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.

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Contemporary Cabin, Asheville, North Carolina

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Asheville Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Contemporary cabin, Asheville, North CarolinaBuilt in 2007, this cabin has all comforts you need plus the wooded, peaceful setting you deserve.

Nature lovers have the Blue Ridge Parkway literally up the road, hiking trails, biking, kayaking and more. For the city folks, downtown Asheville is minutes away from this secluded paradise offering great shops, galleries, restaurants, antiques and live theatre, too.

The house is handicapped and wheelchair accessible and offers a large owner’s suite with French doors out to the deck. A small creek runs 10 feet away providing wonderful calming sounds.

The guest room is down the hall and has a queen bed semi-private bath. The spacious loft is furnished with a comfortable couch, futon and chairs and is a great place for reading, watching movies or playing family games.

See the Contemporary cabin Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Why Visit Ft. Lauderdale This Season?

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Fort Lauderdale Gay Travel Events Winter 2011This year’s winter line-up in sun-kissed Greater Fort Lauderdale offers fun-filled events and cultural activities. So pack your bikini, suntan lotion and flip flops and check out this season’s signature celebrations, parades as well as new international exhibitions. In addition, there’s 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, world-class arts and entertainment, exceptional shopping and dining options, and the following calendar listings you won’t want to miss:

1. The 24th Annual Las Olas Art Fair are free two-day events held on January 7-8 (Part I) and on March 3-4 (Part II) attracting 150,000 visitors and 280 artists. The festival features vendors from across the country selling paintings, sculptures, photography, crafted jewelry, pottery and other creations and is held in downtown Fort Lauderdale along boutique and restaurant-lined Las Olas Boulevard. Visit www.artfestival.com.

2. Want to be swept off your feet with a memorable Valentine’s Day this February 14? Why not try the ultimate trifecta – a romantic stroll along a sandy beach, followed by alfresco dining, then finish the night with tickets for you and your loved one to see Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, performing an encore Valentine’s concert again this year at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise for one night only. Other highlights on-tour this season at the Center include Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band, January 12 and comedian Jeff Dunham, February 11. Visit www.bankatlanticcenter.com.

Full Story from Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources in Fort Lauderdale.

 

India: Ready for Gay Travel?

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Gay India TravelAre gay and lesbian travelers different from straight ones? Yes and no. They are inquisitive about the same destinations (for example Goa, Kerala, Rajasthan in India) but are more sensitive to local culture, food and even religious practices.

Besides, based on mere finances, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) tourism is a US$65 billion industry in the United States alone. Surveys there suggest that gays and lesbians are more affluent and travel more, as much as two or three times a year.

To tap into this lucrative and expanding market, the 1st Asian Symposium on Gay and Lesbian Tourism was held at the Le Meridien Hotel, New Delhi on November 28. Organized by Community Marketing, a U.S.-based LGBT market research company, this business-to-business event brought together about 75 tour and hotel operators.

Full Story from CNN

Click here for gay travel resources in India.

 

Volunteer at Aspen Gay Ski Week for Free Passes

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Aspen Gay Ski WeekCelebrating its 35th year, Aspen Gay Ski Week 2012 kicks off January 15 with a trip down memory lane, along with all the parties and powder that have made it not only the nation’s largest and oldest gay ski event, but one of the most fun happenings of the season overall (read our post on Aspen Gay Ski Week in 2011). Plus, it’s a boon for charity: Proceeds from this year’s event benefit GLSEN, the Trevor Project, and the Point Foundation, in addition to select local organizations, and come with an opportunity to get some charity – in the from of free passes – for yourself, as well.

To get the best bang for your buck, purchase a Patron Pass ($750) or Black Diamond Pass ($300), offering savings of $275 and $130, respectively, versus buying individual tickets a la carte. Passes guarantee admission to all events, and include extras like day or week access to the Aspen Club & Spa, seating at the Downhill Costume parade, VIP gift bags, lift tickets, and a charitable donation.

Or save a bundle by volunteering it’s work, sure, but a great way to attend the events and earn a pass in the process. (We think that warm fuzzy feeling you can only get by pitching in beats a hot toddy any day.) From event setup to breakdown, as well as administrative assistance, the producers need all kinds of volunteers. E-mail Bryan Gonzales (bryan@gayskiweek.com) for info.

Full Story from Sherman’s Travel

Click here for gay travel resources in Northwestern Colorado.

 

Colombia: Is Bogota the Next Hot Gay Travel Destination?

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Colombia’s capital, Bogota, is quickly getting rediscovered as one of the most vibrant, culturally rich capital cities in South America. What is less talked about, however, is its rapidly emerging Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, which is strongly integrated and benefits from progressive Colombian laws. Off2Colombia witnessed those changes when filming Orgullo Gay, the Bogota Gay Pride.

