Known for its black lava and white sand beaches, clear waters, and stunning ocean views, Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands is one of the world’s top gay travel destinations.
But apparently one man and his girlfriend didn’t get that memo when they booked a stay at the Hotel Neptuno, an “adults only” resort that prides itself on having a no-kids policy (“you won’t find lots of children by the pool or running around while you’re trying to relax,” the website reads), its “long tradition of welcoming tourists to the island,” its close proximity to the gay bars, and its impressive outdoor rainbow lights.
In a TripAdvisor review titled “Food was brilliant but made to feel uncomfortable by the gays”, user MooSmith21 writes about his experience at the hotel. It all started earlier this month when he and his girlfriend went on their first holiday together, which they were very excited about.
Upon checking into the hotel, MooSmith21 says, “we were made to feel very welcome by the staff.” The couple was also impressed with the hotel’s food, which he says was a “highlight.” They ate breakfast there every morning, and dined there almost every night.
But everything was ruined when the couple started noticing gay people… everywhere. In the lobby. By the pool. In the hallways. Around the common areas. Homosexuality was running rampant.
“Although we knew it was an adult only hotel,” MooSmith21 writes, “I was quite shocked by the amount of gay couples that were staying at the hotel.”
“I’m not homophobic,” he continues, “however, there was a definite feeling of them and us and the gay couples outnumbered the straight couples by two to one at least.”
Because of this, MooSmith21 says, he and his girlfriend’s first romantic getaway together was completely ruined.
“We never spent too much time at the hotel or relaxing by the pool as I felt very uncomfortable,” he says.
That discomfort was kicked up a notch when he claims a guy he had “never spoken to” sent a cocktail to his room.
“Bit perverted if you ask me!” MooSmith21 writes.
The icing on the cake came when MooSmith21 and his girlfriend went out one night only to discover “in the immediate surrounding area there are gay bars, gay hotels, gay wrestling shows” all of which “again made me feel very uncomfortable.”
In the end, MooSmith21 said it was a “great trip” but he would never, ever, not-in-a-million-years stay at that hotel again!
Since going viral, the TripAdvisor review has disappeared from the website. Luckily, one person was smart enough to grab a screenshot of it and post it to social media, where it has been making the rounds.
One of my favorite memories growing up was piling in the car and heading down to Chicago. When you’re five, that hour drive seems an eternity, but it was always worth it. Chicago was always a big world to me, full of great food, fun and family. A place where you could always find something exciting around the corner. As I grew older I realized that it had even more to offer then hot dogs, skyscrapers and Cubs games.
On Chicago’s greatness…
I love Chicago because it’s so unapologetically Midwestern. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, but has lived on the East and West coasts (DC & LA), I have some insight as to how people see the world and approach life. Chicagoans combine that earnest Midwestern essence with big city know-how. You’re just as likely to stumble into a conversation about architecture or a fight about baseball. Guys are easy to talk to, friendly, unpretentious, and usually up for a good time. Oh, and there’s a ton of bears (and I don’t mean the football team). Everywhere. So I like that. A lot.
On Market Days…
It’s hard to ignore the sheer force of Market Days. The largest street festival in the Midwest, it boasts over 300,000 attendees over two days. It’s non-stop fun with drinks, music, food, and shopping. And street food is one of my most favorite things in the world. So that makes me happy. But on any given day, there’s little that beats hanging with friends at Hollywood Beach (the un-official gay beach), people watching and pretending that the water is warm enough to swim in.
On the queer ‘hoods…
I start in Andersonville. Although traditionally Chicago’s gay epicenter is Boystown (next to Wrigley Field), I like people watching. Andersonville is a hotbed of gay folks, just living their everyday life. To get started, I’d stroll down Clark Street in the middle of the day and just take it in. It’s very casual — folks in Andersonville love their neighborhood — so they walk a little slower, and are open to whatever may come their way. You’ll find plenty of options to eat and drink (including the popular gay burger chain Hamburger Mary’s), as well as a plethora of eligible, handsome Midwesterners willing to strike up a conversation.
