LGBT-Friendly Hotel Brands to Travel With
For Travel & Leisure, I researched and put together a collection of 12 of best LGBT-friendly hotel brands based in North America:
As written for Travel & Leisure: What does it take for a megalithic hospitality brand to be deemed one of the most LGBT friendly in the country? These brands are vocalizing support during Pride Month, Spirit Day, and LGBT milestones (such as the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality). They’re spotted advertising in LGBT outlets and sponsoring nonprofit events. They have community-specific packages and specials and prioritize creating a diverse and inclusive environment for guests and employees.
Hyatt, for example, was the first major hotel company to offer domestic partner benefits. Starwood’s W Hotels was the first hospitality brand to advertise in New York’s annual Pride parade. Kimpton became the first national hotel sponsor for The Trevor Project, a crisis and suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth.
A long-time corporate ally, Kimpton has made a commitment to positive change by identifying and supporting organizations that can make a difference for the LGBT community. In 2014, it became the first national hotel sponsor for The Trevor Project (the nation’s largest organization serving as a crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBT youth), offering its guests the opportunity to receive a discount on their room while donating a portion of the rate to the project. Kimpton also has a special part of its website dedicated to updates about promotions and packages of interest to LGBT folk. What’s more, Kimpton was the first hotel company to score a 100 percent on the annual Human Right Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (HRC CEI), and has maintained that score for the past 12 years. The brand spans over 60 boutique properties from San Francisco to New York City, and its Washington D.C. footprint includes nine different hotels. D.C.’s recently renovated Hotel Palomar is particularly great for Capital Pride viewing; the route runs directly in front of the hotel’s entrance. Both are in Dupont Circle, the historically LGBT neighborhood in D.C.
Marriott offers a travel website serving its LGBT customers, which highlights popular destinations and events and provides resources for LGBT couples planning weddings. Marriott has earned and maintained a perfect 100 score on the HRC CEI, and in 2014, Marriott launched its #LoveTravels campaign dedicated to making every traveler feel comfortable being who they are, everywhere they travel. The campaign led with images and videos featuring Jason Collins, the NBA’s first out player, Geena Rocero, a transgender supermodel, and its own LGBT associates. A couple specials for LGBT couples include the camp-era Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa (part of Autograph Collection Hotels) and it’s Pride Couples Package (which includes a Mountain or Lake View Guestroom, a wine bottle, and a $100 dollar spa credit). The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club in Florida, a resort that is TAG Approved and a participant in the IGLTA Network (the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association), offers an Out & About Package, which includes an LGBT Guide to St. Petersburg, an upgrade to Deluxe room with Jacuzzi, two complimentary welcome cocktails, and breakfast for two in Marchand’s.
Along with advertising in LGBT media and offering services and packages for LGBT travelers, Starwood brands publicly congratulated LGBT couples and their allies on the historic Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, posting rainbow-colored versions of the Starwood Preferred Guests logo. What’s more, Starwood’s W Hotels has been a proud ally since its founding over 15 years ago (it was the first hotel brand to have a presence in New York’s annual Pride parade). Teaming up with HRC and Jennifer Hudson, W Hotels launched the “Turn It Up For Change” campaign in 2014, which was dedicated to raising awareness and financial support for LGBT rights. As part of the campaign, W Hotels held monthly music concerts at properties across the country, with 20 percent of proceeds going to support the HRC’s work. Starwood has also partnered with other leaders in the LGBT community; including the IGLTA, Life Ball (the biggest charity event in Europe supporting people with HIV or AIDS), the Stonewall Community Foundation (a public foundation that focuses on the need of NYC’s LGBT youth community), and Reaching Out (a non-profit organization that empowers LGBT MBA students & other LGBT business graduate students).
Through the Stay Hilton. Go Out program, Hilton International’s LGBT travelers get vacation packages designed for couples, families, and even singles. The program, which was introduced in 2012, provides LGBT news and travel tips from out and proud celebs (such as musician Mary Lambert on what to do in her hometown of Seattle).
With more than 18 properties throughout the U.S., MGM Resorts was the first resort company in Las Vegas to begin heavily marketing to LGBT travelers. The events are amazing, too. Luxor offered the original LGBT-focused pool party in the city (Temptation Sundays), and Gay Days Las Vegas has called Luxor home for the last three years. MGM Resorts has been the presenting sponsor of Las Vegas’ PRIDE Parade for a few years and the resorts’ wedding chapels have long offered commitment ceremonies to same-sex couples.
The brand has been a host and partner to many LGBT events, including San Diego Pride, Reno Pride, and the DINAH Vegas lesbian weekend festival. On Dec. 13, 2014, Caesars married many LGBT couples as part of its free weddings on the High Roller (marrying and renewing vows for more than 85 couples, with the LGBT community making up almost 25 percent of the weddings). Also, Divas Las Vegas, the unforgettable Vegas drag show, is located at the Caesars-owned The LINQ Hotel & Casino. Plus, consider the celebrity talent the brand has hosted, from Mariah Carey to Celine Dion to Britney Spears.
The above are six of my personal favorite LGBT-friendly hotel brands.
See the full list over on Travel & Leisure.