LuxeGetaways Magazine – Fall 2016 | While some may see LGBT travel as simply gay cruises and pride festivals, the community really just wants to enjoy a fantastic getaway in destinations that are welcoming and friendly. The scene-y happenings can simply be the rainbow sprinkles on a community-friendly vacation for travelers. Here are several LGBT friendly travel destinations to visit now:
Friendly Caribbean Getaways in the ABC Islands
The Caribbean often has a bad reputation of not being LGBT-friendly, and on some islands such as Haiti and Jamaica, this is unfortunately still oftentimes true. However, it would be unfortunate to let a few destinations discourage you from planning a getaway to this beautiful part of the world. Planning a cruise is one way to experience the Caribbean. Cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line is ideal for LGBT travelers, in particular for its entertainment offerings, which range from Broadway-style musical theatre productions to its Carnival Live lineup that recently featured Kathy Griffin as the headliner. Among the ports of call during a number of these cruises are the ABC islands, otherwise known as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
As they are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage is legal, each of these island destinations is very gay friendly. Among the three, Aruba is perfect for group and family getaways with several larger resorts, countless bars, beautiful beaches and off-road adventures. The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is an upscale resort with amazing views from your room’s 100 square foot balcony, Marriott’s signature Revive beds and bedding, private lounges, two outdoor pools, beach club, casino and a selection of six eateries and two bars (one is poolside, of course). Bonaire is the smallest of the ABC Islands, and is known for its excellent snorkeling and scuba diving – essentially a complete escape from everything. Then there is Curacao, which is undoubtedly the most LGBT-friendly of the three.
In fact, Curacao is basically the gayest island in the Caribbean; and they are proud of this unofficial honor, and celebrate with a major pride weekend in the fall (at one point it even had two pride celebrations in one year). The island actually has several gay bars; with the most popular being located at the Floris Suite Hotel [Piscaderaweg, Willemstad | (800) 411-0170], the adults-only hotel on Piscadera Bay in Willemstad. This is the go-to hotspot for gay travelers visiting the island. Here, guests enjoy a luxurious ambiance, tropical flair, modern décor, and posh amenities (including a popular pool area that also offers day passes for non-hotel guests). The hotel gives back to the community in many ways throughout the year, beyond simply offering a space where all LGBT couples feel comfortable being themselves, including hosting the annual pride celebration (which goes on for five days) and weekly LGBT parties.
Aruba Tourism: www.aruba.com
Bonaire Tourism: www.tourismbonaire.com
Curacao Tourism: www.curacao.com
Carnival Cruise Line: www.carnival.com
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino: www.marriott.com
Floris Suite Hotel: www.florissuitehotel.com
Discovering the Authenticity of Albuquerque
Though there are over 300 days of sun shining bright throughout the year in Albuquerque, this New Mexico city is a rather under-the-radar LGBT travel escape when compared to destinations such as Los Angeles, New York and Miami. Admittedly, many of the accommodations, restaurants and clubs are very casual, and very “Southwest” – so if this style does not appeal to you, you should probably avoid this destination. However, for those who are seeking a casual getaway in America’s Southwest, the environment is warm and friendly; and is a destination with a rather large LGBT local community. There is not a specific gayborhood in town, but Nob Hill is an eclectic area that is filled with quirky shops and several gay watering holes. Downtown also offers a range of restaurants, specialty shops and cultural festivals; and is home to the Effex Nightclub [420 Central Ave SW | (505) 842-8870], the city’s largest nightclub, which happens to be of the gay variety. With multiple bars and dance floors, the nightclub tops off its multilevel venue with an outdoor, rooftop space. Stay on Central Ave (or Route 66) to experience the best of both Nob Hill and Downtown.
Dining options in the city provide a range of choices from traditional New Mexican cuisine, and a New Mexico staple in town, at El Pinto [10500 4th St NW | (505) 898-1771] and the popular chain, Sadie’s of New Mexico [15 Hotel Circle NE | (505) 296-6940]; to Latin American eats at Pasión Latin Fusion Restaurant [722 Lomas Blvd NW | (505) 503-7880], an old-world bakery and gourmet pizza at Golden Crown Panaderia [1103 Mountain Rd NW | (505) 243-2424], and a long-time favorite in Old Town serving quality steaks and tequila at High Noon Restaurant & Saloon [425 San Felipe St NW | (505) 765-1455].