When night falls, there’s no place better than Boystown. Head to Halstead and see what all the fuss is about. Here’s where you’ll find the nightlife really hopping. Sidetrack and Roscoe’s are staples of Chicago gay life, so check them out. You’ll have no trouble finding fun, friendly people willing to show you a good time. Of course, the music scene is great. I’ve played a variety of venues, from rock clubs to coffeehouses to gay bars. My following tends to be primarily gay. I love playing at Jackhammer, a dance/dive bar on Clark Street, a little bit north of where you’d expect the gay action to be. Friendly staff, fun patrons and even a basement fetish bar (The Hole) where things are, how do I say this, get a little more jacked…
Usually people come up to me and tell me that they love my work. I’m very humbled by that. Then it’s sometimes followed by a lean in and a “you’re much cuter in person”… Or is it “shorter?” My hearing isn’t so great sometimes…
There’s an amazing nonprofit Broadway Youth Center at the Howard Brown Clinic that provides medical care and social services. Many of its clients are homeless, and in addition to providing HIV/STI tests and health services, they provide a safe space in order to help connect kids with housing, employment and other everyday needs that many of us take for granted.
I love Greek town. So if it were up to me, I’d head over to The Parthenon. I love the Parthenon because it’s got that typical Chicago vibe, it’s tasty, REALLY filling, and super reasonably priced. My favorite is the Flaming Saganaki. The waiter brings out a flaming block of cheese over to your table — it’s quite a production. They serve family style as well, so it’s great for big parties. Afterwards I’d walk on over to little Italy and get an Italian Ice at Mario’s Italian Lemonade (only open in the summer).
On carefree moments…
I’m the kind of guy that would most prefer hosting a bunch of people over at the house to celebrate. There is not much that makes me happier than having people over and making sure they have plenty to drink, plenty to eat, and a lot to laugh about. That’s probably because I come from a big Italian Chicago family. And for that kind of celebration, you need some great, cheap, unhealthy food in large quantities. Luckily, Chicago has a wealth of that.
On the perfect night out…
My night would start with music. You can usually catch an awesome rock/songwriter show at Metro, but if you want a taste of some old school Chicago blues, hop on over to Buddy Guy’s Legends. Now there’s always going to be arguments as to who makes the best Chicago deep dish pizza, but I love Giordano’s. After the show I’ll order a small cheese deep dish. For some reason, I prefer the proportion of cheese in the small — once the pie gets larger, it starts to lose it for me. Same with toppings: They just get in the way of the massive quantities of cheese I want so badly to enjoy. After all that cheese settles I’d head up to Boystown for some dancing and socializing at Sidetrack or Jackhammer. When at last my legs get tired, I love to head over to Lake Michigan and unwind. It’s really relaxing just talking with friends while the waves crash at your feet.
On the perfect Sunday afternoon…
I was raised a die-hard Cubs fan, so I’d start with a day game at Wrigley. It’s one of those things that’s a must in Chicago. Nothing beats sitting at the Cubs game, eating, drinking a beer, and watching the Cubs lose (less often this year!), but knowing that everyone around you still loves them just the same. Afterwards I’d hop up to Andersonville and tape a podcast with the guys at Feast of Fun. There’s few people that can make me laugh more than Marc and Fausto. Now that I have my homies in tow, we can head over to the uber gay Cheetah Gym (essentially a gay bar with workout equipment) for a quick workout, before grabbing some sandwiches and drinks and heading to Millennium Park for a picnic, then a stroll along the lake.
Now I know what you’re going to say. There’s no way you can do that in one Sunday afternoon. Sure, maybe, but my perfect Sunday afternoon in Chicago would last a very long time…
Tom Goss is an unabashed romantic, known for his expressive and personal songs about love and longing. A self-taught musician and songwriter, Tom has performed to tens of thousands in the United States and Europe, and has been heard on ABC, HBO and several independent films. Tom has performed over 1,000 shows, in 100 cities and 5 countries.
His newest single and music video, “Son of a Preacher Man,” garnered world-wide attention, generating over 130,000 views in it’s first week of release. His previous videos have accumulated over 5 million views.
When trying to define the ultimate gay summer holiday, one place often springs to mind: the world-known destination of Mykonos!
Even though civil partnerships for same-sex couples has only recently become legal in Greece, this small Mediterranean country and friendly, vibrant and fabulous Cycladic gem is proud to be one of the global landmarks of gay travel.
But why is Mykonos so popular with gay travelers? Over the past decades, Mykonos has developed a distinctive gay-friendly attitude, that cannot be compared with any other destination.
The island manages to preserve many of its traditional elements, however the culture of local people has grown to become naturally friendly to any kind of diversity — and of course, to gay and lesbian travelers from all over the world, who choose Mykonos for their summer holidays.
In Mykonos, you will not come across ‘ghettos’ or ‘clichés’; you will not meet gay people only in the local gay bars and clubs; and, above all, you will not feel unsafe at any time or place. In Mykonos, gay travelers enjoy every single spot of the island, feeling free to flirt, meet and mess around with the other hot men visiting the island.
