Travel Diary • 01.13.12

IMG_3636Gay Days, which for years has organized circuit-party- like festivities during the week-long “Gay Day” in Orlando — covering DisneyWorld, the Universal Parks and more — is expanding west for what they are calling their first “bi-coastal” celebration.

Only the new city isn’t really on the coast, or anywhere near it. Their bad.

Still, Gay Days Las Vegas does bring the signature event style to the Pacific time zone.

From Sept. 4–10 this year, the Tropicana Casino in Vegas will be host to the Pride party, which will include a travel-retail expo (free and open to the public), daily pool parties and other events around town (pictured).

That follows the annual Orlando blow-out, which takes place as always the first weekend in June. You can book reservations and learn more about both at GayDays.com.

Asian markets are organizing to embrace their LGBT travelers more openly.

Following a symposium late last year in New Delhi, sponsored by San Francisco-based Community Marketing, countries across the region discussed reaching out to gay travelers. The New York office of the Thailand tourism bureau even announced a pilot campaign, scheduled to launch during the first quarter of 2012, called “Go Thai, Be Free,” targeting LGBT travelers on the East Coast of the U.S.

Olivia, the lesbian-focused travel company, will celebrate its upcoming 40th anniversary with two special cruises — the largest lesbian cruises yet to set sail.

The cruises — departing from Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 27 and again on Feb. 3 on Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam liner, for a tour of the Caribbean, including Aruba, the Bahamas and Curacao — will hold 2,100 guests. To book a room or for further information, visit Olivia.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

—  Kevin Thomas

TRAVEL DIARY

Bus tours and hosted walking tours of cities are popular ways to learn what sights and stops to hit, but technology is making human contact so less relevant. GPSmyCity.com has developed smartphone apps for 180 international cities — with some gay hubs having gay-specific apps: Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Orlando,

Acapulco, Vancouver, Madrid, even Houston. The apps offer everything from “gay nightlife of B.A.” to “top-rated gay venues of Vancouver” and “LGBT entertainment in Madrid.” The apps cost from $3–$5 per destination.

Dallas Pride officially lasts only until Sunday, but you can road-trip it to nearby Shreveport, La., for a week-long film festival of queer cinema.

PACE (People Acting for Change and Equality) hosts its third annual North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Sept. 16–22 at its artsy Robinson Film Center. The festivities include an opening night appearance by Bruce Vilanch, who will introduce the documentary Get Bruce.  Other films screening over the course of the fest include Undertow, pictured, Wish Me Away and Thy Will Be Done. Visit RobinsonFilmCenter.org, NLGLFF.org and PaceLouisiana.org for more.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

TRAVEL DIARY

IMG_4380
It’s not as if Palm Springs didn’t already have more than its share of gay guesthouses — though we can hardly blame them — then comes word the city has just added another. Pura Vida becomes the SoCal city’s 24th resort. An eight-suite boutique in the Warm Sands neighborhood, the facility (a rarity in Palm Springs, it is not clothing-optional) comes with amenities from breakfast to poolside cocktail hour. Go to VisitPalmSprings.com for more information.

On the other side of America, Key West’s famous (notorious?) Island House is celebrating its phenomenal longevity — 35 years — with the “35 and Fabulous” sweepstakes. Now through Sept. 5, you can register on Island House’s Facebook page to win a special anniversary rate of $13 (what they charged the first night of operation back in the bicentennial year of 1976) for one night next June 12.

Taos is rolling out the red carpet — should be a rainbow carpet — for its second annual Taos Pride Festival. The town on New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle, famous as a winter ski resort, welcomes its gay guests Aug. 19–21 for a weekend-long celebration. Among the attractions are queermedian Vickie Shaw, a free “Pride in the Park” family-friendly festival followed Saturday night with The Gayest Drag Show Ever. For more information, visit TaosPride.com.

For those who want to go further to enjoy a vacation, the Villas Veritas — gay director Franco Zeffirelli’s former estate on the Amalfi Coast, which once hosted celebs like Liz and Dick, Maria Callas and Laurence Olivier — has undergone an extensive renovation. For more, visit InVillas.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Travel diary • 01.07.11

travel-diaryIf you visit American Airlines website (AA.com), you’ll immediately see their notice that sites Expedia and Orbits are no long offering American Airlines fares. Tickets purchased via those two sites are still valid, but according to American, a commercial dispute with Expedia and the inability to reach “a mutually beneficial agreement with Orbitz” led to their severing of ties.

They reassure their site is the key place to find the most current information and rates. Or to compare flights and fares, they recommend visiting Kayak.com and Priceline.com.

Neither Expedia or Orbitz mention the dissolution on either of their sites.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Travel Diary

The biggest news in travel is the latest from Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. The airlines announced plans this week to acquire AirTran Holdings, which includes low-cost flyer AirTran Airways. What this means for travelers is added destinations, many originating from DFW. Although the merger won’t have immediate effects, once in place, Southwest wil increase its presence in New York and Boston and add service to the Caribbean and Mexico.

As if Palm Springs already doesn’t have enough attraction, they go and add more fabulosity. The new gay resort Escape Palm Springs is open in the former Chestnutz spot. Renovations are complete and deals are now available for this clothing optional resort. Visit EscapePalmSprings.com for more information.

Also, the 24th Annual Palm Springs Pride Festival and Parade is scheduled for Nov. 6–7. The festival will fill up the Palm Springs Baseball Stadium featuring a concert by Martha Davis and the Motels. Then it’s followed up by the jumbo-sized parade on Sunday. Visit VisitPalmSprings.com for details.

If you haven’t noticed, Expedia has added a charming bit for their LGBT travelers. When you use the site to search for hotels, you can now filter in “LGBT-welcoming” as an option. They have tagged hotels in popular destinations throughout the U.S. and internationally such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris.

The travel site has also began an LGBT travel page listing events from around the globe. Visit
Expedia.com/daily/gaytravel for details.

New York-based G Worldwide has launched the first gay luxury hotel and hospitality brand across the nation.The hotels will cater specifically to LGBT community and supporters.
With plans to launch in five locations over the next two years, they will focus first in New York, Florida, California and Las Vegas before going international. Visit GResorts.com for information.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas