IQ in EDGE: Puerto Vallarta’s Almar Resort

Couple at Pool at Mantamar Beach Club

The Mantamar Beach Club at the Almar Resort

The newest and only luxury beachfront LGBTQ hotel in Puerto Vallarta will make your tub bubbleth over. With hot tubs in 29 of its 78 suites; an infinity pool (featuring swim-up bar and more hot tubs) off the sands of Los Muertos Beach; member access to Mantamar Beach Club, the premier beach club in Zona Romantica; and a rooftop bar with heart-warming sunset views, drag shows and — yes, even more hot tubs — the Almar Resort is making sassy classy in Mexico’s favorite gay beach retreat…

Click here to read the full article published in EDGE.

Ivan Quintanilla published in Edge Media

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A Case for the Gay Hotel

Pool at gay hotel

A Perfect Day at the Almar Resort in Puerto Vallarta

I’ve recently had conversations with several gay men in their 20’s about the necessity, or lack thereof, of the “gay hotel.”  First, I think it is truly amazing that many of our younger gay peers feel so completely comfortable in their skin in any surrounding.  I think it is tangible evidence of progress.  And one I celebrate—wholeheartedly—as I toast with my frozen cosmopolitan, pomegranate margarita or glass of crisp sauvignon blanc. But these conversations have made me examine why I personally am still drawn to the congregation of gay.  Now, I love to travel often and on many different types of trips, frequented by many different types of people.  And I don’t ever want that to change.  But yet I find myself consistently drawn to the comradery of the gay hotel.

I’d guess this is greatly generational.  Perhaps it’s the childhood years of being schooled in the appropriate ways boys gesture. Or the exhausting energy expended in youth hoping no one will figure you out.  Or the many times you heard the f-word and continued walking pretending you weren’t the subject.   And I am thrilled if kids these days don’t grow up with any of these same concerns.  Because though I have never been targeted or mocked as a traveling adult, this well-adjusted gay New Yorker still can’t wait to return to Puerto Vallarta or Key West or Provincetown.

There is a world of difference between not feeling endangered and feeling truly welcome.  I am so accustomed to my life in New York City, where I never worry about holding my boyfriend’s hand as we stroll through Hell’s Kitchen or fret if my shorts are the appropriate length on a hot, summer day (I’m bringing the 5” inseam back!).  With so many elements of which to keep track on vacation—currency exchanges, language barriers, convoluted directions—watching yourself so you are not watched seems like wasted energy.

I prefer to spend that time meeting new friends—many of whom, especially now in the age of social media, will continue to be part of my life beyond my departure from the destination.  I have been fortunate to share unforgettable moments with some pretty fantastic people who I may or may not ever see again.  But if I ever visit their home cities, I guarantee you they will be my first call.  Because they are now part of my community.

So, I will continue to travel everywhere and stay anywhere, but I will always have a soft spot for the gay hotel.  And I hope all of our generations can join in the spirited, tipsy conversations which could never be replicated on an app or anywhere else, other than at that pool, with that fruity cocktail in hand, while blasting that Deborah Cox remix that will forever give us life.

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Floating over Puerto Vallarta

The closest I’ve ever come to flying: parasailing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was gorgeous and peaceful (and very comfy in that harness). And those views of Bay of Banderas and Playa de los Muertos were stunning. The entire ride lasted about 10 minutes but I would’ve stayed up there all day….

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A Queens’ Museum in Great Britain

QueenEngland

There is more than one Queen in England.

And soon their histories will find national representation.

Queer Britain is working to establish the UK’s first national LGBTQ+ museum.  With an anticipated opening in 2021, the brick- and-mortar museum will host permanent and temporary exhibits, with an innovative digital presence.  It will feature objects and records from the worlds of art, fashion, film, literature, TV, theatre, news, music, diaries, letters, photographs and legal records.

According to London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, “As Mayor, it’s so important to me that London is seen as a city where LGBTQ+ people feel valued, happy and safe – this sends a clear message to the world that London is a beacon of diversity.”

Queer Britain hopes its museum extends beyond celebrating  modern-day gay London and creates historical context.   As its website further explains, “Many young people now have a strong sense of freedom about identity, but not how these were formed or the lives of those who came before them. A healthy plant needs deep roots.”

For more information, visit QueerBritain.org.uk.

QueerBritainIMAGES COURTESY OF BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE / (CC) LSE / NAPOLEON SARONY / JANE MCCORMICK SMITH / BEX WADE / ROBERT TAYLOR (via Queer Britain)

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A Nightlight at the Top of the World

Aurora Wilderness Camp 6 190318A new hotel concept in Finland features the Northern Lights as the ultimate nightlight.

