Boomer Women Travel Club brings together women with wanderlust for trips around the world
By Al Parker | March 2, 2019
Sue Barenholtz has built a business out of two of her favorite activities: travel and fostering great female friendships.
“Over the years, I’ve noticed two major facts,” said Barenholtz, who moved in Boyne City last year. “A lot of women want to travel but don’t, and also, women who travel together forge the strongest friendships.”
Those elements spurred her to launch Boomer Women Travel in 2012.
The company is part of a growing travel trend that caters to women with wanderlust. Nearly two-thirds of travelers today are women, and the industry is moving quickly to catch up, according to a report by the George Washington University school of business.
With the average traveler being a 47-year-old woman, Barenholtz caters to women over 40 years old. Her trips emphasize sisterhood, along with plenty of activities geared toward women’s interest and forging friendships.
“Many women love to travel, but they never have anyone to go with, or they hate the idea of planning a trip,” says Barenholtz, who designs and plans these ‘girlfriend trips of a lifetime’ for small groups, usually from 12 to 16 guests.
“If you’re coming by yourself, you can room alone, or we can help match you with a roommate,” she said. “By the first night, you’ll have a room full of new girlfriends, and before you know it, you’ll be laughing and sharing stories about lifelong travel memories.”
Former Detroiter Cheryl Orrico is a widow who missed traveling after her husband died. She learned about Boomer Women Travel and soon, she and three of her girlfriends were headed to Italy with the group.
“I think it’s a lot of fun traveling with women,” said Orrico. “It’s a different vibe, it’s more casual.”
Not only did Orrico have a great time, but the cost was reasonable, she said. She and another friend went on their second journey to Italy last May.
Lisa Oliver, another former Detroiter, has gone on three solo trips with Barenholtz. She’s maintained her friendships with people met along the way, including an Italian friend who has come to the U.S. to visit her. “We had wonderful experiences that I could not have created on my own,” said Oliver. “What I liked was that I didn’t have to do any of the planning.”
Boomer Women Travel plans to do six trips each year. Its next scheduled journey is a fully booked trip to tour castles in Ireland in late May. There’s an Alaskan cruise coming up in September with an after-trip to Vancouver. There are also two back-to-back weeks in Italy in October.
“I’m a planner. I love to do this,” said Barenholtz, who will be making her 16thtrip to Italy. During the first week, she’ll guide the group along the Amalfi Coast, take them on a daylong culinary cooking tour, enjoy a private cruise to the Isle of Capri, tour Pompei, and more. The second week features visits to Umbria and Tuscany. Travelers can come for either week, or both.
She’s considering organizing a trip to the Upper Peninsula this summer and an African safari in 2020.
Barenholtz grew up in the Detroit area and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1978 with a degree in social work. She moved to Arizona, living in Phoenix for three years, before returning to Detroit in 1981, where she launched her own business doing corporate training and consulting. But the southwest called again, and she returned in Phoenix in 1998 before relocating to Boyne City in August 2018.
“My family had been coming up north to Charlevoix for many years,” she said. “That was our two-week summer vacation, my special place. It was always a goal of mine to have a home in Charlevoix.”
But after checking the real estate listings, Barenholtz couldn’t find anything available in Charlevoix. When her real estate agent suggested she consider Boyne City, Barenholtz discovered it was not the sleepy little lakeside village she remembered from decades ago.
“It’s a cute little town with a lot going on,” she says. “I found a house, and I love it here. I’m really happy I decided to live in Boyne City.”
Learn more about Boomer Women: (231) 459-4535 or (602) 677-1953, www.boomerwomentravel.com.