GOMAG.COM
Heart-Stirring Honeymoons
by Shannon Leigh O'Neil
September 16, 2011
Munich, Germany:Are romantic castles, stunning beaches or peaceful wooded retreats on your post-nuptial itinerary? Our choices for honeymoon holidays will fulfill your heart’s desire.

This picturesque Bavarian capital is home to more than 100,000 LGBT people, and for good reason: not only is Munich a beautiful city, situated near the breathtaking Bavarian Alps, but it is also one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cultural centers. Lesbian honeymooners will enjoy Munich’s world-class art and architecture, mingled with its fairytale Alpine charm. As the birthplace of Oktoberfest, Germany’s signature annual event, Munich takes pride in its profusion of beer festivals, folk art fairs and outdoor celebrations. As for indoor entertainment, here you’ll discover some of Europe’s best pubs, restaurants, museums, theaters and shopping districts. Munich’s gayborhood is located primarily in the Isarvorstadt district, specifically the Glockenbachviertel and Gärtnerplatzviertel quarters, where you’ll find queer-friendly bars, varied dining options and über-trendy shops.

An ideal starting point for your Munich adventure, the centrally located Hotel Cocoon (Lindwurmstrasse 35, 49 (0) 89 59 993-907, hotel-cocoon.de) offers designer boutique accommodations that won’t exhaust your Euros. It’s convenient to the Goetheplatz and Sendlinger Tor subway stations, so you’re never far from public transportation. Similar to NYC’s Pod Hotel, the Cocoon is ultra-mod and compact, emphasizing its minimalist design aesthetic. Even so, you’ll find the Cocoon’s rooms to be quite comfy, while guests rave about the unexpectedly lavish breakfast buffet. Within walking distance of Königlicher Hirschgarten, Europe’s biggest beer garden, the Neo-Renaissance Hotel Laimer Hof (Laimerstrasse 40, 49 (0) 89 17 8038-0, laimerhof.de) features fully refurbished rooms, each with its own vintage style and atmosphere. The hotel also provides bikes for rent, so pedal over to the nearby Nymphenburg Palace for a view into Munich’s baroque past. With only 23 rooms, this intimate and charming hotel embodies oldworld Bavarian hospitality.

The opulent, five-star Hotel Königshof (Karlsplatz 25, 49 (0) 89 55 136-0, koenigshofhotel. de) is conveniently situated in downtown Munich, just steps away from the Karlsplatz/Stachus subway station, with a direct line to the airport. With its 71 exquisitely appointed rooms and 16 sumptuous suites, the Königshof screams luxury. If you’ll settle for nothing less than first-class surroundings, this is the place for you. Along with its gorgeous rooms, attentive service, indulgent spa and exclusive atmosphere, you’ll find the worldrenowned, Michelin-starred Königshof (Karlsplatz 25, 49 (0) 89 55 136-0, koenigshofhotel. de), Munich's grandest hotel restaurant. Its posh decor and awe-inspiring menu is tailormade for well-heeled epicureans.

Like other regional capitols, Munich enjoys a broad spectrum of eateries to suit any taste preference or budget, from haute cuisine to backpacker-friendly ethnic eats. Pop into gayfriendly Prinz Myshkin (Hackenstrasse 2, 49 (0) 89 26 559-6, prinzmyshkin.com), a cafe/lounge serving elegant appetizers, entrees, desserts and cocktails. Pfistermühle (Pfisterstrasse 4, 49 (0) 89 23 703-865, pfistermuehle.de)–a 16th century mill converted into a dining hall–is a must-see for haute Bavarian comestibles like roasted fillet of brook trout on potatochanterelle ragout with leek and Riesling sauce, or crispy roasted suckling pig marinated in dark beer on warm cabbage salad with sour cream and roasted potatoes.

As Germany's hub of hops, Munich is the home of Oktoberfest (oktoberfest.de), the world’s biggest beer festival. Held annually in September and October, this is the Germany of a thousand tourist brochures: think oompah bands, kegs of frothy brew, wenches in traditional dirndl frocks and endless choruses of “Ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit,” a traditional musical toast.

