Image: The Premier Hotel, New York
Seven rooms of this 125-studio hotel in New York's Times Square are reserved just for ladies. Rooms come with a host of amenities including a loofah and bath salts, a hair flat iron, a curling iron, women's magazines, a yoga mat and access to the private (and co-ed) lounge where complimentary breakfast is served.
updated 2/16/2009 2:23:24 PM ET 2009-02-16T19:23:24

Women have fought long and hard to be included in the boardrooms and backrooms of an oft male-dominated society, but let's face it, sometimes they just want things men probably don't — like a curling iron or a copy of O, the Oprah magazine.

Luxury hotels have begun meeting the demand.

The Premier Hotel in Times Square wasn't getting too many requests from female solo travelers looking for protection from male guests, but they were getting requests for better makeup lighting and more diet-friendly cuisine. "It wasn't about women asking to not be around men," says General Manager Patrick Davidson of the hotel's decision last year to reserve one entire floor for women guests. "It was so they wouldn't have to worry about packing every little additional thing."

The Premier's women-only rooms come with curling and flat irons, bath salts and loofahs, nail files, a vanity kit, yoga mats and women's magazines (O, Self, Cosmopolitan) — all at no additional cost. The bathtub is oversized, and there's a stool at the sink (with makeup lighting) so women can sit while doing their face.

"These women work very hard, and this might be the only time they will get to soak in a big tub and read a magazine," says Premier marketing director Maureen O'Brien.

That doesn't mean safety doesn't play a factor. Most female-only floors have added extra security — usually a key-card door and a female-only staff.

"It's nice to know that you won't have a gentleman walking on the floor, and, if you do, you know he's not supposed to be there," says O'Brien. After all, sometimes it's just about opening the door to get the newspaper in your bathrobe — and not worrying about running into Joe from sales.

Image: The Naumi Hotel
Women headed to Singapore may want to check out the female-only floor in this luxury boutique hotel in the business district. The five-suite floor is serviced by a female staff and is located behind a securitized glass panel declaring the area "For Ladies Only." In-room touches include makeup remover, a yoga mat, fashion magazines, aromatherapy products and "flowery" wallpaper.
The Crowne Plaza has two women-only floors at its properties in Washington, D.C., and the Bloomington, Minn., airport. However, its "female-friendly" floor in Milwaukee, Wis., is open to either sex who might want the female-oriented amenities including fashion magazines, ice cream and fresh flowers.

A Crowne Plaza spokeswoman said that the fuzzy "female-friendly" designation is "based on the hotel's market demand."

Barbara Atkinson, 55, who checks into a different hotel every week for her job marketing products for hotel rooms, has stayed on the women-only floors at both the Premier and the Crowne Plaza in Washington, D.C. "It's an overall safety thing. You feel more secure," she says. "But I also like going into a place where the colors are coordinated, and there's lotions and magazines that interest you. It's less like you're at a hotel."

"Girls only" doesn't have to be limited to hotels, either. Increasingly popular are women-only vacation packages.

Bev Sanders, 55, runs Manifesta Safaris, which offers various options for women-only fun, including surfing lessons in North Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; painting and printmaking classes in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.; and golfing on the courses of Monterey Peninsula. "Women learn differently when there are no men around," says Sanders, who founded the company in 1997. "If you put a man into the equation, women begin to second-guess themselves."

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In October, Jenny S. Dunton, 36, took a three-day Manifesta creative arts safari in Carmel-by-the Sea. She painted with heated wax, shopped, took strolls on the nearby beaches and bonded with the other female vacationers. "Women today try to be the supermom, the super career woman," says the mother of two from Aptos, Calif. "Being around only women is a chance to really let go, relax and get back to the root of what is important to you."

Sanders also runs Jennifer's Journey, an online resource for women-only activities that she started in 2007 as a tribute to her sister, who died of cancer before she was able to travel as much as she had wanted. "There's something that happens when women all get together," says Sanders. "They become best friends — they heal and nurture each other. I wanted to leave that legacy for Jennifer's little girl."

Cheryl Fleet founded Canyon Calling, a female-only adventure company, in 1996. "The women who join our tour groups are exhausted taking care of themselves and everyone else, and this is time just for them," she says.

Fleet, 53, heads trips to far-flung destinations including Costa Rica, New Zealand and Alaska. She got the idea for the company when she was a jeep tour guide in Sedona, Ariz.

"Occasionally, I would get a group that was all women, and it was amazing to watch these flowers unfold. They felt much more comfortable without guys around, much more free to be themselves," she says.

Fleet seeded the business with $25,000 in savings, and sales reached $250,000 last year. Customers range from mothers and daughters from the Midwest to affluent businesswomen to "low income girls" from Los Angeles. Forty percent of them are married. But they all have one thing in common: "an adventurous spirit."

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