This is an article written by Billie Cohen of Conde Nast Traveler and was printed on December 12, 2013. Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE is a member of the Conde Nast family of “Best in the World Hotels” and “Readers Choice Awards” and the Valencia Group hotels host many women travelers at our boutique hotels and we are curious to know your point of view; offended or intrigue?
“We’ve been hearing a lot lately about hotels that are offering women-only floors—and before I go any further, let me be clear: This is not a trend borne out of cultural sensitivity or safety concerns in destinations where those things might be an issue. No, this is a marketing gimmick at upscale hotels in popular cities like Washington, D.C., Singapore, and London to appeal to female business travelers.
What does a women-only floor look like? Well, apart from the obvious, it is tricked out with special “feminine” amenities and decor. USA Today recently reported that at the Georgian Court Hotel in Vancouver, rooms on women-only floors are equipped with curling irons, yoga mats, and satin-padded hangers; at the Dukes Hotel London (a Condé Nast Traveler reader favorite), ladies who book a Duchess Room get glossy mags, fresh flowers, a “quiet corner table in each room for those women who’d rather dine-in than go out alone,” and a female housekeeper (as if that’s a rarity).
So ladies…are we offended by this? Should we be?
I am, but not because this is some strike against feminism. It’s not so insulting that hotels have finally noticed that women have their own trips to plan and their own money to spend and that they are traveling on their own without—amazement of all amazements—husbands. It’s more insulting that these are the amenities they think will make us choose their women-only floors: chick clubs with curling irons and yoga mats.
Safety issues aside (because in some cities, I agree, that might be a comfort to certain travelers), I find it hard to believe that what businesswomen and female travelers really want is specialized hair products and magazines rather than, say, free Wi-Fi, loaner iPads, or personal business concierges to help arrange any meetings they might have.
Not everyone agrees with me, though. Beth Whitman, founder of WanderlustAndLipstick.com, says, “I think having the women-only hotel floors is a brilliant idea. It provides a safe environment for those who are traveling solo, whether for business or pleasure.”
Marybeth Bond, founder of Gutsytraveler.com, says she “appreciate[s] female-focused amenities—make-up mirror, shower cap, finger nail file—as well as good service at any hotel,” but adds that other offerings, like yoga mats and upscale body products, seem like they’d be useful to both sexes. “I don’t believe female-only hotel floors are necessary,” she concludes. “Does the hotel management feel that women need ‘extra protection’ and that their property is not safe for their guests?”
In the end, as with any marketing ploy, the real test of this one will be whether it makes the hotels any money. And so far, this idea doesn’t seem to be a complete fail. The Dukes London and the Georgian both tell USA Today that they’re having success with their women-only offerings.
What do you think female explorers of the world? Is your inner feminist offended or intrigued?