11 Female-owned Hotels Around the World With Amazing Stories
Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
There are many unknowns surrounding travel right now, but one thing is for sure: A stay at any of these women-run properties will be memorable. From the captivating mountain views in upstate New York to the dazzling beaches of the Caribbean, consider this your way to have a vacation and stimulate the growing sector of female entrepreneurism.
The Roundtree in Amagansett, New York
An avid traveler, Sylvia Wong was inspired to open a boutique hotel with two must-haves: simple luxury and warm hospitality. It was fate when she first visited The Roundtree property — not only did it exceed her expectations, but she knew its hidden gem location would set her apart from other stays in the Hamptons. Plus, it had a rich history, as the homestead of one of the four founding families in town.
What makes The Roundtree special, according to Wong: "I wanted to create a modern, intimate hotel, so guests can feel like it's their second home. [The property] is located right in the heart of Amagansett village, yet it's surrounded by farmland and within walking distance of some of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Thanks to our team who makes the experience special, our guests genuinely feel as if they are staying at their second home, yet with the hospitality and service of a luxury hotel."
Stonefield Villa Resort in St. Lucia
Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country in the world named after a woman, Saint Lucy of Syracuse. For Anista Brown, female entrepreneurism runs in her blood. Formerly a 26-acre cocoa plantation, the Stonefield Villa Resort served as Brown's childhood home. But her family transformed it into a complete resort, including a restaurant, spa, gym, events space, and 17 villas, each with a private pool. As the sole owner, Brown runs the day-to-day operations, while her daughter manages sales and marketing.
What sets Stonefield Villa Resort apart, according to Brown: "The resort sprawls along a lush hillside in the shadow of the Pitons, with the Caribbean Sea below. It's the only property on the island with this view and the only one with a historical landmark on it: pre-Columbian rock carvings that face the Pitons. Plus, the fertile grounds supply the hotel's restaurant with most, if not all, of its fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs."
Warner's Camp in the Adirondacks, New York
Amy Brightman and her fiance, Jess Moody, sought out an investment opportunity, brainstorming places to put their hard-earned dollars. Because they both enjoy the outdoors, it felt natural to open a vacation rental in the Adirondacks. Their goal was to ensure the property remained a testament to the past, while still including modern design touches. The result? Warner's Camp, an ideal spot for a family gathering or bachelor or bachelorette in the heart of nature.
What sets Warner's Camp apart, according to Brightman: "Warner's Camp is essentially a vacation rental, but we run it like a boutique hotel. We wanted the house to feel like a destination in and of itself, not just a place to crash after skiing. The original part of the home dates back to the 1800s, so the design choices we made are a nod to the past. Our added amenities include a barrel sauna, fire pit, wood-burning stove, and river tubes for the adjacent swimming hole. To enhance the cozy, cabin-in-the-woods experience, we added a record player and games, as well as a collection of books and local information."
Hotel Manapany in St. Barts
After a successful career in Paris and Brittany, France, developing the B Signature Hotels & Resorts brand, Anne Jousse wanted to dabble in other regions. The first destination that came to mind was St. Barts. She had visited many years before and enjoyed the more understated, Caribbean-inspired luxury, and, of course, felt at home with the French language. She took a trip in 2016 to scope out opportunities and found Hotel Manapany, located five minutes away from the town of Gustavia and the St. Jean beach area. She purchased it later that year and turned it into the stunning property that it is today.
What sets Hotel Manapany apart, according to Jousse: "Once I returned to St. Barts after so many years, I became dedicated to a back to the roots of St. Barts project. I wanted to recreate the memory I had of visiting the island 20 years before, when it was still natural, wild, bohemian, and not yet commercialized. Hotel Manapany's location and natural beauty give guests exactly the vision I had in mind: privacy and immersion in the wild and carefree beauty of St. Barts. Guests can relax or do yoga on the beach, go to the spa, or learn to surf, but they are also close to civilization, so they can experience what St. Barts has become."
The Downtown Clifton in Tucson, Arizona
Like many other Tucsonans, Moniqua Lane often walked through her city's neighborhoods, wondering how an old building could be transformed into something that would honor its original luster and charm. Every day, she'd walk past what is now her hotel, The Downtown Clifton, and it would speak to her. Finally, in 2012, she found it on the market and couldn't pass it up. After leaving her career in law, Lane put her creativity into this property. And in the fall of this year, she'll open her second space, The Citizen Hotel, also in Tucson.
What sets The Downtown Clifton apart, according to Lane: "The perspective we bring to both Downtown Clifton and the Citizen Hotel is one that's based on how we want to connect to the community around us, then working out the rest from there. Everyone in the creative process grew up in Tucson, so authenticity to the people and spaces comes first. People think of their neighborhood bar or neighborhood restaurant — a place that perfectly fits — that's what we try to do with our hotels."
