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Arts & Culture Beach Booking Strategy Health & Wellness LGBT

The 8 Best LGBTQ-Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts

The most relaxing vacations leave all worries behind, even if it’s just for a few days. That’s where all-inclusive resorts come in, inviting guests to dine, swim, lounge, and sip fruity cocktails sans hassles. For LGBTQ travelers, there’s an added factor of enjoying a breezy vacay in comfort, from a setting that inspires all aspirational beach bums to unwind and be themselves.

All-Inclusive Gay-Friendly Resorts Around the World

While plenty of resorts welcome diverse travelers, some really roll out the rainbow carpets—whether they’re part of a gay-friendly brand; home an out-and-proud LGBTQ staff; or part of a fabulous destination. Here are some of the top all-inclusive resorts for gay couples (and gay singles).

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hyatt is among the large hotel chains that’s shown continuous support for LGBTQ travelers. The brand is a Gold Global Partner of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), and has been honored for more than a decade as one of the HRC’s annually ranked Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality. One of the best all-inclusive resorts for gay couples is the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. For starters, the Pacific-Coast city is a hotspot for gay vacationers who love the nightlife and its annual mid-May Vallarta Pride festival. The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta lures travelers to lodge a few miles south of town, where they can enjoy swim-up suites, live entertainment, fitness and sports programs, and dining with oceanfront views.

Banyan Tree Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For an extra-dreamy luxury escape, LGBTQ travelers can wing down to the sunny Yucatan peninsula, where Banyan Tree Riviera Maya awaits with private waterfront villas. More than average resorts, Banyan Tree elevates all-inclusive experiences with refined amenities, restaurants, and spa time, always evoking the brand’s Southeast-Asian heritage. But the resort’s respect for nature and local culture sets it apart, as does its pride in serving LGBTQ guests. Here gay couples can spend time in their villa’s private pool, cruising through the property’s mangrove forests, biking to the beach, or melting into an open-air couples’ massage.

Grand Palladium White Island Resort and Spa, Ibiza, Spain

As one of the world’s most vibrant gay destinations, Ibiza is a favorite for continental travelers—especially if they’re looking for a party. This Mediterranean island off the eastern coast of Spain is bursting with posh hotels and resorts. But for LGBTQ travelers seeking all-inclusive, beachfront luxury on a grand scale, the Grand Palladium White Island Resort and Spa is a suave choice. Along with Grand Palladium’s trademark contemporary design and range of on-site restaurants and entertainment, gay and lesbian guests can enjoy amenities like the Zentropia Spa & Wellness and its fully equipped gym, several pools and Jacuzzis, sports facilities, and direct beach access.

Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando

Disney Destinations is a longtime global partner of the IGLTA, so LGBTQ travelers can feel good about checking into Disney all-inclusive resorts, especially sprawling Disney World in Orlando. The park is welcoming all year-round, and it hosts special Pride Month events like Gay Days, held the first weekend in June. Come for the special-edition rainbow Mickey Mouse ears, stay for resort perks like Disney Dining plans, complimentary transportation, “Magical Extras” for entertainment and recreation, and other customizable packages.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If the rock-star life is calling, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana wants you to turn it up. Of all the brand’s LGBTQ-friendly all-inclusive resorts, this Dominican Republic property amps up the on-site amenities with 13 pools (with swim-up bars and water slides), nine restaurants, five bars, Oro Nightclub, a salon, a Nicklaus-designed golf course, a huge casino, and live concerts. Parents let their kids find harmony at the Kidz Bop experience, especially while tuning their own vibes to resort’s Sound Body spa, meditation, and musical fitness programs. The Hard Rock’s trademark amenities are all here, inviting guests to get expert instruction and accelerated stage training at the Music Lab, or to check out a guitar to shred on their own.

Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ah, Hawaii, a wonderfully welcoming destination for any traveler. And though gay-friendly resorts are a breeze to find across the Hawaiian Islands, head to the Kahala Hotel & Resort for sunny accommodations on Honolulu’s east side. Since 1964, the Kahala’s prime spot along a stretch of white-sandy beach has lured celebrities, royalty, and international guests. The resort today offers packages with spa treatments, oceanfront yoga programs, wine tastings, and dining at its four restaurants. While the Kahala neighborhood is a tranquil spot for getaways, the hotel is just a short drive (or free shuttle) from Waikiki’s LGBTQ scene—which hosts Oahu Pride each October. Hot tip: Book a Dolphin Lanai room to overlook the Kahala’s famous dolphin and sea-turtle lagoon.

Warwick Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Bahamas are rich with all-inclusive resort options, but at the Warwick Paradise Island, LGBTQ travelers can enjoy lodging in the company of adults only. The 250-room resort is more modest than the giant Atlantis and other island lodging, giving guests a bit more serenity whether lounging poolside, relaxing with an Amber Spa treatment, or sunbathing on the resort’s private white-sandy beach. Guestrooms are spacious and sleek, many of them have private balconies and water views. At the property’s five restaurants you can go casual or sophisticated, then grab a cocktail for nightly live entertainment.

W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Dive into the local pura vida spirit at sleek, oceanfront W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal. The W is part of Marriott International, a brand that’s long welcomed LGBTQ guests to its 6,000-plus properties and is an IGLTA Platinum Global Partner. At this oceanfront resort, located about 30 minutes from the Tamarindo Airport, vacationers can take in lush landscapes, white sands, and panoramic views. All-inclusive packages make relaxing easier, whether poolside on the WET Deck, at the Zona Azul beach club, or at the resort’s restaurants, each designed to channel Costa Rica’s local culture. The AWAY Spa offers treatments for couples and singles, a nice way to unwind after activities like bike rides, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, or nature hikes.

What to Wear to an All-Inclusive Resort

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Jamie Ditaranto contributed to this story.

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Arts & Culture

Which Country Matches Your Zodiac Sign?

Gazing skyward can be like traveling. The heavens are mysterious, expansive, and full of wonder. For astrologers, the sky is filled with signposts, and it’s all thanks to the zodiac.

Most of us know our sun signs—that’s which zodiac constellation the sun was in when we were born. That’s why we read horoscopes, a personal forecast based on cosmic movements. But what about our travel horoscope? Can we determine the best destinations and timing for travel based on the zodiac signs?

Why yes, we can. According to Astrologer Kyle Thomas, the planets, sun, and moon can all factor into travel horoscopes. And 2020 promises to be an excellent year for travel. Thomas explains that with Jupiter in Capricorn throughout 2020, we can expect a bit of luck and maybe even miracles as we explore natural landscapes (like a goat, the symbol of Capricorn). Better still, international explorations are calling through early 2020 with Mars, the planet of energy, in Sagittarius. By year’s end, “Mars will be in Aries, which will definitely make very hot destinations the most desirable,” says Thomas.

Here’s more zodiac travel insight for each specific sun sign.

Aries (March 21 to April 19), Spain

The country where Flamenco began is a dreamy destination for Aries. “Spain is filled with vibrant colors and experiences,” says Thomas. “Aries possesses a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, and craves festivities.” While Barcelona and Madrid are fine cities for culture and gastronomy, find even more flavor in sunny Seville. At the city’s Flamenco Dance Museum, Aries can revel in emotive music, costumes, and dance performances, and even join and dance or music classes. 

Taurus (April 20 to May 20), France

“As a zodiac sign that favors the senses and pleasure, Taurus will feel most alive in France,” says Thomas, adding that the beauty and romance in Paris will invite bulls to feel right at home. Reserve time for romantic strolls and leisurely dining at charming brasseries where you can sit for hours sipping drinks and discussing art. Seek out accommodations in charming Montmartre, perhaps at Maison Souquet, where each suite is lushly designed with silky textiles and other boudoir-appropriate touches.

Gemini (May 21 to June 21), Brazil

Gemini is among the more adventurous zodiac signs. So, Thomas points Gemini travelers to Brazil, a destination filled with hidden wonders that can keep the astrological twins’ minds abuzz. “Gemini is a zodiac sign always craving spontaneity and is curious about the world.” Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant choice for its culinary temptations and Carnival spirit. But a Gemini will be inspired by the colors and quirks of the Santa Teresa hilltop district, where artists lend their talents to enrich the local flair.

