The massive tour operator Gate1 Travel has a special division, Gutsy Women Travel, whose women-only trips offer camaraderie, the safety of traveling in numbers, and the convenience of having all the details planned for you. Groups are small and varied: "Our Gutsy travelers are anywhere from 20 to 85," says spokeswoman Jane Coloccia.
While Gutsy's trips are more expensive than Gate1's packages, they also use cushier hotels and are practically all-inclusive. The packages below, which fall during the peak Christmas travel season, are a way to indulge and celebrate yourself.
Victoria, British Columbia, $1,699 per person
The Victoria Christmas guided-tour package includes a five-night stay near the Inner Harbour at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel whose 63 rooms have two-poster beds, gold and royal-blue trappings, and, in many cases, gas fireplaces. You're in for a whirlwind visit that makes the most of Victoria's Christmas traditions. Among the highlights: afternoon tea with scones at the elegant Fairmont Empress Hotel, a tour of festively decorated Victorian homes, a horse-drawn carriage ride, a tour of the British Columbia Museum, a visit to the Butchart Gardens, and Christmas Day brunch at the Vista's rooftop restaurant overlooking the city and then dinner at the Barkley Steak House. You can extend your stay for roughly $176 per room per night, based on availability.
When: Dec. 22-27, 2007.
Details: Airport-hotel transfers, breakfast daily, one lunch, a welcome reception, four dinners, and hotel taxes are included. Tips are additional. Rates are per person based on double occupancy, so a woman could come with a friend, pay a single supplement ($441) for her own room, or request to be matched with a suitable roommate. The tour operates with a minimum of 9 participants and will not go beyond about 25.
Getting there: Airfare is not included. A recent search on Kayak yielded these round-trip fares for Victoria in late December: $231 from Seattle (Alaska Air), $316 from Portland (Alaska/Air Canada), $548 from San Francisco (multiple carriers), $676 from Phoenix (Alaska), $767 from Chicago (multiple carriers), and $896 from New York City (multiple carriers). Note that if you're traveling from the East Coast, it may be cheaper to fly into Seattle and then catch the ferry to Victoria.
New York City, $1,999 per person
The home base for the Christmas in the Big Apple escorted tour is Hotel Elysee, an upscale 1920s property in East Midtown—a short walk from Central Park, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and Bloomingdale's. The packed itinerary covers most of the city's blockbuster attractions. There are tours of the Metropolitan Museum—including its Neapolitan Christmas crèche—the New York Botanical Garden, and Jewish sights in the Lower East Side; a concert at the Cloisters and a performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular; afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel; Christmas Eve dinner at Tavern on the Green, and Christmas dinner at the Rock Center Café in Rockefeller Center, followed by a trip to the top of the Empire State Building. You can extend your stay for a hefty $457 or so per room per night, based on availability (as that price tag suggests, this hotel is swanky and part of what makes this package a good value).
When: Dec. 21-26, 2007.
Details: Airport-hotel transfers, breakfast daily, two lunches, three dinners, a welcome reception, and hotel taxes are included. Tips are additional. Rates are per person based on double occupancy, so a woman could come with a friend, pay a single supplement ($1,071) for her own room, or request to be matched with a suitable roommate. The tour operates with a minimum of five participants and will not go beyond about 25.
Getting there: Airfare is not included. A recent search on Kayak yielded these round-trip fares for New York City in late December: $214 from Chicago (American), $251 from Atlanta (AirTran), $308 from Miami (American/Delta), $489 from Phoenix (United/US Airways), $534 from L.A. (United), and $629 from Seattle (Delta/United).
Contact: Gutsy Women Travel, 866/464-8879, gutsywomentravel.com.