Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh Canada, Oh Gay Canada

Canada: 2008 Gay Country of the Year

  • In July 2005, became 4th country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.

  • Attitude: So and so is gay? So what?

  • Even the Yukon's 33k pop has a pride travel company!

  • Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver can all claim to have hosted the IGLTA convention (twice), the Gay Games (1990) and World Outgames (2011).
Vancouver: Australia aside, BC is on my top 5 list of places I have wanted to explore and enjoy like a local. Crisp mountain mornings, spectacular sunsets, best nude beach in world, and some pretty outstanding gardens, mountains and museums.

West Van: highest concentration of gays than anywhere.
East Van: where the women flock along Commercial Drive.
North Van: where the people with two homes live during nice months.

2010 Winter Olympics aside, the Whistler-Blackcomb peaks mountain and the village are no more special than Colorado or the Adirondack National Park (which has twice hosted the winter games). Nevertheless, Whistler is Canada's #1 rated winter resort, and the skiing and snowboarding are olympic quality.With luck, Canada will be #1 Gay Country again when it hosts the 2011 World OUTgames. I first competed in the Gay Games in Vancouver in Celebration '90 as young racquetballer. In the OUTgames, I'll be eligible for the senior division of the Eco Challenge and the senior golf championships:>)

*** Canadians who are members of IGLTA who can help you find your way to the Yukon & Beyond, to the Winter Pride Festival, and to those other olympics in 2010 include:

G&L Booking Portals

Rainbow Tourism.com

G&L Event Planners

Gay Whistler/Alpenglow Productions

G&L Tour Operators

OUT Adventures
Yukon Pride Adventures

G&L Info Portals


Monday, October 27, 2008

USA New Entry Requirements

If you are travelling to the USA on 12 January 2009 or after you will need a Electronic Travel Authorization if you normally apply for entry under the USA Visa Waiver Program.

You will need to apply at least 72 hours before you travel for this authorisation to the USA (or even transit through the US) - without it you won't be able to board you plane.

For more details check the Department Homeland Security website -

The good news is the authorization will last for 2 years (or till your passport expires).  You will still need to complete entry documentation on arrival in the USA.

(Photo courtesy of freefoto.com)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Les Alebrijes Festival - 6 to 9 November 2008

Les Alebrijes is a brand new enterprise focused on lesbian art & tourism in Mexico. 

On November 6th- Les Alebrijes -  the 1st Lesbian Arts Festival in Mexico is happening in  Puerto Vallarta.

Visitors will enjoy painting, sculpture, music and more from important Mexican artists. 

If you happen to be heading to Mexico this year then check out more details on their website - www.lesalebrijes.com

If you need travel assistance please contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Australia and New Zealand have never been cheaper

With the dramatic drop in the Australian and New Zealand dollar a trip down under hasn't been as cheap for a long time.

So how many dollars can you get for your trip downunder.

On current rates:

USD 1000 and you will have over NZD 1600 or AUD 1500

CAD 1000 and you will have over NZD 1300 or AUD  1200

EUR 1000 and you will have over NZD 2100 or AUD  1900

GBP 1000 and you will have over NZD 2700 or AUD  2400

And remember all the prices shown on the Rainbow Tourism site for Australia and New Zealand include all taxes and are displayed in AUD or NZD. 

Tips and gratuties are not expected in Australia and New Zealand and as a rule of thumb should only be given for excellent service. 

So this means when you see a price on Rainbow Tourism you don't need to add any local taxes (unless explicity stated) or add any service fee or gratuties to the price.

Money tips  - some useful links

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bloggers Welcome - All Stories welcome

We are always looking at ways to expand our blog and provide interesting travel tips and stories.

If you have an great travel tip or story then feel free to drop us an email.

If you want to be a regular (or irregular) blogger on one of our three travel blogs (we are adding more themed ones in the future) then contact us and we can set you up. 

The Sydney Outfielders Gay & Lesbian Softball - 8 November

If you are Sydney on the 8th November join the Sydney Outfielders in Randwick for a night of bowling.

A fund-raising event to send Sydney Outfielders men's and women's teams to the World Outgames in Copenhagen, Denmark in August 2009.

Cost: $23.50 per person includes 2 games plus shoes
Parking: Free customer parking in Randwick Plaza (Coles)
Where: AMF Bowling Centre in Randwick, 130 Belmore Road
When: Saturday 8 November 2008
Time: 8pm-10pm

Join us and bring your friends! Reserve your spot(s) with a team member of the Outfielders. Places are limited.