Cancer (June 21 to July 22), New Zealand

“As a water sign, Cancers love to be near the ocean or lakes,” says Thomas. “With so much natural beauty in New Zealand, Cancers will remember this vacation for the rest of their lives.” Indeed, with 9,300 miles of coastline, this Pacific nation is perfect for beach bums. Best destinations for Cancers are on the North Island, where a home base in Auckland allows for day-tripping to Coromandel Forest Park (about a two-hour drive). The park fills out a peninsula home to Hahei Beach with reefs made for diving and snorkeling, and Hot Water Beach where you can dig your own heated mineral pool in the sand.

Leo (July 23 to August 22), Greece

The fire in every Leo leads to serious travel love. “Leos crave expression, inspiration, and creativity, and Greece holds plenty of passion,” says Thomas, alluding to the country’s cultural and social legacy. History fans can’t go wrong with Athens, one of the world’s great cities, or any of its enchanted Aegean islands. But further south on the Peloponnese coast is Monemvasia, where an ancient castle and cobblestone streets echo the town’s medieval roots, and where poets and artists find solace in the Greek sun.

Virgo (August 23 to September 22), California

“As an Earth sign, Virgos love to embrace nature and enjoy a planned-out journey,” Thomas says. “California offers an opportunity to travel along the coast or within the state to keep them always moving to the next location.” Road-tripping through the Golden State is a no-brainer since travelers can roll from mountains to the ocean, or from desert to metropolis all in a day. One of the best journeys is a day trip across Sonoma County, starting in the historic town of Sonoma, then traveling westward through wine country for a walk at the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, and winding down with a Pacific sunset at Bodega Bay.

Libra (September 23 to October 22), Quebec, Canada

Travel astrology points Libras toward a location that promises “steady fun and recreation.” This air sign loves to socialize and enjoy the nightlife, and Montreal, Quebec, is a culturally rich city filled with stimuli. Libras can balance out their scales with outdoor recreation in Mount Royal or the Botanical Garden. Indoor time is well spent catching Canada’s premier drag stars at the famous Cabaret Mado, or dining at a great Montreal restaurant like Candide, with changing monthly prix-fixe dining menus.

Scorpio (October 23 to November 21), Egypt

“As a zodiac sign that’s most connected to mystery and magic, Egypt’s ancient history will bewitch a Scorpio and ignite their fascination with the supernatural,” Thomas reports. Naturally, Scorpions will find fascination in the magnificent pyramids of Giza. About an hour south of Cairo and Giza, however, curious minds can ponder the lesser-known (and less-visited) pyramids known as Bent, Black, and Stepped. At the Red (or North) pyramid in Dahshur, inquisitive Scorpios can even slip inside its passageways to absorb the mystique of its inner chambers.

Sagittarius (November 22 to December 21), South Africa

“Sagittarius is known for their wanderlust and need to explore—so South Africa will light up their hearts,” says Thomas. It’s true, South Africa has so many wonderful travel options, from short or extended safaris to beautiful beaches to unforgettable wine-country excursions. And while a Cape Town visit is essential, Johannesburg has emerged lately as one of the world’s most exciting cities. There, fiery Sag globetrotters may leap at the chance to try bungee jumping from a catwalk 100 meters high at the twin cooling towers–turned–adventure park known as Soweto Towers.

Capricorn (December 22 to January 19), Iceland

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, the planet of ice—fitting for a zodiac sign aligned with the start of winter. So nomadic goats will do well in Iceland, where nature reigns. Capricorns can explore the nation’s waterfalls, glaciers, hot springs, and sea cliffs all while viewing wildlife from whales and seals to puffins and Arctic foxes. Most tours launch from Reykjavik, so choose a reliable company like Pink Iceland, Intrepid Travel, or G Adventures, to show you the best of Iceland’s extraordinary landscapes.

