According to Community Marketing & Insights’ 21st and latest Annual Survey on LGBT Tourism & Hospitality, “rest and relaxation” is the top priority for leisure travelers identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual. And while a hotel’s LGBT-friendly reputation is less a motivator to these travelers than location, value / quality and price, the comfort of friendly surroundings is certainly conducive to maximum R&R. The following is a sampling of hotels that provide that level of comfort and also house authentic, one-of-a-kind restaurants — a factor for the majority of LGBT guests but especially strong with Millennials.
Queens Gardens Resort: Caribbean specialists often hail this resort as the most LGBT-welcoming in all of Saba. Why? The seclusion and the food. The Caribbean cuisine is prepared by Chef Kevin Holland, complemented by a robust selection of rums from Martinique and Guadeloupe. The kicker, however, is that every room has its own open-air Jacuzzi facing the valley below. The small yet attentive staff at Queens Gardens Resort is very hands-on, catering to every guest’s individual needs.
Juliana’s Hotel: This is well suited for the budget-conscious LGBT traveler. However, for those seeking more luxurious accommodations, Juliana’s Hotel also offers a fully equipped apartment or a choice of three private Saban cottages.
The Cottage Club Hotel: This hotel should also appeal to LGBT clients on a budget. Although we were told by experts we spoke to that the property is in need of some minor touch-ups, we also understand that these rooms provide some of the best views in all of Saba. LGBT clients will feel at home in one of the hotel’s 10 cottages. They all feature full kitchens and its own private balcony facing the sea.
Floris Suite Hotel — Spa & Beach Club: This hotel is often cited by travel advisors as being one of the most LGBT-welcoming hotels in not just Curacao, but the Caribbean in general. In fact, we were told roughly 50 percent of the hotel’s guests are LGBT members. This 72-suite hotel is a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and also the site of the annual Curacao Pride festival celebrating the Caribbean LGBT community. General Manager Frank Holtslag is also the president of Curacao Gay Pro, which works to organize LGBT events on the island.
The spa at Curacao’s Floris Suite Hotel – Spa & Beach Club has a relaxation area with access to the pool.
Floris, which renovated its rooms just two years ago, has a spa with a steam room and a sauna, modern fitness equipment, a private pool in the courtyard, and is one of the only hotels on island that caters strictly to guests 18 and older. The restaurants and bars at the Floris have authentic style and ambiance, with creative cuisine and extensive wine and cocktail selections.
Another great feature for your LGBT clients is the hotel concierge’s “Out and About” list, which details LGBT-friendly activities throughout the island. Floris also recently unveiled its new Spazio Suite, set on an elevated platform right on Moomba Beach. The chic, 650-square-foot suite affords unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea and comes with butler service, fully stocked bar and refrigerator, a smart TV, Bose sound system and customized iPad.
Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort Curacao: This IGLTA-member hotel, which up until a few years ago was a Hyatt Regency Resort, should appeal to LGBT travelers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Willemstad and relax on the serene eastern side of the island. The 350-room property also has one of the best spas, Abatei, on island. All spa suites include a personal vanity, rain shower and outdoor relaxation patio. LGBT clients may also stretch out and kick back at the co-ed relaxation lounge where the hotel provides complimentary refreshments and light snacks.
Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa: This is another of the many island hotels that belong to IGLTA. It’s centrally located on island, within walking distance to the Queen Emma Bridge and downtown Willemstad, shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Spread over an eight-block area, the 4.5-star resort village includes two pools, multiple restaurants and bars, shops, a world-acclaimed anthropological museum, spa, courtyards and gardens. None of the rooms are alike and many have unique architectural elements that may appeal to the LGBT traveler, especially the art enthusiast.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino: LGBT clients will especially be drawn to the relaxing H2Oasis Adult Pool or the casino gaming action at the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. The spacious guestrooms have upscale bedding, high-tech amenities and some of the largest balconies in Aruba.
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino’s guestrooms have upscale bedding and high-tech amenities. Seen here is a Junior Suite.
The hotel’s culinary offerings are led by the always-popular Ruth’s Chris Steak House and the signature seafood restaurant, Atardi. Renamed and revamped last year, Atardi, formerly the beloved Simply Fish, now offers guests the same casual, toes-in-the-sand dining experience with an elevated ambiance. Atardi, which translates to “afternoon” in Aruba’s native language, Papiamento, transforms the resort’s daytime beach area into a magical and memorable pop-up restaurant once the sun begins to set. The menu takes guests on a flavorful culinary journey, showcasing local Aruban favorites and the island’s best seafood.