Services and Facilities
26 Bowling Lanes Café seating for 50 people Fully licensed bar Amusement machines and pool tables

50% of the proceeds of the cost go to the Sydney Outfielders. The money is used to assist in subsidising team member’s costs to participate in the World Outgames in Copenhagen in August 2009.

Contact Sydney Outfielder for more information.

And if you can't make it don't forget to buy some raffle tickets in their great raffle.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adventure Travel for Lesbian & Gay Explorers Comes of Age ...

...with green tours and global destinations.

GOA (Great Outdoor Adventures from San Francisco) and Ms. Adventures (Colorado whitewater rafting trips) are two of the earliest adventure tour operators who pioneered that niche within IGTA - back in the 80s.

By the time the organization added the L word in the 90s, several more adventure tour operators sprung up on both sides of the equator.

Today, 25 years after our fledgling gay tourism industry began, a new wave of adventure trips are being created by fresh new gay and lesbian owned companies. Many of them paid their dues working for some of the leading adventure companies, and have now ventured out on their own.

One such success story is OUT Adventures, based in Canada. Intrepid Travel may not be a household word to you, but it is in Australia, New Zealand and now Canada. Intrepid Canada is run by the cofounder of OUT Adventures, and Intrepid NZ just announced its lesbian and gay tour division.

Intrepid Dee

On a personal note, these new RainbowTourism.com affiliates make me want to revive my Ms. Adventures company and become a Tour Ambassador for these truly exciting eco trips!

--DownUnder Dee & Rainbow Tourism Concierge
(formerly Ms. Adventure)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gold Coast - 30 kms of beach and more

This week I visited the Gold Coast, Australia to explore the opportunities for gay and lesbian visitors.

With a short two day visit and a presentation it didn't leave much time to explore the kms of beaches and the wonderful restaurants and cafes but it did give a taste of what is a wonderful holiday destination.

Staying at the Ultra Broadbeach self service apartments I had access to all the facilities you could want - swimming pool, gym, cinema, tennis court and more - with Broadbeach just across the road and a wide choice of cafes a short 5 minute walk away. 

I also explored a number of Dreamtime Resorts self serviced apartments:
  • Reflection Two - at the southern end of the Gold Coast
  • The Chancellor Executive Apartments at Varsity Lakes
  • Pacific Views Resort on Main Beach
All offer a different experience but all offer modern, well furnished apartments located in walking distance of wonderful food and restaurants.

The final stop was at the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove. A very private location with a small village beside the hotel offers the traveller very affordable full service luxury. From the moment you enter the grounds of the hotel you are treated to a very Hyatt experience mixed with a warm Queensland attitude.

Finally I have to mention Red Back Rentals who have a great range of luxury, vintage and convertible cars available. 

The other great news about the Gold Coast is that getting there is so easy and affordable with great airfares from Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand. 

The other good news all the accommodation is reasonably priced and the only high season is school holidays and in winter you will find the temperatures still very mild.

So if you are looking for a great holiday with your friends, partner and/or children then why not consider the Gold Coast.

While we add all these new options to our site please do contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge for a great holiday experience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sea to Sky in Style

Vancouver is Gay-Fabulous!

I don't know where to begin - and it's not like this is my first time to Vancouver, Whistler and Vancouver Island. There is just so much to say - and others have described it so well that I'm going to paraphrase...

  • From crisp mountain mornings to spectacular seaside sunsests, Canada is all about variety.
  • The key to this great country (where gays and lesbians can legally marry) is to tap into its diversity.
  • No matter if you're a ZipTrek thrill seeker, massage/spa/yoga hedonist or an avid photographer, you're not likely to be disappointed.
No tourists wanted. Come to explore and Travel Gay Canada.

This (frequent) visitor's choice is British Columbia and the host cities of the 2010 Winter Olympics -
Vancouver and Whistler.

I was on my way here for a travel conference and expo when I met the sales rep for Four Seasons Resort at Whistler in my NYC travel agency. I accepted his offer to check out Canada's only AAA Five Diamond Resort in a New York minute! An Olympics buff, I wanted to see for myself where the events will be taking place and buy some souvenirs with the Olympic emblem and Whistler logo. TH\he Four Seasons is nestled beneath the legendary Blackcomb Mountain (loved by elite skiers the world over). The peak was covered with fresh white-sugar powder upon arrival for a picture postcard photo opp.

