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Out Escapes Makes Its Big Debut, And The Hotels Are Looking Pretty Fly

June 15, 2012 at 9:03 AM | by | Comments (0)

A brand new luxury travel flash site called Out Escapes just launched this month, and it's the first ever flash site oriented towards gay travelers.

Luring customers in with super-slick photos (pretty much a requisite for any commercial travel site), Out Escapes offers deals on boutique hotels and all-inclusive resorts, destination packages, and tickets to gay events around the world. Once a hotel has been given the "stamp of approval" (ie, it's gay-friendly), it pops up on the site as an "escape," with a quick blurb on the hotel and the destination, and enticing half-off rates, as well as extras thrown in like a bottle of wine, 60-minute massage and VIP beach passes.

In the words of co-founder and CEO Jimmy Im, the whole idea is essentially to "offer escapes in places that aren't typically known as gay destinations. Our goal is to get gay travelers to travel outside their comfort zone."

Always a good thing...

For gay travelers, the benefit is more than just convenience, though Im, who has personally visited most of the hotels listed on the site, also acknowledges that it's important for gay travelers to feel welcome wherever they stay. "If you're checking into a hotel you've never been before, and they're awkwardly asking why you're sharing one bed, that's something most gay couples want to avoid."

As for the actual deals themselves, users will likely find themselves springing for trips to unique places like the Atacama Desert in Chile, or Sandia Park in New Mexico (next week has a desert theme, and both of those deals will open on Tuesday 19). So far, the team has found it relatively easy to negotiate and set up these types of deals, as the hotels already have an interest in tapping into the gay travel market. Which explains why you'll find such a wide range of options (while boutique hotels and independents are certainly being favored for now, Im says the bigger brands will eventually pop up too—they just take longer to negotiate.)

Whereas before, gay travelers might have looked to friends or co-workers for recommendations, the site now hopes to function as both a trusted listings hub for gay travel destinations, as well as a larger online community of adventure-seeking gay travelers.

A new feature, titled "Meet Me Here," will be an optional service for members who want to connect with other gay travelers when they set out to new places. "It's basically going to be like a gay Facebook," Im jokes. "Members will have profiles, they can meet each other, and see who's going where. We're trying to foster this awesome community."

For now the Out Escapes team is small—about 6 people comprise the entire staff—though there has been significant initial interest from hotels all around the world, and the site's calendar is booked up through August. For now, the site is focusing on offering two deals per week, though they hope to grow that to about 4 per week by the fall.

Ready to head on 'out,' and try some of the deals for yourself? Be sure to let us know how your stay went! Send us an email, or drop a comment below!

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