The gay bars of Mykonos
The gay bars of Mykonos are widely-known as the hottest places to have fun and meet people from all over the world. Nightlife is concentrated in the center of Mykonos Town (the so-called ‘Chora’), where you can find numerous stylish bars, clubs, pubs and bistros with live music. The most popular gay bars of the island are also found here, with the most famous being the fabulous Jackie O’.
What makes the bars so different than other destinations, is the fact that they manage to preserve their unique Cycladic character, giving to your nights a strong local identity and experience. And so does Jackie O’, located just a breath from the sea, reminding you of the fact that you are spending your holidays in the most popular island of Greece.
Right next to Jackie O’, Babylon bar offers another choice for a drink. Stroll around the narrow pedestrian streets of the Chora, to find one of the oldest gay bars of Mykonos, Porta, as well as the sophisticated Lola Bar. It might sound funny, however these are, in fact, most of your choices for gay nightlife in Mykonos. And if you simply can’t understand why this small island with such limited choices is considered one of the gay paradises, then all you have to do is visit it!
1 Begin your evenings with an early, post-dinner drink at one of the numerous bars of Mykonos Chora — and try not to stick to the gay ones.
2 The best time to come to Jackie O’ is around 12 at midnight, when it gets really crowded.
3 Very close to Jackie O’ and Babylon, the area around the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, (and especially on the rocks), is known to be a cruising area. Be as careful as possible and always play safe!
Your dream gay summer holidays could not be perfect without spending your days lying on a sandy beach, sunbathing and swimming in crystal clear sea waters. And of course, a beach is always better with handsome gay men lying around you, enjoying the hot Greek sun in their swimsuits — or out of them.
There is an interesting fact about most beaches in Mykonos: often, the right side of the beach is more ‘gay’, allowing you to discover as many beaches as possible, even the least popular ones, and still find yourself surrounded by hot men.
However, if what you are after is the most popular gay beaches of the island, then your choices are two: Elia Beach and Jackie O’ Beach at Super Paradise.
Elia Beach is the most popular gay beach of Mykonos. Preserving the tradition, the right half of the beach gathers mostly gay men, while the beach ends on a rocky hill; a gay cruising spot all around the day. You will meet sexy men lying on Elia any time of the day, while there is also a nice beach bar, though it is located on the other side of the beach.
Jackie O’ Beach is definitely one of the best gay beach bars in the world, having as its strongest competitive advantage the crystal clear waters of Super Paradise beach. Jackie O’ offers everything you might need, from refreshing cocktails to light snacks and lunch menu, while the view from the pool is simply amazing!
1 If you want to be right in front of the water, make a reservation for a sunbed, especially during the busiest months of July and August. The beaches can become really crowded and many times it’s hard to find a nice spot to sit.
2 If you are going to Elia Beach, try the sea way: take a water taxi from Ornos or Platys Gyalos. The water taxis are traditional fishing boats that will take you anywhere you want — definitely a perfect Myconian experience!
3 Plan your whole day at Jackie O’ Beach, since this amazing beach bar offers a must-hear live experience (including some exciting and fun drag shows) that lasts all day.
4 Stay at Greco Philia, one of the most luxurious accommodations on Elia Beach.
Mykonos for gay honeymooners!
When thinking about the perfect destination for a honeymoon, one might think of a more romantic, quiet and peaceful place. Such people might think a popular destination for gay travelers like Mykonos out of the question.
But that would be wrong: Mykonos, as one of the most ‘gay’ islands in the world, is also widely popular to gay honeymooners, characterized as it is by a completely relaxed and friendly mentality within impressive natural scenery with intense luxury and exclusive touches.
What would be better than walking with your new husband in the picturesque alleys of Mykonos Town, holding hands, having drinks in small and undiscovered bars or lying on an amazing beach expressing your love without getting any curious ‘looks’?
For your accommodation, the fabulous gay-friendly hotels in Mykonos will surely host your love in a stunning suite, overlooking the endless blue of the Aegean Sea.
1 Choose a really nice hotel! Mykonos is the home of some of the best hotels in the world, so spend a little bit more for your love!
2 Take a private cruise with your boyfriend — an experience you will never forget.
3 Find a gourmet restaurant and enjoy a romantic dinner with your loved one. After all, Mykonos is the gourmet Queen of the Cyclades!
The lesser known, more calm and quiet side of Mykonos makes the island an ideal place for gay families. In combination with the general gay-friendly attitude of the island, Mykonos is definitely a great choice for gay families who want to enjoy their summer holidays with their children. Mykonos is equipped with family facilities, guaranteeing that your kids will also have the time of their life.
