides in each destination, ranging from historians and artists to ethnographers and chefs—all of whom will guide travelers through the threads of a destination’s rich cultural tapestry. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com.

Ananda in the Himalayas empowers women through the Ananda Spa Foundation

The Ananda Spa Foundation (ASF) was created by award-winning, world-renowned wellness retreat, Ananda in the Himalayas in northern India. The foundation is committed to giving back to the community and promoting women’s empowerment through education and training. By providing women with the tools they need to succeed, the foundation can help create a more inclusive and diverse workforce and make a positive impact on society. ASF is committed to providing a better future for the underprivileged girls of India with the objective of empowering women from lower socio-economic groups. In Uttarakhand, women are the working members of the family and thus the financial backbone of their communities. In support of this cause, Ananda has established India’s first private not-for-profit academy providing fully sponsored training and education for underprivileged women in the field of spa therapy.

The mission of the foundation is to empower women from the community by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to build successful careers in the spa industry. Students receive top-notch training and education in spa therapy, ensuring that they are well-equipped to succeed in this exciting field. Upon completion of the program, the students will be guaranteed job opportunities in reputable hotels and spas, giving them the chance to support their families and live fulfilling lives. Through this initiative, Ananda in the Himalayas has transformed the lives of many girls in the community. For more information, visit here.

Ananda in the Himalayas is a world-renowned holistic wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills in North India, overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh and river Ganges. Located in the former Palace Estate of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal, the retreat spans 100 acres of lush grounds and gardens and surrounded by forested hillside. As the birthplace of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation, this spiritual destination embodies and facilitates wellness and enlightenment. The philosophy of Ananda revolves around Ayurveda, holistic wellness, yoga, meditation, emotional healing, spiritual awareness, and healthy cuisine. The heart of Ananda lies in its 25,000 square foot wellness center, offering beautifully designed therapy rooms with nature views, open-air yoga and meditation pavilions, an outdoor pool, a physiotherapy center, gymnasium, and a comprehensive range of Ayurvedic and international therapies for holistic cleansing of the body, mind, and soul. For more information, visit www.anandaspa.com.

Barbados is renowned for its unparalleled Bajan warmth and hospitality, which is exemplified by longtime Canadian visitor, Gwendoline Fox. One of the island’s longstanding visitors, Gwendoline has been making Barbados her winter retreat for the past five decades. This past February, she chose to celebrate her 100th birthday on the very shores that have become an integral part of her life. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) had the honour of attending Gwendoline’s celebration, graced by the presence of Her Excellency The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Prunella Mason. The President extended a warm welcome to Gwendoline’s entire family, presenting her with flowers and a heartfelt birthday card. To recognize Gwendoline’s meaningful relationship with Barbados, Ms. Marsha Alleyne, Chief Product Development Officer of BTMI, presented Gwendoline with a local piece of artwork that pays homage to Barabdos’ rich heritage. 

It comes as no surprise that Gwendoline, and many female travellers, choose Barbados as their comfortable and safe Caribbean destination year after year, given the hospitality and the many notable Bajan women who call the island home. Below are profiles of some of the most celebrated Bajan women, who champion the country on a global scale – from Master Blender Trudiann Branker to the “Queen of Soca”, Alison Hinds. 

  • Trudiann Branker, a master blender in the male-dominated world of spirit manufacturing, brings her chemistry background to create signature blended spirits at the heart of Barbados. Rising through the ranks since 2014, she envisions more young girls contributing to Barbados’ culinary scene and aims for Mount Gay to maintain its world-renowned and legendary status. 
  • Robyn Rihanna Fenty, declared a national hero of Barbados, has risen from humble beginnings to become a global icon, winning Grammy awards, selling over 250 million records worldwide, and delivering an iconic Super Bowl Half Time performance in 2023. Beyond her musical achievements, she launched The Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, demonstrating her commitment to education, health, arts, culture, and global advocacy, while remaining the cherished ambassador of Barbados. 
  • Alison Hinds, the “Queen of Soca,” is a British-born Bajan artist renowned for her contributions to the calypso genre. Breaking gender norms in the late 1980s with her band Square One, she became the first female lead in a soca band, influencing generations of women in Caribbean music. 
  • Annette Maynard-Watson, a Master Herbal Educator in Barbados, serves on the Ministry of Health and Wellness Task Force. With over 25 years of educational experience, she promotes the healing properties of plants, emphasizing the resurgence of interest in alternative medicine and the global potential of Barbadian herbal products. 
  • Jaye Applewaite, a self-taught designer and former civil engineer, has swiftly become one of the Caribbean’s top bridal gown designers, specializing in bespoke wedding dresses. Renowned for her exclusive lace wedding dresses, priced from US$6,500 to US$13,000+, Jaye passionately translates brides’ visions into the perfect dress, solidifying her prominence in Caribbean bridal fashion. 

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.