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Fresh flowers and small slippers: How top hotels hope to attract the female 1%

Five-star hotels and luxury tour operators are trying new gambits to lure in the growing pool of female million- and billionaires.

Female-only room service, smaller slippers, fresh flowers and a complimentary fruit bowl are among the services offered by Dukes Hotel in Mayfair, London to women who stay in its "duchess rooms." These rooms are aimed at solo female travelers and will also be available when the hotel opens a branch in Dubai this year.

"We have seen over the years a great growth in the female traveler," Debrah Dhugga, managing director of Dukes Hotel, told CNBC on Friday.

"Market research shows that the female traveler looks to different amenities and accessories to the male traveler so we decided to launch this new campaign. We are seeing a great growth from the female traveler from the Asian market, especially into London and Dubai," she later added.

Dukes Hotel London
Atlantide Phototravel | Getty Images
Dukes Hotel London

The global female multimillionaire and billionaire population is growing rapidly and fastest of all in Asia.

The number of female ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) grew by an average of 5.3 percent between 2010 and 2014 in countries with large populations of the very rich, according to data provider WealthInsight. That compared to growth of 4.4 percent for male UHNWIs. (WealthInsight defined UHNWIs as people with net assets of $30 million of more, excluding their primary residence.)

By comparison, the female UHNWI population in Asia-Pacific grew by 9.1 percent between 2010 and 2014 and is seen by WealthInsight growing 5 percent more over the next decade.

"Wealth has grown hugely in Asia — that is no surprise. But one of the trends we notice is that the wealth has been quite concentrated among the female high-net worth population, which is in contrast to growth in Europe and North America. So we have been seeing in China and Japan, Malaysia and India, a lot of wealth concentrated on the female high-net worth individual," Oliver Williams, head of WealthInsight, told CNBC on Friday.


Women from these countries may have different expectations from hotels than Westerners, Dhugga said.

"The wealthy sort of Asian female is used to a luxury lifestyle at home; so they are used to having their maids; they are used to having their staff around them. So to come and stay in a five-star luxury property and have a private butler or have staff around them that is not seen as a luxury that is seen as a norm," she told CNBC.

In regions with predominately Muslim populaces — which in Asia include Malaysia and Indonesia — luxury hotels sometimes allocate floors solely for women travelers.

For instance, Dubai's Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, which is aimed at business travelers, offers a ladies-only floor for women seeking "sophistication, luxury and exclusivity." Rooms come with cosmetic refrigerators and are serviced only by female staff.

Women at a restaurant in Jumeirah Emirates Towers
Atlantide Phototravel | Getty Images
Women at a restaurant in Jumeirah Emirates Towers

"Wellness" services like yoga classes and low-calorie menu options are considered important for attracting women as well.

"By-and-large, they are looking for wellness holidays, spa packages, but also holidays centered on the family, because they are quite likely to be the center of the family and therefore organize the holiday around the said family," Williams said.

In the U.S., luxury tours aimed solely at women are increasingly available and their popularity extends beyond the super-rich.

"The bigger market is the next tier. Women are buying vacations for themselves the way De Beers used to promote the right-hand ring: The one you bought for yourself," Phyllis Stoller, founder of female-only tour group, The Women's Travel Group, told CNBC via social media.

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