1 Choose a family hotel for your stay in Mykonos. And don’t worry; family hotels in Mykonos are as stylish as the rest on the island!
2 Organize a horse riding tour. Your kids will adore it.
3 Enjoy your meals in traditional taverns and restaurants. The healthy Greek food is something that your children must definitely eat during your holidays in Mykonos.
4 A great choice for gay families is the unique and well known to gay travelers in the island, the Mykonos Theoxenia Hotel, located just in the center of Mykonos Town.
The widely popular XLSIOR festival, takes place every August in Mykonos, attracting thousands of gay travelers from across the globe. August is the busiest month for Mykonos, and XLSIOR makes it even hotter! Gathering some of the best international DJs, XLSIOR hosts numerous parties through its seven-day duration.
The festival is known for attracting some of the hottest men with incredible bodies and professional tanning — they’re so handsome you might think they are models!
Elysium gay hotel in Mykonos Town
Elysium is the only gay hotel in Greece and one of the best in the world. Built on the top of the hill above Mykonos Town, Elysium is by far the best accommodation choice for gay travelers looking for a more ‘spicy’ experience.
Keeping a really high-quality service, Elysium has much more to offer than a usual hotel: every day at sunset, Elysium becomes the hottest gay hot spot, with its popular, crowded and vivid gay sunset parties! The parties around the pool are boosted with great music, delicious cocktails and some of the best drag shows you’ll ever see!
Destsetters is a client of Gay Star News; visit their official website here.
The number of tourists taking international trips increased by 4.4% to 1.2 billion in 2015, according to new figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This is an increase of around 50 million tourists, and the sixth year of growth in a row. Figures last declined in 2009, by 4%.
The top destination in the world last year was France, followed by the US, Spain and China.
The figures were influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and man-made crises, the organization said.
UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai commented: ‘The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world. It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability’.
The organization predicts growth of 4% in 2016.
Rifai added: ‘As the current environment highlights in a particular manner the issues of safety and security, we should recall that tourism development greatly depends upon our collective capacity to promote safe, secure and seamless travel.’
He continued: ‘In this respect, UNWTO urges governments to include tourism administrations in their national security planning, structures and procedures, not only to ensure that the sector’s exposure to threats is minimized but also to maximize the sector’s ability to support security and facilitation, as seamless and safe travel can and should go hand in hand.’
Gay holidays in Greece can mean a lot of things. Long nights in the amazing gay bars of Athens, sunbathing at Elia Beach in Mykonos (one of the most famous gay beaches in the world), romantic honeymoons on alternative islands, gastronomic experiences and adventurous walks in some of the most beautiful and breathtaking landscapes of the Mediterranean.
But Greece has something even more important to offer to gay travelers: a distinctive and unique gay scene and mentality, which is different to every other country around the world.
In this guide, we will help you discover some classic information about gay travel in Greece while also revealing a few hidden secrets that will upgrade your trip into a fascinating vacation.
The must-visit places for an organized gay scene: Athens, Thessaloniki and Mykonos
The gay life of Mykonos is widely popular, since this small Greek island is ranked among the best gay destinations in the world, especially for summer holidays.
In Mykonos, you won’t have to go to a gay place to meet other guys, since the island is full of gay travelers like you, who are enjoying this spectacular place.
1 Spend endless hours under the hot sun at the most popular gay beach, Elia.
2 Party and flirt at the upcoming gay beach hot spot of the island, ’JackieO Beach’ at Super Paradise.
3 Check out the most fun gay hotel in Europe, Elysium Hotel.
4 Mykonos Town (or Chora, as Greeks call it) is perfect during the night. Make sure to have a cocktail at JackieO Mykonos Town.
5 For the more naughty ones, rumor has it that the area behind Paraportiani Church is a popular cruising spot – just be careful of the rocks!
6 Don’t forget that the top gay festival, XLSIOR FESTIVAL, takes place in Mykonos every August.
Athens, the vibrant and never sleeping capital of Greece, features the most organized gay scene in the country with gay bars, clubs and restaurants, saunas, shopping areas and several cruising spots.
1 Gazi area (metro station: Kerameikos) and Agias Eirinis Square (metro station: Monastiraki), are the top gay areas in Athens.
