Travel is about discovery. This year, hot destinations Outward Bound will feature include Berlin, Paris, St. Lucia, Cuba, New York City, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West and many other destinations. No matter where you go in 2017, LGBT travel is about being welcomed for who you are and making the best of your trip with tips from a travel expert.
Big news on the sea!
Trusted R Family Vacations and modern luxury cruise line Celebrity Cruises announced this week that they will set sail, offering one-of-a-kind experiences tailored to the LGBT community. Celebrity is now the first premium cruise line to directly market customized group sailings to the entire LGBT community.
Moving beyond the antiquated “Friends of Dorothy Meetings,” R Family Vacations and Celebrity will organize exclusive entertainment, gastronomic adventures and unique events, hosted by R Family co-founders Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter. A regularly scheduled sailing will offer events including a private welcome reception, sail-away mixer, invite-only nightly dinners, exclusive shore excursions and special entertainment, including LGBT comedians and musical performances. Finally, an LGBT-friendly cruise with competitive pricing (avoiding the “gay" premium prices on all-gay charter ships) and the social activities our community seeks while on a vacation.
The first sailing will go to vast final frontier Alaska on July 21, 2017, onboard the award-winning Celebrity Solstice, which just underwent an extensive revitalization in October.
In other news, the founders of R Family Vacations have joined the Tzell Travel Group in New York to add LGBT specialists to their prestigious list of agents. Tzell Travel can give you VIP benefits and perks just by buying “gay” for all of your travel purchases.
Reconsidering The Caribbean
This year seems to be time to revisit travel to the Caribbean for LGBT travelers. Many, if not most, Caribbean islands are struggling with the appeal of LGBT tourism amid anti-LGBT laws.
Interestingly, what might be making the Caribbean more LGBT-friendly are the progressive hotels and resorts that are actively courting the LGBT traveler. Hotels have power as local employers and with their influence as corporate citizens comes an increasing promise of change in hostile laws that discriminate against the LGBT community. Hotels are among the leaders in the Caribbean making a difference in LGBT travel. One example is The Viceroy Hotel Group and their luxury property the Sugar Beach Resort in St. Lucia. Luxury resorts like the Sugar Beach are starting to tailor their experiences to the LGBT community.
Global hotel leader Marriott International is another example of an LGBT-friendly hotel corporation that stands by our community, with its popular #Lovetravels campaign. Of course, all-gay cruise companies like Atlantis Vacations continue to bring gay men in large groups to destinations throughout the Caribbean on some of the largest cruise ships afloat.
Foundations like Alturi make it easier to connect to the local LGBT community in the Caribbean islands and to support the local effort to win civil rights in their own country.
The Biggest Travel Value: the Gay Guesthouse
When we travel, we can "stay gay." While many hotel chains now market to the LGBT community or offer an LGBT hotel package, don’t forget the gay guesthouse offers incredible value. While many corporate hotels are now wooing LGBT travelers, the locally owned, all-gay guesthouse like The Grand in Ft. Lauderdale and the Island House in Key West offer amazing values that are not matched by the mainstream hotel luring the gay travel dollar. From free Wi-Fi to free parking, complementary happy hours and other amenities, dollar for dollar, the local gay guesthouse offers more at a better price.
Jeff Guaracino is the author of "Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing."
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