By Melanie Reffes

A diamond may be a girl’s best friend but a women’s-only getaway is the shiniest way to relax, renew and refresh. Before you buy that fancy car, trade the spouse for a newer model, or generally behave badly, consider a girls-only vacation without the husband, the kids and the bills.

Nothing beats the midlife blues like a day on the blue sea. A girlfriends’ getaway is a popular winter rite of passage and a growing niche market for travel agents selling the Caribbean.

Fast Track to Fabulous

The party kicks off with champagne cocktails at the swishy all-inclusive LaLuna resort in Grenada. With the aptly named Girlfriends Getaway package, gal pals check into side-by-side cottages with plunge pools and cozy porches for a three-night/four-day escape.

Tempting add-ons include yoga sessions, three spa treatments per person, and a cooking class with the resort’s Italian chef. All-inclusive rates, per person, start at USD $2,785 for travel through April 12.

Operating a quintet of resorts in Barbados (The House, Colony Club, Tamarind, Crystal Cove, and Turtle Beach) Elegant Hotels Group operates a portfolio of upscale accommodations rolling out a regal welcome.

“It gives me great pleasure to serve my minty mojitos to the ladies at my bar,” smiles bartender Sydney Trotman at the Colony Club Sunset Bar, “and if they ask me about the island hot spots, I’m happy to oblige.”

Colony Club Boat GuyM ReffesOn a sunny afternoon, nothing says vacation better than a ride on a ski boat under the watchful eye of skipper Jason Scantelbury. “Girlfriends relax on my boat because they focus on the scenery, the green turtles and the sunshine,” he says steering the boat along the western coastline. “It’s easy to forget about the husband and the kids, at least for an hour or two.” US $150 buys an hour of bliss on the water with Jason.

Winter is on sale at the iconic Kura Hulanda hotels in Curacao. At both the Hotel near the historic capital of Willemstad and the Lodge on the beach, Spa Splendor includes relaxation essentials like sun loungers and dips in the Jacuzzi. For gaggles of gals, thatched-roof Kalki Villas at the Lodge sleep six in two-storey comfort and come with espresso maker and a plunge pool.

Big Girls Don’t Cry

From manicures and massages to pedicures and paraffin wax treatments, the spiffy new Lazule Sea Spa at Frenchman’s Reef in St. Thomas is a guilty pleasure that delivers – in 11 treatment rooms and spa pool with cabanas. Showstoppers include a Sea Mud massage for tired muscles, Caribbean Sea Scrub for silky smooth skin, and the Island Detox Body Wrap to fix everything else that needs fixing.

Four seasons NEVISFour Seasons ResortsOn the talc sands of Pinney Beach in Nevis, the uber-fabulous Four Seasons is offering a three-night package for ladies in search of the ultimate Caribbean chillout. Starting in a five-bedroom villa, the package includes a pyjama party with popcorn and DVDs, leisurely massages, gourmet nibbles at the Hideaway Grill, and a custom blended perfume. If that isn’t enough, extras include Ladies Tennis Boot Camp, rainforest hike with a bush doctor, and tours to an organic farm with Rasta Farmer Mansa.

“Nevis is a place you can truly cocoon and escape the stresses of modern living,” says spa director Nancy Mitchell.

Also on Nevis, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club offers Fitness Retreats to lose those few unwanted pounds. From yogurt to yoga, the week-long getaway includes nature tours, nutrition counselling and plenty of healthy gourmet cuisine.

A quick flight from Toronto via Air Canada, St. Kitts Marriott is a good bet for girls who like to tempt lady luck in the casino, top off their tan, or mingle with corporate executives in the chic Blu Seafood restaurant. Near a slew of funky beach bars, the resort is brand-reliable with hotel packages galore like the tempting Super Escape that includes meals, libations, and tennis courts.

For gal pals watching their budgets, Comfort Suites in Turks & Caicos may be the best bargain in Provo. Not fancy but comfy, the hotel shuttles guests to the beach in a golf cart and entertains with impromptu steel pan concerts in the lobby.

Comfort SuitesM Reffes“We offer a resort feel without resort prices,” explains manager David Croft. “We’re a big hit with Canadians who appreciate our free extras like Wi-Fi and Miss Williams’ famous triple layer coconut cake served in our lobby.”

For ladies who appreciate the road-less-travelled, daily rates at Rosalie Bay in Dominica include yoga classes and breakfast with a bounty of healthful choices made from fruits and vegetables grown in the organic garden. A 28-room eco-luxury property, the wind- and solar-powered resort is big with nature lovers who come to see endangered turtles nesting on the protected black sand beach from March through October. Until October 31, a saving of 33-per cent applies to room rates, starting at US $149 in suites with luxurious bathrooms.

Girlfriend Getaways 101

1. Set a date far in advance and stick to it.
2 . If anyone mentions her husband or kids by name, she put s a dollar in the communal kitty.
3 . Get t-shirts made after the trip, a far more personal souvenir than a magnet or snow globe.