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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS if you will) has just smacked down the Defense of Marriage Act, saying the 1996 law which denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples is unconstitutional. That means the U.S. can now "immediately" extend some federal benefits to same-sex couples. Woot!
While this doesn't change any state laws regarding same sex marriage, it still is a major victory for gay rights. And what better way to celebrate than with a hotel stay? :) Here are four getaways to consider:
· RITZ-CARLTON, WASHINGTON DC: Celebrate the landmark decision in our nation's capitol at the Ritz-Carlton with their OUT in DC Pride Package. It includes: overnight deluxe room accommodations, a donation made in your honor to the Human Rights Campaign, two welcome cocktails, a Pride Weekend "Survival Kit", American breakfast for two, overnight valet parking, complimentary internet and access to Sports Club/LA fitness center connected to the hotel. Rates start at $354 a night and the package is available through August 31st.
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We've always wanted hotelier Jeff Klein to open more hotels. After all, his Sunset Tower Hotel is one of the best hotels in LA, loved by celebs like Jennifer Aniston. Not to mention, with his City Club Hotel in New York City, he was a firm believer in offering free Wifi to his guests at a time when most hotels were still sending folks down to the business center to get online. But we're not quite sure about his latest acquisition.
Curbed LA reports that Klein has recently purchased a "a clothing-optional gay motel" in West Hollywood that's more known for being a drug haven. Eeek. The place is also adjacent, ironically, to a rehab facility called Klean. (Yes, that is correct.) But while Klein plans to keep the clothing optional aspect of the inn, he has now enforced a "zero tolerance" drug policy. Thank god.
However, he still has his work cut out for him. Check out this recent review of the inn on TripAdvisor reviews:
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Feeling welcome and comfortable has been a work-in-progress over the past decade for LGBT travelers, and while some places certainly still have some work to do (cough Jamaica cough), we are finally living in a world where, for the most part, traveling as a same-sex couple no longer has to be an undercover operation.
And things are getting better on the homefront as well. The Federal Government has some catching up to do, but twelve states have now legalized same-sex marriage, and several others have at least allowed civil unions. With more gay couples deciding to get married and an increased comfort level in terms of "out" travel, this means big things for where the wedding and hotel industries meetit means big things for same-sex destination weddings.
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Deals: you want 'em, and surprisingly, everyone has 'em. Take a look at some of the latest hotel deals going around the internet today from booking sites, social media sites, flash sale sites and more. Don't forget to scroll down to see the HotelChatter-approved deal either. Who knows? You might just find what you're looking for. (But don't forget to tell us about your stay!)
DEALS, DEALS, DEALS*
· One-Day Sale for the Hotel Valley Ho: Shake off your Cinco de Mayo hangover and get ready for Hotel Valley Ho's annual one day sale on Monday, May 6. Rooms start at $89 every Sunday through Friday and $109 on Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The deal also includes two drinks upon arrival, upgraded internet, $20 nightly resort credit and some other discounted services. There's really no catch to the low rates other than it's summer in the desert so it will be HOTT and that all reservations require a non-refundable deposit of one night’s room and tax at time of booking. Go here on Monday, May 6, to book. You can even set up a reminder email too.
· Marriott's "Suntastic Savings" at 30 Hotels in Florida: Once again, 30 JW Marriott, Renassaince, Marriott and Gaylord Hotels and Resorts in Florida are discounting their rates and throwing in perks like free meals for kids and complimentary internet. (Normally, you have to pay for that.) The offers are good for travel from May 15 to Sept 30 and vary depending on the region. For 25 percent off rates on three or more nights in the Northwest Coast of Fla., use promo code ZZ1. For Florida's playground resorts, use code F8L which will get you 15 percent off, free meals for kids and a $25 resort credit. Heading to South Florida? Then use code SUM which will get you 15 percent off rates, free meals for kids and free internet or other welcome amenity. Rates start around $99 a night. Go to Summer Suntastic Savings to start planning your stay.
· Hot Time, Summer in The Crescent City: New Orleans may be sizzling in the summer time thanks to events like the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience (May 21-May 25 and the Essence Music Festival (July 4-7) but the Courtyard New Orleans Downtown/Iberville in the French Quarter is keeping it cool with rates starting at just $109 a night from May 12-Sept. 30. To make your rezzie, go here and use promo code WBZ.
· Why Stay In When You Could Go To The Out?: Just in time for Pride Season next month, The Out NYC has dropped the rate for it's Shared Luxury Accommodations to just $99 a night. That also includes a daily spa pass (a $50 value) which give access to the hotel's full-service spa and three courtyards. Of course the term "shared" should alert you to the fact that you will be sharing a room with up to four people but there are full-sized beds, personal TVs, a bathroom and shower and best of all, privacy curtains. Go here to book your stay.
It looks like New York isn't going to be the only place with its own gay-themed hotel: The Out NYC, which debuted last year near Times Square, has revealed plans to open up a second location in Chicago by 2015.
Of course, they'll have to persuade the neighbors first. DNAinfo reports that developers from The Out Chicago will meet with locals later this week to review the proposal. Though, we don't think they'll face too many hurdles: the proposed location is in an area known as Boystown, home to gay nightclubs like Mini Bar and Sidetrack (the latter claims its address as "The Heart of Gay Chicago"), so…we have a feeling they're in the right spot.
