Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gay Pride 2012 Mendoza, Argentina

The Mendoza Gay Pride Parade took place on December 14th., 2012  and started at "kilometer zero" in Mendoza downtown at Av San Martin and Peatonal Sarmiento. Later the parade marched down San Martin Ave, up Las Heras, then Mitre, and ended up on Plaza Independencia.


These photos are courtesy of  DeptosMendoza, the best gay owned and operated temporary apartment rentals in downtown Mendoza specializing in accommodations for the LGBT traveler. Visit their website at www.deptosmendoza.com.ar

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gay Vendimia Wine Festival Mendoza, Argentina

Gay Vendimia 2012 Gabriel (left) and Fernando Canci
By Roy Heale

Mendoza is the fourth largest city in Argentina with a population of approximately one million people. It is the acclaimed capital of Agentina's wine industry and famous for the Malbec vintage. Mendoza is nestled in the foothills of the Andes, about 1000 meters above sea level and is also a center for skiing in the nearby mountain peaks during July, August, and September. Attractive streetscapes, the beautiful parks and lakes, and pulsing nightlife are establishing Mendoza as a popular new gay vacation destination at a very reasonable cost. It is recognized by many LGBT tourists as the second most gay-friendly destination in Argentina after Buenos Aires. The dry desert-like climate provides perfect conditions for cultivating grapes and Mendoza is known as the country's Wine Capital.

Annually in March Mendoza celebrates Vendimia (the wine harvest) and this includes an official event ‘Fiesta de la Vendimia Gay’ (Gay Vendimia) held on the second Saturday of the festival. It is the largest LGBT event of its kind in Argentina and last year over 5000 revellers attended. Seventeen years ago this event was founded by Ricardo ‘Tito’ Bustos, originator and iconic owner of some of Mendoza’s gay nightspots. Gay Vendimia started in 1996 as a joke, according to Bustos, who decided to stage a Gay Vendimia celebration at his night clubs.

The LGBT festivities take place the second week in March, after the main Grape Harvest Festival ends. This conservative northern city has a smaller, more demure scene than Buenos Aires, but during this week-long celebration Mendoza lets its rainbow flag fly high and proud.

Developing into a major attraction of Mendoza's annual Vendimia, in 2003 the City of Mendoza Government recognized this as an Official Vendimia event and included it in their Official Program.

As the event continued to grow in size and scope, five years ago Bustos hired brothers Gabriel and Fernando of Gabriel Canci Difusion to produce the event. They developed the slogan Vendimia For All recognizing it is now attended by the LGBT community and many straight persons. “This was a good idea which began within the gay community, but is now non-discriminatory and welcomes everyone to participate,” says Gabriel Canci. “This has caused the party to explode and become even more popular with attendees coming from all over the world. For the past five years the number of participants has grown each year and we keep having to move it to larger venues. For the 18th Annual Gay Vendimia in 2013 we are planning to hold the event in a large stadium and this location will be announced later this year.”

This eye-popping Las Vegas style extravaganza and dance party with state of the art technology incorporates over 200 singers, dancers, acrobats, actors, drag queens, live music, renowned DJs, and, of course, the judging and crowning of the Gay Vendimia King and Queen. The doors open at 11PM with warm-up performances, the King and Queen contestants show begins just after Midnight, and then the dance party lasts until 8AM.

2012 Gay Vendimia Queen & King

The main event of the King and Queen crowning is preceded by a week long series of events at the local LGBT bars and clubs including Bustos' owned La Reserva Pub and Queen Disco. The contestants are pre-screened and the finalists participate in a series of activities until the grand finale when a panel of media and celebrity judges plus fifty randomly selected audience members make the final decisions.

