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Welcome to the new era of equality! With the June 2015 US Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, our country now seems a little more free. New TPG Contributor Kelsy Chauvin takes advantage of this historical moment by sharing five hotels that have supported LGBT rights all along, encouraging you to check in AND enjoy the benefits of their loyalty programs.
1. W Fort Lauderdale — Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Many consider Miami the go-to gay-beach destination in Florida … until they visit Fort Lauderdale. Here, the W is the top LGBT accommodation on the shore, offering high-rise views or balconies for all 517 rooms, plus three restaurants and a bar, two pools and the sleek style for which the W is known.
But the W Fort Lauderdale’s big claim to LGBT fame came when it hosted the city’s Love is Love mass-wedding ceremony at sunrise on February 5, 2015. Exactly 100 gay, lesbian and heterosexual couples from around the world — including “Ambassador of Love” Lance Bass — said “I do” in honor of Florida’s January 2015 marriage-equality ruling. (Read more about the big day here.)
At this Starwood Category 5 property, rooms run from 12,000-16,000 Starpoints or $260 per night — and cash costs rise steeply from there, especially in high season. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express each offer two stays and five nights of elite credit annually across Starwood’s 1,200-plus hotels and resorts, and a boost toward SPG Platinum status upon opening your account.
2. Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza Hotel — West Hollywood, California
Contrary to common belief, not all hotels on LA’s Sunset Strip cater to over-the-top glamour and charge ridiculous room rates. In fact, the Best Western Plus Sunset Plaza is a terrific — if unexpected — option for affordability, location and lack of pretense. Perched right next door to the elite Sunset Tower Hotel, this gay-friendly outpost may shake up your notions of what a Best Western can be. Its 100 rooms are basic but spotless, many of them with balconies or views overlooking West Hollywood, Downtown or Sunset Boulevard. Plus, the pool and flower-laden patio are perfect escapes from the relentless bustle of the Strip.
Room rates start at $240 per night or 32,000 Best Western Rewards points. The Best Western Rewards program allows you to status match to any other hotel rewards program; see Points Intervention: Using an Elite Status Match or Challenge for more information on status matches. The Best Western Rewards Mastercard series of cards let members rack up points faster on the way to elite status — the Premium card, in particular, presently offers a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points when you spend $2,500 in the first three months (and up to 70,000 points for additional spending) with a $59 annual fee that’s waived for the first year and earning of 20x points per dollar at Best Western locations.
3. San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino — San Juan, Puerto Rico
Condado Beach is simultaneously a tourist area and gay-friendly zone. Right in the heart of it is the San Juan Marriott Resort, an all-welcoming, 21-story tower and casino less than 15 minutes from Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU). It occupies the quiet eastern end of the beach, right next to the gay beach at the end of Calle Vendig. Nearby on Calle Condado, Splash Lounge serves as the neighborhood LGBT watering hole by day, and dance club by night.
Almost all of the hotel’s 525 guest rooms offer balconies with incredible Caribbean views, and not so much as an eyebrow will raise at the sight of a same-sex couple strolling hand in hand — partly because everyone’s too busy being blissed out by the tropical breeze and piña coladas.
Rooms at this Category 8 property start at $190 per night in low season and $240 during peak winter months, or 40,000 points per night year-round. You can accelerate Marriott elite status with the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, its business version or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. Marriott Rewards members can also combine redemption nights with cash nights within a single reservation using Cash + Points.
4. La Posada de Santa Fe — Santa Fe, New Mexico
True to its setting, the centrally located La Posada offers rich history, authentic adobe architecture and a friendly atmosphere for all those who cross its storied threshold. Located a few blocks from the historic Plaza, the hotel’s 157 Southwestern-chic rooms are located either in the main house, or in the casitas dotting the property’s six acres — some of which date back to the 1930s. LGBT appeal is infused everywhere from the valet to the spa to the genial servers at the posh on-site restaurant, Julia. Bonus: Santa Fe artist and gallerist Sara Eyestone has brilliantly curated the hotel’s common spaces with eye-catching works by local artists.
La Posada is a Starwood Category 5 property, and basic standard rooms range seasonally from about $225-400 or 12,000-16,000 Starwood points per night. Remember that the SPG Amex and its business version each give you two stays and five nights of elite credit annually, bringing you a bit closer to SPG Platinum status.
5. Palomar Hotel Philadelphia — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Like most Kimpton properties, the Palomar is a chic standout in a busy downtown area. Its old-school Art Deco architecture is complemented by contemporary decor across all 230 guest rooms, plus the hotel offers bike rentals, an all-night fitness center and a sophisticated farm-to-table restaurant, Square 1682.
The Palomar is set in Rittenhouse Square, a short jaunt from the Gayborhood (yes, that’s what it’s officially called in Philly) — though the City of Brotherly Love as a whole has always been among the country’s most welcoming destinations to LGBT travelers. Kimpton is also known for making queer guests feel welcome, with an LGBT program that includes donating $5 to the Trevor Project for every reservation made, plus 10 percent off the total room cost (using rate code “TRPR”).
Rates start at $190 per night, and Kimpton Karma Rewards members earn one free night after seven stays in a Kimpton property. (FYI, the Karma program remains separate from IHG Points even though IHG bought the brand in 2014.)
Which hotels and resorts are your favorite LGBT-friendly properties in America? Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.