Gay Winter Holidays – The Scruffy Italian Traveler

Author: , January 23rd, 2017

Scruffy Gios - Sergio Scardia

Yes we are at the start of the cold season in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is so freezing that a getaway to the warm countries is in order soon… where should we go?

To welcome 2017 in the way it deserves, I prepared a selection of my favorite hot spots to visit this long gay winter season: 5 places around 3 continents. Plenty of options for everybody!

Here are the Scruffy suggestions for the best holidays in this very happy new Gay Year!

Gay Winter Holidays: Gran Canaria

There is only one place in Europe, very convenient and affordable, where is Summer all year around: it is Gran Canaria!

You know I love Maspalomas Beach very much: the perfect place for a dip in the Ocean any time of the year. The Yumbo Center oganizes a great New Year’s Party, and in general all winter is packed with people escaping the cold season from Northern Europe.

If you are looking for a bit of gay winter action Gran Canaria is definitely the best option. Between February and March the island of Gran Canaria is the stage of a few big events: The Carnival of the city capital of the island, Las Palmas Carnival, Maspalomas EuroCarnival which takes place in the Yumbo Center, Maspalomas Bear Carnival Immediately after… so many events, so much fun! Check out the Scruffy Guide to Maspalomas to find out more about Gran Canaria and its gay life!

By Sergio Scardia – Full Story at The Scruffy Italian Traveller

Seven Sunny Small Towns Where You Can Get Away From Winter

Author: , February 23rd, 2015

Las Cruces - Flickr / BLM New MexicoToss the snow shovel and grab the sunscreen! While most of the nation faces bitter cold and mounds of fluffy white stuff, these small town destinations offer moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and a whole lot of fun.

Las Cruces, New Mexico: From wide open spaces to space exploration, Las Cruces has something for just about anyone. Sled down a hill of warm sand at White Sands National Monument, sample wines along the Rio Grande River, or get schooled Scovilles at the Chile Pepper Institute. Or, tour nearby Spaceport America, where the nation’s first space tourists will soon blast off. On your way, stop at Hatch -the birthplace of New Mexico’s infamous green chiles.

Fredericksburg, Texas: Known for its German culture, the small community of Fredericksburg makes a great base to explore Texas Hill Country wineries, such as Becker Vineyards, Grape Creek Vineyards, and Pedernales Cellars. In between tastings, visit Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, the National Museum of the Pacific War, or the dance hall and bar in nearby Luckenbach. With more than 150 local shops, it’s the perfect destination for a girlfriends’ getaway — but it’s also a great option for sneaking away to a local bed and breakfast for a romantic escape.

By Teresa Bitler – Full Story at Shermans Travel

Image via Flickr / BLM New Mexico

Some Warm Winter Getaways (And the Gorgeous Men You’ll Find There)

Author: , February 22nd, 2015

Thailand BeachReady for some warm weather? While the U.S. is going through its most severe cold snap, polar vortex hell of the winter, we’d like to try to heat you up a bit.

TripAdvisor announced its ‘Top 25 Beaches’ chosen by its users all over the world this week. Since we’re not going to be able to visit all of them (or any of them, for that matter) this weekend, we paid a visit to each one on Instagram, and found a few men who have been there to act as our visual tour guides.

By Andy Towle – Full Story at Towleroad

PINK ICELAND’S NEW YEAR’S EVE IN REYKJAVIK

Author: , December 16th, 2014

PINK ICELAND’S NEW YEAR’S EVE IN REYKJAVIK

Allow the Pink Iceland team to bring you a NYE celebration, local style! Go to a bonfire in Björk’s neighborhood, dine with fellow travelers and your local gay guide, experience the madness of Icelanders lighting fireworks at Hallgrímskirkja church followed by a house party with the Pink Iceland team and dance into the night at the local queer bar Kiki!

FIREWORKS BY HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHURCH IN REYKJAVIK

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BONFIRE IN REYKJAVIK ON NEW YEARS EVE!

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WECOME TO THE PINK ICELAND HOUSE PARTY!

