The fancy party. The registry. Seeing old Uncle Sal getting wasted with the drag queen officiant. There are plenty of solid reasons to host a gay wedding, but none more potentially luxurious than the honeymoon! After all, you and your new hubby just spent all that time and energy (and money) hosting a fabulous fête. You deserve a little vacay.
And as the lottery ads say, a dollar and a dream. You have to take a leap of faith if you want a chance at lifelong love. Why not start off on the right foot in the right locale? So we picked four of our favorite spots that offer some truly original getaway options. From the islands to a famous harbor, get to packing and start relaxing.
True Blue Curaçao Love
For generations, newlyweds have celebrated their vows along the sandy shores of an azure body of water, the sun radiant on the horizon, birdsong in the air fragrant with flora. An idyllic scene, to be sure, and one that plays out with hopes that the subsequent matrimonial life shall be just as blissful and romantic and with lovely memories for all involved.
In Curaçao, it’s the blue you’ll remember. A blue so resplendent that even as your homebound plane climbs to cruising altitude, you’ll press your face against the window for one last look at that mesmerizing blue water.
Even for many who haven’t visited this exceptional isle in the south Caribbean, the word Curaçao has become synonymous with a shade of blue, thanks to the island’s eponymous aquamarine liqueur made from the rind of the laraha orange, which has been distilled on the island since 1896. Produced at Landhuis Chobolobo, a historic plantation home in the capital city of Willemstad, curaçao liqueur is a cobalt blue elixir that’s just right for celebratory toasts.
Curaçao, arguably the Caribbean’s most LGBT-friendly island, was courting the LGBT community even before becoming its own country within the kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010. Befitting its reputation for unstinting hospitality, the island hosts the annual Curaçao Pride celebration in autumn, as well as South Caribbean Pride in late spring. Even the unofficial slogan of Curaçao—Bon bini, dushi (“Welcome, sweetie”)—contains a double entendre about complete satisfaction (ask a local to explain the pronunciation).
With one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean, Curaçao benefits from an ethnically diverse populace, the majority of whom speak Papiamentu, an official language derived from African and European dialects as well as Dutch and English. Celebrated for its numerous dive sites as well as its floating market and various national parks, Curaçao offers multiple diversions for wedding guests and honeymooning couples.
Unlike other beach locales that are blanketed with sun worshippers, Curaçao boasts 38 secluded beaches nestled beneath cliff-side villas and resorts that overlook the breathtaking cerulean waters. If you’re seeking the perfect setting on this enchanted tropical isle for your destination wedding (something borrowed, something blue) or honeymoon, consider a drive west from Willemstad toward Westpunt, home to Curaçao’s most fabled beach, Knip Bay. As you head toward Westpunt, pause at the flamingo sanctuary in St. Willibrordus, where a sea of birds wade in the salt ponds, posing on one leg like a chorus line of pink Rockettes.
Also in St. Willibrordus, atop a hill and overlooking the marshes, Plantation House Jan Kok houses the art of Nena Sanchez in a setting that recalls Georgia O’Keeffe’s home at Abiquiu in the American Southwest. Sanchez, a former Miss Curaçao, works from a vibrant palette of primary colors to capture the island’s tropical beauty on canvas and in statuary.
For lovebirds seeking the ne plus ultra of romance, Baoase Luxury Resort in Willemstad (a member of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association) is a short walk from downtown—and a world removed from quotidian routine. Opened in 2010, “the ruby of the Caribbean” celebrates “barefoot elegance” amid a private oceanfront setting marked by Asian style and luxuriant foliage. The resort whispers romance with every design detail—and a sunset dinner along the candlelit beach provides an ideal mise-en-scène for marriage proposals. The recent addition of a helipad ensures privacy for Baoase’s celebrity guests, while a staff-to-guest ratio of nearly two to one all but guarantees the highest standards of service.
A five-minute drive from Willemstad, the adults-only Floris Suite Hotel at Piscadera Bay offers 72 milky white suites amid a lush garden setting of indigenous flora and European colonial architecture. At breakfast, an avian population of troupials and bananaquits sing for your sugar, while evenings are set to the chorus of whistling tree frogs, each no bigger than your thumbnail.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, Willemstad is home to the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere as well as a wide range of historic buildings that blend Dutch and Spanish colonial architectural styles. Designed to evoke a European village, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino is located along the water in downtown Willemstad and features an infinity pool and beach elevated above the ocean, perfectly situated for wedding and honeymoon photos.
And for those in search of a luxurious getaway on the isle, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, just southeast of the capital, combines the sophistication of a historic plantation with a 27-acre nature preserve, and the result is an impeccably elegant resort with flawless service and stunning natural beauty. A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort is where you decompress after the wedding and linger for your honeymoon.
No matter where you ultimately choose to take your vows or share your bed on this stunning island, regardless of which resort or hotel or beach becomes the backdrop for your celebration, the odds are that you’ll remember the smiles–and the blue of the water. Like all the best moments of your life, Curaçao stays with you.
A Royal Honeymoon At Lake Louise
A century before “Wills” and his new bride, the Duchess of Cambridge, canoodled in a rustic lodge in Alberta’s Rockies, the spectacular beauty of Lake Louise was celebrated by King Edward VIII, who hiked to the Lake Agnes Tea House as part of his morning constitutional while in residence at the village nearby.
In other words, if it’s good enough for the royals, then it’s perfect for you and your beloved.
Destination weddings and honeymoons demand spectacular. If you’ve traveled a great distance, you’re looking to be wowed. Let’s imagine that you’re seeking an awe-inspiring vista to pop the question or seal the deal. “I never in all my explorations saw such a matchless scene,” wrote the first non-native person to view the sparkling blue alpine lake now known as Lake Louise.
Located in the heart of Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Lake Louise (named for the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria) was the birthplace of Canadian mountaineering. With its glacial peaks, waterfalls and lakes encircled by forests of larch trees, this sparkling blue “diamond in the wilderness” is the hiking capital of the Canadian Rockies.
“If we cannot export the scenery, we shall import the tourists,” said the president of the new Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886, who then proceeded to inaugurate the construction of Canada’s grand railway hotels, which included the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. The 90-minute drive from Calgary to Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway winds through the Canadian Rockies, majestic in all four seasons. From Banff to Lake Louise, it’s another 40 minutes or so, depending on how often one brakes for the scenic vistas of the Bow River and the peaks of Castle Mountain and Mount Temple.
Just so you know: Lake Louise in Banff National Park is one of the most important locales for female grizzlies and their cubs, which is a fact that you and your honeybunch should consider before spritzing with cologne and leaving your room at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise with little more than a camera and a room card.
If the two of you see a trail sign marked with the words “Tea House,” don’t assume that you are walking toward Canada’s equivalent of the same in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The tea house at Lake Agnes is high above Lake Louise, at an altitude of 7,000 feet and a distance of more than two miles from the Chateau Lake Louise. Do not walk this trail of moderate difficulty without suitable footwear and a supply of drinking water.
If, however, you have made these reckless errors and still survive to reach Mirror Lake and the sheer cliffs of Big Beehive and the Lake Agnes Tea House (serving tea to alpinists since 1905), you will be rewarded with a restorative meal of freshly baked bread, a thick homemade soup and a highly touted apple crumble.
More importantly, you will be rewarded with spectacular views. Lake Agnes, Mirror Lake and Lake Louise are often referred to as the “Lakes in the Clouds.” After you regain your breath and sip a cup of tea, you’ll better appreciate your accomplishment and again lose your breath to the views. Now would be the moment to capture for posterity, whether with camera, gold ring or silver necklace (or sex).
For those newlyweds who prefer not to break a sweat while admiring the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, there’s the Lakeshore Stroll, a two-mile route on a level trail that’s as lovely at sunrise as it is during gloaming. The truly fortunate will be visiting during a blue moon, when the radiance of the moonlight glimmers on the lake’s surface with a magical mysticism.
The original Chalet Lake Louise was a single-level wooden structure with a veranda and accommodations for day visitors from the chalet’s sister, the Banff Springs Hotel. With one wing that dates back to 1912, the current Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers seven restaurants and lounges to complement the 487 guest rooms and suites, which are furnished in an Old World style befitting an alpine lodge with 19th-century antecedents.
Throughout your stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, you can expect the fabled five-star Fairmont hospitality, with a concierge and a bell captain to attend to your needs as well as a health club, spa and indoor pool. For those who crave a taste of the Swiss Alps, the Chateau’s restaurant Walliser Stube (named for the hostelries where the Matterhorn reigns) offers a three-course fondue experience that includes black truffles, bison, beef and chocolate.
While Lake Louise was originally marketed as a summer destination, the region has become a place for all seasons. Throughout the summer, Lake Louise is dotted with red canoes, while in winter the lake becomes an ice-skating wonderland. At Chateau Lake Louise, activities include hiking, horseback riding, rafting, canoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, dogsledding, downhill skiing, snowboarding and sleigh rides.
Should you find yourself in need of further stimulation, the hamlet of Lake Louise is the highest village in Canada, more than a mile above sea level. Or take a day trip to nearby Banff and ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain. The eight-minute journey takes you to an elevation of nearly 7,500 feet. At the mountain’s peak, you’ll have an eagle’s-eye view of six mountain ranges and a perspective that might cause you to amend your definition of “magnificent.”
There's more honeymoon to be had in our April/May issue. So be sure and pick up your copy of our Marriage & Equality Issue today and find out what other locales are perfectly suited for you and your new hubby! Instinct is available at Barnes & Noble, at iTunes for the iPad and iPhonr or through our subscription services at (888) 45-INSTINCT or through our online store here.