The very gay-friendly city of Mendoza offers many attractions for LGBT travellers, although most venues are mixed with a gay and lesbian clientele. La Reserva Pub is a small boisterous pub that hosts theatre and music during the week and drag shows on weekend nights. Estación Miro is where you’ll find quite a diverse mix of gay men and women including many transsexuals dancing the night away. Queen Disco is Mendoza’s oldest gay club, and is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights to boogie to pop hits, techno, and Latin music.
A sophisticated local culture blends with a simpler, unhurried lifestyle for a perfectly relaxing vacation. Great sights and experiences during the day plus restaurants, bars, and cafes offer a multitude of nightlife entertainment options including gay and gay-friendly establishments. Late at night the Aristides Villanueva is the street for dining out and of course the action starts at about 10PM as with all Argentine dinners. Here you will find a festive atmosphere with large patios full of locals and tourists indulging themselves at restaurants offering every International culinary delight imaginable. Plus, of course, the renowned Argentine Parillas, where beef is a heavenly delight especially when accompanied by a local Mendoza vintage red wine. All at prices lower than almost any other major vacation destination in the world today.

The heart of Mendoza is the main square called Plaza Independencia from which the streets and avenues spread out in all directions. The very large inner-city Parque San Martin offers a multitude of relaxing outdoor activities in a lush green environment, and the Area Fundacional is a trip back in time to the city's origins.

Mendoza doesn’t have any exclusively gay-only accommodations but renting a stylish apartment at the gay-owned and operated DeptosMendoza is an excellent choice. The staff speaks English and the modern-style, fully-equipped suites are in the heart of downtown. They offer designer vacation apartments in Modigliani Art & Design Suites or DOT Suites. Here you can also find expert advice on the local gay and lesbian scene or tours to the vineyards, hot spring spas, or outdoor sports activities.

Modigliani Art & Design Suites

Towards the end of a hot sunny day the gay Alternative Spa for men can offer a respite from the heat. It is open from 3PM to 11PM offering whirlpool, sauna, lockers, solarium, relaxing areas, and bar with a chance to unwind and meet the local gay community.

LGBT Why Not Spumante

Plus of course you can sample the special LGBT spumante sparkling wine of Mendoza called “Why Not” with a rainbow incorporated into the label and know that you are truly in a gay-welcoming city.
Erica Reverter, the young entrepreneur responsible for initiating the project, while studying Marketing Wines at the Wine Institute of Mendoza. As part of a contest students had to submit a sales concept and find an original initiative to promote sales. Reverter chose the LGBT market since in the wine world vintners do not usually think of these LGBT consumers as having their own tastes and needs. The idea eventually won the contest and it was a matter of months before the "study", became a reality.

Pack your party clothes, dancing shoes, prepare to sample good wines, and head to the Argentine city in the Andes which welcomes you---Mendoza.

Gay Vendimia Information:
Gay Vendimia 2013: 9th March 2013 
Venue: To Be Announced October 2012
Admission Prices Approximately: Regular ARS$160 VIP ARS$320
Websites For More Information: www.vendimiagay.com or www.gabrielcanci.com
www.deptosmendoza.com   www.mendoza-gay.com.ar

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stunning Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires

Teatro Colon

By Roy Heale

Overlooking the Plaza Lavalle in the heart of Buenos Aires stands the recently refurbished magnificent Teatro Colón. This historic building has an eclectic style, typical of the beginning of the 20th century. Today it is home to the opera, ballet, and philharmonic concert performances and is a major tourist attraction.

The main hall, in the shape of a horseshoe, fulfils the most exacting standards of the Italian and French classic theatre. It has private boxes up to the third floor. The horseshoe auditorium can hold up to 2,478 people seated, but the shows can also be attended by 500 people standing at the rear. Its dome used to have paintings by Marcel Jambon, but they were damaged in the 1930s and the repainting of the dome was completed by the Argentinian painter Raúl Soldi.

Main Foyer

The orchestra pit can hold up to 120 musicians. It has been built with a resonance chamber and special curves for the reflection of sound. These conditions, together with the architectural proportions of the hall and the quality of the materials used, give the Teatro Colón exceptional acoustics, globally acknowledged among the most perfect in the world.

