While en route to Antarctica, Reeta Brendamour, a Club Member of nearly 11 years hadn’t even left the Houston airport before she’d met four new friends from her same Florida enclave. An intrepid explorer, Reeta has traveled extensively with family and friends. Yet she recounts her five Once-In-A-Lifetime (OIAL) Journeys taken either solo or with her youngest son, Adam, as the most memorable, exploring such far-flung locales as China, Mongolia, Easter Island, New Zealand, and Uruguay with Exclusive Resorts.
Post-pandemic, female solo travel has grown significantly. In fact, search engine reports show one in two travelers (54 percent) are considering escaping solo in 2023, with 65 percent choosing to go their own way because family and friends don’t share their travel interests. “The Club has made it very easy and compelling to travel on my own,” Reeta explains. “I would be more likely to travel solo with Exclusive Resorts than any other travel company.”
Reeta is not alone in venturing abroad sans companions. Member Susan Scott was at a neighborhood dinner party in her hometown of Captiva, Florida, when a friend gave her a surprised look after she mentioned traveling to India by herself. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Turns out it was a fantastic idea. Her Once-in-a-Lifetime India trip became the impetus to book additional solo trips, including joining the same Club adventure to Antarctica as Reeta. On the heels of a tumultuous few years — her husband passed, and then she lost her home in Florida due to Hurricane Ian — Susan speaks from a temporary home base in Maryland, where her glass-half-full outlook still resides. While there have been emotional moments during both journeys as she has reflected on loss and grief, her adventurous spirit (an artist, she used to travel the world as a competitive ballroom dancer) and the transformative nature of travel have been powerful salves.
While the reasons for escaping on one’s own — whether male or female — may vary, a unifying thread and reason for solo travel is an amplified sense of freedom, “doing exactly what you want, when you want,” as Reeta says. To meet such demand, the Club continues to cater to luxury solo travelers. Cal-a-Vie Health Spa and Miraval are safe spaces to rest and relax alone, with specific spa treatments, private meditation and yoga classes, and special restaurant offerings designed for solo diners. Additionally, the Private Travel Collection has grown significantly, introducing six new trips this year that encourage travelers to enjoy their own company while also enjoying — a perfectly crafted — trip of a lifetime.
The pièce de résistance for an unaccompanied nomad? The Club’s Once-in-a-Lifetime Journeys, which allow Members to meet like-minded travel companions. During Reeta and Susan’s Club cruise to Antarctica, both found solace in a group of solo travelers on board, who by virtue of being part of the Club, had many similar interests. “When I arrived and realized how many solo travelers were on the Antarctica trip, it made it all the better. I’ve traveled on my own before with other types of groups that do not have the same familiarity or camaraderie. With the Club, we are all connected in some way,” says Reeta.
Susan found discovering India with the Club also provided the safety and peace of mind desired versus booking independently. “Exclusive Resorts gave me an instant connection,” she says. “New friends were rapidly made who I hope to see on my future travels.” She emphasizes experiencing the Hindu religion as a top takeaway from India. “I’ll never forget the sound bowls,” she says. “The Hindu culture is so unbelievably rich — being by myself, I probably had more time to absorb it all than if I had been with somebody. Plus, by the end of the two-week trip, I think a lot of the women were envious that I had my own room,” she jokes.
Susan gets emotional when recalling a final Club dinner while in India. Dressed in a traditional Indian sari, she remembers, “I stood up and said to everyone, ‘This trip was my first solo travel. I didn't know what to expect. And with every single one of you, I never felt excluded. I always had a place to sit and there was always a chair at the table.”
What’s more, connections are fostered not just during, but between, trips — after Reeta’s Antarctica experience, her Ambassador found seven Members in her Florida area and they all plan to get together soon. Reeta has two more solo OIAL trips already on the calendar, including Israel this May and the Galápagos Islands in 2024. And during Susan’s India trip, she was told by another Member a spot had opened for the Antarctica December 2022 trip. She signed up immediately. “The OIAL journeys are one of the best aspects of the Club,” she adds.