Category Archives: Hotels

Kitty Couture Meets Jellicle Ball at The Algonquin Hotel

The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019. Cat struts down runway,
a true catwalk.
Photo Credit: Beth Dixson

Anna Wintour take note: the campiest event in New York City this year was not the Met Gala

The scene opens on a red carpet in the lobby of a storied New York City hotel. Models dressed in costumes representing various cultures strut down the catwalk, while an emcee describes the inspiration for their looks in a posh accent—she might be English… she’s probably English… or she might be Madonna right around the time she fell off that horse.  

In an attempt to promote various cultures, the theme is “It’s a Small World,” because, it is, after all.  

The event is equal parts Parade of Nations of the Miss Universe Pageant, a stroll through Epcot Center’s World Showcase and an unconventional RuPaul’s Drag Race design challenge. 

The contestants vary in size, origin, gender, temperament, and socio-economic status.   

It’s a level of diversity in representation the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has never achieved, or even attempted. The event is pure OPULENCE: They. Own. Everything. 

Oh, and the models are all cats: like the real four-legged pet kind of cats… not Jennifer Hudson as a CGI Grizabella kind of cat. 

The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019
The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019 – Photo Credit: Lisa Raymond

To set the mood prior to the runway show, two opera singers accompanied by a piano performed a live duet, with full vocal commitment and physical gesturing, in a meow-like language. A reputable source reports the classical piece was written in “meow” originally and is attributed to Rossini. I can neither confirm nor deny the reporting, but it was a brilliant moment of performance art, nonetheless.  

Patrons fumble, balancing a glass of champagne in one hand and a camera phone in another, maneuvering around each other for a clear photo of the feline fierceness. The woman behind me is so entranced that she spills a glass of wine down my back. At least it is white wine, and, frankly, my brain is exploding from so much excitement that I truly don’t even care. 

Welcome to the Heaviside Layer stratosphere of camp: The Algonquin Hotel’s Annual Cat Fashion Show.  

The evening pays honor to one very special host: Hamlet VIII, The Algonquin Hotel’s resident feline, who has been greeting guests at the hotel’s reservation desk since the event began. He is adorable and a total hospitality pro. 

The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019, with host Hamlet, The Algonquin Cat
Hamlet VIII, The Algonquin Cat – Photo Credit: Lisa Raymond

The Algonquin Hotel has a long history of celebrating four-legged fuzzies and has counted a resident cat as a VIP guest since the 1920’s. Hamlet VIII is their 12th cat (boy cats are always named Hamlet while girl cats are always named Matilda). Our current Prince of Denmark is looked after by the hotel’s Chief Cat Officer, Alice De Almeida, and has his own FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts. He also has a cat therapist and reiki practitioner, Carole Wilbourn, with whom I had a twenty-minute conversation prior to the runway show in the cat green room, where pet fashion designer Ada Nieves dressed the models with precise artistry.  

Ms. Wilbourn eagerly explained how she helped Hamlet become the superstar he is now. After being rescued, Hamlet lived in the offices upstairs until, after reiki and play-therapy sessions, he became comfortable enough to use the hotel’s reception desk as his personal lounge area. He is also a fan of catnip and loves all types of food. Oh, and he’s currently on a diet.  

I tell her how my cat, Dottie, passed earlier this year and she gifts me a cat toy so that my home can be ready for when I adopt my next kitty. It was an extremely kind gesture and I now wish I could afford to hire Ms. Wilbourn to therapize me. I too love all types of food and am currently on a diet. Her business card indicates that she also makes house calls and does phone and video consultations, for those interested. 

Quickly becoming my-favorite-event-I’ve-ever-attended-ever, The Algonquin Hotel’s Cat Fashion Show donates 100 percent of its proceeds to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals,  a non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner rescue groups and shelters that save the lives of NYC’s homeless animals.   

During the event, an on-site mobile adoption unit sits outside the hotel to facilitate you meeting your new pet. Inside the hotel lobby, the $75 ticket includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and all the aforementioned awesomeness.  

Please, if I am ever to influence you in any way, sign up for Traveling IQ’s “Email Subscription” to the right of this post so we can rejoice together when The Algonquin announces the official Cat Fashion Show date for summer 2020. And then immediately save the date on your calendar.  

