Shermanstravel Blog

Gay And Lesbian

IMG_5788It was 1970, the summer after the Christopher Street Liberation Riots, that New York City held its first Gay Pride March in June. Since then, the LGBT community has been uniting worldwide to celebrate equality and diversity, and cities big and small are taking to the streets to encourage tolerance and equal rights. Hopeful messages aside, these festivities provide dynamic travel opportunities for travelers interested in exploring a destination’s gay culture and simply have fun, whether they’re ready to jump into the parade route or cheer from sidelines. Here, three celebrations to consider for your itinerary:

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Tel AvivWe’ve showed you how to experience the best of Tel Aviv on a shoestring budget — but for those of you traveling there next month, a bit more guidance is in order. Tel Aviv Pride, which takes place June 8-14, is one of the world’s largest pride celebrations (over 100,000 celebrants made it out last year). And not just that: it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the city’s most vibrant bars, beaches, and restaurants come alive. Here, a few essential spots to add to your list: Read more

620x400_FlickrLauraMotta_MadridPlazaMayorIf you’re looking for an excuse to book a vacation to Spain, we have a good one for you this week: This 6-night trip to Madrid and Barcelona for $1009, including flights from New York City. (Other departure cities are available, too. Check the web site for pricing.)

Madrid in particular has caught our fancy lately. Once considered a dirtier, more hectic cousin to refined, seaside Barcelona, we’ve learned to appreciate this city’s bustle, and its incredibly varied offerings for visitors, from stately museums to sleek dance clubs. And with amazing tapas and wine to be had for just a few Euros, it’s a city that can be easy on your wallet. Here are just a couple of Madrid’s charms we’ve learned about recently:

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Chicago

The Windy City has a second nickname: The City of Neighborhoods. Truly, when you leave the downtown area dubbed The Loop, you’ll find yourself in one of Chicago’s many diverse ‘hoods, each with its own pulse, energy and identity. Below are five of the areas experiencing a boon in popularity.

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Tourism Campaigns to LoveWhen was the last time you were inspired to visit a destination based on a commercial you saw on TV, or a poster ad in the subway? Savvy tourism marketing offices are on a never-ending crusade to bring new visitors to their country; and with a well-placed, visually striking, simply-worded ad, they often manage to achieve their goal. But what is the key to a successful tourism campaign? Well, if you follow the lead of these five winning campaigns, the answer is: cute animals, drag queens, and a great sense of humor. Read more

Tel Aviv On A BudgetIsrael’s buzzing metropolis of Tel Aviv has been trending for a while now – proving many travelers aren’t put off by the city’s high cost of visiting. But the Israeli hub isn’t just for deep-pocketed tourists. We’ve sussed out a few ways to enjoy this beach town on a budget… Read more

Singapore Gardens By The BayIt was voted one of the top places to travel in 2013 by the New York Times, and on August 9, Singapore will go into overdrive during National Day, the country’s equivalent to July 4th. Tourist-driven spots like Marina Bay Sands, Clarke Quay and Orchard Road will be their usual pedestrian-clogged selves, but for travelers seeking a subtler, more engaging experience, you won’t have to look far.

On a recent trip, I bypassed all the spectacle and cheap thrills that the city is usually known for, and found another side to Singapore that contradicted everything I’d previously read: elegant concert halls, artsy boutique hotels, a nature reserve accessible only by ferry. I left with a greater appreciation for the city, its unique history, and the bright future that seems to be unfolding for it.

I’ll start with Gardens By the Bay, the only place on my list that might technically be considered touristy. Too bad. The lush, man-made garden is set on a 250-acre plot behind Marina Bay Sands, and its assortment of lily ponds, footbridges, vertical gardens, and suspended walkways create a surreal haven within the bustling city. Make a beeline for Cloud Forest ($22/person), a giant glass dome that houses a 115 foot tall man-made mountain covered in native rainforest plants. As you ascend up the walkway, you’ll feel mist from the plunging waterfall settling on your face. Read more

adventure festivals fallSummer is great for enjoying nature, but there’s just something about fall – the crisp weather, the scent of a wood fire burning, the frenzy of college football – that seems to fire up the adventurous spirit. Fortunately, festivals abound this time of year that cater to those of us who’d rather enjoy the brilliant foliage from the saddle of a bike than the backseat of a car. Here, some picks for fall festivals with adventure front-and-center.

Moab Ho-Down Mountain Bike & Film Festival, Moab, Utah, October 25-28
Extended to four days this year, this gathering at one of the country’s top mountain biking meccas encompasses all the essentials of the sport: biking, beer, and revelry. Sponsored by the local Chile Pepper Bike Shop, the festival also features a film component, with evening showings of movies featuring independent mountain biking footage. Rounding out the action is a Hot Pepper Eating Contest and Ridiculous Costume Party that promises plenty of photo ops galore – all for the bargain price of just $35 for a festival pass.

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Wilde Travels Launch 10-Perfect OffWhen you think of “Gay Travel” certainly gay cruises, circuit parties, or clothing-optional guesthouses come to mind. But what about the ancient city of Varanasi? The Zambezi or Victoria Falls in the heart of Africa? Or a spiritual retreat high in the mountains of Tibet? Newly launched Wilde Travels is set out to change that – and offer a 10 percent savings to first-time customers through August 31, 2012.

