How I find Travel Queen-worthy places to stay on our group tours for women!
For every Travel Queen group tour I visit the area first to plan the whole itinerary, check out the best places to explore, activities to do and the best accommodation to stay in. As a traveller at heart I LOVE this part... but it isn't always glam and involves a lot more work than you might think!
Read on for my must-have accommodation checklist and what I do behind the scenes so you can rock up to your fab beachfront bungalow, jungle treehouse or palatial penthouse as a happy, stress-free Travel Queen, ready to start her adventure!
Does it have character and reflect the country we visit?
Is it central and easy to get to and from?
Will women feel safe staying here?
Does it represent adventure and / style?
Does it include breakfast?
Does the supplier meet my and the TTA requirements?
1. Does it have character and reflect the country we visit?
It's really important to me to find amazing places that reflect the places we visit. Why travel somewhere interesting to spend your time in a characterless, white-wash hotel room that could be a Travelodge at the side of the M60?
That means that on our Thailand Adventure tour for women we stay in treehouses in the jungle, traditional Thai bungalows and beautiful beachfront villas on the islands, and when we do the grand finale five star hotel it isn't minimalist modern chic like you often get, but decorated with ornate Thai woodcraft and beautifully framed panoramic sea views from our amazing rooms. Everywhere oozes simple Thai style set in stunning locations that reflect this beautiful country.
On the Croatia Adventure tour for women we stay in very different accommodation to Thailand, from a luxury hotel in the 1700 year old walls of the Diocletian Palace in the heart of Split, a luxurious harbour front hotel on the island of Hvar and a grand, traditional Croatian family villa overlooking the city of Dubrovnik. All accommodation is of a luxury, four star standard and is in keeping with the styles of the historic and beautiful stone built old towns of the two coastal mainland cities and Hvar Town that we visit as part of the tour.
2. Is it central and easy to get to and from?
On our group trips for women we visit several destinations during one tour, so it's really important to find central places in the heart of exactly where we want to explore. If we only have 2 or 3 nights somewhere, we don't want to waste valuable time getting to and from our hotel to the things we want to see.
Distance isn't the only thing to think about either. It might be just a 10 minute walk on google maps, but that could become more like a potential heart attack inducing climb once you add in hundreds of steps, a heavy rucksack and 30 degree blazing sunshine! Or, it could become a solo, midnight wade through the ocean in the pitch black to get home if you end up on the wrong end of an island with wildly different tidal patterns!
These are actual things I've encountered while scouting out accommodation in Croatia and Thailand by the way... needless to say, as a result I ruled out these places that had previously seemed like serious contenders!
3. Will women feel safe staying here?
As a women only group tour, I want everyone to feel safe walking to and from our accommodation at any time of the day or night on their own, including women that maybe aren't used to travelling or even going out and doing things like visiting bars and restaurants on their own at home.
Obviously a lot of the time we'll be together, either as a full group or in smaller groups during free time. But this is your holiday, and if you feel like you want to head home early, stay out late or go off mooching for a bit of you time, I want you to feel 100% safe in getting back on your own. So you can rest assured, everywhere we stay on our tours is somewhere I've personally walked back to late at night on my own, and felt totally comfortable doing so.
I've researched and stayed in some amazing places that I've considered for tours, but I've also ruled out a LOT. Whether it was a walk back late at night that turned out to lead through unlit parts of an island, bungalows with unlockable windows or city centre apartments a little too close to where a late night bar empties, there are lots of reasons why I've decided that a whole host of accommodation isn't up to safety and security par for a Travel Queen tour.
4. Does it represent adventure or style (or ideally a bit of both)?
I describe Travel Queen tours for women as 'adventures with style' because we really explore the places we visit, but we do it in comfort and style with a few luxuries along the way. That applies to how we travel, the trips and activities we do and of course, our accommodation. Everywhere we stay on a Travel Queen tour is of a high standard; who doesn't love a bit of luxury?! But to me it's important that it is also part of the adventure.
So while the treehouses on our Thailand Adventure are luxury versions of treehouses (ensuite bathrooms in a camp with a cocktail bar, restaurant and massages available is considered pretty luxurious in the treehouse world you know), they are still houses in trees, in the jungle, where you'll hear all sorts of jungles noises as you drift off to sleep, and you could well be visited by monkeys on your balcony if you're lucky!
But even if this is a little out of your comfort zone, you'll be back feeling pampered in a big luxurious bedroom facing a breathtaking sea view before you know it!
5. Does it include breakfast?
Nobody likes feeling, or being around those, who are hangry (so my friends tell me), so this just makes practical sense! We move around and see and do lots on our trips, so having somewhere that provides a breakfast at the place where we stay makes sure everyone gets fed before we head off for the day. If it isn't included as standard, then I make arrangements to ensure this is provided just for our group.
For example, in our Croatian villa in Dubrovnik, there is no breakfast served as it is a private villa rented out solely for us, but I make sure our kitchen and dining area is fully stocked with breakfast goodies for you to help yourselves every morning.
6. Does the accommodation supplier meet my and the TTA requirements?
Ok this is a 'behind the scenes' factor that you'll never really experience but it is critical to the selection of every single supplier I use to create a Travel Queen tour, and I'd say my accommodation providers are probably the most important of all suppliers.
As a minimum, every single supplier I work with has to meet strict legal and financial criteria in order for me to have them approved by the Travel Trust Association (TTA), that license Travel Queen LTD to sell travel and tours. This means I have a commercial agreement with every single supplier, that is approved by the TTA, and can provide all my customers with 100% financial protection should anything happen to that supplier.
But I will also only work with suppliers that I have met in person and have a good working relationship with too. It's my mission to make sure everything about your Travel Queen experience is amazing, and the way I do that is by taking a very personal approach to everything from start to finish. So I must have suppliers that I can trust to do the same and are willing to bend over backwards to answer ALL my questions and requests and play their part in that mission.
In short, I do lots of ground work so you have an amazing time!
So in a nutshell, I always research then test out everything in person first, to make sure it ticks all my boxes, that there aren't any surprises and that you will get the best possible experience on a Travel Queen tour.
Thanks for reading and your interest in Travel Queen!
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