Dean Nelson, Mr. Whistler, gave me a personal tour of the village which is host to the annual Gay Ski Week which Dean's company produces.

Together, we joined other international bloggers on a VIP tour of the Four Seasons, led by their savvy PR manager, Elena, who I learned spent sometime in Melbourne Australia at the same time I was living downunder. I was glad she encouraged me to book a relaxing treatment in the spa the night before; great relaxation room with a view of the heated outdoor pool and hot tub.

After my hearty breakfast, I was ready for the tour of the resort's beautiful grounds and interior ambience - with a deetour to the golf course across the street. (My night before dinner at the award-winning bistro - where breakfast was also served - was incredible and lived-up to its reputation.)

Whistler Mountain and Whistler Village (which reminded me of my hometown Aspen) combines the pleasures of a winter wonderland with superb golf and wilderness activities in the warmer months. If you haven't been, don't wait till 2010!

Right now, the olympic venues and village are 2.5 hours from YVR International Airport - but the highway is being reworked to save an hour. The construction will be done well before 2010, so local skiers can get up to the slopes quicker for practice before qualifying for the games.

My recommendation if you're going between Whistler and Vancouver or the airport is to use Perimeter Whistler Express for an easy, comfortable ride in a clean private coach. Alternatively, the Whislter Mountaineer rail trip for $185 is worth it if you want to ride for 3 hours in an observatgory car for the sea to sky views like no where else! Of course, if you own your own floatplane or have a private helicopter, you can get there that way too. Rocky Mountain High!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Which city in Australia would you most like to visit?

 Expedia Poll Results 
Map of Australia Western Australia Northern Territory South Australia Queensland New South Wales Victoria Tasmania
  • Sydney 52%
  • Melbourne 31%
  • Perth 11%
  • Hobart 6%

    All backwards, says this former Tasmanian!  Next trip down under, I'm headed to Perth.  
    Map of New Zealand
    If they had asked the same question about New Zealand?
    • Auckland ?
    • ChristChurch?

    I'm most fond of the North Island, other than the finer wines and Maori jewellery and Porstige being from the South Island!

    Air New Zealand has just the ticket for Canadians wanting to travel downunder.  
    See their new marketing message about travelling the world exactly the way you are...at www.airnewzealand/gayandlesbian.

    Wherever you decide to travel in Australia or New Zealand, you can make your bookings online fast and easy at Rainbow Tourism's one-stop, secure booking engine with the same rates as if you went direct to the gay owned and gay welcoming suppliers.  


    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    TasPride Festival 2008 - 1 to 16 November 2008

    TasPride is happening in the first two weeks of November.

    If you haven't been to Tasmania but always wanted to then head to Hobart this November and join with the locals at TasPride.

    November 1 sees the start of TasPride with a Halloween Party and ends on November 16th with TasPride Festival Family Picnic Day

    Check out more details on the TasPride wesbite.

    If you need accommodation, tours or other travel assistance check out the Rainbow Tourism Tasmania places page or feel free to contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Caribbean Islands - Where do you recommend?

    This week we had the following inquiry:
    My BF and I are thinking about going to the Caribbean on vacation soon. Can you advise me what is that best island to visit as far as being gay friendly and having the most nightlife and beautiful beaches catering to Gays?
    About.com has some suggestions where they suggest the five most gay friendly islands.

    • St Barts
    • St. Martin/St. Maarten
    • Puerto Rico
    • U.S. Virgin Islands 
    • Curacao
    If you look at the IGLTA website those sites with the most IGLTA members from these five are from top to bottom:

  • Curacao
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands 
  • St. Martin/St. Maarten
  • St Barts

  • We would love our readers thoughts on this topic so please feel free to answer the questions below using our comment section. 

    • What is your  favourite Caribbean Island?
    • The best gay night life
    • The best gay beaches
    • The best island for lesbians
    • The best island for Rainbow Families

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Air New Zealand - Great Service Wins Out

    The 2008 Conde Nast Travellers Awards has rated Air New Zealand as the top airline flying between Australia and New Zealand to North America in both the Long Haul Leisure and the Business class award sections. (Air New Zealand comes in at number 6 across the whole world).

    This doesn't surprise me as my Sydney to New Zealand flights with Air New Zealand have all been a pleasure due to the good customer service and the passion of the staff.

    In addition in August I travelled to San Francisco with Air New Zealand and was pleasantly surprised with the experience.

    Unlike North American airlines, Air New Zealand has followed the Asia route of travel and increased services for all travellers.

    The flight from Auckland to San Francisco gave me the opportunity to try out their new entertainment system which allows you to watch movies of your choice or listen to music and more from the moment you are seated on the plane right to you reach the gate at the other end. This service is currently only on their long haul flights but is been introduced progressively on the Trans Tasman service. 

    Flying in Pacific Economy the quality of food and general level of service was excellent on both the three hour flight from Sydney to Auckland and on the twelve hour flight from Auckland to San Francisco. 

    Been a New Zealander living in Australia it was great to be able to catch up on some New Zealand TV shows on the in flight entertainment system but there was plenty to choose from no matter what you were interested and of course there is always the games. 

    Oh the best bit about the TV screens is that rather than making announcements and interrupting the entertainment system they simply put a text message on the top of the screen to let you know such things as what the meal selection was, etc. 

    Basically the only announcements were the one at the beginning when they welcomed you aboard, followed by the safety message then the announcement when we landed. This is something other airlines could emulate.

    In-Flight Concierge

    When I originally heard that Air New Zealand had introduced an in flight concierge on their long haul flights I had thought what would they do. However on the return flight from San Francisco I talked with the concierge and found out how they can assist.

    Some of the key things they can do is assist with queries about your destination, custom clearance information, connection information and much more. One crucial thing they do is if for any reason the flight is delayed they will assist you with your connections to make sure you get where you are going. You will find the concierge very knowledge and they are available to all passengers no matter whether you are flying economy, premium economy or business class.

    Premium Economy

    There is nothing nicer than handling your passport over at check in and been told you have been upgraded. This happened to me on the return flight from San Francisco so I had the opportunity to experience Air New Zealand Premium Economy.

    Been used to flying economy - the reality when you are a small tourism company - it is always a pleasure to be upgraded.

    The biggest difference is the additional leg room on the seats and the ability to recline 50% more than economy seats. This certainly allows you to sleep comfortably.

    The other major difference is that the food and beverage service is the same as business class. While the economy food and beverage service is excellent the additional service in Premium Economy will make your mouth water.

    Air New Zealand Staff

    The airline staff are the best reason to fly Air New Zealand. They are a real asset to the airline and their relaxed and friendly manner mean that you feel like a welcome guest aboard the plane. It is amazing the difference this makes to how you feel about the airline.

    Air New Zealand is also proactively seeking feedback on flights. Talking with the crew on the flight it was clear that if there was an issue on the flight if they could fix it they would otherwise they would note it and it would be fixed as quickly as possible. The other place to provide feedback is the AirNZMyVoice.co.nz website.
    Rainbow Tourism Recommendation

    So for your next trip to New Zealand or Australia I would strongly recommend flying with Air New Zealand. You may also want to consider flying Premium Economy - you can actually decide to fly one way Economy and the other way Premium Economy if you budget doesn't stretch to both ways.

    Air New Zealand are also offering some great flight deals from North America at the moment so why not check out the Air New Zealand website, book your flights, then book your accommodation on the Rainbow Tourism Website. If you want a real treat then why not let Rainbow Tourism book your whole trip and for a real taste of New Zealand try one of our new Local and Landscape packages.

    If you need any more assistance please contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge.

    North American Marketing Begins in Canada

    Greetings from one of the gayest cities in North America, the lovely and exciting Vancouver, BC.
    Over the years, I have visited the city for Federation of Gay Games and IGLTA events. Now I'm here for the Annual G&L World Travel Expo and trade marketing seminar put on by Community Marketing, Inc.

    I have also been here on holiday with women friends and was pleased to learn through CMI research that Vancouver is the #1 destitnation for North American lesbians. I hope to spot a few of them out and about over the next two weeks, as I make my way up to Whistler Mountain. Not only do I want to check out Winter Pride (Whistler Gay Ski Week's new name), but also the Four Seasons which is already geared up for the Winter Olympics in 2010 with their primo location at the foot of the ski runs.

    Friday, October 03, 2008

    Sydney - New Years Eve - Book Your Accommodation now

    Sydney on New Year's Eve is always a great place to be with fireworks on the harbour and lots of partying.

    The bad news is Sydney accommodation is always booked out. With less than three months to go now is the time to book your accommodation.

    Most of gay owned and Rainbow Tourism Accredited properties are booked out but you can book some of the following Sydney hotels.

    If you need any assistance or can't find what you are looking for please contact the Rainbow Tourism Concierge.