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Iceland, nye, gay travel, pink iceland, gay new years eve party, reykjavik, lesbian travel iceland new years eve

Pink Iceland New Years Eve in Reykjavik

Pink Iceland New Years Eve in Reykjavik

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Seven Affordable, Gay Friendly Off-Season Getaways

Author: , September 20th, 2014

Rainbow FlagSummer has bid us adieu, but that’s no reason to put your luggage away. There are lots of great LGBT-friendly destinations to consider this fall, many of which are more affordable than they were just a month ago. (Resort communities hate the term “off-season,” but travelers love it.)

What new adventures should be on your itinerary? Peep our picks below, and start planning your getaway today, from warm climes to more autumnal.

Puerto Vallarta

With the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains on one side and Mexico’s picturesque Bay of Banderas on the other, the four-Diamond, luxury beachfront CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa is a sight to behold. And now that it’s become the first hotel in the area to earn a certification in LGBT Service Excellence from Out Now Global, there’s no reason to consider any other accommodations. Available experiences include cultural immersion programs, tequila tastings, voluntourism opportunities like sea-turtle rescue programs, beachside dining, and more. Rates start at an eye-rubbing $89 per night so you can live la vida loca without going broke-a.

Full Story at The Dallas Voice

Rest Easy

Author: , April 14th, 2014

We all know those iconic Vermont images like covered bridges, maple syrup and world-class skiing, but what about sophisticated resorts for primping, pampering and eating your way to complete relaxation? I bet that isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, is it? You’ll be happy to know that you can find just what you’re looking for at the fantastic Essex Resort and Spa.

Photo courtesy of Essex Resort and Spa

Snuggled between the Green Mountains and stunning Lake Champlain is Vermont’s only AAA 4 Diamond Culinary Resort. The 18-acre campus has everything you need to unwind, relax, enjoy nature and indulge in delectable cuisine, no matter what time of the year.

My partner and I decided to take a little stay-cation to the Resort – a get away in the middle of February to warm up our Winter-weary bones—saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, and massage tables—it sounded glorious. With the winter we had in the Northeast, we felt we deserved it!

The Essex Resort is as progressive as the State it resides in. At the main entrance, we were showered with welcome greetings in many different languages. We couldn’t help but notice the rainbow flag and Human Rights Campaign logo proudly displayed, as well. The staff was just as welcoming.

Like many gay and lesbian couples, our dog is like a child to us. Whenever possible, we try to bring him along on trips. With a little extra charge, the Essex Resort had no problem with our canine companion. They even supplied a little welcome gift for him with a travel bowl, a rope toy Frisbee, and house-made dog treats. That was only the tip of the iceberg of the level of service you can expect at the Resort.

Our room was large, with huge windows overlooking a tree that had been wrapped in white lights, bringing a soft glow to our room in the evening. The bed was just right – soft but not too soft – with more pillows than we knew what to do with. Truth be told, it made thoughts of anything but long, luxurious naps difficult… We rallied, though, because there was no way we were going to miss out on everything the resort had to offer.

There is so much to do at the Essex Resort that with our two-day stay we felt we had to concentrate on one aspect of the services offered. While there are cooking classes that sounded fantastic–they offered a Paella class during our stay – we decided that on this particular trip we would concentrate on the indulgence of the incredible in-house spa.

There are tons of choices for treatments at the spa. Just by staying at the resort you have access to the 25-yard indoor pool (with an additional outdoor pool for the warmer months), an oversized outdoor hot tub, sauna, steam room and fitness center. The first night that we got there, we decided to take a swim in the pool. Though it was bone chilling outside, we braved the cold to sample the outdoor hot tub. We lounged comfortably, not even realizing our wet hair was freezing up! Once we were ready to go back inside our warmed bodies couldn’t even feel the frosty air against them.

The Essex Resort has two onsite restaurants. We chose to eat at the Tavern (a traditional pub-style restaurant with a vibrant bar scene), rather than the more sophisticated dining experience of Amuse. Both restaurants are part of the Vermont Fresh Network, so you can expect amazing locally sourced meals. The Tavern was so delicious that we went back for breakfast the next morning. It was just what we needed: low key, great food and wonderful service.