2 In Gazi, you can visit Sodade bar – the classic gay bar for many years – or Shamone.
3 Spend some spicy time in the popular saunas of Athens, including Alexander and Flex.
4 When you find yourself in Agias Eirinis Square, make sure to have a coffee at the always crowded ’Rooster’ café/bar.
5 ‘Zappeion’ park close to Syntagma Square and ‘Pedion tou Areos’ park are the best known and crowded cruising areas.
In the north of Greece, the second largest city of the country, Thessaloniki, is gradually gaining a reputation as the gay capital of Balkans. Thessaloniki is a beautiful, romantic and cozy city, with quite an organized gay life.
1 Have fun at the famous gay bar Enola in Valaoritou Street, one of the most vivid neighborhoods of the city.
2 Visit the popular gay cruising bars as well as the famous Splash sauna, located near Vardari area, and especially at Afroditis Street.
3 Thessaloniki is flirty and friendly all around the center, and in the numerous cafés, bars and restaurants you will most probably find guys to flirt with – maybe you are one of them?
4 If you visit Thessaloniki during summer, spend some days in Halkidiki, the nearby peninsula with the paradise-like sandy beaches and the crystal clear waters.
The classic gay favorites: Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos (Zante)
Over the last few years, one of the most beloved destinations for gay travelers in Greece is Crete, an island which many think of as conservative due to its traditional character. However, this is not entirely true, since gay Crete introduces a new way of gay traveling: the gay adventure holiday.
1 In and around the city of Heraklion, you can find a few gay-friendly bars for drinks and socializing. 2 The biggest gay attraction in Crete is the several gay beaches around the island, like Sarantaris, close to the Hersonissos region. 3 The gay-friendly Home Hotel, hosts popular Saturday night parties as well as barbecue gatherings during lazy Sunday noons. 4 When in Crete, spend two or three days at each big city – Chania, Rethimnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos.
5 If you consider yourself a luxurious traveler, then have a look at the top luxury hotels in the renowned Elounda Area.
Santorini, one of the most beautiful and romantic islands in the world, is a must-visit destination for any traveler who wants to have an updated travel journal and a hot choice for gay honeymoons. It’s not just the dramatic landscape with the volcano and the steep cliffs but also the overall luxurious and elegant character that emerges from the iconic island.
1 Check out the main gay hot spots in the island: the last section of Vlychada Beach and the gay-friendly bar Tropical in Fira.
2 Choose a luxury Caldera view room/suite/villa in one of the numerous gay-friendly hotels in Santorini.
3 Make sure to enjoy as many sunsets as you can – don’t forget that they are ranked among the most impressive ones in the world!
Zakynthos (or Zante), is a beautiful island in the western parts of Greece, mainly known for the fabulous Navagio beach, with turquoise waters – one of the most famous beaches in the world.
1 Gay life in Zakynthos is not organized, however make sure to stop by the nudist beach of Vrontonero.
2 Try the amazing delicacies of the island, like ‘sartsa (casserole beef), ‘skordostoumbi’ (aubergines blended with large quantities of garlic), and rabbit stew.
Top island hopping choices: Tinos, Mykonos and Paros or Naxos, Ios and Santorini
A great idea when visiting Greece is to plan an island hopping adventure – a combination of stays in a number of islands, which are easy to travel from one to the other by ferry (just make sure to double check the ferry routes and schedules). Particularly in the Cyclades complex, island hopping is a very easy and usual type of traveling.
3 islands for gay couples in love: Folegandros, Milos and Skiathos
Folegandros is one of the most picturesque islands in Greece. What is truly amazing about this magical place is that it always manages to surprise gay couples with its fabulous gay-friendly hotels, which boast impeccable service and excellent staff.
Over the past few years, a significant increase of gay couples who choose Milos for their honeymoon trip or their romantic summer holidays has been noticed, giving more and more people the opportunity to enjoy the mind-blowing beauties of the island.
Let’s change the scenery: Skiathos is an all-green island with amazing beaches – an excellent choice for gay couples who are looking for a true paradise-like destination for their honeymoon.
The luxury resort destinations: Costa Navarino and Porto Heli
Costa Navarino is a newborn resort destination in Messenia, Peloponnese, standing out as a particularly beloved choice for gay travelers in the region. With impressive pools, relaxing spas, excellent hotel restaurants, plenty of wellness and sport options (plus it’s the golf destination of Greece), Costa Navarino will simply amaze you!
Porto Heli is a top-notch area in the Argo-Saronic Gulf in Peloponnese, which is very well-connected with the famous nearby islands of Spetses and Hydra. One of the latest additions is the stunning Nikki Beach Hotel, which presents a modern and luxurious character, transforming the area into an ideal choice for gay travelers.
