Every year around this time many people’s stomachs are in a bit of a knot. If you have a plus-one, you have to figure out how and where to celebrate Valentine’s Day and what to buy your honey. If you’re solo, you pretty much despise all those cooing lovebirds twittering (and Tweeting) their eternal bonds. Whether coupled or not, let’s face it: this is one of those holidays that most people (secretly) dread. What better way to enjoy V-Day than escaping it? Here’s a road map for pair-bonded partners to celebrate their love in two vastly different romantic destinations. For our solo traveling friends, we’ve also laid out a pair of the sexiest places we’ve recently visited. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a little, er, love, while you’re there.
If you’re partner is a sun-seeker, we have the perfect destination: the island of Curaçao. The Caribbean is not known for being super gay-friendly, though. In fact, it can be pretty “Bible thumpy.” Climb in a cab and you’re more likely than not going to hear religious talk radio. Yuck. But there are pockets of the Caribbean that are welcoming to LGBT travelers, including this warm, sunny, Dutch-inflected island.
On the western end of the island you’ll find the beautiful Lodge Kura Hulanda and Beach Club nestled between the cliffs and ocean, providing a secluded island hideaway. Kura Hulanda also boasts a sister property, the fabulous Hotel Kura Hulanda in Willemstad, the island’s charming capital. Both actively court gay and lesbian clientele. Dine romantically at Restaurant Gouverneur de Rouville in a beautifully restored 18th-century building in a historic section of Willemstad. Request a table near the window for great views of the twinkling harbor.
Insider tip: Curaçao offers year-round activities specifically for gay and lesbian visitors. The place to start your gay research is GayCuracao.com.
Park City, UT
If winter is more your game, then head to Park City. “What,” you gasp, “Utah?!” Yes, we know the state is home to a religious group (that will remain nameless) that hasn’t been particularly nice to us, especially lately, but did you know that Park City is a bright blue dot in a blood-red state? Park City overwhelmingly voted for Obama in the last presidential election and proudly trumpets their long hippy-dippy history. They just can’t get enough of individuals, artists, and the gays.
Stay at the romantic, boutique lodge, the Hotel Park City, with its sprawling rooms, wintry views of mountains and ski runs, super attentive service, and a roaring fireplace in most rooms. I suggest you opt for dinner here, too. The restaurant is luxurious without being stuffy, the wait staff is helpful, friendly and very cute (All that fresh air and outdoorsy exercise!), and the food is fantastic (oriented towards game and other Alpine-style dishes). Hey, you need your calories for skiing!
Insider tip: Unless you are in the “biz” or have some masochistic tendencies, avoid the crowds, excessive prices, and “PIBs” (“people in black,” as the hordes of Hollywood types who flood the city for this film festival are called by locals) during Sundance Film Festival.
For the urban sophisticate who may lack the time or money to cross the pond, enjoy a little French sophistication in our own backyard. Montreal is not Canada’s largest city (that honor goes to Toronto) but it is the country’s most urbane. It’s like a sparkling Paris run by time-sensitive North Americans. Montrealers enjoy their wine, fine-dining, drag, and parties, but they do so efficiently, and they’re disarmingly friendly. This brings us back to you, dear solo travelers–if you want to meet someone in Montreal, you will.
You’ll be incredibly pampered at Hotel Le St. Germaine Montreal. This upscale, modern hotel offers the finest, most attentive service that is out of proportion for a comfortable, small boutique property. The common areas feature lots of comfy nooks where you can sit, read, eat, drink, and people watch. If you go online to hunt out a date or the cool party for the night, you’ll enjoy free WiFi. A really tasty, fully satisfying continental breakfast is included in the reasonable rates that start at $210. You’ll want to eat somewhere in the gay Village, and my pick is DSens at 1334 rue Sainte-Catherine Est. In the heart of the Village, this restaurant offers classic French fare with Italian influence in a solo-friendly atmosphere.
Insider tip: Catch a show at Mado. This is not your grandpa’s drag performance–these gals actually sing and dance to choreographed numbers. It’s incredibly fun, and it’ll give you something to talk about to that handsome guy or gal next to you.
If not Paris or Canada’s version of the City of Light, why not the Paris of South America? Buenos Aires is a solo voyager’s dream destination. It’s a vibrant city with an almost inexhaustible supply of options for lodging, dining, shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing. Oh, and did we mention the guys and gals are drop-dead gorgeous? And friendly? (Might want to pick up a few words of Spanish, but it’s not all that necessary. You and your new Argentine host will make do!)
With a name like Legado Mitico (“mythic legend”), you better be good. This 11-room hotel located in the fashionable Palermo Soho section of Buenos Aires lives up to its lofty name. The under-the-radar guesthouse offers top-notch service (with a high staff-customer ratio) in a secure environment located off one of the tree-lined, cobblestone streets of Soho with its multitudes of tiny restaurants, hip cafes, and boutique shops. So, as a solo traveler, you will feel safe and be in the heart of the gayest neighborhood in the city. Hop in one of the fast, efficient and really cheap cabs to Torcuato & Regina, a gay-friendly restaurant run by two Alejandros–a straight one and a gay one. You can try to figure out which is which!
Insider tip: Planning a visit here can be tricky, as not everyone speaks English perfectly, so you may wish to use the services of gay South America travel expert/agent and fellow dot429 member Carlos Melia.