Imagine walking the streets of one of Colombia’s supposedly notorious capital city, Bogota. It is said thieves prowl, kidnappers lurk and violence is never far away. But in fact it is quite different. On the left a man in a wedding dress saunters by. On the right two women dressed as felines brazenly embrace each other. Walking just five steps ahead, a man in a silver leotard dances by himself.

This is not, of course, the average day in Colombia’s capital city. ‘Orgullo Gay’, Bogota Gay Pride, happens every June in Colombia’s resurgent capital, and every year its numbers swell as people from all over the globe come to experience the event. It’s indicative of a rising trend in Bogota – the emergence of a strong, united and integrated gay community.

Full Story from SFGate.com

Click here for gay travel resources.

Iceland’s First International LGBT Festival Coming in February

Author: , December 12th, 2011

Rainbow RekyjavikHave you always dreamed about seeing the Northern Lights? Walking along the Continental Divide between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America? Seeing geysirs, waterfalls and nature of unparalleled beauty? Relaxing in the turquoise geothermal springs of the world famous Blue Lagoon?

Or dining in the World-Class restaurants, sitting in cosy cafes — and partying until the wee hours of the morning with LGBT people from all over the world, in the charming and very cosmopolitan city of Reykjavik?

If so, there is no better time than right now to book your trip to Iceland: the first annual international LGBT Festival will take place from 16-19 February, 2012. International guests are anticipated from countries all over the world, including the USA, Canada, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. And Icelandair is offering outstanding and affordable flight, hotel and event ticket packages for the event!

Full Story from Edge Boston

Click here for gay travel resources in Iceland.

 

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Casa de los Arcos, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Author: , December 11th, 2011

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Casa de los Arcos, Puerto Vallarta, MexicoCasa de los arcos is a charming villa nestled on the mountainside amongst the palms overlooking spectacular Banderas Bay and old town Puerto Vallarta. Tucked away within a cityscape you will find our little oasis of unobstructed views and lush tropical plants.

Casa de los Arcos offers complete privacy and comfort. We are a unique villa with 4 beautiful casas which are available to our guests either as individual suites, or the whole villa can be rented.

Each suite is completely self contained . Whether a large group or a getaway for two, Casa de los Arcos can be as intimate as you want it or as large as you need it. We are the perfect blend of privacy or community.

Our guests services include, setting up safe and reliable transportation to Casa de los Arcos, and upon your arrival providing personal shopping services with you at our local markets to stock your refrigerator and bar. The service will include a tour of the old town areas of interest, and an orientation to Casa de los Arcos.

See the Casa de los Arcos Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

San Francisco Commemorates The 33rd Anniversary of Harvey Milk’s Death

Author: , December 11th, 2011

Harvey MilkIn memory of slain civil rights leader, Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s Castro residents remember Harvey on the 33rd anniversary of his untimely death on November 28th, 1978. Adorned with multi-colored flowers, Harvey’s photo was placed at the entrance of the Harvey Milk Plaza to share with all.

Serving as the first openly gay politician in the state of Californina in 1978 for 11 months, Supervisor Harvey Milk was an LGBT pioneer who’s inspiration brought diversity, unity and most of all pride to people around the globe. His very own election created the birth of the rainbow flag in the LGBT community, which now flys high over the Harvey Milk Plaza on the corner of Castro and Market Streets.

Not only did Harvey Milk bring the first LGBT book section to the Castro neighborhood library by making it the first public library in the United States to do so, he was also able to get a city ordanance banning the firing of homosexual employees. This later became a state law and the reason why people in California cannot get dismissed from their jobs because their sexuality. Sadly, (29) of (50) states can still fire a gay or bi-sexual person from their job, while (38) states can legally fire a transgender!

Cruisin' the Castro

“You gotta give ’em hope”, Harvey used to say. Hope that through positive social changes, equality for all is not only possible but inevitable. Hope is indeed what Harvey Milk gave to the world and its alive and well within our hearts 33 years later.

To learn more about Harvey Milk and LGBT history, check out Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours at www.crusinthecastro.comBased on customer reviews, Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours is voted a “TOP” San Francisco tour by TripAdvisor, (#16 of 128 tours!). Lesbian owned and operated since 1989. Contact kathy@cruisinthecastro.com, or call (415) 255-1821.

Bermuda Covered in Gay Magazine

Author: , December 11th, 2011

Bermuda is celebrated as “the Queen’s pearl in the sea” in the latest issue of “G-Life”, a British publication aimed at young gay professionals.

In a six-page full colour spread written and photographed by Francko Harris — who grew up on the island — Bermuda’s beauty and tranquility is discussed along with the island’s ambivalent view of homosexuals.

“It had been four years since I left and to be honest I was a bit sceptical as I was sure I had outgrown Bermuda and become accustomed to certain pertinent liberties being a gay man in London,” said Mr. Harris in his article entitled “The Beauty of Bermuda.

Full Story from BerNews

Click here for gay travel resources in Bermuda.