Aquarius (January 20 to February 18), Japan

“Aquarius is the most forward-thinking zodiac sign, and is always about the next technological advancement,” Thomas reports. So, it’s no surprise that he says, “Japan will captivate every Aquarius.” Few cities seem so futuristic as Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolis. There, progressive-minded Aquarian adventurers can dive deep into the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation that is Miraikan. Parked on the man-made island of Odaiba, it’s the place to discover feats of human engineering, the future of robots, and the essence of the universe.

Pisces (February 19 to March 20), Puerto Rico

The Caribbean offers all travelers a bit of breezy pleasure, but according to Thomas, “As a water sign, Pisces are one with the sea.” The best city for Pisces is someplace with plenty of open air and swimming beaches, complemented by music and pockets of romance—and San Juan, Puerto Rico is just the spot. In Condado Beach just east of Old San Juan, the fish sign can linger under palm trees and catch gorgeous waves all day long.

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Kyle Thomas is a globally recognized popular-culture astrologer who has been featured in Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Elite Daily, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, YahooNews, MSN, and more. Learn more about his readings at KyleThomasAstrology.com, and find him on Instagram @MrKyleThomas.

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Beach Island LGBT

The Best Caribbean Destinations for Gay and Lesbian Travelers


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Dreamy tropical vibes prevail across the Caribbean, where the people are as warm as the waves. But when it comes to LGBT-friendly Caribbean destinations, some islands are keener to roll out the rainbow welcome mats.

As a region, the West Indies encompasses 13 independent nations; plus about a dozen more territories that are part of the United States, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It’s those latter islands where gay and lesbian travelers usually feel more at ease since local laws around homosexuality and same-sex marriage match those of their parent countries.

That’s not to say that gay and lesbian travelers won’t feel safe or welcome in less-progressive destinations. But rather than plan vacations to one of the dozen Caribbean islands where homosexuality is criminalized (surprising, but true), most travelers simply prefer to vacation where they’ll feel comfortable.

In fact, according to a 2019 survey, 86 percent of LGBT travelers admit that a destination’s policies toward the LGBT community are at least somewhat important when deciding where to travel. Conducted by the IGLTA Foundation and Airbnb, the survey also revealed that 51 percent of LGBT respondents are “very unlikely” to travel to a country where being LGBT is illegal. Still, the world is evolving when it comes to acceptance and equality—including in the Caribbean, where more and more cities are hosting Pride celebrations and flying rainbow flags.

LGBT-Friendly Caribbean Islands

Here’s a closer look at the most gay-friendly Caribbean destinations.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

san juan sunset

The fourth-largest Caribbean island is a gay-friendly U.S. territory that’s home to 3.1 million residents, with at least as many visitors every year. In the capital city of San Juan, LGBT visitors can enjoy Puerto Rican hospitality in its historic downtown, where the culinary and nightlife scenes are booming. In the beachfront neighborhood of Condado, the Atlantic Beach Hotel and Oasis Lounge are regular gay hotspots, both just steps away from the low-key gay-beach area. For a resort that’s lesbian-friendly too, the recently renovated San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is a favorite for its central location on the beach, spacious balcony rooms, plus live salsa music on weekends.

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In the Santurce neighborhood, La Placita is a public market by day and busy social scene by night. Among its strip of bars is El Patio de Lila, a gay-friendly watering hole that’s especially happening on Friday nights. Nearby, head to the trendy restaurant Santaella or the more casual Jose Enrique for some of San Juan’s best dining. Or sample the city’s tastiest delights by joining one of Spoon Food Tours fabulous walkabouts, where knowledgeable guides can tip you off to LGBT goings-on.

Bonus: Puerto Rico is home to two of the Caribbean’s biggest LGBT Pride events. The Puerto Rico Pride march and festival takes place in San Juan each May, while Boqueron Pride (near Cabo Rojo) follows in early June for a splashy weekend beach celebration.

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Aruba

colorful chairs on beach in aruba

True to its Dutch heritage, the Lesser Antilles’s island of Aruba is a proud Caribbean paradise ever eager to welcome LGBT travelers. The month of June is the island’s official Pride month, launching a series of events to celebrate diversity in and around the capital city Oranjestad. Resorts and hotels all over Aruba are welcoming but count on the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino and Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino for Pride season packages, plus adults-only pool and beach areas. Oranjestad also is home to District 7, an LGBT-centric nightclub, lounge, restaurant, and inn (which was once a simpler gay bar called Jimmy’s Place).