Three private cabins on skis have been stationed deep in the Arctic Circle, for a glamping experience like no other. The glass-roofed cabins for two include a bed on which to lie back and enjoy the night sky, a table, dry toilet, and gas heater and stove.  Together, the mobile rooms create the Aurora Wilderness Camp, near the Finnish Lapland town of Kilpisjärvi.  Now available to book through Off the Map Travel, the camp is welcoming guests through mid-April of this year and will reopen in January 2019.

According to Arctic travel expert and Off the Map Travel founder Jonny Cooper, “The wilderness surrounding Kilpisjärvi is known for its remote and uninterrupted Arctic tundra… giving guests the best possible opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and simply enjoy the silence of the Arctic plains.” Statistically, the Kilpisjärvi area boasts more clear nights than any other place in Finland, with more than a 70 percent chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Your adventure starts at 6pm when an experienced guide transports you by snowmobile to your private cabin.  After your guide teaches you how to make a campfire and grill local meats, you will have the camp–and the Northern Lights–to yourself.  Evening drinks, snacks and next-day breakfast are included in the experience, along with use of the cabin’s snowshoes and kick-sleds for exploring the icy tundra.

This hotel concept delivers a distinct new brand of adventurous comfort:  the opportunity to tour the Arctic wilderness and hunt for the Northern Lights from the peacefulness of your warm bed.

For more information and tailor-made itineraries, visit offthemap.travelAurora Wilderness Camp190318Photo credit: Kilpissafarit

 

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Miami Beach Gay Pride Gets the Olympic Treatment

Gus Kenworthy© Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

On April 2-8, Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy will trade the snow for sand as a Grand Marshall of Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018.

The Sochi Silver Medalist, PyeongChang puppy-saver and Ricky Martin admirer (see photo below) will join musical guests, festive floats and 135,000 partiers for the week-long celebration.

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Miami Beach Gay Pride shifts into party gear on Friday, April 6, with a VIP Gala at Faena Forum and Pride Kick-off Party at Basement in the Edition Hotel.  On Saturday, the festivities move surf-side with the all-day Beach Party Festival, featuring DJ Yazz, DJ Dan Slater and a performance by Betty Who.

Starting Sunday at noon, the Pride Parade struts down Ocean Drive and keeps the party pumping past nightfall with music, fireworks and a headlining performance by perennial pop favorite, Taylor Dayne.  For a view fit for a queen, reserve a table at the recently reopened Palace, alongside the Pride Parade route.

For more information and tickets, visit MiamiBeachGayPride.com.

For a preview of the festivities, check out the video below:

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Top Travel Tops for 2018

It’s the season of resolutions–the time to plan this year’s travel, uncover new destinations and fantasize about exotic trips you may or may not ever take.  But with so many “top travel lists” how do you focus your exploration?  Fear not. Traveling IQ has combed the pages, clicked the links and collated the suggestions from the most trusted travel publications, to find the ultimate destinations for IQ’s 2018 Travel Top Trilogy.

New Orleans

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NEW ORLEANS – Photo courtesy of NewOrleans.com

New Orleans leads the pack as the American city most recommended by travel publications.  Celebrating its tricentennial in 2018, the Big Easy promises to make its 300th birthday party a year-long event.  And you’re invited! Whether you chomp on po’boys or savor fine Creole cuisine, guzzle Hurricanes down Bourbon Street or sip craft cocktails in hotel lounges, saunter through historical walking tours or dance along with extravagant parades, New Orleans requests the honor of your presence.

Malta

MALTA

MALTA – Photo courtesy of Flickr/DRAS

Malta is stepping into the spotlight in 2018.    The small island country off the coast of Sicily has a “vibe that is Mediterranean with a North African twist,” says Travel & Leisure.  Already a popular European beach getaway, this year, the world’s artists will descend on Valetta, Malta’s capital, named a 2018 European Capital of Culture.  Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Valetta boasts Baroque architecture, prehistoric temples and the enviable characterization as “Europe’s sunniest city,” with more than 300 days of sunshine each year.

South Korea

Winter Olympics PYEONGCHANG

PYEONGCHANG, KOREA – Photo courtesy of Flickr/Korea

South Korea will be on full display as PyeongChang hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics next month.  Now an easy commute with the launch of a high-speed rail connecting the resort town to Seoul in 70 minutes, you can tour the Olympic village, attempt your own Triple Axel, and still make your dinner reservation in Seoul’s trendy Hannam neighborhood.  After dinner, don’t forget to stroll through Seoullo 7017, the city’s new high-line park, lined with 24,000 plants atop an elevated former highway.