The present Colón replaced an original theatre which opened in 1857. Towards the end of the century it became clear that a new theatre was needed and, after a 20-year process, the present theatre opened on May 25, 1908, with Giuseppe Verdi's Aïda. The Teatro Colón was visited by the foremost singers and opera companies of the time, who would sometimes go on to other cities including Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo.

Grand Hallways

After this period of huge international success, the theatre's decline became clear and plans were made for extensive renovations. After an initial start of works to restore the landmark in 2005, the theatre was closed for refurbishment from October 2006 to May 2010. It re-opened during Argentina's Bicentennial year on May 24, 2010 as a part of the country's Bicentennial celebrations. The exquisite workmanship and skilled craftsmanship have fully restored this historic edifice to its former splendour.

Historic Architecture

Guided Tours of the Teatro Colón are available Monday to Sunday, including holidays, from 9:00AM to 5:00PM and last fifty minutes. Tours depart every fifteen minutes and are available in Spanish and English. On Mondays there is a 50% discount for seniors, pensioners, and university students (with ID). Tickets can be purchased by phone, or online with a credit card, or in the Teatro Colón's box office. Performance schedules and ticket purchases are also available online or at the box office.

In 1989, the Teatro Colón was declared a National Historical Monument and this is a “must see” step back in time for any first-time visitor to Buenos Aires.

For More Information Visit: www.teatrocolon.org.ar

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Evita Treasures in Palermo Museum

Evita Museum
2988 Lafinur Street
By Roy Heale

Nobody knows for sure at what point Maria Eva Duarte de Perón became known as Evita and similarly when she became a gay icon. But everybody knows that Evita became a legend in Argentina's social politics and world renowned during her short thirty-three year life span (1919-1952). Immortalized by the 1978 Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Evita and later by the Hollywood movie of the same name starring Madonna, Eva Perón's life story is mythical. In the city of Buenos Aires there are many monuments and highlights reflecting her life's achievements and the Evita Museum shares her momentos with visitors.

If it were possible, Evita probably was watching over her beloved Casa Rosada the night in July 2010 when the Same-Sex Marriage Act was signed into law by a female president of Argentina---Cristina Fernández de Kirchner---reflecting upon her earlier contributions to this momentous occasion.

Maria Eva Duarte de Perón

This is a true rags-to-riches story of how a young fifteen year old girl from a small rural village in Argentina heads to the big city of Buenos Aires in 1934 where she creates for herself a life of political power and influence which changes her country forever. The young Eva Duarte was a stage, radio, and film actress before meeting her future husband Colonel Juan Peron in 1944. The couple fell madly in love, married in 1945 and Juan Peron became president of Argentina in 1946. As the First Lady of Argentina she ran the Ministries of Labour and Health, championed woman's liberation, created her own Foundation, fought for the poor, defended equal rights for all, and founded the Female Peronist Party. The Argentine Congress gave her the official title of “Spiritual Leader of the Nation” and she received a “Head of State” funeral despite the fact that she never held such a position. Without a doubt she earned her legendary status and left a remarkable legacy for all to admire and respect.

With such a colourful history to explore the Evita Museum offers a fascinating look at her life. From her involvement with the CGT (Argentina's main labour union), to her outstanding speeches at the May's Square Balcony of the Casa Rosada, her Mausoleum at the Recoleta Cemetery, and the National Library which was her one-time residence, this city is full of fascinating tidbits and representations of her life.

Evita's Hats

The Evita Museum in Palermo is housed in an early 1900s Italian Renaissance style mansion. This edifice was once a shelter for women and children with no resources, opened in 1948 by the Eva Peron Foundation. Today this magnificent building is home to the largest and most important collection of Evita memorabilia, one of her cars, historic black and white news film clips, her personal furniture, a bottle of her perfume, personal effects, clothes, and more. The Evita Museum opened on July 26th 2002 on the fiftieth anniversary of Evita's death.

The historic edifice is located on a quiet tree-lined residential avenue at 2988 Lafinur Street in Palermo close to the Botanical Gardens. It forms part of the cultural tourist trail of the City of Buenos Aires (together with the Decorative Art Museum, the National Fine Arts Museum, the Palais de Glace and the Latin American Art Museum). It is open Tuesdays to Sundays (and holidays) from 11 AM. to 7 PM and last admission is about half an hour before closing.