When you’re not quaffing steins of lager, drink in the city’s historic sights like Nymphenburg Palace (nymphenburg.com). Built as the summer residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty, this immense Baroque manor house, with its magnificent park and gardens, ranks among Europe’s finest royal palaces. Perched on a precipice two hours’ drive from Munich, Schloss Neuschwanstein (neuschwanstein.de) embodies the fairy-tale allure of Bavaria. Constructed in the 1870s by King Ludwig II as an homage to German Romanticism, the Gothic Revival castle features a sumptuously ornamented throne hall and a fanciful oak paneled dining room, straight out of a Wagner opera. The Isarvorstadt district is the trendiest part of Munich; not surprisingly, it’s also the heart of the city's LGBT community. Situated between Müllerstrasse, Frauenstrasse, Thalkirchnerstrasse and the river Isar—which also includes the Gärtnerplatzviertel—Munich's most dynamic neighborhood offers an abundance of bars, nightclubs and live music venues, with something to satisfy every taste. One of Munich’s best-kept secrets, Bei Carla (Buttermelcherstrasse 9, 49 (0) 89 22 790-1, bei-carla.de) has a friendly vibe that attracts a thirty-something, laid-back lesbian crowd. Lesbo-chic ex-pats flock to Inges Karotte (Baaderstrasse 13, 49 (0) 89 20 106-69) for happy hour, late-night cocktails and dancing. The simple yet stylish Kr@ftakt (Thalkirchenstrasse 4, 80337 Munich, +49 (0) 89 21 588-881, kraftakt.de), Munich’s only gay and lesbian Internet cafe, stays open late and features a bar with a light menu, making it both a popular nightspot and a hangout for breakfast or brunch. Attracting a mixed  clientele, it’s a fun place to socialize while tweeting about your travels.

Before planning your magnificent Munich honeymoon, visit the German National Tourist Board (germany.travel) for travel information, downloadable brochures and an interactive map.


Alluring Adirondacks

New York’s Adirondack Park comprises a vast expanse of wild forest lands, bordered on the east by Lake Champlain and Lake George. Focus on the scenic Lake George area, but skip Lake George Village in favor of the surrounding wilderness, filled with charming mountain villages, knotty pine lodges and pristine lakes. While you won’t find any city-slickery or fastlane nightlife, the Adirondacks provide a nearby setting for a romantic honeymoon where you can indulge your pining for nature and outdoor adventure.

Hang your trail hats at The Copperfield Inn (307 Main Street, North Creek, 518-251-2200, copper fieldinn.com), just northwest of Lake George in North Creek, NY. This spacious, eco-friendly resort hotel boasts 31 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, along with a heated outdoor pool and spa. Now that marriage equality is legal in New York State, the Copperfield can be your one-stop shop for a destination wedding and instant honeymoon. The hotel offers many wedding packages and features a 2,500-square-foot classic ballroom, a parquet dance floor with space for a band or DJ, customdesigned wedding cakes, personalized catering options and ample accommodations for your wedding guests.

Superbly situated near Gore Mountain and Lake George, the Copperfield gives you access to an abundance of year-round outdoor activities. Depending on the season, you’ll be steps away from skiing, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and leaf-peeping—every urbanite’s autumn ritual.

The adorable, gay-friendly Fern Lodge (46 Fiddlehead Bay Road, Chestertown, 518-494-7238, thefernlodge.com) has hosted scores of Adirondack honeymoons, weddings, engagements, elopements and commitment ceremonies. With its picture-postcard location, charming knotty pine interiors and cozy fireplaces, this lakeside hotel exudes romantic ambiance, inside and out. The Fern Lodge offers a four-day honeymoon package that includes a magnificent guest room, full country breakfast, wine/cheese/fruit plate, tickets to the WILD Museum or the Adirondack Museum, one special bath preparation and two 45-minute massages. Guest rooms may feature a king size bed, fireplace, steam shower, jacuzzi or private
porch with a lake view.