The next morning, before breakfast, we got up early to walk our dog and enjoy the crystal blue skies and white landscape that makes February so special. We couldn’t wait for 10:30am to arrive, so we could begin our spa treatments. I chose an 80-minute massage that began with a steam, a sauna, and a shower (with a rain shower head – my new obsession, by the way). An indulgence, indeed… but austerity has never been my cup of tea… Comfortable with a copy of US Magazine and a cozy terry cloth robe, I had a short wait in front of a roaring fire before my massage therapist brought me upstairs for the treatment. It was a delightful experience; we chatted just enough, she used just the right amount of pressure, and the requisite world music was sufficient to wash away my cares.

My partner, coming off of months of his busy work season, decided to really splurge with a package deal. His choice was the two-hour Pure Relaxation: a 30-minute deep soak; a 30-minute muscle melt, consisting of a warm body wrap to relieve sore, tired muscles and joints with a healing blend of herbs, mints, and grains mixed with aloe vera and a stimulating application of Sport Massage Cream. It was finished off with a 60-minute aromatherapy massage.

As I was finishing my massage and being escorted to the lounge, my massage therapist pointed out the aroma in the hallway: “Can you smell that?” she said. It was an invigorating perfume of eucalyptus and other products. “That’s your partner’s muscle melt.” If I hadn’t been completely relaxed from my wonderful massage, I probably would have felt some envy. As it was, I was too blissed out to be anything but happy that he was getting his much needed pampering.

I relaxed in the lounge for a few minutes until he was done with his spa treatments. Then, we were served a delicious, light lunch, which we’d ordered earlier. It was the perfect ending to our spa day.

After a lazy stroll with the dog on the bike path across from the resort, we decided that we need a little retail therapy. Not even a half-mile down the road from the resort is the Essex Outlets. While it may not have the largest assortment of stores, it has some great ones like Polo Ralph Lauren, Under Armour, and Orvis. We spent our hard-earned money in a few stores and thought about a movie at the adjacent Essex Cinemas, with stadium seating and the largest screen in Vermont. Instead, we decided to go back to our room for that much needed afternoon nap… in our king sized, insanely pillowed bed. Pure heaven.

By the time we were ready to check out, all three of us were perfectly relaxed, thoroughly warmed and comfortably satiated. The Essex Resort provided a charming experience. While far from inexpensive, it was certainly worth it. Vermont truly offers so much more than what you may imagine.

Traveling to Stowe, VT

Author: , February 27th, 2014

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By Robert Saldarini for Diversity Rules Magazine
Appeared in January 2014 Issue
www.diversityrulesmagazine.com

Even those with a passion for travel may pause to plan a regional trip in winter. The northeast winters can offer hideous airport and highway conditions. A weekend may be spent sleeping on a dirty carpet at LaGuardia or stuck for hours burning gas on the Thruway. Still, before you pull a movie from your DVD collection as a weekend experience, why not get away by train? With all due respect to the absolutely wonderful resorts in New York State, think about taking a trip to Vermont.

If a winter outdoor activity is a short-list item, within the beauty of Stowe, activities ranging from snowboarding to dog-sledding makes a day spectacular. Nonetheless, if you are more ‘cozy by the fire’ by day, Stowe, VT generates many exciting gatherings to keep you well entertained at night.

Consider the Amtrak train ride to Stowe as a part of your getaway by focusing on the journey. The train allows you to sit back, walk around, and socialize with your travel companions. Seats are comfortable, you are not strapped in, you may use the restroom at any time, there is no boarding by rows, and most inviting, no one is pawing through your stuff. Some routes even provide free WiFi if unwiring is not an appealing option; although, I find Amtrak’s wireless to be sketchy at best even on the Acela.

There are two train stations that service the Stowe area, i.e., Essex Junction and Saint Albans. From the station you are going to need transportation to your final destination. I highly recommend discussing your Vermont traveling arrangements with a lodging reservation specialist. Transition smoothly since being left at a train station miles from where you want to be is exasperating. Yet, a distance from Stowe may offer lodging availability that can easily cost justify renting a car.