Museum Entrance

The walls of this building once echoed with the strong voice of Evita and the joyful voices of the women and children who found refuge in it. Now it houses the Museo Evita, a living museum where people can come to know, understand and appreciate the life of the most important woman of Argentine history.

You can also enjoy gourmet meals in the museum restaurant which also has a beautiful garden courtyard for outdoor dining in the warmer months.

For More Information Visit: www.evitaperon.org

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Your Very OWN Gay-friendly Hotel

Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires

Own Hotel Entrance

By Roy Heale
Some may call it the restaurant capital of Buenos Aires, but Palermo Hollywood is a barrio with its own distinctive flavour. In the mid-nineties a number of TV and Radio producers set up shop  in the area of Palermo Viejo between Córdoba, Santa Fe, Dorrego, and Juan B. Justo Avenues. Subsequently, this part of the neighbourhood began to be called "Palermo Hollywood". Presently, it's best known for the concentration of restaurants, cafes, night clubs, and vibrant atmosphere.
Although Palermo Hollywood is a name that was recently invented, this area  has been a popular residential community in Buenos Aires since the late 1800s. Walking around Palermo Hollywood you will see more of the old, Spanish-style architecture than in other parts of the mega Buenos Aires city, and these historic buildings are mostly low-rise style construction. This is due to the earlier city bylaw prohibiting new buildings in the area from being above nine meters in height. A perfect harmony exists between the old and the recycled houses. The spacious factories and warehouses are mostly used as art galleries, showrooms, restaurants, bars, or TV sets and photo studios. These calm and shady streets are home to a huge variety of excellent restaurants. This is a special place for a full day's stroll.

Palermo Hollywood Architecture

The combination of low houses, wide cobbled streets, and trees lends it a nice ambiance. However, you will notice a great deal of new construction of high-rise apartment towers due to the recent trend of people desiring to live in Palermo Hollywood.

Palermo Hollywood's gay-friendly Own Hotel represents a new concept in urban boutique-hotels, characterized by personalized attention, modern design, and timeless style. Own Hotel offers a unique experience with oversized rooms providing all the services expected of a 5-star hotel. You have the feeling of  being in your Own private oasis amidst the action of the city. The highly trained staff will insure that guests have everything they need to enjoy their stay in the hotel. The decor is pure and simple yet elegant, and in order to feel completely at home, the hotel offers you the opportunity to customize your stay!

Own Hotel Suite

With a choice of Junior, Deluxe, or Master Suites, your Own Hotel offers the perfect choice to suit your travel budget. They range in size from 35 to 55 square meters with either luxurious King or twin beds. The indulgent and spacious rooms include Mini Wine Bar, hot/cold individual air conditioning, hair dryers, luxury bathrobes and towels, 500 threads Egyptian cotton sheets, a security box large enough to store your laptop, and  LCD TV with DVD, CD player, home theatre and surround system. Some suites include a balcony or terrace to enjoy the views over Palermo. A delicious continental breakfast is served daily in the lobby lounge and is included in the room rates. This gay-friendly boutique hotel is a must stay to enjoy the vibrant Palermo Hollywood community within walking distance.
Own Hotel Lobby Bar

As you enjoy the tree-lined streets and distinctive architecture you will find The Pride Cafe just a five minute walk from Own Hotel. This is the sister cafe to the very gay and popular Pride Cafe in San Telmo and it is developing a loyal following with the Palermo gay community. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11am till closing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and simple snacks.

