Vacation destinations on your radar in 2013

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As more states embrace Marriage Equality, with a number of them expected to pass legislation this year, wedding bells are ringing across the nation.

And what comes after the party? The Honeymoon.

ChicGayHoneymoons.com, founded by Thomas Stanley and Creative Director of Victoria’s Secret, Laurie Wolf, has curated a list of the best spots to spend your post-wedding wanderings. 

The company has done extensive research, taking into account a variety of factors including the atmosphere regarding LGBT travelers in the country, the governments response to local LGBT rights, and the individual actions of a particular hotel or community.

“As the gay community becomes more normalized there will be a need for better and more appropriate travel services,” said Stanley. “For example, three times this year my partner and I received rooms with two full size beds even though we requested king size ones. So we’re on a mission to change the industry and open up the mainstream for gay and lesbian couples.” 

So, if you’re planning a wedding in your future, or even just looking to vacation this year, maybe give one of these a try.  

1. SABA – This tiny volcanic island populated by only 1200 people, has laid claim to being the first Caribbean destination to perform a gay marriage. Saba, an unspoiled gem, is perfect for those who want an exclusive honeymoon in a lush setting, with tropical rainforests, beautiful coral reefs with world class S.C.U.B.A. and snorkeling, intimate inns, boutique hotels, pubs and restaurants. The Shearwater, an award gay-owned property, with luxury suites and private cottages, is the finest boutique resort on the island. It also boasts an award-winning restaurant, Bistro del Mare for intimate dinners, wedding receptions and celebrations.

2. TAIWAN – The Taiwanese Supreme Court is expected to hand down a highly anticipated decision on gay marriage in mid-January – with most international observers expecting a positive decision. Taiwan, a beautiful island in the South China Sea, is the most gay-friendly and socially liberal country in Asia, with fantastic Chinese cuisine that embraces nuances of its Portuguese and Dutch past, spectacular national parks and landscape, and serene Buddhist monasteries that welcome gay honeymooners. 

3. CAPE TOWN + THE WINELANDS of SOUTH AFRICA  – As the first country in the world to enshrine gay rights in its constitution, South Africa is one of Africa’s bright spots. Cape Town, surely one of the most scenic cities on earth, welcomes gay couples with world class hotels, fabulously friendly locals and one of Africa’s few Michelin-starred French restaurants, La Colombe. 

Close by, travelers and foodies alike, are indulged at boutique hotels, estates and spas, in Cape Town’s spectacularly beautiful and flavorful Winelands region. Nestled among spectacular mountains, the area is steeped in culture, history and classical 17th century Dutch architecture, which adds a wonderful depth to their world-class vineyards, wines and tasting rooms. Cape Town also offers unparalleled hiking, whale-watching, penguin-spotting and a rich culture that embraces its Rainbow Nation.

4. PUNTA del ESTE, URUGUAY – Uruguay is preparing to roll out the red carpet for gay couples worldwide, as it is expected to be the next country to legalize gay marriage in 2013. Tucked between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay’s culture and cuisine is strongly flavored by its geographical location as well as its Spanish and Portuguese heritage. 

Punta del Este, known as the St. Tropez of Uruguay, is a chic and romantic coastal getaway. Nestled on the eastern coast of the country, it is known for miles of glistening beaches, boutique luxury hotels, vibrant nightlife and spectacular, award winning alfresco dining.  

5. THE COAST OF MAINE – As one of the newest states to legalize same sex marriage, Maine’s ruggedly spectacular coast offers some of the freshest and finest seafood in the world, as well as world-class sailing, fishing, hiking and sea kayaking. Known for its northeast sensibilities and wit, Maine is a refreshing mix of quintessential American heritage, and the fierce independence of its forefathers. For those seeking a cultural fix, Portland boasts a phenomenal mix of galleries, boutiques, exceptional restaurants and luxury hotels, just a short drive away. 

6. ICELAND – Iceland is one of the most overlooked and yet perfect places for a gay honeymoon – with gay marriage, a lesbian Prime Minister and a culture that not only embraces their gay community – it celebrates it. 

From the Blue Lagoon and natural hot springs, to mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and the aurora borealis, Iceland is graced with some of the world’s most unique natural wonders. Culture, nightlife, boutique hotels and luxury spas are the core of chic Reykjavik – while mountain climbing, white water rafting, whale watching and traversing glaciers, make Iceland a lushly beautiful country to explore and share an adventure. At only four hours away from Boston, and easily accessible from New York, Seattle, Washington DC and Orlando, among other U.S. cities, Iceland is a top destination.

7. SEATTLE – For those seeking an urban honeymoon, Seattle is one of the hippest and most culturally diverse cities in America – and one of the newest to perform gay marriages. With towering Mt. Rainier overlooking the city, Seattle is known for its edgy music scene, spectacular Pacific Rim cuisine, coffee/counter-culture and the public farmer’s market and temple of foodies everywhere: Pike Place Market.  Combine all of the above with chic boutique hotels, cozy inns and nearby Bainbridge island, and you have a delicious recipe for a memorable honeymoon.

8. PROVENCE – The debate rages in France, regarding gay marriage – but, as one of the first nations to allow rights for gay citizens in 1798, France has always been the darling of Europe for gay couples. With rolling lavender fields and ancient olive groves to stone farmhouses, open-air markets and rustic Provençal cuisine, to the glittering jet-set magic of the Côte d’Azur, Provence is the ‘It Girl’ of France. Boasting some of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, historic cities, boutiques, crescent beaches, breathtaking hotels and romantic auberge, the south of France is the epitome of chic.

9. LONDON – London has called on gay travelers for decades, and the inevitability of gay marriage is now in the details phase in Parliament. Considered the gay capital of the world, London is an encyclopedia of delights for chic gay travelers. From cuttingedge cuisine to world class theater and shopping, with exceptional luxury hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental on Hyde Park, 51 Buckingham Gate named for its proximity to the palace and a stable of spectacular boutique hotels, London is an unparalleled experience for gay travelers seeking a memorable honeymoon. 

10. MONTREAL – Quirky, traditional, edgy and full of contradictions, Montreal is chic beyond belief – France of the New World. Home to one of the most vibrant gay communities in North America, couples experience a city filled with romance, historical architecture, a reverence for the Arts and Culture, museums, music, chic boutiques and incredible restaurants and café culture. In addition, Montreal’s beautiful inns and luxury hotels give gay honeymooners the perfect place to call home during their honeymoon getaway…

11. CURAÇAO – As one of the first Caribbean destinations to aggressively court gay travelers, Curaçao’s spectacular white cove beaches, delicate fusion of French, Dutch and island cuisine, UNESCO sites and world class diving, coupled with some of the friendliest islanders in the Caribbean, make Curaçao one of the hottest destinations for chic gay honeymooners.

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