For an enchanting, Victorianesque B&B with all the frills, check into The Lamplight Inn (231 Lake Avenue, Lake Luzerne, 518-696-5294, lamplightinn.com). With its three distinctive buildings and landscaped gardens, the Lamplight Inn offers exquisite accommodations just a short walk from placid Lake Luzerne. Situated on ten acres of lawn and wooded mountain trails, surrounded by white pine trees, the Lamplight Inn delivers a handsome mix of 1890s charm and modern amenities. Enjoy a romantic breakfast each morning in the sun porch dining room with a view of the Adirondack Mountains in the distance. Make your honeymoon even more memorable with some of the indulgent add-ons and special romance packages they offer. If you find longstemmed red roses and champagne too traditional, arrange for a personalized outdoor picnic for two.

After a day of scenic drives, mountain biking or exploring the wilderness, treat yourselves to dinner at The Inn at Erlowest (3178 Lake Shore Drive, Lake George, 518-668-9528, theinnaterlowest.com), one of the area's acclaimed eateries, showcasing a mouthwatering selection of steaks, seafood, burgers and specialty dishes. If you’ve spent too much of your honeymoon in bed and need sustenance, bring your insatiable appetites to Porreca’s (2897 Lake Shore Drive, Lake George, 518-668-5259, porrecasrestau rant.com). With a menu stacked with creative Italian fare, this family-owned restaurant offers one of the best dining values in the region. Try Willows Bistro (3749 Main Street, Warrensburg, 518-504-4344, willows bistro.com) for vegetarian and vegan, walletfriendly “food you feel good about.” Load up on toothsome sandwiches and scrumptious salads before heading off on your next adventure.

The Lake George area delivers an endless variety of cultural activities for you and your bride, from tours of French and Indian War memorials to outlet shopping. Don’t miss The Hyde Collection (161 Warren Street, Glens Falls, 518-792-1761, hydecollection.org) an art museum, historic house and gardens with its exceptional collection of 3,000 art objects, including works by Rembrandt and Picasso. Need a quick and dirty shopping fix? Stop by the Adirondack Outlet Mall (1444 State Route 9, Lake George, 518-793-2161, adirondackoutletmall. com). After snatching up bargains at more than a dozen brand-name outlet stores, make a day of it by plundering the 35 other retailers within walking distance.

Design your Adirondacks honeymoon with the help of the Lake George official Web site (visitlakegeorge. com), where you’ll find information on classic couples’ diversions like carriage rides, lake cruises, horseback riding, wine tours and more.


Nice: Nice for Newlyweds

Nice, the ancient and beautiful capital of the French Riviera, thrives year-round as a major tourist center with its sunny Mediterranean climate. Perched on the coast of southeastern France near the borders of Monaco and Italy, Nice attracts visitors from all over the globe who come to admire its sparkling ocean, worldclass shopping and energetic nightlife.

Historically gay-friendly, Nice abounds with LGBT-welcoming establishments. In fact, the Nice Convention and Visitors’ Bureau initiated a program for local businesses to meet a reception quality standard for “gay comfort,” which allows them to proudly display a rainbow logo. With its gorgeous beaches, museums, historical Old Town and exquisite coastline, there is much to discover in Nice.

Immerse yourselves in Côte d’Azur luxury at the Hotel Negresco (37 Promenade des Anglais, 33 (0) 4 93 16 64 00, hotel-negresco-nice.com), the ne plus ultra of five-star elegance, situated on the famous Promenade des Anglais facing the Mediterranean Sea. Spilling over with priceless art and antiques, this palatial 1912 hotel features a Gustave Eiffel dome and a jaw-dropping Baccarat chandelier illuminating the lobby. The Negresco has 117 rooms and suites, two restaurants (including the Michelin-starred Chantecler) and a bar, Le Relais.

For mod-contempo surroundings, book your honeymoon lodging at the Hi Hotel (3 avenue des Fleurs, 33 (0) 4 97 07 26 26, hi-hotel.net), a 38-room urban concept hotel designed by Philippe Starck’s colleague Matali Crasset. Just a short walk to the sea and the Promenade des Anglais, this stylish and innovative property features a Happy Bar, “organic canteen” restaurant, spa/steam bath and rooftop swimming pool.

