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Pride 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
Saving 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
Not one of the 20,000 international travelers that are flying in for Oz’s greatest, gayest event of the year, Sydney Mardi Gras (née Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)? Well, dry those eyes with your yet-to-be-used boa: You can still shake your booty with the best of ‘em and join in the fun of Australia’s most iconic public parade as Optus streams it to a worldwide audience for the first-time ever at MardisGrasTV.org.au — in high-def so you can be sure to catch every shimmering sequin.
Always a hoot, the festivities are shaping up for a banner year, expecting to top the $30 million it pumped into the local New South Wales economy last year. One reason: pop star Kylie Minogue, who returns after 25 years to be queen of the parade, in addition to a sure-to-be-show-stopping performance at the signature main event Mardigrasland. (See below for a video from the diminuative diva.)
Miami’s LGBT scene will be sizzling come spring. First up on the docket, the Miami Beach Pride, held on April 15 this year, will be bringing buzz back to the Deco District. Last year’s event saw 40,000 people march down Ocean Drive, making it the largest single-day event in South Beach’s history, and with the addition of the post-Pride party cruise, one of the most unique.
Setting sail Monday, April 16, through Friday, April 20, onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sky, the Miami Beach Pride Cruise offers a chance to extend the party with a 4-night voyage to the Bahamas with stops in Grand Bahamas, Nassau, and Great Stirrup Cay, the cruise line’s private island. A portion of the proceeds will be donated back to Miami Beach Gay Pride’s charitable causes. Read more
If seeing Africa’s Big Five has been on your bucket list (as it should be), start the new year off on an adventurous foot with Extraordinary Journeys Africa, a mother-daughter team whose custom-crafted safaris earned them a nod earlier this year in Smart Luxury Travel magazine’s Luxe List. Now, the forward-thinking, socially-responsible pair is offering an exciting 7-night journey to South Africa (kicking off on February 27, 2012), with three nights spent amongst the wildebeests at the Madikwe Game Reserve in Sabi Sands followed up by four nights during Cape Town’s Gay Pride event, where you can be sure there will be plenty of wild life all its own. Best of all, all accommodations are gay-owned and run, ensuring a Pride vacation to be proud of. Prices start at $4,200 per person (based on double occupancy), which represent roughly a 15 percent savings off their typical itineraries covering the same territory.
The basic itinerary is as follows, but with over 500 trips under their belt and no two of them the same, modifications are possible (Want to tack on additional camps? Travel by 4×4, hot air balloons, elephant, or horse?): Read more
Yup, you read that headline right: There’s still a Pride left in 2011! Capping off an amazing year of celebrations around the world, the 25th annual Palm Springs Pride kicks off next weekend, November 5-6, with the typical trappings (parade, block parties, giant consumer festival in the baseball stadium) all under clear desert skies and 90-degree weather. Fall really is the best time to experience the Coachella Valley.
Although if you’re craving an alternative “yay to gay” at this point, the Ace Hotel & Swim Club (where else?) has you covered with Hands On, a five-day celebration of queer music and culture. From November 2-7, catch an incredible line-up of performers, artists, DJs from both coasts, plus film screenings, a gallery show by photographer Jeremy Kost, and a pop-up shop curated by BUTT Magazine with nary a camp rainbow in sight. Save 15 percent on rooms and treatments at the Feel Good Spa , too. Full details below.
Ladies who love ladies often get a bum rap when it comes to options for letting loose. Even in the country’s defacto queer capital, New York City, there are 30-plus gay bars, but only three are targeted to lesbians. But if The L Word and The Real L Word showcased anything, it’s that a girl’s gotta party!
And she will, thanks to Maggie C. Events and Pandora Events, with a rocking new event next week and one later in the fall: Shedonism in Las Vegas, the city’s first-ever lesbian takeover planned in conjunction with Vegas Pride, from September 15 to 19, and Valhalla Women’s Week at the W Vieques (from October 20 to 23).
Pride is everywhere these days, especially down south. Same-sex marriage in Mexico and Argentina, civil unions in Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay – that’s just the beginning of what makes Central and South America an exciting hot bed of gay activity. Now comes Costa Rica. While rights are still in flux, a group of entrepenurs and lodging owners are making sure to get the party started ahead of time with a four-day dance party in Quepos/Manuel Antonio from July 21 to 25.
Sponsored by Hacienda Matapalo (a gay-friendly resort community on the southern Pacific Coast), the long weekend kicks off with a Welcome Dinner Party at Raphael’s Terrazas on Thursday, July 21 and concludes with a Sunset Tea Dance at Barba Roja on Sunday, July 24. Other parties include a Friday night dance party at a popular Manuel Antonio club on July 22, an afternoon floating dance party leaving from Quepos harbor on Saturday, July 23, and the big Jungle Heat Dance Party at Rancho Alegria on Saturday night, July 23.
We’ve always liked to equate hitting up a pride fest as going on safari. It’s very circle of life: Newbie gays bursting forth like the kings and queens they’ll become, lifted to the masses by leathermen in butt-less chaps (sunburnt red, like a baboon). Daddies stalking otters like a lion stalks a gazelle. Brothers in arms becoming enemies in a battle of power over shirtless studs. A boisterous celebration of an entire ecosystem of animals coming together for one purpose (with evangelical hyenas picking at the scraps).
Right right, this metaphor is stretching thin, so let’s just say “hakuna matata” and put it this way: Major urban prides are a hoot, and as a travel-savvy diligent gay, you should see the Big Five Prides – Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, NYC, and Chicago – at some point in your life. So why not start this summer?
Below, hotel packages to have you bedding down with bucks to spare.
And now for something completely different: a pride event not soused in vodka and Coors Light, but one rung in with the clink of wine glasses. Harnassing the sell-out support that drove their Napa Valley Gay Train dinner event, Out In The Vineyard (OutInTheVineyard.com) presents a first-ever Gay Wine Weekend June 17-19 in Sonoma, California to celebrate Pride month and benefit Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. Organizers have three full days of LGBT events on tap, world-class wine and epicurean delights, music and dancing at a private estate vineyard, plus exclusive tastings and excursions that have made this area of rolling hills and picturesque hollows a premier destination just 45-minutes north of the Bay Area.
And although there are host hotels offering stellar rates, something that’s always intrigued me about wine country living, is well, the living part—specifically what it’d be like to have a villa of my own. Now’s the time: BeautifulPlaces (Beautiful-Places.com), one of the world’s premier letting agents, is offering freebies and VIP discounts to the event when you stay at one of its 20-plus properties in the Sonoma area. Read more
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