Gay upmarket hotels gaining ground internationally

With the legalization of gay marriages in more US States, recently in New York, special offers for gay and lesbian newly weds have multiplied at major upmarket hotels, one such latest examples being the luxury Queen’s Garden Resort in the West Indies (Caribbean), which offers “Queen of New York Hearts” honeymoon special: free night and a free breakfast in bed at the luxury resort to any newlyweds with a New York marriage certificate.

Although gay marriages are illegal in Nevada, Las Vegas has been tapping on the growing gay and lesbian honeymoon trend, with major players such as Wynn and MGM Resorts market directly to the gay communities, offering special packages.

As early as last month, South Beach Miami, one of the most prominent gay destinations worldwide saw the opening of its first premium gay hotel, the Lords South Beach, an ultra hot spot with innovative bohemian decor very much centered around gay lifestyle. The hotel provides a busy calendar of events catered to the gay community. Rooms are brightly coloured, with comfortable furniture, Frette luxurious bed linen and the latest cutting technologies.

Spanish luxury hotelier, AXEL, the pioneer of gay hospitality, has recently renovated its flagship property in Barcelona, a stunning contemporary decor in a classic Catalan building in the heart of Barcelona’s Eixample district, also famous for its gay venues. AXEL has been operating a premium hotel in Buenos Aires, Argentina and last year it inaugurated a flagship property in Berlin, Germany. The key to the success of the Spanish chain have been: the quality of services and facilities, state of the art SPAs, a coherent calendar of attractive events taking place at the hotels or in the cities.

One of AXEL Hotels lastest innovations which has been greatly received by guests is AxelPeople, a dedicated social networking platform available exclusively for hotel guests during their stay. Guests holding a valid reservation have access to the hotel’s exclusive social networking portal based on a code of access. They can then define their profile (where they can define the degree of privacy that they want to have) prior to arrival, defining their profile with preferences, photos etc . Through AxelPeople guests can interact with each other, access events and request various hotel services.

However, most luxury hotels which target gay consumers hardly label themselves as gay hotels, rather gay friendly hotels. Is it that they fear such branding would keep away the majority heterosexual consumers or most luxury hotels have yet to be convinced the gay hospitality market is a viable, long term business alternative? I believe the answer lies in how these gay hotels will be able to maintain a high level of customer service and an attractive calendar of events in such a way that they become distinctive from mainstream hotels. One should also take into consideration that gay consumers tend to be less loyal when it comes to hospitality than heterosexuals and very much lifestyle driven, whether it is hotel design, facilities and services.

Oliver Petcu