When in 2015, the governments of the Mexican state of Jalisco and its capital Guadalajara began a bid to host the Gay Games in 2022, they unwittingly set the city on a path to LGBTQ-awakening.
The Gay Games are an LGBTQ-Olympics of sorts, whose mission is to promote equality through sport and culture. They’ve been held every four years since 1982 and have grown into an internationally-popular event that in 2018 brought more than 10,000 participants to Paris.
For Guadalajara, the three-year bid process signified a shift in focus for a government that had not previously engaged the LGBTQ tourism market…
“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.
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)
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…
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….
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 Panaderia. Family-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.
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.
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:
Few things appeal to me less than being trampled by a half-priced mob on the day after Thanksgiving. I will go on record admitting I have never understood the appeal of Black Friday. On “the biggest shopping day of the year” I prefer to sit at home in my Snuggie, turkey leg in hand.
Still need a shopping fix? Relax. Our modern world-wide-world now offers a side dish of savings from the comfort of your home or office. This Cyber Monday—online shopping’s answer to Black Friday—resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, Aruba, Curaçao and Puerto Rico are warming up the season with more than just leftovers.
Remember, these deals must be booked on the Monday following Thanksgiving–CYBER MONDAY, November 28, 2011.
CASAMAGNA MARRIOTT CANCUN RESORT – 65% Savings www.casamagnacancun.com Offer: Book your 2012 vacation on Cyber Monday and pay $99/night + tax, plus get a $50 resort credit and free room upgrade (subject to availability) Savings: 65% Details: Valid for travel Feb. 16, 2012 – March 31, 2012 Reservations: Visit www.casamagnacancun.com and input promo code D50
JW MARRIOTT CANCUN RESORT & SPA – 58% Savings www.jwmarriottcancun.com Offer: Book your 2012 vacation on Cyber Monday and pay $179/night + tax, plus get a $50 resort credit and free room upgrade (subject to availability) Savings: 58% Details: Valid for travel Feb. 16, 2012 – March 31, 2012 Reservations: Visit www.jwmarriottcancun.com and input promo code D50
ARUBA MARRIOTT RESORT & STELLARIS CASINO – 50% Savings www.arubamarriott.com Offer: Buy 2 nights and get 2 nights free Savings: 50% Details: Rates start at $359/night. Valid for travel from April 22, 2012 – December 21, 2012. Reservations: Visit www.arubamarriott.com and enter promo code D52
MARRIOTT HOTELS & RESORTS OF COSTA RICA – 35%-55% Savings www.marriott.com/costarica Offer: Book your 2012 vacation on CyberMonday and receive $79-$129 nightly rates. $79.00 plus tax per room/night at Courtyard San Jose Escazu (standard room) and Residence Inn San Jose Escazu (studio); $99.00 plus tax at Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose (deluxe room); and $129.00 plus tax per room/night at Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort (standard room) Savings: From 35% – 55% Details: Valid for travel from January 1, 2012 – December 20, 2012, except for a few blackout dates. Reservations: Visit www.marriott.com/costarica and enter promo code PR5
KURA HULANDA RESORTS, CURACAO – 35% Savings www.kurahulanda.com Offer: Buy two nights and get third night free Savings: 33% Details: Valid for travel through Dec 23, 2012. Black out dates: Dec 24, 2011 – Jan 02, 2012 Reservations: E-mail reservation request to email@example.com or call 877254 3106 and request Black Friday special
SAN JUAN MARRIOTT RESORT & STELLARIS CASINO, PUERTO RICO – 30% Savings www.marriottsanjuan.com Offer: Receive 30% off all reservations Savings: 30% Details: From $132 per night. Bookings cannot be combined with any other offers. Valid for travel through Dec 24, 2011 and from April 10 – Sept. 30, 2012. Not valid for groups of 10 or more rooms. Reservations: Visit www.marriottsanjuan.com and enter promotional code D3Q