Tag Archives: gay travel

Gay travel tips for Aruba: One Happy Island

Sergio and I just returned from a vacation to the Caribbean island of Aruba, and I wanted to share some of our photos and impressions while we still have the tan lines to prove we were there.

We spent five nights in Aruba exploring parts of the island, checking out different beaches, and eating. The island has many reefs and the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean make it ideal for snorkeling and SCUBA, but Sergio and I opted to forgo such activities. This was truly a “fly-n-flop” holiday as my friend Tracey put it.

Where the gays are: I have a hunch one reason gay Caribbean cruises are so popular is because with the exception of Havana, Cuba and San Juan, Puerto Rico, there is no “gay life” to speak of on Caribbean islands, and Aruba is no exception. We didn’t see a single beach, bar or space the LGBTQ+ community shared or called their own. However, we did spot and chat with a few gay travelers, and we never felt uncomfortable or unwelcome. However, I did notice at times we did pull back and were less affectionate than we might have been if we were in Provincetown, SoBe, or another more outwardly gay friendly destination.

The lack of an LGBTQ element didn’t take away from the fun and we both returned from Aruba refreshed, tan, and happy. Below are some details about our trip, and observations about Aruba.

Aruba’s beaches: We did not visit the undeveloped East Coast but there are many half and full day tours to this part of the island that are very popular. We opted to drive up and down the West Coast from the Arashi Dunes behind the California Lighthouse in the North down to Rodger’s and Baby Beach in the South. We made a number of stops at small beachside groves and larger beaches but our favorites were Arashi Beach, Flamingo Beach on Renaissance Island, and Baby Beach.

Food & drink We really liked the food on the island. Aruba may be a Dutch colony, but its cuisine is more influenced by Venezuala and Colombia. The seafood is excellent and nearly every night we ate on or near the beach. Some of our favorite places to eat and drink were:

  • Azia is located across from the Hilton at the southern end of Palm Beach. The menu is pan-Asian and everything we ate was excellent. This place also made the best cocktails and had a cool bar / lounge for pre- or post-dinner drinks.
  • Barefoot was a favorite spot to dine in part because most of the tables are on the beach. We made reservations about 30-minutes prior to sunset, and it made for spectacular dining. The only deterrant is the beach club next door which played rather loudly, 90s Hip Hop and R&B.
  • Pelican Nest is a rustic restaurant on a pier on Plam Beach. I very much appreciated the shade and cold beers they served at lunch to escape the heat and sun.
  • The West Deck has picnic tables on the beach or tables on their deck with very nice and attentive staff who offered some great suggestions for our stay. It’s also a great place to grab a Balashi (Aruban lager) and waste away a few hours after the sun goes down.

Observations about traveling in Aruba

  • Currency: You can get money from the airport ATM if you want Aruban Florins, but the island uses US $ and you are more likely get your change in US currency than Florins so no worries about converting currency if coming from the US.
  • Weather: In late January it was warm and sunny with temperatures in the low 80s F / 28 C. The big surprise was how arid is Aruba’s climate.
  • Customer Service: Everyone from hotel staff to taxi drivers to waitstaff was friendly and helpful. It really does seem like one happy island.
  • Getting Around: We rented a SUV for two days to visit beaches and restaurants up and down the island. The heat makes biking impractical and while taxis are plentiful it does get expensive. Parking was free everywhere we went so the car rental became a no brainer.
  • Taxis: You must have cash because taxis do not accept credit cards and ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are not on the island.

If you are planning a trip from Boston, I’d encourage you to book JetBlue’s nonstop flight. At the moment, they are the only carrier offering nonstop service to the island. If you’re contemplating a trip and have questions about Aruba, reach out to me at bosguymail@gmail.com or leave your question in the comment section.

ISO recommendations when visiting Aruba

Sergio and I will visit Aruba for the first time later this month. We’d welcome any suggestions from anyone familiar with the island.

Mobility: To rent a care or not to rent a car (that is the questions), or can we rely on taxis & Uber? Alternatively, is the island bike-friendly, and if so, can you recommend a place?

Beaches: We will be staying near Flamingo Beach but would like to explore other beaches and see different parts of the island Is there one we should definitely see? And is there a gay beach worth checking out?

Activities: Parasailing, snorkeling, hiking, jet skiing – we are open to all suggestions. If you had a great experience, let us know and we will pass along your recommendation when we make our reservation.

Dining & Drinks: When you opt to vacation on small island overrun by tourists every place is essentially a tourist trap, but all the same, we’d welcome suggestions for meals and places to get drinks.

2021 Provincetown Carnival celebrations

Provincetown’s Carnival celebration wil start this weekend. The theme this year is “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.

Note that Provincetown has a strict mask policy when indoors and many places require proof of vaccination so snap a photo of your CDC vaccination card or bring it with you. The strict adherence was put in place after infection rates spiked following the July 4th weekend. Since reinstating the mask mandate, infection rates have dropped dramatically*.

Events & parties during Carnvival Week in Provincetown

Sunday, August 15

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

Sunset Cruise: You’re Not in Kansas Anymore with DJ Edil Hernandez
*Sold Out*

Opening Night Costume Party: Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are at The Crown & Anchor at 9PM $30 cover benefits the Provincetown Business Guild

Monday, August 16

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

Carnival kickoff at Shipwreck at 8PM – No cover

Gesellschaft presents Tornado at Red Room at Velvet at 10:30PM – No cover

Tuesday, August 17

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

RAINBOW Dance Party at A-House at 10PM – $20 cover charge

Wednesday, August 18

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

Provincetown Follies at Boatslip at 9:30PM w/ $20 cover benefits Provincetown Business Guild

Red Room presents Ruby Red Slippers at Velvet at 10:30PM w/ $10 cover benefits Provincetown Business Guild

Thursday, August 19

Express Yourself Day – All day. Come as you are, or dress as you like using this year’s theme: Somewhere Over the Rainbow. 

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

Ty Sunderland Presents Love Prism: Carnival Dance Party at Town Hall at 7PM – Admission is free with a ticket, must RSVP in advance

Friday, August 20

Tea Dance at The Boatslip at 4PM w/ cover charge $10

Friday Gallery Stroll (opening and closing times vary)

Official Closing Party: There’s No Place Like Home at Crown & Anchor at 10PM w/ $30 cover benefits Provincetown Business Guild

*For the latest information about COVID-19 infection rates in Provincetown, click here.

Boston hotel spotlight: The Langham

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and even for those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/
noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business – like the Langham Boston Hotel. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses.

The Langham, Boston Hotel’s address in Post Office Square has made it a favorite property for business travelers, but the hotel’s convenient location to many points of interest make it an ideal property for visitors coming to Boston for fun. The building first opened in 1922 as the Federal Reserve Bank and was declared an historical landmark in 1978. The granite building was inspired by the Palazzo della Cancelleria, in Rome and is considered an excellent example of Renaissance Revival architecture.

The 300+ room hotel closed in April 2019 to undergo a significant renovation that cost more than $150 million and reopened in June 2021. According to The Boston Globe, the hotel’s billionaire chairman, Lo Ka Shui, incorporated his collection in the Boston property along with a number of commissioned pieces specifically for this hotel from the Copley Society of Art.

Langham Boston Hotel dining and things to do

If you’re unlikely to book a room in this beautifully renovated Boston hotel, there remain several ways to appreciate this property. As part of the renovation, a new Italian restaurant called Grana, and a London-inspired cocktail pub called The Fed (which has an outdoor terrace) will open shortly after the hotel’s reopening I’m especially intrigued by The Fed because there are so few pubs and bars with outdoor space in the Financial District.

Grana is Langham Boston’s new Italian restaurant
The Fed is Langham Boston’s London inspired cocktail pub

For many gay travelers who plan on visiting Provincetown, The Langham might be a good choice. It is a 10-minute walk to either ferry service company or an easy ride from a taxi or Uber driver. Additionally, the hotel is close to points of interest, including the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall as well as Beacon Hill and the North End.

The Langham Boston
250 Franklin Street, Boston 02110
617.451.1900
langhamhotels.com/boston

Boston hotel spotlight: Four Seasons One Dalton

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses at these properties. The Four Seasons One Dalton in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

The 61-story five star hotel and residence, which opened in May 2019, is Boston’s third tallest building. This is the second Four Season’s hotel in Boston and the glass and steel elliptical design hints at a more modern property than its sister property, the Four Seasons Boston located across from the Public Garden. While the 160 private residences located on the uppermost floors have the best views, the 215 room hotel offers a great vantage point with views of the Charles River, Back Bay and points south and west.

All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and come with iPads, premium bedding, 65″ plasma televisions and complimentary Internet access to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The muted colors in the guest rooms are intentional and designed to help guests relax, and the rooms’ furnishings have clean and simple lines consistent with the building’s modern design.

Four Seasons restaurants and more

Some of the amenities available to guests who stay at this sleek property include The Wellness Floor (on the 7th floor), which includes a worldclass spa, fitness center and salon facilities along with a stunning indoor pool that has great views of the city below. However, you don’t need to be a guest to make an appointment which is now open Friday through Sunday. Call and make a reservation.

If a stay at this new hotel is unlikely, it is still worth coming to see the property. Located off of the hotel lobby is a vibrant installation of the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare’s Great American Library. The captivating bookshelf installation brings a smile to my face when I walk through the room to take the stairs up one flight to the contemporary Japanese restaurant, Zuma. However, if contemporary Japanese cuisine isn’t your thing visit Trifecta, the Four Seasons cocktail lounge serves light bites. It is also here that weekend tea service is offered from 11:00am – 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re looking for something to do during the day and you’re not tempted to make use of the 7th floor pool, gym or spa, head out to Newbury Street for some retail therapy. The hotel is just a few blocks from Boston’s shopping district. Just a few blocks beyond Newbury Street is my favorite park in Boston, The Esplanade. Here you can go for a walk, run or bike ride.

If the dining options at the Four Seasons One Dalton are not of interest, read my post about the Back Bay and South End, which have more LGBTQ+ tips and places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails. The closest gay bar, Club Cafe, is a 10 minute walk. There you can have a meal, check out a cabaret show or go dancing.

Four Seasons
One Dalton Street, Boston 02115
617.377.4888
fourseasons.com/onedalton

Boston hotel spotlight: XV Beacon Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The XV Beacon in Boston’s Beacon Hill is one such property worth checking out.

Although it is not part of the definition, exculsivity is often associated with luxury. For that reason, XV Beacon stands out as the only boutique property in this series.

XV Beacon first opened on Beacon Hill in 2000 and is consistently noted as one of Boston’s preeminent places to stay. It has earned the admiration and respect of Bostonians, guests and the travel industry. It was named by Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Best Hotel or Resort in every state and has many rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

This 63-room boutique property is in a beautiful ten story Beaux Arts building of iron, limestone and brick. It is capped with a copper cornice exterior and exudes great curb appeal. The hotel rooms were individually designed and have four-poster queen bed classic rooms or queen and king-size bed studio rooms that include whirlpool baths, heated towels, in-room fireplaces, complimentary high-speed Internet access, 400-thread-count linen sheets, and museum-quality artwork throughout. 

XV Beacon goes the extra mile by providing helpful guest services like their fleet of chauffeured Lexuses for complimentary trips around Boston. Their superb conceirge services can arrange for on-site massages in your rooms, private tours to places of interest and of historical significance, tickets to shows as well as airport transfers. Tempted? Check out one of XV Beacon Hotel Packages & Promotions and treat yourself.

XV Beacon Hotel restaurant and more

However, if a stay at this beautiful property is unlikely, one can appreciate this unique property’s excellent restaurant (also part of the Columbus Hospitality Group), MOOO. The modern steakhouse is perhaps best known for their private dining room ‘The Wine Cellar’, with double vaulted ceilings and 4,000 bottles of fine and rare wine dating from the 1700s to present day. For an additional private dining option, XV Beacon’s Parlor Suites can be booked, but a more realistic option for those seeking luxury on a budget is to visit MOOO for a cocktail at their bar with a few apps. The staff is superb and the cocktails delicious. Also be on the lookout for MOOO to (hopefully) bring back their acoustic jazz brunch this fall.

The central location of XV Beacon makes it easy for visitors to enjoy some of Boston’s most popular attractions. From the historic Freedom Trail to biking and walking paths by the Esplanade to Fanueuil Hall and shopping in the Back Bay there are plenty of ways to spend your time. If you have limited time and unsure what to do, speak to the concierge team at XV Beacon who have an impeccable reputation and can tailor suggestions to your interests.

After you are done sight seeing, perusing the unique shops on Beacon Hill’s Charles Street or strolling down Newbury Street, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the back. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

XV Beacon Hotel
15 Beacon Street, Boston 02108
1.877.XVBEACON
xvbeacon.com

Boston hotel spotlight: The Newbury Hotel

I’ve written a four-part series featuring different luxury hotels in Boston for gay travelers who may be visiting the area. These articles are also for locals who may want to pamper themselves with a posh stay-cation and those who may never spend a night but would like to treat themselves to hotel services and or dining. We can all do with a little pampering and these hotels are ready, willing and more than able to help you feel special.

lux·u·ry ˈləɡZH(ə)rē/ noun: the state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Boston luxury hotel spotlight for gay travelers

Over the past few years several luxury brand hotels in Boston have opened and / or undergone significant renovations and are now open for business. Even if you don’t have the budget to fully experience the ammenities, it is possible to experience luxury in doses. The Newbury Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay is one such newcomer worth checking out.

When I think of luxury, The Newbury Hotel, (formerly the home to the Ritz Carlton for 75+ years) comes to mind. In 2019 the luxury hotel chain Taj Hotels closed the property and extensive renovations have recently finished. The elegant building that first opened in 1927 has been lovingly updated and reopened to the public as The Newbury Hotel in late May.

For those familiar with the property, the most notable change from the exterior is the hotel’s main entrance which moved from Arlington Street to Newbury Street. The Newbury Street entrance provides greater curb appeal and is easier for those arriving or leaving by car. The other significant change to the building are the enhancements made to the guest rooms. When the building first opened in the 1920s, many guests traveled with large steamer trunks and the hallways were much wider to accommodate them. By modernizing the width of the hotel hallways the Newbury was able to give more space to the guest rooms.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Newbury Hotel restaurants and more

If a stay at The Newbury is not in the cards, you can still admire and enjoy this beautiful place and the excellent service from the staff by visiting The Street Bar (see below). The street-level bar looks out across Arlington Street and has nice views of the Public Garden. If you’re familiar with the previous bar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the redesign which is filled with rich jewel-tone colors, comfortable club chairs and plush banquettes.

At the time of their opening, the bar was serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, but I think it makes for a great jumping off point for a fun night out in Boston or for a nightcap before heading home. I love restaurants and bars with a fire place and this cozy new bar is a welcome addition to the Back Bay.

Photo from Newbury Hotel Instagram

Above The Street Bar, tea service shall begin in July on the second floor. The views overlooking Arlington Street and the Public Garden are difficult to beat and provide plenty to see while indulging in the finger sandwiches, treats and tea. At some point I plan on bringing my niece to enjoy what she will likely refer to as a “fancy” day out with her uncle. Unfortunately the tea service menu is not currently available.

Ken Fulk Interiors [Official Rendering]

If you want to spend more time on the property, make reservations at the newly renovated glass rooftop restaurant called Contessa, that is expected to open before the end of June 2021. The rooftop restaurant with sweeping views of the Public Garden and Boston Common is unique and will be a place to add to your list of restaurants to try. Contessa’s menu will be Italian. The executive chef Mario Carbone is known for 1950s-style red-sauce dishes, according to this article in The Boston Globe.

If you’re idea of a luxury comes in the form of retail therapy, The Newbury Hotel sits at the top of Newbury Street, which offers some of Boston’s most exclusive brands and designers. However, you don’t even have to set foot outside the hotel. You can shop at the Tiffany’s store in the hotel, which means you can shop for some bling then wear it at the roofdeck restaurant over brunch as you live your best life and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.

After you are done sight seeing, shopping or however you choose to spend your time while staying at the Newbury Hotel, head over to Club Cafe for a cabaret show or dancing in the backroom. For more information about places to shop, dine or go out read my post about the Back Bay and South End which include more places to eat or enjoy a few cocktails at Boston’s gay bars.

The Newbury Boston
One Newbury Street, Boston 02116
617.536.5700
thenewburyboston.com