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A Kiki with Preferred Pride's Rick Stiffler

Gay Travel - Preferred Pride Hotel Collection VP Rick Stiffler

 

The crowds. The heat. The sunburn. The exchange rate. (But, oh, the accents!) Summer travel to Europe can be a fraught business, so if anyone can alleviate the burden in one department, say securing a quality gay-friendly hotel, then they're tops in our book.

Enter Rick Stiffler, who has spent the last 12 years with the Preferred Hotel Group helping curate and promote some of the best independently-owned luxury properties around. The result, their Preferred Pride Collection, a large network of hotel that have taken the guesswork out of finding not only a gay-welcoming hotel but one that understands the unique needs of the LGBT traveler -- and gives us discounts and amenities to boot. (Employees benefit, too, as each must be either TAG or IGLTA-certified.)

We caught up with Stiffler after a rollicking 4th of July in Provincetown and got the one-time model and military brat and current VP of Leisure Sales to dish on his own road-warrioring secrets, what separates the classy from the exceptional, and how to survive Europe's hot summer season.

Gay Travel - Preferred Pride Hotel Collection VP Rick Stiffler

 

The crowds. The heat. The sunburn. The exchange rate. (But, oh, the accents!) Summer travel to Europe can be a fraught business, so if anyone can alleviate the burden in one department, say securing a quality gay-friendly hotel, then they're tops in our book.

Enter Rick Stiffler, who has spent the last 12 years with the Preferred Hotel Group helping curate and promote some of the best independently-owned luxury properties around. The result, their Preferred Pride Collection, a large network of hotel that have taken the guesswork out of finding not only a gay-welcoming hotel but one that understands the unique needs of the LGBT traveler -- and gives us discounts and amenities to boot. (Employees benefit, too, as each must be either TAG or IGLTA-certified.)

We caught up with Stiffler after a rollicking 4th of July in Provincetown and got the one-time model and military brat and current VP of Leisure Sales to dish on his own road-warrioring secrets, what separates the classy from the exceptional, and how to survive Europe's hot summer season.

Summer and Gay Europe go hand in hand. What's on your wish list? 

I’ve always wanted to go to London and Madrid for Pride. My European friends who attend say both cities are a blast. Amsterdam Pride is coming up at the end of July and that sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe I should take some sick days… 

One of my favorite restaurants in London is Randall and Aubin on Brewer Street in Soho. I’ve been going there since 1996. It’s a converted butcher shop with excellent food and music and cute waiters. For the best views of Madrid I like having cocktails at the Panorama Lounge on the roof top of the ME Hotel.

But oh, the crowds! Summer can be brutal in Europe. Any tips to survive and come out on top?

I like traveling to cities when I know the locals leave. The last two summers my partner and I visited Rome, Barcelona, Madrid,and London during the last part of August. You may have to deal with the heat but you can get into museums and restaurants with minimal waits. This year we’re traveling to Istanbul then heading over to Mykonos the last two weeks of August. Mykonos is one of our favorite places.

Choosing the right hotel can't hurt either. What can Preferred Hotels offer LGBT guests that other hotel groups can't?

Preferred Pride hotels all offer generous Pride benefits which include special rates and celebratory amenities. Since each hotel created its own Pride offers, they can range from a complementary bottle of champagne, breakfast, or a river cruise. Preferred Pride hotels and resorts support LGBT initiatives and welcome all guests who want a great deal and value for their travel spend.

Would you say there's a typical kind of guests you see booking the Preferred Pride packages? 

The wonderful thing about our Pride collection is that it includes 130 independently-owned hotels across the globe. We have choices for all types of travelers whether they want a 5-star resort in Beverly Hills or a hip hotel in the center of Paris. Our guests enjoy the truly unique and one of a kind experience independent hotels offer.

So then what what separates a great hotel from an amazing hotel?

It all comes down to facilities and service. A great sense of arrival is incredibly important. It always sets the tone of your stay. If your arrival experience isn’t delivered well, it can really put a damper on your first impression. I’ve been to some 4-star hotels where the staff went way above and beyond my expectations. I didn’t care if they had a deluxe spa or 24-hour room service because the service was so good. When a hotel pays attention to detail and makes it personal they always win bonus points from me.

As a former model, what's your secret to staying in shape while on the road?

Oh those years were long ago! I would recommend the skinny girl margarita. It’s basically just tequila, ice and a slice of lime. Seriously though, it can be a challenge. Anyone in my industry knows we do a lot of travel and entertaining. So you really need to be disciplined by watching what you eat and hitting the hotel gym when you can.

What's always in your carry-on?

My laptop, iPad, Kindle, iPod, sunglasses, a bottle of water, power bar, Baracoa Vitamin supplements, pack of Wine Gums, latest copy of Entertainment Weekly, and a clean pair of underwear. I always have a fear that my luggage will not arrive.



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