Gutsy Women prepares for an island invasion


NEW YORK -- Hong Kong is a magnificent city for women.

At least that's what April Merenda, Maupintour's vice president of sales and marketing, thought when she visited the city in February to scout it as a potential tour destination.

Maupintour is packaging the destination in two special-events programs for its Maupintour Ltd. series -- one for Christmas and one for the Chinese New Year -- as well as in an independent city package.

But when Merenda visited Hong Kong, she said she was impressed with its potential as a destination for Maupintour's Gutsy Women Travel, its escorted tour program for women only.

Gutsy Women's Travel Hong Kong program is indicative of the whole tour series, featuring small groups, extended stays in luxurious hotels, pampering, education, culture, exploration and plenty of opportunity for shopping.

The itinerary is built around a five-night stay at the Metropark, a centrally located four-star hotel. "It's a hotel that is geared toward women," said Merenda. "It's on the Hong Kong Island side, convenient for local shopping, has an out-door pool, and all the rooms are equipped with the latest facilities."

Maupintour's Gutsy Women Travel is heading to Hong Kong this year with plans priced at $1,500 per person, double. Above, the city's skyline. The program includes a spa visit, a massage, classes in cooking and Tai Chi, visits to the Man Mo Temple and Victoria Park and a sunset harbor cruise.

"The secret to the success of Gutsy Women is that they appeal to the multidimensional aspects of women's personality," said Merenda. "It's like a little of everything rolled into one."

Still in its early phase, the Gutsy Women programs have already settled into recognizable patterns, Merenda said.

"On the second or third day, the women-thing kicks in," she said. "You are relaxed and opening up to women you never met in your life. It's cheaper than therapy, an incredible way to bond with like-minded people."

Three departures are scheduled for the Hong Kong trip: Sept. 22 to 29, Nov. 3 to 10 and Dec. 1 to 8.

The price is $1,500 per person, double, land only. A single supplement is available for $235. Five breakfasts, three lunches and five dinners are included.

The tour visits Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island, which was a refuge for pirates two centuries ago; the Man Mo Temple, which dates to 1891; and cruises the Hong Kong harbor. The Hong Kong itinerary also includes a Tai Chi class and a spa treatment.

Named after a book ("Gutsy Women"), which was written by its spokeswoman and sometimes guest tour director Marybeth Bond, Gutsy Women Travel was introduced in November 2001.

Gutsy Women Travel was based on research that showed that women constitute a travel market distinct from men.

According to the research, women make 75% of travel decisions and an even greater percentage of buying decisions overall.

Research also showed that women are more interested than men in scenery, theme parks, spas, the arts and architectural and historical sites.

For additional information or reservations, call (800) 255-4266 or visit Maupintour's Web site, at

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