Winter 2006 | Readers' Choice Awards
Here are your favorites:
FAVORITE DOMESTIC CITY
New York City
It's no surprise that most of you still happen to like New York. Winning by a wide margin for the second year in a row, this city of endless superlatives (including "gayest," thanks to its dense clutch of homo 'hoods) beat out San Francisco and Chicago (your second and third favorites). We can't seem to get enough of Gotham's delirious energy. Thankfully, when we need a fix between trips, there's always le cinema du jour, whether it's John Cameron Mitchell's love letter to high-rise sexcapades, Shortbus, or a misty-eyed homage to high-society New York like Infamous, the latest Truman Capote flick. We know that when we go, the real thing is just as fabulous.
FAVORITE FOREIGN CITY
Indulging in a jolly holiday abroad should be an annual--if not monthly--ritual these days. Blessed be that all the pure British punk or pomp and circumstance you can handle is but a pond hop away. Yes, London leads Paris and Amsterdam as your fave foreign city…ta-dah! Nowhere does English trip off the tongue so sweetly. See for yourself when all-male theater company Propeller tackles two Shakespearean comedies of mistaken identity: Twelfth Night and The Taming of the Shrew run at the Old Vic in January.
FAVORITE GAY RESORT TOWN
Rumors of Key West's demise as a gay destination have been greatly exaggerated. The only thing straight about Key West is the elevated approach to the city along U.S. 1. OK, a few new hetero folks have moved in, but most of them are cool hetero folks--and they're moving into all of our resort towns (including Provincetown and Palm Springs, second and third on your list). Tell your skeptical friends it's not the end of the world. They can still see drag performer Sushi at 801 Bourbon on Duval Street, they can still erase their tan lines at an all-gay resort, and they can still have a queer old time during the city's annual Fantasy Fest. Go West!
OK, so it's an archipelago, not just one island--but when it comes to choosing your favorite slice of secluded paradise, why settle for just one? Mykonos and Puerto Rico also registered as top choices this year, but Hawaii blew them both out of the water. Maybe it's the natural diversity of the islands themselves, the sincere "Aloha" that greets each visitor, the mushrooming variety of world-class spas, or the faithful fireworks show that comes from America's only active, continuously erupting volcano. Add in Honolulu's gay bars, Kona's gay-owned guesthouses, and scores of hot surfers, and it's pure heaven!
FAVORITE HOTEL COLLECTION
Most contemporary cocktail conversation revolves around where you've been, where you're going, or where you're staying. Gay and lesbian travelers know that name-dropping (er, letter-dropping) the W provides a boon to our social currency and instantly sets us apart as stylish, hip, sophisticated, in-the-know, and value-minded. In turn, wooing the gays--most notably with its annual Pride 365 Package, which includes a killer swag bag, a pair of cocktails, and a very charitable 2 p.m. checkout time--has provided a boost for W (part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which includes Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis). It's a win-win! The brand's first properties in Asia (W Seoul) and Canada (W Montreal) are now open, and W Residences (in case you want to move in permanently) are in the works for Las Vegas, Hollywood, South Beach, Phoenix, Philadelphia, plus Scottsdale, Ariz., and Hoboken, N.J. Wow! Runners-up: the Marriott and Hilton chains. Perhaps if they simply shortened their names to M and H.
FAVORITE GAY RESORT
Island House, Key West
What's not to love about Island House? With feather beds, free wi-fi, 24-hour poolside or in-room massage, a high ratio of staff to guests (30 men for 34 rooms), and a clothing-optional vibe that doesn't seem creepy, Island House ensures that Key West's reputation as a quality gay getaway is here to stay. You could easily camp out poolside all day long thanks to the ever-attentive waitstaff at the café and bar, but Key West's great public beaches are just a 10-minute bike ride away. Another Key West favorite, Big Ruby's, was your second choice, while the Cabana at Waikiki in Honolulu came in at number 3.
FAVORITE DOMESTIC AIRLINE
One of the longest supporters of the gay market, American Airlines has earned a perfect 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for the past five years; AA was the first airline to implement domestic-partnership benefits for its employees. The company has also created a dedicated gay vacation microsite, and it boasts an impressive résumé when it comes to supporting nonprofit organizations, such as GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, and this year, Gay Games VII in Chicago. (Delta and United placed second and third.)
FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL AIRLINE
With more flights from Europe to the Atlantic than any other carrier, the inside of a British Airways jet is often our first tantalizing peek at just how great European service and hospitality can get. BA offers clean and roomy bathrooms, loads of entertainment options, and some of the best food in flight. It does the basics extremely well! Readers also loved Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM.
FAVORITE CRUISE COMPANY
Carnival Cruise Lines
There's more to Carnival than those Kathy Lee Gifford "If they could see you now" commercials. Carnival Corp. owns six of the best-known brands in the industry: Holland America, Cunard, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, and Windstar. RSVP (which shares the same parent company as this magazine) and Atlantis Events have chosen Carnival previously for its large-scale chartered events, based on the progressive, all-inclusive atmosphere that the line aims to create aboard its ships and in its offices. Carnival has sponsored several AIDSWalk events, in addition to a broad range of community causes when it's not buzzing people around the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, Mexico, and Canada. Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian also ranked high as reader favorites.
FAVORITE ALL-GAY TOUR OPERATOR
Playing host to over 15,000 gay and lesbian travelers every year, Atlantis Events always offers a diverse lineup of cruises that makes it hard to decide where to go next. In 2007 it's offering not one but two Mediterranean voyages--the first: from Barcelona to Athens, taking in Italy and the Greek isles; the other: to up-and-coming gay destinations such as Istanbul and Croatia. Can't decide? Combine them for a 17-day adventure. RSVP ranked a close second, with TravelPride and Olivia in third and fourth places.
FAVORITE GAY EVENT
San Francisco Pride
One of the last remaining pride events that can truly be called a rite of passage, San Francisco Pride celebrates its 37th anniversary June 23 and 24, 2007. What started as a simple "gay-in" in 1970 has grown into one of the biggest events in Northern California, attracting hundreds of thousands of queer pilgrims from around the world. The parade along Market Street is the second largest in California (next to the Rose Parade). Gay Days Orlando and New York City Pride placed second and third, but San Francisco is still the happiest place on earth!