Hotel + service = memorable LGBT travel

The most frequent question I get is, what makes a hotel LGBT-friendly? There are many factors: community commitment, authentic marketing, well-trained staff who know our community and a welcoming and safe environment for us to stay.

First, you have to understand that hotels are more than finding the lowest rate. They can also make a trip memorable or ruin it. Choosing the right place to stay is more than finding a bed to rest your head; the best ones are a destination themselves. The exceptional hotels are the ones you might not ever have to leave.

Second, being an LGBT-friendly hotel means it is a great company for the LGBT community. Great examples are Kimpton Hotels, which has paved the way for LGBT-traveler equality and has committed millions to supporting LGBT causes. Marriott Hotels and Resorts brilliantly welcomed us with the #Lovetravels campaign and has multiple luxury and mid-range brands.

As “Outward Bound” closes out 2017, I will share my Top 2017 Picks for the Best Hotels for service, commitment, and uniqueness that should be on your 2018 luxury travel list.

The Boat Slip, Provincetown and The Grand Resort, Ft. Lauderdale

Hotels and gay guesthouses that cater to LGBT travelers are my number- one recommendation for value and commitment. Smaller LGBT-owned hotels and guesthouses are increasingly offering more amenities and investing in renovations and upgrades. There are other perks too like free breakfast, complimentary cocktail hours, free admission to parties on-site and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Sugar Beach is the most exclusive and luxurious resort on St. Lucia and is super gay-friendly. Exemplary service is abundant here and the hotel is committed to supporting local LGBT employees and to putting St. Lucia on the LGBT traveler’s map. Tourism is the number- one industry here and this luxury resort is a Caribbean leader in demonstrating how good business can transform a local community. Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, is nestled between the world-famous Pitons on the most beautiful beach on the island. The Rainforest Spa blends traditional St. Lucian culture with the natural beauty of Mother Nature. Another unique element is the earthen steam room, the Temascal, which features a stone dome used by Amerindians for health and religious purposes. This hotel should be on your must-visit list.

The Colony, Palm Beach, Fla.

Honey, this hotel is gay-fabulous. But think more Log Cabin Republican gay. The Colony has been the center of Palm Beach society for nearly 70 years. This intimate, friendly boutique hotel has been host to American presidents, British royalty, movie stars and corporate raiders. Thursday nights are gentlemen nights, where the bar is likely to be filled with dapper gents sipping martinis. (One can imagine Rock Hudson coming here). A must is The Colony’s world- famous Royal Room, widely considered to be one of the top-three most sophisticated cabaret rooms in the United States, featuring many Tony Award winners straight from Broadway and headliners from the classiest nightspots in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Manhattan.

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Chicago is a magical destination city. The Midwestern charm with shopping on the Magnificent Mile draws global fashionistas. Like Philadelphia, Chicago is an architecture city with great works of art. The Marriott-affiliated, spectacular new Ritz-Carlton Chicago is located in an architect’s gem of a historic building. This hotel is so grand it has two lobbies. The Ritz-Carlton Chicago’s permanent collection reflects the city’s sophisticated and diverse art community. The cool main lobby entrance features the Flying Wave, a stunning wave-like floating sculpture made from four types of hand-blown glass in blue tones reminiscent of Lake Michigan. The sculpture recasts its light throughout the day, creating a transformative day-to-night setting.  In the ground-floor lobby, you can check out Roy Lichtenstein’s “Wallpaper with Blue Floor Interior” with Ellsworth Kelly lithograph “Dark Grey Curve” and Matt Devine’s sculpture, “Cradle.” All honor the building structure. n

Jeff Guaracino is the author of “The Handbook of LGBT Tourism and Hospitality: A Guide for Business Practice.”

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