For more information about Destsetters, visit the official website by clicking here.
They’ve been a vital part of our culture since way before Stonewall, and despite the onslaught of digital connectivity, somehow the world’s tiny bars survive and even thrive, such as Portland’s, Sloan’s Tavern (above), featured in Travel Portland’s guide to gay life in the city.
The adorable Travel Portland Zine, Tiny Bars, reminds us our appreciation of unique social spaces. Usually catering to a loyal group of regulars, these mini bastions of community can be in remote hamlets (where the clientele’s often a mixed bag of LGBT locals) or huge cities (where they tend to serve niche queer types).
By virtue of their teeny square footages, invariably they’re intimate, and pretty much guarantee friendly interaction, both social and physical. The kind of place found seemingly on every corner in weird, wonderful Portland.
Patrons say: “Friendly crowd of regulars mostly bears & hot dads. Excellent drinks at incredibly fair prices with great Dj’d music nights. The bartenders are sweet, handsome & friendly. I love Ty’s, check it out when you are in historic Greenwich Village NYC, on beautiful Christopher St.” – giovanni.sorrentino, GayCities
Patrons say: “This is the smallest bar I have ever been into. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. The bartender was friendly as were most the people in the bar. Nice place to just hang for a while and kick back.” – Valleykid, GayCities
Patrons say: “Charming little gay bar with a lot of personality in a tiny place. There appeared to be quite a few regulars at the bar and, though I didn’t enough German to engage in meaningful conversation (the bartender was forgiving), I felt welcome.” – Matthew B., Yelp
Patrons say: “I’ve been going to Pony since they opened the new space and while it is TINY, that kinda makes it fun. The drink beer selection is basic but tasteful and almost everything else is delightfully not. Think Hooters for men who like men amplified and then concentrated in one triangle of Capitol Hill.” – gentihomme, GayCities
Patrons say: “Hole in the Wall Saloon is maybe the last of the cool gay bars in the city. It is bikers, punk and rock and roll friendly. The decoration is insane and if you feel really happy or in the mood you can swing the lights hanging on top of the bar. Bartenders are friendly. Patrons are local and diverse.” – Cristian L., Yelp
Portland is full of weird, wonderful tiny bars, most of which are of the mixed gay straight variety. One such spot is the mixed-crowd watering hole Angelface (above), featured in Travel Portland’s cute Tiny Bar zine.
A tiny bar bonus is that if you bring enough friends, any place becomes your own pop-up gay bar. One place to do exactly this is at the bar of Portland’s fabulous Ace Hotel: Pepe le Moko.
Atlantis Events, Inc., the world’s largest gay and lesbian vacation company, makes history in 2016 with the first charter of Royal Caribbean’s revolutionary 4200-guest Anthem of the Seas megaship sailing from New York City. This legendary voyage marks the celebration of Atlantis’ 25th anniversary.
Anthem of the Seas brings Atlantis guests more innovative experiences than any other ship, including North Star – a sky ride soaring 300 feet above the ocean, RipCord skydiving simulator, and 18 dynamic restaurants. Innovative venues such as Two70 theater, Music Hall concert space, and the massive SeaPlex sport and entertainment complex create spectacular places for Atlantis’ legendary parties and performers. As befits a cruise from New York, Atlantis features non-stop superstar entertainers, including many signature Atlantis performers from the past 25 years. And in true Atlantis tradition, a feature star will be named very soon. Past entertainers have included Jennifer Hudson, Rosie O’Donnell, Patti LuPone, Roseanne Barr, Wayne Brady, and more.
Atlantis President Rich Campbell says, “Our guests have been asking us for this incredible ship since she was first announced and we’re thrilled to be the first to charter her. There simply never has been an Atlantis cruise with so much to offer and it’s the perfect way for us to usher in the new generation of all-gay cruises!”
This unique all-gay cruise sails from New York on May 21, 2016 to Port Canaveral, Nassau, and the private island of Coco Cay — arriving back to the city on Memorial Day Weekend. Fares start at $999USD per person.
The Atlantis 2016 Anthem Caribbean Cruise complements the company’s other cruises and resort vacations to Tahiti, the Mediterranean, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Complete details can be found at atlantisevents.com or by calling 310-859-8800.
Atlantis Events is the world’s largest company specializing in all-gay vacations. In 2016, Atlantis celebrates 25 years of hosting over 200,000 guests on over 190 unique cruises and resort experiences worldwide. Atlantis creates a unique vacation experience for its gay and lesbian guests by chartering entire cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts around the world for their guest’s exclusive enjoyment. The experience is completely customized with world-class entertainers, unique parties, original activities, and a team of talented hosts.