How about something different? Vive la différence! The eclectic and exotic Hotel Windsor (11 Rue Dalpozzo, 33 (0) 4 93 88 59 35, hotelwindsornice. com) is an art-filled retreat adorned by frescoes and other colorful details, with 24 of its 57 rooms designed by a contemporary artist. Beyond the modest nineteenthcentury façade, off Nice's busy shopping district, you’ll find an antique Chinese throne in the lobby, a tropical courtyard garden, potted palms, parrots and a Moroccan-style hammam. There are also typical hotel amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and fitness center.

There’s no such thing as a bad meal in France. Restaurants on the Riviera, naturally, are no exception. For an intimate and unforgettable dinner with the one you love, reserve your table at La Route du Miam (1 rue Moliere, 33 (0) 6 16 36 33 22) where you can experience authentic Niçoise cuisine like saffron-scented bouillabaise. If you’re looking for fresh organic food and wine, try Le Carré Vert (37 rue Maréchal Joffre, 33 (0) 4 93 88 73 85, bistrolecarrevert. blogspot.com), a neighborhood bistro that serves a variety of daily specials and French desserts.

Heading to the beach? Keep in mind that beaches in Nice, while spectacularly scenic, are pebbled and not like the soft sands of the Caribbean. In other words, you’ll need something to sit on. Make a reservation for your beach chairs at the private, gay-friendly Plage Castel (8 quai Rauba-Capeu, quai des États-Unis, 33 (0) 4 93 85 22 66, castelplage.com), an inviting place to relax, sip cocktails and marvel at the Mediterranean, open from mid-March through mid-September. There are roughly 20 public beaches along the Promenade des Anglais, but if you venture further east to Coco Beach (2 avenue Jean-Lorrain) you’ll discover a smattering of coves with wonderful views and a beach with a “gay sector.”

Don’t miss the chance to view the Riviera’s countryside, a wonderland of olive groves, tall sea cliffs and lavender fields straight out of a Van Gogh landscape. Cannes is a mere 30-minute train ride away and puts you in the midst of luxury shopping and dining with a  good chance of spotting celebs. Every spring, Hollywood’s A-list descends on this glamorous seaport for the annual Cannes Film Festival. For astounding coastal scenery sans glitz, make your way to Antibes, only twenty minutes by rail from Nice. This picturesque resort town is home to fascinating museums, including those devoted to Picasso, the history of absinthe, Napoleonic memorabilia and Roman archaeological ruins. Or explore the medieval Provençal village of Eze, ten minutes from Nice. Go for a day hike along its steep, winding hilltop paths, where the two of you can picnic amidst olive trees, ancient fountains and panoramic views.

After dark, if the sun-drenched Riviera hasn‘t sapped your honeymoon energy, go bananas at Le Crazy (21 rue Droite, see Facebook for details), a flamboyant, unpretentious celebration of pure fun. With a mixed LGBT clientele, there’s an “anything goes” vibe with nightly theme parties that showcase everything from drag queens to disco music to ‘90s dance club revivals. Join the smart set at Smarties (10 rue Defly, 33 (0) 4 93 62 30 75, nicesmarties.free.fr), a ’70s-inspired lounge with metrosexual patronage and DJs spinning deep house, techno and electro. Where’s the girl-on-girl action? Keep tabs on Soirées les MADmoiZelles (madmoizelles.com) and its Facebook page for the deets on Nice’s nomad lesbian theme parties. And every winter, the city shows its playful side during Nice Carnaval (nicetourisme.com/nicecarnaval), a two-week Dionysian festival of costume parades, flowerbedecked floats, processions of lights and thousands of dancers and musicians performing in the streets.

Plan your French Mediterranean honeymoon with time-saving information from the Nice Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (en.nicetourisme.com), where you’ll find helpful tips on gay-friendly Nice and romantic ideas for couples.


Captivating Caribbean

Our survey of Caribbean resorts takes you from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico’s Vieques Island to Tulum on the coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. With the Caribbean’s translucent waters as the unifying element, each destination offers a sui generis atmosphere and options for exploring. Buyer beware: After this whirlwind east-west journey, you might insist that your dream honeymoon (or wedding) must take place in a sun-splashed tropical paradise.

St. Croix’s Sand Castle on the Beach (127 Smithfield, Frederiksted, 800-524-2018, sandcastleonthebeach. com) is a lesbian-owned, oceanfront boutique hotel bordering the serene blue sea. Choose a specific romance or honeymoon package, or go freestyle in your pick of 21 spacious studios, suites and private villas. This intimate hotel is designed for unwinding and leaving the rest of the world behind: feel free to lounge about lazily in beach chairs, doze together in hammocks or take a dip in the pool. Sand Castle’s Beach Side Café serves a Continental breakfast and Sunday brunch, as well as lunch and dinner, if you happen to work up an appetite doing nothing.

Not quite ready for the honeymoon of a lifetime? Focus on the wedding first. Sand Castle has been in the business of hosting LGBT commitment ceremonies and honeymoons for more than a decade, and the staff’s attention to your every need is finely honed. Choose from three different wedding packages that each come with an entire team devoted to making your beach ceremony unforgettable. Contact the hotel for event planning assistance—they’ll see to it that you get hitched without a hitch. Don’t leave St. Croix without exploring the adjacent Buck Island Reef National Monument (nps.gov/buis), a 4,554-acre underwater nature preserve. Snorkelers should follow the trail, marked by undersea plaques, through the rare elkhorn coral barrier reef teeming with more than 250 species of fish and other fauna. You might spot eagle rays, nurse or lemon sharks, leatherback and hawksbill turtles, and seabirds along with schools of jewel-toned wrasses, parrotfish and angelfish.

If you’re thinking of an October getaway, the only place on the planet to see and be seen is Puerto Rico’s gorgeous Vieques Island. Valhalla Women’s Week (305-726-7339, valhallawomensweek. com) takes over the ultra-chic, worldclass W Retreat and Spa from October 20-23 for an exclusive luxury Caribbean vacation “designed for the LBT women’s community.” It’s presented by Pandora Events, Maggie C Events and GO Magazine, so you know you’ll be in good hands.

Only a three and a half hour flight from New York (and no passport required), Vieques welcomes you and your better half for a revel in the company of hundreds of women. Valhalla’s vacation packages are designed with careful attention to every detail, from the spacious resort accommodations and gourmet dining to the private beaches and lavish parties exclusively for Valhalla guests. This all-inclusive vacation package covers luxury accommodations, resort fees, ground transfers, daily breakfast buffet and all Valhalla events including Babylon Beach Bash, Splash Pool Party, Sunday Brunch and Tea Dance with name-brand DJs and live performances. Also included: fiery sunsets, refreshing tradewinds and a bioluminescent bay that glows at night. Even when this amazing women’s weekend is over, you can let your lingering honeymoon fantasies run wild.

Discover the Western Caribbean from Mexico’s impossibly beautiful Mayan Riviera, the coast of shimmering sand and sea at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. Book your honeymoon at the lesbian-friendly Adonis Tulum Riviera Maya Gay Resort & Spa (Carretera Tulum Boca Paila Km 3.8, 800-233-5162, adonistulum.com), one of the coasts’ newest and most exclusive properties. From your deluxe, all-inclusive suite, feast your eyes on the lush gardens or the jadegreen Caribbean Sea, which harbors the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

Take a scenic drive (or cheap taxi ride) along Tulum’s spectacular coastline, where you’ll gaze in awe of the sugar-white sands, shimmering ocean waters, balmy breezes and bright sunshine. Explore Tulum’s dazzling Mayan ruins, remnants of a vast walled city built between the 13th and 15th centuries AD. Pyramid-shaped temples, ceremonial platforms and palaces overlook the bright blue ocean from a 40-foot cliff. Local tour providers like Gray Line (grayline. com/cancun) offer coach tours of the ruins departing from nearby Cancun. Package tours may also include a stop at the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve (amigosdesiankaan.org/en), a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing coral reefs, tropical forest, native wildlife and a huge system of crystal-clear underground rivers and deep pools called cenotes.

Tulum is packed with opportunities for excellent scuba, freediving, snorkeling and a variety of customizable excursions. Since Tulum is so close to Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, three of Mexico’s most sought-after vacation destinations, you can create your own itinerary of honeymoon hotspots.
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