Holli Rovenger doesn’t just “go someplace” when she travels.
“I think a trip should be an in-depth experience,” says the 59-year old dietitian-turned-travel-planner for women. “The things you can learn on a trip come back with you, and can change your life,” she adds.
When Holli was married to a successful attorney, they travelled a great deal, to places including Colorado, Denmark, Russia, and Italy. “We loved taking fabulous cruises on smaller ships,” she adds. On one trip, another couple asked if Holli and her husband cared to join them on a private tour and “we learned what a difference it is to travel with a private guide than when you’re doing things on your own or in a group,” Holli explains.
Originally from a town 30 minutes from New York CIty, Holli went to Syracuse University, where she earned a BS in nutrition and dietetics. “I lasted for two years as a clinical dietician for a big company,” she says, “but always liked the marketing and business aspect of things, so I went back to school for my Masters in Business Administration, in south Florida, and worked in healthcare marketing.”
Married at 28, to a man she met in Florida, Holli soon became pregnant and stopped working to raise her son and daughter. “My husband didn’t want me to work, but I always had my finger in something, including nutrition consulting and co-authoring a cookbook with another dietitian,” she says. “ My mind is too active. I need to work.”
Then, after 26 years of marriage, Holli learned her husband had lost all their money and she “was left in the ocean without a paddle,” she explains. “I am not a stupid woman, but he managed to lose all our money and I didn’t know a thing.”
Understandably angry about her situation, Holli didn’t want “to just crumble,” so she wrote a book, called The Simple & Sassy Guide To Financial Empowerment, to give other women the tools they need to avoid facing the same dilemma she did.
“My husband couldn’t pay me a dime,” Holli says, so she moved, for brief stretches, to New Jersey and South Carolina, existing in “survival mode.”
“You can’t move forward until you forgive,” advises Holli, now back in Florida, and launching her own business, called The Women’s Inner Circle Exclusive Experiences, which is planning custom travel retreats for baby boomer women. The concept sounded interesting, so we asked Holli to give us the details.
WHAT MADE YOU DESIRE TO CREATE A TRAVEL BUSINESS EXCLUSIVELY FOR BABY BOOMER WOMEN?
I’m taking boomer woman because that’s who I am. I wanted to plan exclusive luxury trips, and include personal development, such as wellness, and strategic education. I have great experience in behavior modification, whether it’s related to health or fashion. While we’re traveling, we can grow and better ourselves. I am not planning cookie cutter trips. We won’t just go places; we experience them; in-depth experiences.
I’m all about empowerment. I’m divorced. I survived. This is what I’m meant to do.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR UPCOMING TRIPS
I’m planning a five-day trip to Santa Fe, NM, for next September, which is a magical, spiritual land of enchantment. It will include three or four classes where you’ll be encouraged to take a look at your body and your soul. We don’t just go places; we experience them in-depth.
I’m also taking 15 people to an 11-day trip to Italy, at the end of May 2016, which is three-quarters filled at this point. It’s a dream trip, and will include a private, behind-the-scene tour of an Italian market, olive oil and wine tastings; amazing meals every night, and cooking classes with the woman at whose home we’re staying. It’s also important to unplug and relax during the trip, so I’m scheduling a spa day in the middle of it.
ARE YOUR TRIPS EXPENSIVE?
The 11-day trip to Italy is about $4,000, excluding airfare. You can take a trip for half of what I charge; with 50 or 100 people, which will be impersonal and undistinguished. I do intensive research for every trip and pay a great deal of attention to detail and style. They call me ‘classy and sassy.’
CAN HUSBANDS COME? CAN A WOMAN WHO IS NOT A BABY BOOMER SIGN UP?
Men aren’t invited, but I will allow married women to join us, whose husbands can’t travel, or don’t want to travel. If you’re born earlier than 1946, you’ll want to be in good shape, because we’re going to be quite active throughout the trip.
I have a phone interview with everyone who wants to join us since I want people to mesh with each other.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK
It’s called The Ultimate Travel Journal: A Woman’s Blueprint to crafting meaningful moments, unforgettable adventures and memories to last a lifetime, a planner and journal all in one, a place to keep all the details when you travel. It helps you keep track of what to do before you leave and your itinerary; gives you useful travel-related apps and websites; provides checklists and packing tips, and provides a place to record ‘treasures’ you discovered on your trip, favorite meals, highlights, and much more.
Learn about Holli’s fascinating trips for 2016. Perhaps one of them is in your future.