This level of risk is intensified when LGBT travelers stay in unfamiliar locations, or have to rely on apps like Airbnb to book rooms in stranger’s homes or spaces. For this reason, a new app called Wimbify aims to help queer people find safe spaces to lay their heads at the homes or spaces of LGBT individuals, families or allies while abroad.
“When you choose to spend your holiday in an apartment rented online, the risks are right around the corner,” Alessio Virgili of Wimbify told The Huffington Post. “For an LGBT traveler, these risks increase. [What] if the person who is hosting doesn’t like the idea of an LGBT person in their house, or even an LGBT couple or family?”
“Besides avoiding feelings of unease or discrimination, being hosted by an LGBT or LGBT-friendly host makes it easier to socialize and [gain] knowledge of the local LGBT community, especially in destinations where gay life is often lived underground and it’s difficult to find information and to find yourself safe.”
Particularly in parts of the world where being LGBT still comes with heavy consequences — some of which can be life-threatening — apps like Wimbify can serve a crucial function.
Want to see more? Head here to check out the app and safe travels this holiday season!
The Dinah celebrated its 25th anniversary with a bang in 2015 and Girls That Roam was there as a proud media sponsor covering the event.
Girls That Roam is proud to be a Dinah VIP Media Partner for our fourth consecutive year for The Dinah’s 26th all-girl getaway March 30 – April 3, 2016 in Palm Springs, California.
The all-girl weekend sets off its next 25 years brining the best of the best women’s entertainment and throw down the biggest parties for one unforgettable weekend. Women will party under the sun around the swimming pool and late into the night and have those selfie moments with celebrities.
“The Dinah is the best all-girl party in the world and Girls That Roam is proud to be a part of it as a media sponsor,” says Heather Cassell, publisher and editor of Girls That Roam.
The Dinah is the preeminent all-girl spring break, featuring a week of break out and emerging female musicians, nationally renowned comedians, dance and pool parties and so much more attracting upward of more than 15,000 women to Palm Springs annually.
“There’s no better way to kick-off spring than at The Dinah,” says Cassell.
Expect to see memories from the 25th anniversary of The Dinah along with sneak peeks at what’s in the works for and exclusives with celebrities and entertainers performing at The Dinah 2016.
Girls That Roam is an online travel magazine and community for independent globetrotting women who are either swinging it solo, traveling with their gal pals, boyfriends, or girlfriends, trekking it with their tots, or road warriors closing the deal. Girl roamers seek and explore new adventures learning about the world and pushing boundaries, doing good and giving back, supporting women-owned – and the boy’s that love us – businesses and organizations. All the while having a great time rocking it through the continents, drinking and eating, sporting it up, sharing stories and tips, meeting new girlfriends – queer, straight, black, brown, white from America to Asia and everywhere in between – and having some fun and giggles along the way. www.girlsthatroam.com. Plan your girlfriend getaway with Girls That Roam Travel, visit www.facebook.com/GirlsThatRoamTravel.
About The Dinah:
The Dinah is a five-day international world-class event packed with non-stop activities, a series of phenomenal pool parties, spectacular night entertainment, live concerts by Top Ten Billboard recording artists, comedy shows, sport-games and social networking opportunities. For 26 years it has been the premier all-girl event hosted in Palm Springs, Calif. coinciding with the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s ANA Inspirations Golf Tournament (formerly the Dinah Shore and Kraft Nabisco Golf Championship). The lesbian spring break, as it is known, was created and is produced by Mariah Hanson under the Club Skirts marquee. http://thedinah.com.
The Pacific Coast Highway may be one of the most traveled, most photographed roads in the country, but Big Sur hasn’t changed all that much in the decades since Highway 1 was built into its rugged cliffs.
That’s exactly the way the locals like it. This sparsely populated region, which stretches roughly from Carmel to San Simeon, is known for its dramatic landscape, where the Santa Lucia Mountains cascade into the Pacific Ocean, redwoods carpet the valley floor, and the serpentine highway seems to hold onto the mountainsides for dear life.
Many people choose to drive through Big Sur and consider Highway 1 (called the Cabrillo Highway along that segment) the destination itself. This trend likely is due to the fact that zoning and building restrictions, not to mention the rugged topography, have kept development in Big Sur at bay, meaning the area doesn’t have a surfeit of lodging options. Tourists either have overnighted at a campground, rustic lodge or motel — or they’ve shelled out big bucks to stay in a five-star resort.
