LGBT Vacation Spots You Would Never Know
By: Richard Engle
Affluent Americans are traveling like never before, both domestically and overseas, on ships, on private planes, on sail boats, in chauffeured vehicles and on high class trains…..in groups, with their families, with their friends and with their lovers, both straight and gay.
Increasingly I enjoy discovering that a number of high-end travel alternatives, while not specifically “gay” targeted products, certainly are gay-friendly options. Recently I sailed on the Seabourn Ovation in the Mediterranean. Ovation is one of Seabourn’s newer 600-passenger, all-suite cruise ships.
She delivers beautifully on food, service, and attractive dining and drinking venues. The bridge and the kitchen are spotlessly immaculate, while the spa is delightful with a number of treatment options and a generously-sized fitness center that offers a menu of organized classes. The trainers and yoga instructors seemed to really know what they were doing, and I discovered it was easy to at least attempt to work off the delicious meals I was enjoying on board.
I found entertainment on Ovation a mixed bag, the best performances turned in by the “Seabourn Singers”. But one striking feature that occurred early on in the cruise was a cocktail party, advertised in the ship’s daily passenger briefing, inviting LGBTQ folks to meet and mingle. Following the gathering, groups of happy gay travelers showed up at the various dining rooms on board to enjoy meals together and they all seemed to have found “new friends” with whom to share the cruise experience. Gay people are definitely in the minority on Seabourn, but the cocktail get-together gesture is a nice touch, indicating to everyone on board that the gay community is welcome.
I also recently enjoyed a long weekend at the Four Seasons Punta Mita near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
This classic, sprawling resort spreads itself over a vast and gorgeous Pacific Beach, offers an enormous infinity pool, amazing dining options, creative design and manicured landscaping in a gated setting: folks fearing “crime in Mexico” have no worries here, this place is safer than Scottsdale on a private island would be and service is unusually attentive and thorough. While the rooms don’t particularly fascinate me, their views do; and the villa product is spectacular with brightly colored accents and plenty of natural daylight. While a bit “country club” – like in feel, the Four Seasons Punta Mita is clearly gay-welcoming and several gay couples were among the guests, mingling comfortably with straight couples and families. All seemed to be having a good time and none of the couples I noticed seemed to have any misgivings about stealing a kiss or an affectionate touch in the public spaces. My impression is that, gay or straight, if outstanding service is what you seek, you may wind up at a gay-friendly property that targets a wide demographic. I would recommend the Four Seasons to gay travelers without hesitation.
Lastly, I spent a few minutes with my friend Joel Carbrera, a founding partner of Zoom Vacations, one of our favorite tour operators focusing primarily on gay travel, but quite welcoming to the straight side as well. Joel has the impressions that discerning travelers (gay or straight) are not seeking a “gay” travel experience, but an “excellent” travel experience. They’re not looking to us to get them into the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre as much as they’d like to see a private art collection. Our clients want surprises, things that exceed their expectations, not cookie-cutter itineraries pieced together from brochures, websites and Instagram. Joel clearly thinks exactly as I do, which makes him a GREAT trip design partner for me. And while his company was born primarily to serve the gay community, his gay clients began inviting their friends and family members until now when each group trip has a good mix of gay and straight savoring extraordinary travel experiences together.
As you can see, you don’t need to go on a gay vacation to be surrounded by people who appreciate you & support your choices. All over the world there are gay-friendly options & I can’t wait for you to see all of them for yourselves.