You work hard! You deserve a vacation. Part of the fun of travel is in the planning and the anticipation. So, what are you waiting for to plan your next trip?
I’ll admit the real fun of a getaway or vacation comes by actually going on it and posting photos on Facebook so that all your friends can share in your trip. When you really think about it, vacations aren’t a luxury: They are a necessity that make us happier. Vacations expose us to other cultures and new places, and offer a chance to reconnect with friends and family or to meet someone new.
Vacation companies that customize trips for the LGBT community have not pulled back in this recession. In fact, our favorite companies have not only survived, but thrived. Here are five top choices for where to spend your hard-earned LGBT dollars, with companies and places that care about our community.
Sail away with Atlantis Vacations
Last week, Atlantis Vacations made travel history when the gay-tour operator completed a weeklong cruise for 5,400 people on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, one the world’s largest passenger vessels. Stunning the global travel industry, Atlantis announced its second cruise on the same ship in 2012 for another 5,400 guests. Atlantis is the only company to be able to buy out this megaship. Congratulations! This achievement shows that the LGBT community is strong and resilient.
Moreover, an Atlantis vacation costs LGBT travelers much more than a traditional voyage on Allure of the Seas. Despite the recession, gay and lesbian travelers want value but are willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on a vacation designed just for them.
If you are interested in an Atlantis Vacation, there is still time for a March spring break on Atlantis’ Southern Caribbean cruise. A limited number of cabins are still available, starting at $1,299 per person. Or check out Club Atlantis Cancun in April, with rooms starting at $1,299 per person. Atlantis’ 20th Anniversary Mediterranean Cruise in August is already sold out.
If a cruise is not your thing, Atlantis is also offering two all-gay Club Atlantis resort vacations this year. Club Atlantis Cancun runs April 23-30 at Club Med Cancun, and next fall’s Club Atlantis Vallarta weeklong all-inclusive begins on Nov. 5. Prices start at $1,299 per person for Cancun and $1,399 per person for Puerto Vallarta, based on double occupancy. For a full itinerary of trips, visit www.atlantisevents.com.
Get away with R Family Vacations
Travel guru Gregg Kaminsky has transformed R Family Vacations. If an entire ship of gay men is not your idea of a vacation, then the R Family Group Cruises might be just for you. “R Family Summer Reunion” is setting sail on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Jade Aug. 6-13 from Venice, Italy, to four incredible Greek islands. Guests will explore spectacular views in Corfu, picturesque Santorini and, of course, the beaches in gay-friendly Mykonos. And for the first time, R Family Vacations is offering an adults-only trip on the NCL’s Epic called “R Time.” This trip departs March 5 from Miami.
Families that fell in love with R Family’s traditional format will want to book the “Summer Camp 2011” at the Club Med Sandpiper in Florida in July. This all-inclusive resort is a short drive from the Palm Beach, Fla., airport. American Airlines is offering a 5-percent discount on airfare if you use the code “9371AN” when booking your flight. Also, R Family Vacations is offering a $300 discount if you book now. For more information visit, www.rfamilyvacations.com.
Olivia takes women to the islands
Olivia is going to Hawaii Oct. 29-Nov. 4. Enjoy the scenery of majestic mountains and the sea on the sunny Kohala Coast on the tropical Island of Hawaii at the five-star Mauna Lani. Travel+Leisure rates this property as one of the “Top Hotels in the World,” and Olivia is taking over the entire resort. Olivia is also taking guests on “Ultimate Escapes” to China, Europe and Alaska. Olivia still has cabins available starting at $1,899 for the Mexican Riviera Cruise setting sail March 26. Check out www.olivia.com for all the details. Quick spring break destinations
If the snow and cold are getting to you, plan a short trip to Key West for Gay Spring Break. Check out the new website, www.gaykeywestfl.com, for ideas on places to stay, things to do and places to eat. Key West is a magical place where the minute you disembark from the plane at the tiny Key West International Airport, you know you arrived somewhere special. Check out the Island House for incredible winter, spring and summer deals and lots of free extras included in the room rate, such as free parking, complimentary evening cocktails and free WiFi.
Local gay trips
Don’t forget that you also can vacation close to home. We’re lucky to live in a gorgeous area of the country with so much to do. Spend a weekend in Bucks, Delaware, Chester or Montgomery counties. See what’s new in our hometown. Even if you live in town, sleep over in a hotel and get room service. Plan a weekend in Atlantic City and take in a show. Jump on Amtrak and see where it takes you. Remember, travel is something you’ve earned.
Jeff Guaracino is a vice president for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and the author of “Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.” He has learned how to find the best deals and travel resources for the LGBT community. For local travel, check out visitphilly.com.