But what about the savvy traveler who wants something in between — something updated, hip and still authentic to Big Sur’s bohemian and eco-friendly vibe? That’s the question Basil and Tracy Sanborn were asking when they decided to purchase Glen Oaks Motor Lodge in 2006. Basil, whose grandparents moved to Big Sur in the 1950s, and whose parents operated Ripplewood Resort for two decades, grew up next door to the Glen Oaks property.
“I worked at both Ripplewood and Glen Oaks as a teen, cleaning rooms, washing dishes, selling gas and waiting tables,” he says. “The seller of Glen Oaks was the second owner and a close family friend. He decided to sell the land and business to my wife and me.” The couple jumped at the opportunity to reimagine it for the next generation of Big Sur visitors.
The purchase included the lodge — built in 1957 — and a campground, nestled in the nearby Redwood Grove, which had been in operation since the 1940s. The motor lodge was always a place for travelers to stop and spend the night before heading out the next morning. A simple motel with humble, adobe-walled rooms, clean bathrooms and a priceless address on the Cabrillo Highway, it had great bones. And the campground, which had many incarnations over the last several decades, had a few humble cabins and a coveted position along the Big Sur River. But the Sanborns were envisioning something more for the motor lodge and campsite, which they renamed Glen Oaks Big Sur.
“At the time we purchased the property, there was quite a disparity between the types of lodging available to guests of Big Sur,” says Basil. “Reimagining our product was actually pretty simple. We asked ourselves, ‘What would we want?’ It seemed pretty clear that there was a market for an upscale but reasonable accommodation. It still took a bit of a leap of faith, trading loyal budget-conscious customers for an unknown volume of new guests interested in high quality for good value, but it turned out OK.”
Basil, who’s trained as a civil engineer and previously worked in construction management, wanted to honor the integrity of the landscape and the original architecture. But he also wanted to give everything a tasteful update. So he brought in San Francisco architect and designer Steve Justrich to reimagine the interiors in a hip — and green — way.
“I like to call it ‘homegrown modernism,’” says Justrich. “We did not take the idea of midcentury design too seriously. We made a conscious choice to be just on the inside edge of trendy and hip — everyone should be comfortable here.”
Inspired by the adobe walls in the lodge, Justrich took his cues from nature when choosing materials. “I feel that the best way to be green is to be minimal, with a thoughtful, conscious and appropriate use of materials,” he says.
Floors and tabletops are made of recycled stone. The sofa upholstery is actually recycled tent canvases, and the bed frames and dressers were made out of recycled peroba wood. Even the mattresses are custom-made from natural and organic materials by local Monterey Mattress Company. The color palette is subdued yet striking — amber, chartreuse, burnt orange and forest green nod to the hues of nature outside.
Over at the campground, they extensively remodeled a few existing cabins and slowly added more small structures, which were built off-site by Cavco Homes and placed among the ancient redwoods. “It’s a beautiful site, and we’ve worked really hard to maintain and enhance its natural beauty by maintaining its historic low-impact use,” says Basil. Light on the land, the new cottages required no grading or foundation. Compact and energy-efficient, they seem to blend into the forest, which was the intention all along.
Just above the river sits the Big Sur Roadhouse, Basil and Tracy’s latest endeavor. Opened in 2013, the restaurant — also impeccably designed by Justrich — gives Glen Oaks’ guests an on-site dining option for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks throughout the day.
With its modern farmhouse aesthetic and thoughtful, hyper-local menu, the restaurant makes a stylish and cozy place for guests to linger by the fireplace or fire pits and enjoy a noteworthy meal — without leaving the property. Executive Chef Brendan Esons blends classical techniques with sustainable practices and keeps hungry patrons coming back for more of his signature dishes, such as duck confit with skin cracklings, or local sea scallops bathed in a sherry pan sauce.
And almost no one leaves without trying his famous homemade pretzel, served with a porter and cheddar rarebit so decadent you’ll use your spoon to scrape the bowl clean.
The Sanborns hired Jeanette Kenworthy, who had worked for 17 years at the famed Post Ranch Inn, to manage Glen Oaks and deliver the kind of customer service for which Post Ranch Inn is known.
“I was really drawn here because of Basil’s vision to create a welcoming and beautiful getaway for guests to experience what I like to call the ‘real’ Big Sur,” says Kenworthy, who’s lived in Big Sur for 21 years. “You can experience the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and coastline all along the West Coast — however, being enveloped in a redwood grove next to the Big Sur River, with the green grass below and sun filtering through the trees above — this is truly Big Sur to me.”