Meanwhile, we hope The Out manages to get its act together this second time around. Having been one of the first guests to check into The Out NYC when it opened last March, we found the place eerily preschool-like, with neon green plastic grass, cheapo beanbag chairs, and funhouse mirrors everywhere. Not to mention, the rooms were teensy and the retro motel-style design offered an unsettling lack of privacy.
We're keeping our fingers crossed, though, that The Out Chicago will be a little more spacious and sophisticated. According to DNAinfo, the hotel will have 112 rooms, a rooftop bar, another KTCHN restaurant, plus a spa.
In March 2010, Michael Black and John Morgan made what they thought was a simple reservation at the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in the UK’s Berkshire area. Imagine their surprise when they were turned away by innkeeper Susanne Wilkinson for being a same-sex couple.Wilkinson said her Christian beliefs did not believe in accommodating unmarried couples in double beds at her B&B that's based in her family home.
Rather than simply asking for their deposit back and slinking away, the couple launched a civil suit against Wilkinson, saying they felt “like lepers”. Now, nearly three years later, they’ve just been awarded £3,600 ($5,754) in damages. In an article in the Guardian, Claire Moulder, judge of Reading County court said while Wilkinson may have universally applied her policy to heterosexuals, the policy was direct discrimination and a breach of equality law. Moulder also stated she believed Wilkinson had "treated them less favourably than she would treat unmarried heterosexual couples in the same circumstances." She also rejected the owner's claim that she hadn't acted in a discriminatory way because she objected to homosexual sexual behavior rather than homosexual sexual orientation.
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The excitement is building in Australia for next month's solar eclipse. Typically, this area is thriving when the sun is out since it is the center of all-things Great Barrier Reef. The tropical town of Cairns will be smack dab underneath the projected path of the astrological phenomenon. Neighboring towns are gearing up to welcome guests that just need to NOT see the sun and here are our picks.
Located just north of Cairns in Palm Cove, Peppers Beach Club & Spa's beach-side hotel is a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the eclipse while splashing around in the ocean. The hotel is offering packages that start at $937 AUD ($958 US) for a room with transfers to and from an exclusive off-site viewing platform. Off-eclipse time, you can check-out the sleepy beach village or sit poolside sipping cocktails.
Also in Palm Cove, Accor's Sea Temple Resort & Spa are also enticing astronomy buffs with complimentary breakfast. Since the resort isn't in a prime location like some others, the prices are bit more affordable. King-sized rooms start at $319 AUD ($326 US) so don't let the lack of beach access deter you because the sun will be in the sky!
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As the whole internet knows by now, Paris Hilton has been categorically demoted from vapid-but-fun reality TV star to villain, after a taxi driver recorded a conversation in which she basically wrote off the entire gay male population. In the aftermath of the controversy, we thought it would be appropriate to call out a few gay-friendly hotels that Paris would do well to avoid for the time being...
Millennium Bostonian Hotel is one of 14 IGLTA-sponsor Millennium hotels around the US (other cities include LA, Chicago, Boston and the tea-loving Millennium UN Plaza in New York)—each of which offers a 15% discount for guests who use the promo code PRIDE when booking reservations. The Boston property (pictured) overlooks Faneuil Hall, and sits within walking distance of the North End and Boston Harbor. Rates from $330/night, with the discount.
Whether it's major hotel chains like Marriott or Hilton offering dedicated pride packages, a new booking site for on- (or off) -the-beaten path destinations, or even a "straight-friendly" hotel in NYC, the hotel industry is catering more and more these days to the lucrative gay travel market. But lucrative or not, we’re just happy to see a hotel (group) taking an inclusive stand.
Preferred has a dedicated website called “Preferred Pride”, with all listed hotels being either TAG-approved or a member of IGLTA, the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. Each property, like North Carolina's divine Old Edwards Inn (pictured above), also stands for equality in its employment policies and services, and supports the LGBT community.
Back in June, a gay-friendly flash sale site launched called Out Escapes, specializing in unheard-of destinations and pre-packaged travel deals. But now, another one has emerged that aims to cover regular old, on-the-beaten-path places like New York, Berlin, Bangkok, and San Francisco.
Though it's existed since 2011 as a travel booking company, the new World Rainbow Hotels website allows users to browse—and then book rooms at—"carefully chosen" gay-friendly hotels in major destination cities. And, from the sounds of it, they have some pretty high standards!
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The film, It's A Jackie Thing, chronicles the rise and fall of a "gender-bending party" called Jackie 60 that used to happen downtown in the 90s. The W, however, was chosen because its building used to house another 90s drag party called Bump. Who knew?
We thought we'd be done, for a while, at least, announcing new hotel restaurants in New York City. But of course, we're not, as New York never slows down for a second, and keeping up with the hotel scene is like trying to start a conversation with a squirrel: the darn things just move too fast!
Anyway, this week saw the opening of two new hotel kitchens, and one of them is actually called Ktchn, though spelled without the "i" for extra cool points. That's the New American eatery adjacent to the lobby at The Out NYC, and, thankfully, Ktchn will be bean bag-free.