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.
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.
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)
The Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado sits on its own island, accessible only by ferry, off the secluded Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic. This luxury all-inclusive resort is perfect for couples seeking a romantic escape, away from a party scene.
Though there’s much to explore in Samana, the Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado has you covered should you want to stay put on your own little Caribbean island. The all-inclusive resort offers 6 restaurants, with buffet and international a la carte options; and 4 bars, including a beach bar and a pool bar. Guests have full access to the resort’s relaxing private beach with kayaks and paddle boards available for use. There is also a public beach for day-trippers with lively beachside restaurants and bars. The resort even includes a scuba diving lesson in one of its 2 pools, should you want to prepare for deeper sea exploration. At night, you can hit the disco or enjoy nightly entertainment, ranging from acrobats to dance troupes. During our stay they even featured a synchronized swimming performance. Or you can wind down a romantic evening in your room with a specially prepared bath, from their butler services menu…
Read the full article, published in ManAboutWorld by clicking here.
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.
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.
A 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.travel. Photo credit: Kilpissafarit
Filed under Europe, Hotels
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….
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)
When was the last time someone promised to satisfy your every wish?
The W Mexico City will be your swanky genie-in-a-bottle. Whether you want a mariachi band performing in your bathtub or VIP tickets to a private club, the W concierge will make it happen through their “Whatever/Whenever” service (legally permitting, of course). Located in the Polanco area, steps from luxury shopping, galleries and Bosque Chapultepec, the largest city park in Latin America, the W Mexico is the place to indulge.
With the AWAY Spa and Fitness Center, Whiskey Bar, Solea restaurant at your fingertips–and spacious rooms that feature a hammock in your shower (should you be exhausted from your hygiene regimen)–you may have to force yourself to venture beyond the hotel’s colorfully accented lobby.
Read my full Mexico City travel article on Edge.
Filed under Hotels, Mexico
Big and gritty and complex and glamorous, Mexico City defies categorization. El Distrito Federal or DF, as the city is commonly called, is far more nuanced than many of the country’s famous resort towns, where the tourism bubble stays easily intact.
Here, you are in it; it’s real life in a real, big city. This is where people work, live, eat… and, yes, party. Spending a few days among DF’s 20 million people, you’ll discover a vibrant culture, delicious food, a hoppin’ gay scene, and a colorful whirlwind of unexpected surprises…
*Read my full article published in EDGE by clicking on the photo below: