GOMAG.COM
Hip Homo Honeymoons
by Jen George and Kim Zonca
November 24, 2008
MAUI
If you’ve just tied the knot with the love of your life and you want to begin your life together in a beautiful, relaxed and romantic setting, why not fly off to a homo-friendly, tropical paradise? With Maui as your honeymoon destination, you can be sure that plenty of gay girl activities are available.

Tropics-loving lovebirds who are preparing to tie the knot, should consult with Aloha Maui Gay Weddings (alohamauigayweddings.com). The staff of wedding coordinators and officiates is ready to help you get hitched beautifully and seamlessly as you begin your vacation of a lifetime.

Maui’s gay community consists of two groups. Although the “locals” tend to mingle amongst themselves, visiting singles and couples are extremely friendly and easy to find. Visitors are often repeat vacationers, soaking up the Hawaiian sun every year, and providing attractive, swim-suited scenery at the numerous public beaches.

After basking in your fill of the sun for the day, let the friendly gay staff of the Maui Sunseeker (from $145, 551 South Kihei Rd, 800-532-6284, mauisunseeker.com) give you and your bride a place to rest your heads. Many of Maui’s LGBT vacationers relax here, as the Sunseeker is the largest gay-owned and operated property on the island. Also of note is the Outrigger Royal Kahana (from $225, 4365 Lower Honoapiilani Rd, 800-447-7783, outrigger.com), a gorgeous, high-rise beachfront condo resort. Though the Kahana primarily houses mainstream clientele, it considers itself very welcoming to gay and lesbian guests. And don’t miss the Thursday Mai Tai party!

If you prefer a little spa treatment thrown into your hotel experience, book your stay with lesbian hosts Judee and Miranda at the Two Mermaids (from $110, 2840 Umalu Place, 800-598-9550, twomermaids.com. Yes, we love the name, too.) Not only will the small-but-charming Mermaids put you up in one of its two suites, it will also leave fresh fruit on your doorstep each morning, hook you up with beach chairs and boogie boards, and act as coordinator for your daily activities. As an added bonus, Two Mermaids is located on the sunny side of Maui, close to one of the best yoga studios on the island.

Plenty of other daytime adventures await you and your lady love. Besides endless shopping, horseback riding facilities, movie theaters, evening shows, and many opportunities to work on your golf swing, water is definitely one of the main attractions on Maui. Sunbathe oceanfront on Kihei Beach, or use its boat ramp to unload boats or jet skies for a day of entertainment. Thanks to the ntrade winds, Maui is one of the world’s most prized windsurfing destinations with three popular beaches. Take a dip in the postcard-perfect, turquoise water at Keon`e o `io (La Perouse) Beach, and you’ll discover you are swimming with turtles, dolphins and every other sea creature in Finding Nemo so bring your snorkel to take a closer look. You might even spot some whales if you happen to be honeymooning when they are, from November through April. You should be able to spot them from your sunbathing camp on the beach, or you can get on board for one of the Sunseeker-sponsored gay whale-watching excursions.

After applying some after tan lotion, satiate your beach-bunny appetite at one of the diverse restaurants on the island. Your choices range from a casual, hand-held meal at Cheeseburger in Paradise (811 Front St, 808-661-4855), where you’ll find the best burgers on the island, to Wolfgang Puck’s Spago (3900 Wailea Alanui Dr, 808-879-2999), where a fancy feast and a view of the beach will do you right. Gerard's (174 Lahainaluna Rd, 808-661-8939, gerardsmaui.com) is always a high-ranking favorite, where, relaxed in a wicker chair, you can feast on one of the many French/Hawaiian fusion favorites.

When the sun goes down, get ready for some island heat with Maui’s gay-friendly nightlife. To find an actual “gay night”, just pick up a local alternative paper to find the rotating locations, which change often. There are also plenty of places to see and be seen in a mixed crowd. Many believe the best way to find your own drinking hole for the evening is to head to Front Street and follow your ears to the party. Others will direct you to Hula Grill (2435 Kaanapali Pkwy, Bldg P, 808-667-6636) in Kaanapaili Beach and Leilani's (2435 Kaanapali Pky, Bldg J, 808-661-4495), for casual crowds and the best view of the Maui sunset. On the whole, your Maui bar crawl will probably include potent, blended drinks like the Tropical Itch at Kimo’s (845 Front St, 808-661-4811). There’s not much need for formal wear, unless you count a button-down luau shirt at Paradise Bluz (744 Front St, 808-667-5299), where the young locals hang out. Wanna’ karaoke? Why not sing for your supper at the popular sushi bar, Sansei (115 Bay Dr, 808-669-6286) with a mango crab roll for backup. Of course, you might want to spend a quiet (though hardly boring) night in and take a leisurely late-night dip in the hotel hot tub with your sweetie, instead.

FORT LAUDERDALE

Over the past decade, Fort Lauderdale has become fabulously distinguished as Florida’s leading gay and lesbian vacation spot. Native Floridians consider it “a kinder, gentler Florida.” The American equivalent of Venice: a gay Mecca. Despite the large LGBT community in the city, gay marriage remains illegal in Florida. Even so, with its spiking numbers of queer venues and accommodations, Fort Lauderdale is at the top of the list for queer honeymoon destinations. One thing is for certain—between the gorgeous beaches, fabulous local attractions, and your amazing new bride—you’ll suffer no lack of entertainment.

Fort Lauderdale boasts tons of LGBT-welcoming accommodations. Book an airy room at the beachy Liberty Apartment & Garden Suites (from $89, 1500 SW Second Ave, 877-927-0090, libertysuites.com), which caters specifically to the LGBT community. Other gay-friendly faces can be found at the pleasantly posh The Atlantic (from $450, 601 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, 954-567-8020, theatlantichotelfortlauderdale.com) and the Pride-sponsoring Gallery One Fort Lauderdale (from $230, 2670 East Sunrise Blvd, 954-565-3800, galleryonefortlauderdalesuites.doubletree.com). There’s also the Mediterranean-chic Embassy Suites Hotel (from $265, 1100 SE 17th St, 954-527-2700, ftlauderdale.embassysuites.com), if you prefer a familiar name.

This city is the place to be for star-studded dining and intriguing tastes by innovative celebrity chefs. Try out Trina at the Atlantic Hotel, where the house drink is the Trinatini (a vodka martini with the apt special ingredient of lavender syrup, as well as touches of pomegranate and citrus juices). Join the queer clientele at the Hi Life Café (3000 N Federal Hwy, 954-563-1395), a gay favorite run by a couple of transplanted New Yorkers. Embrace your inner “player” at Johnny V (625 E Las Olas Blvd, 954-761-7920), where hip celebrity chef Johnny Vinczencz serves up fancy goodies like sage grilled Florida dolphin, served with rock shrimp plantain stuffing and be sure to save some room for one of Johnny’s yummy desserts!

Luxuriating with your other half in Fort Lauderdale is all about chilling out. The golden stretches of beach are some of the most beautiful in the world and if you’d like to sun your lady lumps, you’ll find several of them are occasionally topless (just be sure to ask the lifeguard before stripping down). Get your shop on at the upscale Sawgrass Mills Mall (12801 West Sunrise Blvd, 954-846-2300, sawgrassmillsmall.com), where you can pad your closet with purchases from Donna Karan, Saks, Ann Taylor, Macy's, or one of the other 300 or so designer outlets on the premises. And if you want something to go with those shiny new wedding rings, check out the boutiques and jewelry shops on the Las Olas Riverfront. Fun in a boat is just that and Fort Lauderdale offers fishing, kayaking, sailing, or cruising the old fashioned way—on the open sea! For those who forgot to pack their sea legs, Quiet Waters Park (401 S Powerline Rd, Deerfield Beach) is a scenic locale with plenty of biking trails. A browse through The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale (1 E Las Olas Blvd, 954-525-5500, moafl.org) is perfect for a rainy day or a break from the sun.

Start your evening entertainment with a little culture at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Ave, 954-462-0222, browardcenter.org), which offers a variety of concerts, plays and musicals. Afterward, talk ahhhrt over a glass of wine or microbrew at the Naked Grape (2039 Wilton Dr, 954-563-5631), a gay-owned, well-appointed wine bar with live music on many occasions. If you want to embrace your inner (or outer) sporty dyke, Sidelines Sports Bar (2031 Wilton Dr, 954-563-8001) is your kind of hang, with a mixed crowd, sports on the tube, and plenty of pool sharks. Just outside Fort Lauderdale, New Moon Bar (2440 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors, 954-563-7660, newmoonbar.com) is just for us girls who wanna have fun, with a welcoming outdoor patio and plenty of dancing during the weekend. The mature lesbian crowd flocks to Beach Betty's (625 E. Dania Beach Blvd, 954-921-9893) for casual drinking and dart throwing, though it’s a bit of a trek sans auto.

For more on gay-friendly joints for you and your newlywed, pick up a copy of She magazine (shemag.com), Florida’s free lesbo mag. Or, go to sunny.org/rainbow for a complete list of gay-owned and gay-friendly business in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

LAS VEGAS

Recently ranked the second most popular travel destination in the US for LGBT travelers, Vegas is no longer simply a gambling town. Now boasting four-star resorts and spas, world-class restaurants, fine art museums, Broadway-caliber theatres, and much more, Vegas offers an array of entertainment and activities to suit any taste, age, and budget.

While same-sex marriage is still not legal in Nevada, many wedding chapels in Las Vegas will perform gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies, providing the happy couple with a commemorative certificate. The chapels that are most well-known for their commitment ceremonies include: Distinctive Weddings of Las Vegas, The Silver Bell Chapel, Eternal Hope Ministry, and especially the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel (1205 Las Vegas Blvd S, 800-574-4450, vivalasvegasweddings.com)—the only gay-owned-and-operated chapel in town. As far as traditional ceremonies go, Maverick Tours (maverickhelicopter.com) will take your breath away with their “Champagne Helicopter Wedding.” Additionally, the chapels at Bellagio, Paris, and the Venetian Hotels are absolutely stunning.

For a secluded love shack off the strip, check into the quaint, gay-owned LVR Chapman B&B (from $79, 1800 Chapman Dr, 866-367-6849, lasvegasrainbow.com), located just eight minutes away. Guests can enjoy the outdoor courtyard with swimming pool, sauna, and hot tub, as well as loads of nearby natural beauty: Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, Hoover Dam, plus numerous museums and the newly revitalized downtown arts district. Concierge James Porcelli is more than happy to recommend activities (also refer to lasvegasrainbow.com/outdooradventure.html for more detailed info).

For a honeymoon with “savoir-faire,” take her to Paris…Paris Las Vegas (from $199, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, 877-603-4386, parislasvegas.com) brings the elegance and romance of the City of Lights to the perpetually lit Vegas strip. From the plush European-styled suites to the luxurious in-house spa, you will experience the highest standard of service in Vegas. The Parisian-theme continues in the resort’s 10 authentic French restaurants, from dinner atop a 50-story Eiffel Tower, to a 24-hour “indoor” sidewalk café. Be sure to complement your meal in true French fashion with a bottle of authentic Parisian wine. Or, toast your new life together in style at the Napoleon Champagne Bar at the Paris. Let the knowledgeable staff steer you through the selection of over 100 champagnes and sparkling wines, in addition to a variety of delicacies such as exotic fruits, scallop céviche with blood orange juice and gourmet truffles. Not to mention, sharing a bottle of champagne and its perfect companion—caviar blinis—with your perfect companion.

Newlyweds have plenty of romantic activities to choose from in Vegas. Treat yourselves to an afternoon at the Spa by Mandara (at Paris), or the couple’s treatment at Canyon Ranch Spa (at the Venetian), which can be followed by a gondola ride through the canals of “Venice.” Warm her heart over an authentic high tea at the Bellagio, Four Seasons or the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas or with gourmet chocolates from the Ethel M Chocolate Factory (2 Cactus Garden Dr, 702-435-2655), the Chocolate Swan (Mandalay Place), or Jean Philippe Pâtisserie (Bellagio).

Plan to spend a romantic day at the Bellagio, (from $199, 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, 702-693-7111, bellagio.com) first taking in the breathtaking Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, followed by an inspiring stroll through the Gallery of Fine Art, featuring international works and touring exhibitions. After nourishing your senses, take a dinner break at one of Bellagio’s legendary eateries: Le Cirque, Picasso, Circo, and Jasmine to name a few. Before ending your evening, catch the stunning Fountain Show in front of the hotel, best viewed after sundown where streams of water dance and soar as high as 240 feet in the air accompanied by music and brilliant lights.

The Vegas strip is alive 24/7 with plenty of entertainment from mermaid shows to volcanic eruptions and fireworks. If the sensory-overload catches up with you, look to the skies for a breath of fresh air—the 1,149 foot Stratosphere Tower (2000 S Las Vegas Blvd, 800-99-TOWER, stratospherehotel.com) has both indoor and outdoor decks 870 feet high—perfect for stealing a kiss as you take in the beautiful view of the lights and Las Vegas Valley. For cocktails with a view, try the rooftop lounges at the Rio (VooDoo) and the Palms (Ghostbar and Moon).

Vegas nightlife options are endless! Plan ahead and score tickets for any of the mega-productions: the sensual Zumanity (New York, New York), thrilling KA (MGM Grand), legendary Folies Bergere (Tropicana), rockin’ LOVE (Mirage); and perhaps the most sought-after ticket, O (Bellagio)—a magnificent Cirque Du Soleil production with a cast of 81 swimmers, acrobats and other performers. Afterward, take your bride for a sexy spin around the dance floor at LGBT nightclubs Gipsy (4605 S Paradise Rd, 702-731-1919, gipsylasvegas.com), Free Zone (610 E Naples Dr, 702-794-2300, freezonelv.com, open 24 hours with a women’s night every Tuesday), and the massive Krave (3663 Las Vegas Blvd, 702-836-0830, kravelasvegas.com). Be there Saturday, when the DJs and promoters of GirlBar take over. Dollhouse, Thursdays at Studio 54 (MGM Grand, studio54.com) is another fun night featuring all female DJs, sexy dancers, and models playing interactive “dress-up” with patrons (get a Front-of-Line pass on Vegas.com's Nightlife section). For dinner, drinks and dancing, hit the delicious gay hotspot Suede (4633 Paradise Rd, 702-791-0100, suedelasvegas.com) for women’s night every Wednesday. Grab a copy of Vegas’s free gay monthly, Q Vegas magazine (qvegas.com), for more details.

For stress-free help planning the perfect honeymoon to any of these locations, contact the gay-owned Get Services (212-579-1432, getservicesny.com).
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