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Curacao

view of willemstad curacao

Like Aruba, Curacao is a Dutch territory that’s progressive and inclusive, a trademark of the Netherlands. But to welcome gay and lesbian Caribbean visitors, this small island goes the extra mile by being an active member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). Plus, the island offers queer travelers guidance with handy PinkCuracao, an online travel resource with recommended hotels, restaurants, tours, boutiques, and more. Floris Suite Hotel Spa and Beach Club Curaçao is the go-to gay hotel in Willemstad, where adult guests can enjoy luxury, privacy, and views of the island’s famously-blue waters. Among Curacao’s flirtier spots is MooMba Beach Club, perched on the island’s most gay-friendly beach and serving up cocktails, live music, fresh seafood, and weekend barbeques.

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This island loves to celebrate, and every September it hosts the five-day Curacao Pride festival with a slate of activities in towns, on beaches, and on the water. Come February (or March), Curacao Carnival becomes winter’s most colorful, all-welcoming celebration.

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St. Martin/St. Maarten

st maarten town view

St. Martin/St. Maarten is one Caribbean island that’s doubly gay-friendly. As the world’s smallest territory shared by two nations, St. Martin enjoys all the liberties of the French Republic on its northern half, while the southerly St. Maarten is a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. No matter which side you visit, you can enjoy the island’s easygoing atmosphere.

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LGBT travelers can take their pick of gay-centric beaches to swim, sunbathe, and snorkel, especially Happy Bay Beach and the clothing-optional Orient Bay Beach (both on the French side), and Cupecoy Beach (Dutch side) where nude sunbathing is common. Visitors can discover lesbian- and gay-owned businesses with handy Gay Sint Maarten, which offers listings for the entire island. For fun in Dutch Philipsburg, don’t miss the long-running cabaret and drag show L’Escargot, and open-air dancing at Bliss on Maho Beach. Or head to Club Eros to dance at one of the island’s main late-night gay bars in the French town of Marigot. (Tip: Locals often refer to the island by its airport code “SXM.”)

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St. Bart’s

The French island territory Saint-Barthélemy, nicknamed St. Bart’s, enjoys the same marriage equality as France, as do its sister islands of Martinique, St. Martin, and Guadeloupe. But more than the others, St. Bart’s is among the most gay-friendly Caribbean destinations overall—thanks in part to its ritzy reputation as a celebrity vacation hideaway. The wee island measures just 10 square miles, and LGBT travelers can enjoy relaxed attitudes, even without any official gay bars or Pride events. But at all-welcoming/gay-leaning Saline Beach, travelers relax with or without clothes. And you can patronize gay-owned businesses like colorful Le Pasha boutique and La Cantina bar in Gustavia; and saucy Le Ti cabaret and tavern in Pointe Milou.

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U.S. Virgin Islands

view of st croix us virgin islands

To the east and south of Puerto Rico are the U.S. Virgin Islands, comprised of St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and several minor islands. Their cluster anchors the northern Lesser Antilles, and together they’re among the most gay-friendly Caribbean destinations. Each of the three main islands is blissfully welcoming to all travelers (some of whom take day trips from the neighboring British Virgin Islands), and rainbow stickers adorn many a local business.

St. Thomas has its share of both upscale and casual hotels, restaurants, and attractions, concentrated mainly in Frenchtown (near the cruise ship port). But St. Croix is more populous and has a fun, active LGBT community. Among a handful of gay guesthouses on St. Croix is Frederiksted’s Sand Castle on the Beach, a hit for same-sex weddings and honeymoon packages. Plus, each June St. Croix ushers in STX Pride, with a month full of LGBT events that continue year-round. The organization’s motto is “the most gay friendly island in the Caribbean,” and based on its long roster of local hosts and sponsors, it’s clear how inclusive the destination really is.

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