Following the Miami-based company’s soft-launch in April, owner Jacob Marek – a former marketing manager for the Kenya Tourist board and a Patagonian tour company – officially pressed the “Go” button on the luxury tour operations with an emphasis on gay and gay-friendly guides, boutique accommodations, and above all customization. No gay group tours here (for now).

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THE OUT NYC Sleep ShareHostels are great when you’re a college kid backpacking across Europe, but the no-frills approach can be a turn-off to those of us who like to shower more than once a week. With that in mind, a duo of new hotels in New York City offer shared accommodations with all the perks of a luxury hotel. While these bunks cost a bit more than you might pay in a traditional hostel, you’d be hard-pressed to find a backpacker’s haven with amenities like a spa, rooftop garden, or high-end linens.

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Marriott LGBT Campaign PridePride is upon us. Wherever you hope to travel this summer, chances are you’ll be crossing paths with (or joining) a rowdy parade of L, G, B, and Ts flaunting what they got. So why not save some money while you’re at it? Or make Pride the reason for a trip in the first place?

With that reasoning, Marriott International (long a leader in equality for its LGBT employees) gets in on the action with a new campaign targeted to gays and their allies entitled “Be You, With Us.” Spanning its brands, from the super-luxe JW Marriott to the wallet-friendly SpringHill Suites, the crux rests on a global Pride calendar that denotes celebrations from now – Los Angeles and Boston Pride this weekend, Portland next, NYC and Paris later in the month – and into September when Las Vegas Pride and Key West PrideFest both take a bow. Properties in each city are handily noted, and 22 related LGBT packages both Pride-specific and year-long are called out with amenities such as free Red Bull in the room and glasses of wine or spa credits. For example: Read more

Lords New York Pride Takeover Hotel On RivingtonFor a property that’s already redefined the “gay hotel” genre from cruisy all-male clothing-optional inns to a more snappy, design-driven all-inclusive affair, Lords South Beach is now staging what might be an industry first: a hotel takeover-pop-up at the hyper-modern Hotel on Rivington, just in time for New York City Pride, June 18-30. And saving you 15 percent while they’re at it.

And what does that mean exactly?

Design-elements from Lords like the iconic Marilyn portraits by Richard Bellino will be bringing Miami’s Art Deco District to the tenements and trendsters of the Lower East Side with re-styled rooms and a re-painted lobby (snappy neon pink, naturally). In essence, it’s the spirit of the brand dipping its toes into the NYC market – perhaps hinting at a full-blown property down the road – so it doesn’t just end at the design elements.

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Out Escapes Gay Travel Flash Sales EventsSaving money: a trend that just won’t quit. And although pop culture tells us gays are the trendiest of the lot [buffs fingers on shirt], they’ve only just now got into the crowded flash sale game. Launching today with three week-long sales, Out Escapes carves a members-only gay niche from Jetsetter, Vacationist, Living Social Escapes, and Groupon Getaways, amongst others, with offerings given the LGBT stamp of approval, in addition to offering value-added perks above and beyond the discounts other sites may provide. Cool-with-it allies, you’re in luck, too; nobody’s going to ask whom you sleep with to sign up.

In dollar terms that means the possibility of free round-trip airport transfers, bottle of champers at check-in, comp meals, spa passes, and special guided tours. It also means group trips geared towards gays, like their last-minute Tel Aviv Pride package June 1-10, and an Events platform to securely buy tickets to circuit parties and social/charity outings not necessarily at a discount but again, with potential special perks like expedited club entry. According to the site’s co-founder/travel writing veteran, the ultimate goal is to become a full-service travel portal including a tongue-in-cheek Gay Tripper blog about fabbing it up the world over and social networking “Meet Me Here” component (live July 2012).

But for now, it’s all about the sales. Here’s a peek: Read more

Fleet Week New York City Hotel DealsAs dependable as the swallows of Capistrano, and quite possibly as majestic, there’s no surer sign that Spring has sprung (as well as your libido) than the annual invasion of our Men in White. For those of in you New York City – or fans of Sex in the City re-runs – you know what I’m talking about, and for those of you watching from afar, here’s two simple words you’ll remember forever once you experience it: Fleet! Week!

Since 1984 a small armada of vessels dock in NYC harbor to honor the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. over Memorial Day Weekend – this year May 26 to June 2 – releasing their uniformed crew the to carouse with the locals, titillate the tourists, and all around impress with their starched sculptedness. And of course, feature military demonstrations, tours of boats, musical performances, yada yada . . . Did we mention there are sailor balls?! This year, you can also get in on the action with some exclusive hotel deals. Read more

Pride Package Stay Hilton Go OutDoes the trill of a songbird remind you of a diva crescendoing against a dance beat? Is that eruption of color in a bed of tulips conjure images of an unfurled rainbow flag? It’s official: You’ve got Pride fever. And Hilton Hotels has the cure with their new “Stay Hilton. Go Out.” package, now available at 140 properties worldwide (including the Grand Vacations brand). Never too early to start planning for the season.

Booking entitles you to celebration-friendly amenities such as:
– Reduced room rates (more beer money)
– Double Hilton HHonors points (quicker access to the fab life)
– Late check-out (when available, hangover be damned)
– Free high-speed Internet (Facebook won’t know what hit it)
– Free 1-year digital subscription to OUT (the world’s leading magazine for the world’s leading gays)

Also, as a premier partner of events such as London WorldPride 2012, The Advocate 45th Anniversary, and the IGLTA gay travel association, they are offering one lucky winner a free 6-night VIP getaway to Gay Days Orlando – including airfare – from May 29 to June 4. Read more

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