Stowe is home to Mt. Mansfield that rises 4,395 feet. Mansfield makes its fame as being Vermont’s “high point.” The town is picturesque from its legendarily haunted Emily’s Covered Bridge (Gold Brook Road) to the Stowe Community Church’s (Main Street) gleaming steeple. Downtown Stowe is quaint, encouraging people to visit the 70 unique shops in its New England Village and along Stowe Mountain Road.

If you are a Sound of Music aficionado, make your way to Trapp Family Lodge (Trapp Hill Road). When alive, Maria, would actually sit among her guests and share stories of the real experience. Dinner in the Dining Room provides a more formal environment and can be the center of a romantic or special occasion. Should you be visiting the Resort by day, grab lunch or coffee at the DeliBakery. If you are a cross-country skier or enjoy snowshoeing, time your day so a three-mile trek gets you to Slayton Pasture Cabin for lunch. The Cabin offers a perfect winter day meal of hearty soup and a sandwich.

Since Stowe is a desired ski community there are many places to stay. Most hotels and inns are friendly; for example, the Timberholm Inn (Cottage Club Road), Stone Hill Inn (Houston Farm Road), and the Brass Lantern Inn B&B (Maple Street) have great relationships with the LGBT community. If you prefer to stay at a gay-owned and operated establishment, reach out to Michael and Cory who run the Arbor Inn (Mountain Road). The guys speak five-languages providing an added welcoming experience. The bed-and-breakfast is attractive, clean and well maintained. The hosts received the 2013 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor making this the third year in a row. Rates range from approximately $110 to $150 a night.

Beyond the beauty, hospitality and activities of Stowe, the region does not offer a dynamic nightlife. This low-key mountain area has no exclusive GLBT bars or clubs; therefore, if exciting nightlife is in your plan make sure to book your trip during the days of Rendezvous when the ‘party is brought to the town.’ Stay warm and have fun.

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Eleven Gay Travel Destinations for Winter Lovers

Author: , February 17th, 2014

Lake Tahoe in WinterSince we’ve offered up some sizzling winter escapes for Summer lovers, it’s only fitting we pay our cold blooded readers the same respect. For many, the idea of the perfect winter holiday is cozying up by a fire with a lover and a good glass of wine, or bundling up to explore the icy beauty of the season. Or perhaps you prefer to cultivate your own heat using the magic of friction.

However you want to go about it, here are eleven of the best blustery city guides on GayCities to get inspired. As always, click the city name to explore deeper.

1. Antwerp: It may have peaked as a European power in the 16th century, but Antwerp hasn’t the feel of faded glory in the slightest. The city has one of Europe’s richest concentrations of art nouveau architecture. Take a ride to fairy-tale-like residential street Cogels-Osylei on one of the adorable trams, which appear to pop up in the most unlikely of places throughout the city. And speaking of rides, six-floor leather/fetish bar the Boots, opened in 1983, ranks as one of the best of its kind in the world, attracting men from across Europe, especially during the annual Belgium Leatherpride in mid-January.

Authored By Dan Tracer – See the Full Story at Gay Cities

Click here for gay travel resources.

Visiting Mont Tremblant National Park

Author: , February 16th, 2014

Carlos Melia SnowshoeingDuring my stay in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada, I took a day of from the main resort activities, the luxury and comfort from my hotel the very lovely Hotel Quintessence and ventured myself for an overnight experience at Mont Tremblant National Park. The National Park is located approx. 45 minutes away from the resort. Mont Tremblant National Park or Parc national du Mont-Tremblant is a 1,510.10 km\0xB2 provincial park located north of the town of Mont Tremblant. It is the second largest national park in Quebec after Kuururjuaq National Park.

Created in 1895. it was originally called Parc de la Montagne-Tremblante (trembling mountain). It is home to 45 mammal species, including the park’s animal emblem, the wolf, and another notables such as moose, white-tailed deer, black bears and beavers.

