Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Australia's Gay Gold Coast Beckons...beaches, mountains, events

When gay vacationers envision travel to Australia, they naturally think of Sydney. After all, it's been the people's top choice for the best international gay travel destination for many years - and not just for Mardi Gras, but all seasons and reasons.

Maybe for their second downunder visit, they think of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, or the tropical rainforest resorts in Cairns and other parts of Far North Queensland.

In 2010, savvy lesbian and gay travellers will visit Australia's most vibrant and most gay-friendly tourism region - The Gold Coast. It's the other end of Queensland, close to the state capital of Brisbane and a quick drive from the international airport. You no longer have to hassle with Sydney International Airport if you want to see the "other" Australia.

Two years ago Gold Coast Tourism became the first new IGLTA member from Queensland in eons, and this year five more gay-welcoming tourism operators have signed up with IGLTA's Ambassador for Australia, Mark Proffit. He says, "Several more will follow in 2010 as word spreads about the very gay Gold Coast and about the first annual Screaming Queens Day at Dreamworld."

Besides the leading theme park, Dreamworld, the other new IGLTA members are Tiger Moth Joy Rides, the highest thrill on the coast, Hard Rock Cafe in the heart of Surfers Paradise, and two accommodations, the Watermark Hotel & Spa which is just steps from Surfers Paradise beach, and Breakers North Apartments on private beachfront.

If my hunch is correct, the very large Gold Coast Region - with so much to see and do from the mountains to the hinterland to the world-famous beaches and theme parks -will be on everyone's Top Gay Travel Destinations must-visit list.

It's not just Australia's top vacation destination any more. The Gay Gold Coast is beckoning everyone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Auckland's Premier Queer Event on Valentine's Day

Blending a celebration of diversity with safe sex messages is central to the Get it On! Big Gay Out, an annual event sponsored by Get it On.

Originally started to provide a safe and supportive social environment for people of diverse sexualities and gender, Big Gay Out has become a celebration and an opportunity for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) to deliver safe sex messaging to around 10,000 attendees.

Performers & Politicians

Annie Crummer will headline Big Gay Out 2010. Annie C is a New Zealander who has toured with lesbian icon KD Lang, and performed in both Rent and as Killer Queen in We Will Rock You. Also, Pop sensation Will C Barling will be joined onstage by sexy DJ Stevolicious.

The Get it On! Big Gay Out has extensive political support; Prime Ministers, Mayors and Opposition Leaders and MPs have all attended New Zealand’s biggest gay festival.

Follow the BGO Festival on Facebook. "If you happen to be visiting New Zealand and close to Auckland in February, you should add this festival to your itinerary," says IGLTA Ambassador Mark Proffit (a Kiwi himself).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mendoza---Argentina's Wine Capital and Much More......

By Roy Heale

Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, about 1000 meters above sea level, is the charming city of Mendoza. Known largely for being the capital of Argentina's wine making industry----especially the renowned Malbecs---Mendoza is also the center for skiing in the higher Andes peaks during July, August, and September. Plus the year-round natural hot springs just a short drive from town along with the beautiful parks and lakes in the city are fashioning Mendoza as a popular new vacation destination especially for budget-conscious travelers.

The city is the perfect place to call home while taking short excursions, day trips, or even overnight journeys to explore the numerous different vacation activities in this diverse region. Filled with tree-lined avenues, beautiful plazas, historic architecture, and artisan markets Mendoza offers a relaxed pace of life in a bustling urban environment. The heart of the city pulses in the main square called Plaza Independencia, while the Parque San Martin offers a multitude of relaxing outdoor activities in a lush green environment, and the Area Fundacional is a trip back in time to the city's early settlement days. And of course the annual “la Fiesta de la Vendimia” in March is the wine festival for which Mendoza is now renowned worldwide.