Garden of the Gods Resort and Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado
In 2013, Judy Mackey and Brenda Smith took over this Colorado Springs oasis with grand visions. They spent five years shaping the property into what it is today: a multidisciplinary clinical health and wellness resort. In addition to a plethora of spa treatments, guests also work with personal trainers and lifestyle coaches to help them feel happier and healthier.
What sets Garden of the Gods Resort and Club apart, according to Mackey: "Enriching our guests' lives through the natural, ethereal beauty of the surrounding landscape and extending hospitality and wellness from the hearts of our highly regarded clinicians and team members remains the fundamental mission of the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club."
The Mansion Bali in Ubud, Indonesia
Claudine Quynh found herself drawn to Bali's innate beauty in 2003. She wanted to create a resort that was more than a hotel — a place to display art and offer the traditional Balinese immersion. Today, The Mansion is a well-visited home away from home, providing luxury through local support and sustainability.
What sets The Mansion Bali apart, according to Quynh: "The Mansion is tucked away in the heart of Bali's art and cultural township in Ubud. Featuring lush landscaped gardens, Balinese water features, lotus ponds, six pools, and exquisite art in almost every corner, it's unlike any other hotel. The Mansion's down-to-earth and professional staff is what makes staying here truly unique. It's where luxury, art, nature, and wellness meet true hospitality."
The Retreat Costa Rica in Atenas, Costa Rica
Fifteen years ago, Diana Stobo struggled with a handful of health issues and wanted a solution that wasn't based on taking one pill after another. Instead, she turned to her diet and began eliminating foods, monitoring the impact on her overall vitality. This experience inspired her to write a book, which led to more books, speaking appearances, and fame. Then, seven years ago, her mother's husband passed away, and their property in Costa Rica went up for sale. Stobo purchased it on a whim — sight unseen — and three months later, she started The Retreat, a picturesque boutique hotel with jaw-dropping views.
What sets The Retreat apart, according to Stobo: "Most who describe it talk about the details that go beyond a hotel room and the feeling of home. The highlights that most people rave about are the open kitchen, the food, the service, and the staff's warmth. The whole experience is set around the comfort and healing vibrations of the crystal mountain and nature."
Casa Palopó in Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
In 2010, Claudia Bosch checked in to Casa Palopó as a guest — and checked out as the hotel's new owner. Believe it or not, while having breakfast with the then-owner, Bosch learned the property might be up for sale, and since she was already smitten, she decided to buy it. Over the last decade, Bosch has turned it into a luxury resort that's beloved by many, including locals. She also created the Palopo Activo program, in which 10% of guests' nightly rate is given back to them in vouchers to shop locally.
What sets Casa Palopó, according to Bosch: "Casa Palopó is a little slice of heaven, inspired by the magic of Lake Atitlán and the smiling local communities that call this enchanting corner of the globe home. With just 12 rooms and suites...and a private three-bedroom villa, we offer a boutique experience that pairs personalized attention with unique experiences inspired by the colors and culture of Guatemala — breathtaking views included."
The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island
With a hotelier dad, Lani Shufelt grew up surrounded by hospitality. Her father purchased this New England property, formerly known as Cliff Walk Manor, in 2000, and she worked there every summer through high school. Through that experience, Shufelt fell in love with the property, and after a three-year renovation, they opened the reimagined hotel in 2003. Fast-forward to 2016, and Shufelt took over as the sole owner, bringing the same excitement to her work as she had as a teenager. Today, it's a luxury hotel featuring 20 individually designed rooms, including the impressive Renaissance, one of the most beloved suites.
What sets The Chanler at Cliff Walk apart, according to Shufelt: "There is the natural landscape and grounds that overlook the Cliff Walk and Atlantic Ocean, captivating the minds and creative souls who enter. You almost feel as though you're staying in your own private mansion, served by a gracious and genuine staff that awaits you on your own floating island. We are fortunate to be a small and intimate establishment, bringing a high sense of personalization to every guest's stay. As often as the light changes over the ocean, we strive to make each day for our guests as meaningful in beauty and substance."
Peter Hunter House Bed & Breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi
In early 2019, Hydie Wahlborg won a trip to her hometown of Natchez, Mississippi. Over the course of a fun-filled weekend with her oldest daughter, Wahlborg explored places that brought back childhood memories. While there, she couldn't shake the feeling of "coming home," as she was overwhelmed with inner peace and kindness from locals. Four months later, she was painting the walls of her pre-Civil War era bed-and-breakfast.
What sets Peter Hunter House Bed & Breakfast apart, according to Wahlborg: "When someone returns for the evening after a day in Natchez, they have already experienced tremendous beauty and history; it is my job to say, 'Welcome home.' 'Home' at the Peter Hunter House is an extension of my feelings for our community: light, welcoming, open, kind, and gracious. And even more so, it's an extension of my nurturing childhood home. I find tremendous joy in the little touches that make a person feel at home, and this is also what my guests seem to comment about the most."