All year long the park remains open and there are plenty of activities and options. I spent a day an a half Snowshoeing and Cross Country Skiing, and slept overnight at one of their great cabins. Are you a nature lover who enjoys wide-open spaces? Mont Tremblant National Park offers a wide variety of exciting experiences year round. Do you enjoy water activities, the outdoors and ecotourism? Are you an avid hunter or fisher, a history or science buff, or a gourmet?

With numerous educational and recreational activities offered in the heart of spectacular natural settings, Mont Tremblant National Park has something for everyone! During the summer, alternative activities are: Hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, cycling… and the most fun, if you get lucky, close encounters with Bears.

All activities begin from the beautiful and modern Discovery Center. A simple, original, low-enviromental-impact building. There you can plan your stay, learn about some of the area’s finer points or just relax and enjoy a nice meal.

Snowshoeing. Appreciate the calm and purity of this season by putting on your snowshoes and heading off on the trails. Over 48 km of trails are spread over 2 sectors. The circuits are designed for families and seasoned users alike. In the Diable sector (26 km), you can go snowshoeing on the eastern shore of Lac Monroe, or on the following trails: Lac-des-Femmes, La Roche, La Corniche and Les Ruisselets, which leads to La Hutte hut. The popular Centenaire trail is also accessible on snowshoes! Snowshoes rental is available at the Discovery Centre and Pimbina Visitors Center .

Cross Country Skiing. In La Diable sector, 39 km of ski trails are marked and mechanically groomed. The trails are spread over 6 circuits, ranging from easy to difficult. You can take a break at one of the 6 warming huts heated with a wood stove. Skiing equipment rental is available available at Discovery Centre. We did a brief stop at one of the public Huts, to get warm. In this huts, visitors can choose to stay for the night if they want.

Around 4PM my activities where finished, and I decided to walk to my cabin, since I decided to spend the night on my own at the park. A 3 kilometers walk, that took me approximately one hour, with several stops for photo and video moments. Once I got to my Nature Cabin, I was quite impressed with the comfort and conditions of my cabin.

It reminded me a lot to the warms rooms at the ICE Hotel in Sweden. Comfortable all-wood cabins, can accommodate four people. (see photos below). This year they have also inaugurated the EXP Cabins (Experience Cabins) which are ultra cool. After the nature cabins, a new generation of accommodations made its entrance in Parcs Quebec in summer 2013.

The EXPs reflect the personality of each park, providing a different experience from one park to the next. Imagine a dwelling full of windows that lets the sights of nature come inside and gives you a sense of living outdoors. Designed for 2 people, the EXP is composed of one room and it has 2 single beds. It is fully equipped: hot water, heating, full kitchen, bathroom and 2-burner electric stove. Mont-Tremblant, Jacques-Cartier and Monts-Valin national parks are the first to have these buildings.

During the night I ventured on my own to do one of the runs, but was snowing so hard, was so cold and it was so dark, that I decided to go back to the comfort of my cabin, enjoy the lovely dinner, which was delivered to my cabin from one of the restaurants in Mont Tremblant Resort, and call it the day.

Authored By Carlos Melia – See the Full Story at The Carlos Melia Blog

Click here for gay travel resources in Quebec.

Toronto in the Winter

Author: , February 13th, 2014

Toronto in Winter - Alain the SojournerYes, you’re right.

I woke up super early this morning hoping I’d be able to witness the ferry breaking the ice on its first trip of the day to the island at 6:35. But, unfortunately, the odds were not in my favor; I almost made it. I was late for 6 minutes. Don’t blame me. It’s the unreliable TTC, as usual. I waited for 15 minutes at the Dufferin Subway Station for the train. Argh!

But, anyway, going to Toronto Island is like going to the arctic nowadays. There are no seals, or bears but there are ducks and birds though. :))

Lake Ontario is frozen and I felt like I was on an expedition tasked to do further research on global warming–with only one tool: a camera. Ok, I brought my best friend, too. My very reliable tripod.

Authored By Alain – See the Full Story at The Sojourner

Click here for gay travel resources in Toronto.