FOR GAYS & LESBIANS
A gay-friendly vacation can mean a same-sex couple need not endure being quizzed at check-in about their request for a double bed. Or it can mean a resort that caters exclusively to gays and lesbians. Knowing this demographic is more likely than the overall US population to have a passport and actually use it, mainstream companies from Delta to DoubleTree have launched programs to attract these vacationers. “We’ve seen a huge increase in both gay- and lesbian-owned and -friendly accommodations,” says J. Scott Coatsworth of the San Francisco-based website PurpleRoofs.com. “We’re closing in on 5,000 listings now — and they’re popping up in unexpected places, including China, India, Russia, Zambia, Kenya, and more.”
Small towns and more
You’d expect to find hotels catering to gay vacationers in Palm Springs and P-town. But how about Eureka Springs, Arkansas? In fact, this tiny Ozarks hamlet boasts a sizable gay community and the Magnetic Valley Resort (479-253-0200; magneticvalleyresort.com), a clothing-optional getaway for men. Also off the beaten track: New Hope, Pennsylvania, which marks its 10th annual Pride Week & Parade in May with a mile-long rainbow flag borrowed from sister city Key West. Stay and play at The Raven (215-862-2081; theravennewhope.com), a 10-room inn whose Oak Room bar offers male revues and a Lipstick Mondays drag show and where a Sunday afternoon Tea Dance is held on the deck. If an all-inclusive mega-resort is more your scene, Atlantis Events (800-628-5268; atlantisevents.com) has reserved Club Med Cancun for its gay and lesbian vacationers the last week in April.
New York may now have THE OUT NYC (212-947-2999; theoutnyc.com), the city’s first hotel catering to same-sex travelers, as well as established gay-friendly attractions, but Las Vegas is nipping at the Big Apple’s heels. This fall, Sin City saw its first Gay Days (888-942-9329; gaydays.com), a collection of parties and outings that has been held annually in Orlando for years. In December, an 80,000-square-foot disco called Krave Massive (702-836-0830; kravemassive.com) and touted as the world’s biggest gay nightclub should open in Las Vegas; it joins Drink & Drag (702-489-3724; drinkanddrag.com), a bowling alley staffed by drag queens that launched this year.
In February, Atlantis Events (800-628-5268; atlantisevents.com) will take over Royal Caribbean’s 3,700-passenger Independence of the Seas for an eight-night Caribbean cruise catering to gay men. Meanwhile, Olivia (800-631-6277; olivia.com) serves the female market, with two southern Caribbean trips in January and February marking its 40th anniversary.
The party/festival circuit can keep your calendar hopping. Around Thanksgiving is Miami’s long-running White Party Week (305-576-1234; whiteparty.org), offering pool parties, dances, and other events. Then head to the slopes in January for Aspen Gay Ski Week (866-564-8398; gayskiweek.com), featuring hot tub parties, costume races, and more. In February, go down under when Sydney’s Mardi Gras (mardigras.org.au) celebrates its 35th year with an entire month of festivities.
With a fifth of same-sex couples now braving parenthood, savvy vacation outlets are starting to cater to the kiddie crowd. New York-based trip operator R Family Vacations (917-522-0985; rfamilyvacations.com) organizes summer camp experiences at Club Getaway in Kent, Connecticut, and Wonder Valley Ranch Resort in Sanger, California. Or, how about the Happiest Place on Earth? Though not sanctioned by Walt’s people, Gay Days (888-942-9329; gaydays.com) at Orlando’s Disney World is one of the country’s largest pride events, attracting more than 160,000 guests. It will be held May 28 to June 3 in 2013; expect to see a sea of participants’ red shirts at the Main Street USA parade and beyond.
BY THE NUMBERS
> Top US destinations for LGBT travelers
1. New York City
2. San Francisco
3. Las Vegas
via Vacation options for single seniors and gays and lesbians – Magazine – The Boston Globe.