Category Archives: U.S.A.

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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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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Miami Beach to Host World Outgames

gay socks running

Attention gay sports fans (and allies!):  Miami Beach and Miami will host the World Outgames in 2017, marking the first time the sporting event is held in the United States.

Sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA), the World Outgames–a gay-inclusive Olympics of sorts–takes place every four years in a different global city.

Included in the Miami Beach-Miami bid were proposals to host a human rights conference, a diverse cultural program, a World Outgames Village, opening and closing ceremonies, and 30 sporting events over 10 days, all under the South Florida sunshine.

Consider this your four-year warning:  It’s time to squeeze into the Speedo, dust off your running shoes, or bedazzle that figure skating costume.

(Photo via GayNZ.com)

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San Antonio Keeps the Mex in Tex

Charreada (Photo: Al Rendon/SACVB)

Charreada (Photo: Al Rendon/SACVB)

Spend a day exploring San Antonio’s Mexican heritage, dating back to 1821 when the area officially belonged to our southern neighbor.  Less than three hours from the border, the city continues to be a cultural gateway between the two countries.

Rent a car for the day to facilitate exploring outside the city center, then make a pit stop for a Tex-Mex breakfast of chorizo and egg tacos at Tito’s Restaurant. Next, let the music move you–regardless of your religious beliefs–when the traditional mass incorporates the music of a Mexican mariachi choir at the historic 18th century Mission San José (Sundays at 12:30 p.m.).  Afterward, make your way to Charro Ranch for a Charreada (usually once monthly at 3 p.m.), a Mexican rodeo featuring rope tricks, music, dance, and impressive synchronized horseback choreography by sidesaddle-riding women in traditional dress.

Head back downtown to peruse the shops of Market Square, the largest Mexican marketplace outside of Mexico, for authentic souvenirs ranging from artisanal pottery and brightly-painted dolls to kitschy “lucha libre” masks and bedazzled sombreros. Steps away, feast on heaping plates of chicken enchiladas in móle sauce at the 24-hour Mi Tierra Café and PanaderiaFamily-owned since 1941, Mi Tierra serves classic Mexican dishes with a wide selection of tequilas and margaritas.  Finish your meal with a cinnamon-laced Mexican hot chocolate and the signature pan dulce (sweetbread) while listening to the sweet serenade of trovadorers.  Stick around at the bar to tackle a jumbo margarita or two, then cab it over to Alamo Street Eat Bar, the city’s gourmet food truck park, serving beers and mobile eats till 2 am on Fridays and Saturday nights.

(A version of this article first appeared in New York Magazine)

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VFW Post 76 in San Antonio

This Veteran’s Day celebrate some down-home fun with vets and civilians alike on the lawn of the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 76.  Originally organized by veterans of the Spanish American War, the oldest post in Texas invites all of San Antonio to celebrate with outdoor parties and free live concerts (usually Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm) overlooking the San Antonio River Walk.

Sip on cold, cheap beers ($2.50 for non members) and join the honky-tonk dancing locals, jamming to a rotating roster of bands, under the bright, Texan stars.

To plan a weekend escape in San Antonio, check out my article published in New York Magazine.

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Rock the Vote with Hard Rock Hotel

To help you celebrate Election Day in the United States, the music-inspired Hard Rock Hotels chain is keeping you inspired with a free “Rock the Vote” playlist, made available exclusively to the readers of USA Today (and by proxy, Traveling IQ).  For more information on how to download the free playlist, visit “Hotel Check-in” on USA Today

(Photo courtesy of Hard Rock)

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Innkeepers Thank Veterans

B&B for Vets

Innkeepers in the United States and Canada are thanking the brave men and women who have served in their country’s armed forces the best way they know how… with hospitality.

On November 11, (Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada), an estimated 1,000 inns and bed & breakfasts in both countries will offer complimentary stays to veterans and current military personnel.

Entering its fourth year, the B&B for Vets program aims to offer a much-needed break to veterans who may not otherwise be able to afford a vacation.   Many of the participating inns and B&Bs are donating guest rooms for free stays on November 11, and others are offering special military discounts throughout the weekend.

Veterans (with military ID) interested in reserving a room should contact the inn/B&B where they wish to stay.

For a complete list of participating inns and B&Bs visit http://www.bnbsforvets.org (U.S.) or http://www.bbcanada.com/bbforvets (Canada).

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The Week in Travel (9/28/12)

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

“Let me help you with that”

*Sometimes you just want need a young man to lather up the sunscreen on hard-to-reach spots.  Going beyond the complimentary shampoo and conditioner, hotels are enticing with free amenities like a personal tanning butler in South Beach, a pet goldfish in San Francisco, and a Rolls-Royce in Beverly Hills.  (via USA Today)

*According to Claire Danes, Israelis “work very hard, worry very hard and play hard and well.”  The recent Emmy winner talks about filming “Homeland” in Tel Aviv, and poses for photos throughout Israel’s party capital.  (via NY Times)

*Results are in:  more international visitors are coming to the United States and UK gay men travel twice as much as their straight countrymen.  (via eTurboNews and Unicorn Booty)

*You can now leave your flask at home, Princess.  For the first time since opening forty years ago, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will serve wine and beer.  (via USA Today)

*Explore the coral reefs of Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii without getting wet.  Google launches underwater Street View as a new virtual map of the oceans.  (via Boing Boing)

*The phrase “Nice rose bush!” can have several meanings when 600 people explore nature au naturel during clothing-optional days at Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, England.  (via NY Times)

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

(Photo: The Ritz-Carlton via USA Today)

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