Los Poblanos [4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW | (505) 344-9297] is a charming, upscale B&B option in Albuquerque that is set amid 25 acres of lavender fields, gardens and organic farmland. Country-chic rooms and suites feature original carvings, ironwork and tinwork, and some rooms also have kiva fireplaces. There is also a refreshing saltwater pool, and even a couple of peacocks that call the inn home. For an artful stay, the Nativo Lodge [6000 Pan American Freeway NE | (505) 798-4300] provides an authentic Southwestern experience blended with Native American culture. Albuquerque is a driving city, and both of these options are just under 15 minutes away from Downtown and Nob Hill. Do not forget to also visit the nearby famous Old Town, a historic district that is popular for shopping and sightseeing, which dates back to the founding of the city by the Spanish in 1706.
No visit to Albuquerque is complete without experiencing the natural beauty of its mountains and desert. Do this by exploring the Sandia Mountains that surround the city (which you can climb via a tram), visiting the Petroglyph National Monument to combine art with hiking, or hot air ballooning (it is the American capital of the sport, as the city is based a mile above sea level). Rainbow Ryders is not an LGBT-specific company (even with rainbow in the name), but they are super friendly, as all Albuquerqueans are, and they host morning rides that are worth the sacrifice of getting out of bed at 6am for this experience of seeing the turquoise sky at sunrise.
The Gay Desert Mecca of Palm Springs
If you have not been out West to the desert oasis of Palm Springs, it is the equivalent to Fire Island or Provincetown in terms of the LGBT-friendly community feel. Even though it is warm all year round and there is no ocean, there is, however, an endless amount of glistening pools that await you at the various hotels and accommodations. The compact city was originally established as a desert escape and hideaway for Hollywood celebs in the 1930s, but has since evolved into a gay mecca on the West Coast. In recent years, there has been a surge of mega events such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival and Modernism Week; as well as the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festivals. Additionally, there are major events specifically for the community, such as the lesbian mega-party Dinah Shore Weekend and the White Party (the gay men’s circuit bash).
Be prepared for a temperature of nearly 100 degrees during the late summer and early fall; but it is a dry heat, so manageable. Many offset the temperature poolside with a cocktail in-hand, perhaps in a clothing optional pool. Palm Springs has one of the highest concentrations of queer accommodations – roughly two dozen. If looking for a more private escape, the gay-owned Andalusian Court [458 W Arenas Rd | (760) 323-9980] offers seven upscale, adults-only Spanish Colonial Revival–style villas (some with private outdoor bathtubs) that will make for a tranquil vacation not too far from the main streets. If you prefer a party environment, the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs [150 S Indian Canyon Dr | (760) 325-9676] or the gay-owned Ace Hotel [701 E Palm Canyon Dr | (760) 325-9900] are both popular options.
The city is nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, where you can take the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to discover some amazing scenery, but the outdoorsy types can go a step further and enjoy hiking the ancient palm groves of the Indian Canyons. Boutique stores, art galleries and museums are available for those who prefer a less strenuous stroll around town (and cruising, who are we kidding), as well as fine casual dining throughout the city. The gay-owned Tropicale [330 E Amado Rd | (760) 866-1952] is an institution for this area (try the Southern-Fried Chicken Tender Salad and the Raspberry Mango White Sangria), and The Judy Garland Show in the Purple Room Supper Club [1900 E Palm Canyon Dr | (760) 322-4422] is a show not to miss (plan to also eat here and take advantage of their really great and diverse menu). For the night owls, head to Arenas Road for gay bars of every variety: piano, drag, karaoke and dancing.
Fortunately, many destinations and hotels today understand that many LGBT travelers are high net worth individuals looking for getaways that provide a comfortable place to enjoy vacation while being themselves; while there will also be an ongoing need for the gay resorts and cruises for those looking for that extreme travel option. Either way, the LGBT community deserves to travel, live and enjoy life without worrying about their safety. For all of the hotels, resorts, airlines, tour operators, cruise lines and others within the travel and hospitality industries going above and beyond to help us come together to change the perception of LGBT-friendly travel, LuxeGetaways Magazine thanks each of you.