Enjoy some of the photos* from the event below …And you’re welcome.  

The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019
The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019
The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019
The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019
The Algonquin Cat Fashion Show 2019

*Photo Credit: Lisa Raymond

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Filed under Events, Gay, Hotels, U.S.A.

HA Restaurant-Hotel Xcaret

A view of Chef Carlos Gaytan HA Restaurant in Hotel Xcaret, Riviera Maya Mexico
HA Restaurant in Riviera Maya, Mexico

“We want to be the best hotel restaurant in the world. That’s what we’re pushing for.”

Uttering that statement as he welcomes us into HA Restaurant, Chef Carlos Gaytan sets a very high bar. He then spends the next 3 hours exceeding all expectations.

After all, this isn’t your typical hotel restaurant. Carlos Gaytan is the first Mexican chef ever to receive a Michelin Star (for Mexique in Chicago). And although HA Restaurant is located within Hotel Xcaret in Riviera Maya, Mexico, it is open to all diners with a reservation and is the one restaurant not included in the hotel’s all-inclusive package. It’s a stand-alone culinary masterpiece in a resort area more commonly associated with dinner buffets.

*Read the full article published in Travel Squire

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Filed under Caribbean, Hotels, Mexico, Publications, Restaurant

Hilton Hotels NYC Celebrate Pride

Gay Party at the Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar in NYC
Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar at the Conrad Downton Hotel

Hilton Hotels of New York City are keeping you tipsy and sparkly this Pride. 

To celebrate World Pride and the 50thanniversary of Stonewall, the crafty mixologists of Hilton have created Pride-inspired cocktails at nine NYC hotels. From sexy lounges to rooftop bars, follow their cocktail guide to sip, sample and saunter through NYC all month. I prefer my summer parties outdoors, so my favorites are the rooftops of The Bernic Hotel, DoubleTree Times Square, Conrad Downtown, Hilton Fashion District and the Embassy Suites in Midtown Manhattan. 

Hilton New York Hotels create Pride inspired cocktails for World Pride
Hilton World Pride CocktailsPhoto courtesy of Hilton

“No one needs glitter on Gay Pride” …said no one ever. To keep you glitzy, Hilton Hotels of NYC are creating complimentary Glitter Glamour Stations throughout the city on the Sunday of the Pride Parade (June 30). Makeup artists at select hotels will be transforming dazzle-deprived hotel guests and locals from 9am-12pm, with special glitter makeup and applique. For the added shimmer head to the Glitter Glamour Stations in the lobbies of the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Tribeca, Hilton New York Fashion District, Millennium Hilton New York Downtown and New York Hilton Midtown.

Make it a Pride to remember… and remember…and remember …as you discover glitter deep into August. 

Troy Petenbrink "thegaytraveler" at a Hilton Hotels Glitter Glamour Station on Gay Pride/ World Pride in NYC
Troy “@thegaytraveler” feeling sassyPhoto courtesy of Hilton

*Visit Hilton’s own World Pride Guide for more information.

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The Muluk Spa at Hotel Xcaret Mexico

Muluk Spa at Hotel Xcaret

Muluk Spa at Hotel Xcaret

Why merely relax when you can transform? The Muluk Spa at Hotel Xcaret Mexico is your gateway to the ancient traditions and healing practices of the Mayan culture. As you enter the spa’s expansive, open-air lobby you immediately connect with the lush topography of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Excavated from a rocky hillside of this jungle region, the spa opens onto a private river that runs through the entirety of Hotel Xcaret.

For those interested in moving beyond the pampering into the spiritual, plan to visit Muluk Spa on a Wednesday when their Shaman will guide you through the complete Temezcal experience. This traditional Mexican sweat lodge, dating back to Pre-Hispanic times, is not for the faint of heart (quite literally) or those particularly sensitive to heat (your body temperature can exceed 104°F). But it is through the sweat that you cleanse of toxins both physical and emotional… (continue)

Read the full article published on TravelSquire.com

 

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Filed under Caribbean, Hotels, Mexico, Spa

First-Timers Guide to San Juan

This past January, my boyfriend and I visited San Juan for the first time and fell in love with the capital of Puerto Rico. I feel honored to have contributed to the new LGBTQ travel portal of DiscoverPuertoRico.com and, in some small way, help guide new travelers to the Caribbean’s most gay friendly destination. 