(These destinations were chosen from the top lists of the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, CNN, Frommers, US News & World Report, Lonely Planet, Afar, the Guardian, Rough Guide, LA Times and National Geographic.) 

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U.S. Tourism Welcomes a Tentative World

21-nyc-official-guide.nocrop.w710.h2147483647.2x

You are welcome here—no really, you are, we promise—has been the predominant U.S. travel campaign theme of 2017.

The travel industry has been working overtime to offset a negative international perception of the United States since the presidential election. Cities such as Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco (to name a few) have invested in various versions of “Welcome” campaigns. In February, Hyatt Hotels launched the “World of Hyatt” integrated marketing campaign during the Oscars® broadcast, with a video celebrating empathy and multiculturalism. In June, Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, announced their “One Big Welcome” strategy, using personalized video invitations from “real people” to attract potential visitors.

Unfortunately, the President’s “America First” political message is translating to “America Alone” when attracting international tourism. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1.3 million fewer foreigners visited the United States during the first half of 2017. The New York Times  reported that European readers overwhelmingly cited the Trump administration and its policies as reasons for avoiding travel to the United States. And last month, the National Brands Index, a global survey measuring perception of fifty nations, saw the U.S. drop from No. 1 to No. 6, in overall nation brand.

International travel is America’s number one service export, boasting an $87 billion international travel trade surplus last year.  In an article in Worth, Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association writes, “The Trump administration has yet to convey a sustained message of welcome to international visitors. Long-term failure to do so will unnecessarily deter travelers, which could have disastrous consequences for the U.S. economy.”

While we wait….
and wait…
and wait…
Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite, inclusive travel campaigns of 2017:

Los Angeles: #EveryoneIsWelcome

Hyatt: “World of Hyatt”

San Francisco: #AlwaysWelcome

(Photo via NYCgo.com)

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The Week in Travel (6/14/2013)

The world of travel moves fast!   Let’s keep up–together.   On Fridays,  Traveling IQ curates the  highlights:

NYPridephoto

*June is Gay Pride Month, with rainbow-themed festivities and parades all over the U.S.  For anyone who has ever wondered why these celebrations are still important, click through for your answer (via CNN).

*Save by booking your summer vacation on the first day of the season.  On June 21,”CyberSummer” offers 24-hour travel deals throughout the Caribbean, Florida, Mexico, Latin America and South Africa (via CyberSummerTravel).

*As summer descends on NYC, its residents ascend to the city’s rooftops.  Raise your glass at an elevated bar (via Time Out) or shimmy up toward a gay rooftop party (via Next Magazine).

*Celebrate Father’s Day at a destination named for Papa (via AOL).

*Seventy-five years ago, Fascist Italy exiled homosexuals to the Tremiti Islands, creating both a prison regime and the country’s first gay community (via BBC News).

*Russian parliament confirms gay travel dollars are not welcomed in their country by unanimously passing an anti-gay bill that bans–among many other things–gay pride rallies (via Herald Sun).

What did I miss?  Share your favorite travel news in the comments below or by posting on the Traveling IQ Facebook page.

(Photo via Policymic)

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The Week in Travel (4/26/2013)

The world of travel moves fast!   Let’s keep up–together.   On Fridays,  Traveling IQ curates the highlights from the past week:

I'm too sexy for this country.

I’m too sexy for this country…

*The price of beauty is deportation.   Or so discovered Omar Borkan Al Gala (pictured above) and two other men, deported from Saudi Arabia for being… wait for it… wait for it… too handsome (via Asiantown.net).

*Time to expand your destination wedding options.  On Tuesday, France became the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage (Yahoo).  The next day, the Rhode Island Senate approved legislation to make the “Hope” state the 10th in the U.S., in addition to Washington D.C., to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples (via The Advocate).

*In other sweet news, earlier this month two men married in Africa’s first traditional gay wedding (via Daily Mail).

* In the Navy, yes, you can sail the seven seas, but apparently cannot afford to dock in New York City.  This year, Congress has sequestered the sailors.  Because of federal budget cuts, the Navy’s annual Fleet Week is cancelled (via AMNY).

*More than ever, support Boston with your travel dollars… here are ten reasons why (via PeterGreenberg.com).

*Go big or stay home!  Splurge at a hotel worthy of your holiday (via Conde Nast Traveler).

What did I miss?  Share your favorite travel news in the comments below or by posting on the Traveling IQ Facebook page.

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