The fun just begins when your lucky recipient (or you) unwraps the present. Think of the anticipation of the trip, the experience of the trip and then, of course, the memories that you will make and pictures you will share on your social networks.
With two long holiday weekends coming up in January and February — Martin Luther King Jr. and President’s Day — now is a fabulous time to ask for or give a winter getaway. Here are six ideas just to get you thinking!
Tan in Ft. Lauderdale
Three days on the fabulous Ft. Lauderdale beach is just the right amount of time to get that summer glow back. The Grand Resort and Spa is celebrating 11 years as the largest men’s resort and spa. The resort offers a variety of packages, including the “Quick Chill” hotel package with three nights and two spa services (www.grandresort.net). Don’t forget to check out the Grand’s new pool. There are many great hotels along the beach, including the Westin and W hotels. Airfares tend to be lower earlier in the week compared to weekend travel, so shop around. There is also last-minute availability on Atlantis’ Allure of the Seas cruise that departs from Ft. Lauderdale Jan. 29.
Party in Miami
While some may argue that the gay scene has moved up to Ft. Lauderdale, Miami Beach is famous for shopping, star watching and, of course, nightlife. Join 10,000 people from all over the world for the Winter Party Festival, Feb. 29-March 5 (www.winterparty.com). The Lords South Beach Hotel is celebrating one year of catering to the chic LGBT traveler. Don’t miss this hip hot spot’s nightly events and parties (www.lordssouthbeach.com).
Unwind in Key West
Go a little further south to Key West and you will find that the island culture immediately puts you in vacation mode. It’s not too early to plan your own spring break. For a place to stay, check out the Island House: It’s fabulous. The resort, like most men’s resorts in Key West, is clothing optional. Owners Jon Allen and Martin Kay have created a friendly, luxurious island escape (www.islandhousekeywest.com). For the ladies, check out Pearl’s Key West. This resort is also tops optional (www.pearlsrainbow.com). (Why is everyone wanting to get naked in Key West?)
Vacation in Maui
The natural beauty of Hawaii combined with the Hawaiian culture make a vacation here the perfect gift. Stay on Ka’anapali Beach near Black Rock, the famous cliff-diving spot. You can snorkel with fish and turtles right along the beach. Stay at the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa (www.sheraton-maui.com) or pick the ultra-fabulous Westin Maui Resort and Spa (www.westinmaui.com). Be sure to check out the Westin’s outdoor morning spin class with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Drive to Atlantic City
Design a custom weekend for yourself and someone special. Headquarter your weekend at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. Depending on your mood, choose a “Romance,” “Rejuvenation” or “Up All Night” hotel package. Check out the headliners at the casinos; spend the day at the spa or dance all night at Borgata’s Mur Mur nightclub. Choose between “worth the splurge” Izakaya or classic Wolfgang Puck American Grille, and don’t miss Sea Blue (www.theborgata.com). Or opt for Harrah’s or one of the other casinos along the boardwalk including Resorts, home to gay nightclub Pro Bar (www.resortsac.com).
Train it to New York City
Head to the Big Apple for an evening of Broadway. Catch classics like “Chicago” and “Wicked” or new hits like “The Book of Mormon” and “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” (www.broadway.com). Make it a night and stay on Central Park at the iconic Jumeirah Essex Hotel (www.jumeirah.com). Take a romantic walk through the park, visit MoMa or browse the after-Christmas sale racks on Fifth Avenue.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing” and vice chair for the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. He finds the best deals and travel resources for the community. For local travel tips, check out visitphilly.com/gay.