Finding accommodations in Mendoza can be challenging with a multitude of options and price ranges. Every style and size of hotel is available from major brand name chains to small independent pensionnes with everything in between. But the gay-owned and operated Deptosmendoza offers two alternatives for suite rentals in the heart of the city at reasonable rates with a variety of styles and sizes to match with every holiday budget. The Modigliani Art and Design Suites are eleven modern contemporary, comfortable, spacious apartments with complete facilities and a Galeria de Arte on the top floor. Coupled with the Dot Suites---a boutique resort, with only five unique units, minimalist design, with an emphasis on architecture, art, design and lighting---any vacation requirements and budgets can be accommodated by Deptosmendoza. The English speaking staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the whole region and can assist with all holiday plans for time in the city or excursions around the region. A surprisingly “big-city” gay welcome and experience awaits the smart gay traveler in this cozy mountain retreat town.

The dry desert-like climate almost guarantees hot sunny days for enjoying outdoor activities coupled with warm nights where outdoor dining is the perfect end to a high-altitude day.

A sophisticated local culture blends with a simpler, unhurried lifestyle for a perfectly relaxing vacation. Great sights and experiences by day plus restaurants, bars, and cafes offer a multitude of nightlife entertainment options including gay and gay-friendly establishments. Late at night the Aristides Villanueva is the street for dining out and of course the action starts at about 10PM as with all Argentine dinners. Here you will find a festive atmosphere with large patios full of locals and tourists indulging themselves at restaurants offering every International culinary delight imaginable plus, of course, the renowned Argentine Parillas, where beef is a heavenly delight especially when accompanied by a local Mendoza vintage red wine. All at prices lower than almost any other major vacation destination in the world today!

After dinner a leisurely stroll, perhaps some refreshingly cool Crema Helada---ice cream---and a visit to a local gay bar will be the perfect end to a fun-filled day. Either Queen or La Reserva Pub---the major LGBT bars in town---located in the heart of downtown Mendoza will be open and waiting to entertain you until dawn, or perhaps even later. On the weekends the city is very much alive at sunrise and as some people end their day almost as many vacationers are making an early start to theirs!

It's easy to understand why so many smart gay travelers are including a visit to Mendoza on their South American holiday adventures. Suddenly it's being recognized for much more than just the annual wine festival in March.

For More Information Visit: http://www.deptosmendoza.com.ar/ or http://www.welcometomendoza.com/
For More Travel Stories By Roy Heale Visit: http://www.royheale.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gay South Pacific Paradise Discovered

IGLTA Ambassador to Australia and the South Pacific Mark Proffit, sent his Rainbow Tourism colleague Dee Farrell to New Caledonia. She discovered a warm gay community and welcoming tourism industry on this seductive island off the coast of Australia.

The terms "South Pacific Islands" and "French Polynesia" usually draw to mind Tahiti, Fiji, and Vanuatu.

Overlooked no more should be the Melanesian island paradise of New Calendonia. Nouvelle Caledonie is the closest international destination to Australia's east coast capital cities and the north island of New Zealand. More and more Kiwis and Aussies are outnumbering European visitors, though Korean and Japanese visitors are a mainstay.

I encountered French and German tourists, of course, but was surprised to learn about Japanese lesbians who favor the romantic resorts that have their own wedding chapel! I arrived by ferry the day before a wedding and preparations were underway in the seaside church, and extra champagne chilling in the restaurant's well stocked cooler. (I was impressed to find an '05 Pinot Noir from Alsace region as well as an extensive range of the real thing from Champagne region. A foodie paradise on a remote marine reserve with gay and lesbian staff, I was in heaven!)

Besides romance and honeymoons, New Caledonia has great appeal for the adrenalin crowd with beaches exclusively for jet ski and kite surfing enthusiasts. It's easy to get away from the commotion by taking a water taxi to one of the many islets and marine reserves that fill the world's largest and most beautiful lagoon. It surrounds Grand Terre, the main island, and is now on the World Heritage list.

Once a property, tour operator, airline or tourism board from New Caledonia joins IGLTA, I will profile the ones I inspected for gay welcome mat.

--Rainbow Tourism Concierge Dee Farrell