PRico

As a first-time visitor, you’ll quickly realize Puerto Rico’s capital city is the LGBTQ Caribbean destination you’ve been searching for. Rich in history, breathtakingly beautiful and offering non-stop flights from 49 destinations, it is an ideal quick winter getaway.

San Juan satisfies the desire for a culturally-unique, tropical escape, combined with the ease of never leaving the United States. You don’t need a passport, will use U.S. currency, and can easily communicate in English and Spanish. It is also exceptionally gay-friendly.

Read my full article on DiscoverPuertoRico.com.

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Filed under Caribbean, Gay, Hotels, Publications, Restaurant, U.S.A.

UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya

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UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya

Gay travelers to Mexico are increasingly becoming bi… coastal, that is.

According to the 2018 report by Community Marketing & Insights, Mexico is the second most visited international destination for LGBTQ travelers from the United States (Canada is the first). Within the country, the areas around Puerto Vallarta and Cancun/Riviera Maya are the two most popular.

Wooing our community to Mexico’s eastern coast, the UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is prioritizing becoming the region’s most LGBTQ-friendly all-inclusive….

Read the full article published in EDGE Media Network

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Filed under Caribbean, gay travel, LGBTQ travel, Mexico, Riviera Maya, gay Mexico, VACAYA, Hotels, Mexico, Publications, Restaurant

Dominican Republic Celebrates Caribbean Pride

TravelingIQ-CariubbeanPrideJPG

Is the Dominican Republic ready for its gay close-up? It’s a slow zoom, increasingly coming into focus.

Last month, the CHIC Punta Cana, the all-inclusive resort (or “all-exclusive” as the brand boasts) hosted the second annual Caribbean Pride. For one week, the expansive resort turns into an adult playground packed with pool parties, drag shows, culinary workshops, and a slew of fitness activities—all geared toward the LGBTQ traveler…

Learn more about Caribbean Pride and how the Dominican Republic is emerging as a gay travel destination, by reading the rest of my article, published in EDGE Media Network.

EDGE-Dominican Republic

 

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Filed under Caribbean, Events, Gay, Hotels, Photos, Publications

IQ Heading to Caribbean Pride

Facetune_12-09-2018-22-17-13

Want to hang on to summer just a little bit longer? Pride Season is not yet over!

This weekend IQ is heading to the powdery-soft beaches of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, for the second-annual (my first) Caribbean Pride. Held at the luxury, adults-only, all-inclusive CHIC Punta Cana over seven days packed with pool parties, beach parties, foam parties (yes, that’s still a thing apparently) and whatever kind of party you can imagine.

There will also be shows from beloved Toronto queen, Miss Conception, culinary classes, cocktail samplings and even a broad range of fitness activities for those who… do fitness activities while on an all-inclusive gay vacation.

Follow @travelingiq on Instagram to share in the festivities.

And visit CaribbeanPride.com for photos, event schedule and booking info.

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Samana, Dominican Republic

1-Samana-Los Haitises-Aerial

Aerial view of Los Haitises National Park in Samana, Dominican Republic

As your plane descends toward the Samana airport, you’ll see postcard-perfect views of a natural paradise: rolling hills of lush, green forests pressed against countless kilometres of pristine beaches. The Samana Peninsula, which juts from the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, is about a four-hour direct flight from Toronto or Montreal, but a worlds-away tropical escape for the entire family.

Partly because of its geographical positioning, Samana has retained a unique identity from its resort-packed sister cities. Up until the Samana Highway was finished in 2009, the five-hour drive from Santo Domingo kept the province isolated even from other Dominicans. Now a 2½ hour drive from its capital and with increasing flight access to Canada, Samana is ready to welcome tourism to its unique topography and cultural history. Pack your swimsuits in the suitcase and your curiosity in the carry-on, and prepare for a combination of adventure and relaxation…

Click here to read the full article published in Family Fun Canada

(Photo Credit: Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism)

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