Girls trips have become my favorite way to travel lately. There’s just something magical and empowering about traveling with a group of open-minded, travel-obsessed, and badass women. But my idea of a girls trips always meant organizing a vacation with one or a few of my good girlfriends. It never really crossed my mind to sign up for a travel adventure that included tours and programs designed specifically for female travelers — some who I may not have already known. This is where my good friend Stephanie Flor, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Around The World Beauty comes in. She curates international female-driven global beauty experiences for beauty curious female travelers. This spring she partnered with the Morocco Tourism Board to curate a 5-day tour in Marrakesh, Morocco. I had the honor of going and believe me when I say you’ve never experienced this kind of traveling before!
Flor’s mission behind Around The World Beauty originated from wanting to find a way to combine her passion for both beauty and travel into something that would inspire, empower, and connect women. Travel is an investment in one’s own personal growth and a lot of young adults these days — women especially — are recognizing the importance of that. But it’s not always easy to find a group of girlfriends to travel with — even if you have a solid tribe. People have different schedules, financial situations and as we get older some of our friends build families, making it difficult to just book a trip for five or ten days.
The 31-year-old half Ecuadorian, half Costa-Rican, has traveled to over 30 countries and prides herself in curating each tour. Flor picks a destination that she feels has a lot to offer and makes sure to organize each with love, in efforts to create a culture of acceptance and a space for emotional impact.
Because travel group sizes are kept at 15, Flor makes sure to hand select all the women who go on the trip. By doing that she gets a sense of who everyone is, making sure to organize a group of women who will feel “a personal calling or motivation to travel to this specific destination.”
While I did already know some of the women who were on the trip, I also met a handful of new ones. After five days with all of them, I definitely left with friends I will probably have for life and as Flor calls it — “not just those girls I went on that trip with.” It’s an opportunity to merge cross-cultural travel experiences through the conversation of beauty. Not only do you get to experience the destination but you also learn about the beauty rituals and traditions of that particular culture in a very real and intimate way.
Another thing that sets Around The World Beauty trips apart from other women’s tour trips is that it’s not a retreat. It’s a journey that allows you to experience each destination authentically. If you’re new to a place, you might not exactly know where to explore — outside of the tourist-friendly spots. For the Morocco trip, we were all welcomed at Mohamed V airport in Casablanca, where we got to get fully acquainted and from there we received car service to the hotel we were staying at, ES SAADI Marrakesh Resort, which was only minutes from all the nearby restaurants, markets, and museums. The resort alone was epic.
Everything was curated, organized, and covered. While the prices for ATW Beauty trips might seem pricey, especially with all the Expedia and Bookit deals you can find these days, it’s important to keep in mind that those prices cover everything. Once you hit the destination you literally don’t have to spend a cent — unless you decide to go shopping like a lot of us did. You also don’t have to worry about not knowing where to go — because they got you covered. In five days we hit up everything that’s worth hitting up in Marrakesh. That alone makes these trips worth it.
Day one we all gathered for dinner at Le Palace Restaurant, where we got to really connect and share our goals for the trip, as well as our own personal goals and dreams. I don’t think I ever connected that well and that quickly with strangers before and I’m a pretty social person. But the energy in that room that evening and the connections we were making — it was like we were all vibrating at the same energy frequency level.
On day two we took a tour to the Medina, where we got to shop the markets and experience the wellness beauty destinations of Marrakesh. We visited five different beauty shops to learn about the newest beauty trends and ingredients inspired by Morocco. The tour touched on why beauty matters and how travel is truly the number one beauty secret. We even got to experience the first international female-driven global beauty walking experience for beauty curious travels in Morocco, something Flor herself worked to set up. Because for years travel was considered a male-dominated profession (especially in a Muslim country like Morocco), it was very important for Flor to hire a female tour guide. It was also a great opportunity to help educate the community on the importance of females in the travel workspace. In fact, on every single trip, ATW Beauty makes sure to give back to the local women of that specific destination. They even partnered with local Moroccan beauty cooperatives to support the beauty movement while promoting female entrepreneurship. Their first global partnership is with Arije Al Ghaba — an argan cooperative located outside of Marrakesh. ATW Beauty plans on offering excursions from Marrakesh to Arije Al Ghaba Argan cooperative for hands-on beauty workshops, and best-sourced ingredients.
“We particularly focus on giving back to women because they are the caretakers for all the ancient beauty secrets we explore,” Flor says. “In all of these countries, women have been keeping their communities running and honoring beauty traditions for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and we like to honor that.”
We learned everything from how to make argan oil to rhassoul clay used in the hammams, and why beauty recipes are considered such sacred rituals in Morocco. We had henna designs done at the non-profit Marrakesh Henna Art cafe and we even got to speak to the Moroccan women themselves about their favorite rituals and how beauty is perceived in Morocco. We also did it all from tours in the Medina to a beauty class with Flor, sightseeing in Marrakesh, meals at some of the best most authentic restaurants including Le Salma and Dar Moha restaurant, and trips to the Jardins Majorelle, Yves Saint Laurent Museum, and La Mamounia, as well as camel riding. We even took home beauty products from Nyakio Beauty that included the Nyakio Soothing Oil, the African Black Soap, and a few more.
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Tonight is our last night in Marrakesh, Morocco. Most of us head back to the states tomorrow night and we laughed, talked, opened up, and cried today. This was such a life-changing and incredible trip and so much came up for so many of us. But my biggest takeaway was the strong bonds we all made with old friends and new. This is a trip I will never forget, that I’ll always talk about, and that I hope I can one day share with my future daughter and inspire her to travel and explore the world and be open to new and amazing adventures and opportunities. In Morocco, a lot of folks say Inshallah, which means if god wills it. This has become my new motto. This trip taught all of us that if something is for you or if it’s something that’s meant to happen, it absolutely will — you just have to believe it! • #ATWbeauty #beautytourmarrakesh #visitmorocco #muchmorocco
Not only did we come out with new girlfriends from the states but also from Morocco and isn’t this what travel is really all about? It’s about opening up your mind and heart to new possibilities and relationships.
After five days with this amazing group, it was hard to say goodbye — to Morocco and my new friends. It was a trip like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and a trip I will probably never forget. I’m already trying to figure out how I can travel with these lovely ladies again. Fortunately, there’s another ATW Beauty trip coming up for Spring 2020 and it’s set for Japan. Something tells me we’ll probably all be there.
For New Yorkers curious about Flor’s beauty journeys but interested in a taste, I highly suggest checking out her NYC ATW Beauty tours which give you a preview as to what you could experience at the destinations.
Deborah Lloyd said it best: “Travel sparks our imagination, feeds our curiosity, and reminds us how much we all have in common.” That couldn’t be more spot on!