Mother and daughter getaways
Shop, spa, eat, see and do - for mums and daughters, a trip together is a unique way to celebrate and refresh your relationship without the demands of kids, work and partners.
Mums with teenage girls, snatch that special time before they disappear into the world alone: perhaps this is the chance to test the waters before gap years and the prospect of solo travel raise their heads.
After all, who could ask for a better teacher of essential life skills?
PRINCESS DIARIES: ITALY
"When in Italy, what would Audrey Hepburn do?" She'd probably drive to beautiful little Siena (mental note: pack Pucci scarf and big sunglasses), climb the top of the Mangia tower before shopping for handmade Tuscan boots, then refreshing herself with lunch at a trattoria and a little gelato.
Guide Andrea Powis channels the ultimate diva on a 10-night tour through Tuscany and down to Rome on a tour made for sisters or mums and daughters. "It's effervescent, elegant and timeless," she says.
There are home-cooked dinners at family vineyards and lunches in Renaissance palaces with Florentine princesses, nights spent in country villas, palazzos and monasteries, and two days on red Vespas, stopping for morning cappuccinos in walled towns, with light shopping workouts in between (non-Vespa divas are chauffeured).
The tour ends in Rome, with a tour of Villa Borghese and a promenade (and possibly more shopping) along Via Condotti. The 10-night tour departs Florence on June 7, 2014.
Costs from $7620 a person, twin share.
FROM NEON TO BLOSSOMS: JAPAN
Revel in the flash and dash of fashionable Tokyo then soak up the tranquillity of a Shinto shrine in the Japanese countryside.
With stays at traditional ryokans and imperial palaces and Buddhist temples on the list, there is time for peace and reflection on this journey. But, hey, there's also fabulous shopping at oh-so beautiful department stores and Tokyo's hip strips.
This is a privately guided journey, making it perfect for mums and daughters to reconnect: in spring for cherry blossoms, summer with its gentle warmth or among the spectacular autumn colours.
Departing from Tokyo daily, the nine-night tour includes a first class on a bullet train from Hakone to Kyoto, a tea ceremony in a private home, Michelin-starred restaurants and local izakayas and the chance to emulate some of Japan's best-dressed women in a kimono and obi.
Costs from $12,724 a person, twin share. See abercrombiekent.com.
SHOP THE CITY: NEW YORK
Shopping is bonding, says Karen Parker O'Brien, who leads private shopping tours of New York City.
"On a mother-and-daughter day out, you're bonding as best friends who care about what the other thinks," says the former fashion buyer, who will take you into private showrooms and studios.
Her top shop is the homewares "museum" ABC Carpet & Home, on Broadway. "It's a magical store."
Expect champagne and gourmet snacking, expect retail highs in designers' NYC showrooms, expect up to 80 per cent off in the wholesale haunts. A private four-hour VIP walking tour costs from $480 for four people, limo tours from $602. See firstname.lastname@example.org, styleroom.com.
PUT THE "AH" INTO SPA: AUSTRALIA
What better way to repay your mum for the sleepless nights, the endless dishes and a lifetime of caring than to check her in for two days of water therapy ... we're talking rituals using Aveda products, stress-busting massages, a soothing facial and exclusive spa access at Melbourne's sky-high Crown Metropol.
Level 27 is home to Crown's lush Isika spa, expansive views of Melbourne's skyline as well as that amazing pool, the one where Offspring's lovely Patrick farewelled television's most glamorous mum-to-be, Nina.
The revive package also includes one night's accommodation in an Isika spa suite, breakfast at the sky-high private guest lounge, 28, lunch and dinner at Mr Hive and stress-free valet parking.
For total relaxation, book midweek to avoid the weekend hustle. Costs from $1001 a person or $1689 for two, twin share. See isikaspa.com.au.
A CREATIVE REVOLUTION: SPAIN
Spain is proof that daily life can and should be lived exuberantly, says art historian, chef and guide Marieke Brugman. Celebrated culinary guide Marieke's nine-day tour through northern Spain starts in soulful Barcelona before venturing north to Bilbao, Navarra and La Rioja.
Visit mediaeval fishing harbours that spawned navigators and fashion designers. Dine at a coveted chef's table in the three-Michelin-star Arzak, rated eighth in the world by San Pellegrino.
Devour pintxos, sleep in mansions and learn kitchen secrets from northern Spain's masters. Marieke may even lead you into the whiskey bars of San Sebastian or into tavernas run by elegant septuagenarian ladies.
"Women, especially of a more mature age, are not invisible in Spain," says Marieke. "To the contrary, they're celebrated." Departs September 26, 2014. Costs $11,376, phone 0419 580 381, see mariekesartofliving.com.
THREE MORE AUSSIE TRIPS
GOLDEN DOOR ELYSIA
The Hunter Valley is an easy getaway, with healthy cuisine, meditation, morning tai chi and motivational speakers. Save 15 per cent on a two-night weekend stay until December 20. From $1069 a person, two nights. See: goldendoor.com.au.
Take in dinner and a show, with Agatha Christie's A Murder Announced, with an overnight stay in Mantra 2 Bond Street, Sydney, from $568 a night (until October 27) or in Melbourne, staying at Mantra on the Park, from $536 (from October 30 to December 4). See: mantra.com.au.
Revive the soul with a gentle bushwalk in the Southern Highlands and a stay at the no-gadget Solar Springs Health Retreat, from $290 a person, twin share. See; solarsprings.com.au.