Pride Cafe, Palermo Hollywood

But Palermo Hollywood earns its reputation for fine dining with restaurants on almost every corner--- and in between---with every culinary speciality imaginable. Close to the Own Hotel is a wide variety of dining choices. Il Ballo del Mattone is as peculiar as its Italian name---The Dance of the Brick. The interior is a jumble of tables and eclectic artwork, while out on the pavement or in the rear gardens you sit around an old tree, decorated with trinkets. The freshness of the homemade pasta  and the tiramisú coupled with friendly service has resulted in the popularity of this genuine Italian experience. For some pastas and jazz, swing and bossa nova music, this is Palermo Hollywood's favorite! (Gorriti 5950)

Il Ballo del Mattone Italian Restaurant

Hidden behind an 8-ft high wooden fence on the quiet street of  Gorriti, sits Olsen, a wonderful restaurant serving Scandinavian cuisine in a tranquil environment. Whether you are seated at one of the reclining chairs in Olsen’s mini-garden out front, or at a round table for eight in the open-air dining room, your experience will no doubt be relaxing and enjoyable. Olsen transports diners from Palermo Hollywood  to Scandinavia with its seafood-heavy menu and impressive selection of more than sixty vodkas. Dishes like blini, smoked herring, and red tuna are a large part of the restaurant’s allure, but so is the 60’s-inspired dining room, set in a former warehouse. Vodka is the focus at the bar, but innovative cocktails like dill martinis are also available. The Sunday champagne brunch attracts both expats and the Argentine elite. (Gorriti 5870)
Olsen Restaurant

If you are looking for a break from meat at the renowned parillas, then Artemisia is a veggie lovers delight. They only have a few dishes on the menu and daily specials, but most of the offerings are inventive and seasonal vegetarian meals. The home-made bread and garlicky hummus---served free before your meal---are sublime, and along with the gingery lemonade it’s seriously worth a visit just for the bread and juice. The pear, goats cheese and rocket bruschetta or the huge tapa selection, featuring fresh and tasty vegetables, cheeses and dips, provide a great variety of taste sensations. It’s a lovely bright space with huge windows, wooden tables and a small courtyard. The menu selections are constantly changing so they are handwritten on brown paper bags, while the hand-crafted, colourful plates and bowls add to the rustic charm. (Gorriti 5996)

Mercado de las Pulgas---Flea Market
Your Own Hotel is also located just a short fifteen minute walk to the Mercado de las Pulgas---flea market---where you can hunt through the antiques and other items for that truly unique Argentina souvenir.
Own Hotel Lounge

Despite the lively nightly action the tree-lined streets provide a quiet, relaxed and tranquil atmosphere. The very gay-friendly Own Hotel is located on a peaceful street, yet just steps from all the vibrant action. Prepare yourself to enjoy the wilder side of Buenos Aires by night whilst enjoying your Own luxurious suite.
For More Information Visit:www.ownhotels.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fashionable POP Budget Boutique Hotel

POP Budget Boutique Hotel Entrance
Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Roy Heale
Sometimes referred to as “Palermo Queens”, the Villa Crespo barrio is located at the southern end of Palermo Soho with the unspoiled charm of  tree-lined, cobble stone streets for which Buenos Aires is renowned. However, this neighbourhood is much less touristy than its Palermo neighbours and the Porteños---as the local residents are affectionately known---dominate the scene here in cafes, boutiques, bars, and clubs.
Fashion Outlet District

Trendy Villa Crespo is home to the new and evolving Paseo de Compras---Fashion Outlet Stores---where shopping for new clothes is a unique, fun experience. And what gay person doesn't love to shop for a new outfit while on vacation! The latest addition to this fashionable, hip community is the POP Budget Boutique Hotel---the first of its kind in Buenos Aires. Opened in November 2011, this unique hotel offers large, designer rooms---at modest prices---which are perfect to enjoy the local scene but leaving enough holiday budget to savour the nearby shopping.
The gay-friendly POP Hotel is a place where you can make new friends, relax in spacious rooms, enjoy the lounge areas on each floor, and use the computers on the second floor. It is a comfortable place with a modern design, clean and accessible facilities, and with an outstanding price-product relationship.  Located in a strategic area near to the gay nightlife, commercial and tourist attractions, yet close to the subway and bus routes.
Smart, Spacious Designer Rooms

Whether it is for business or leisure travel, POP satisfies every traveller's needs, regardless of the length of stay. Focusing on guests who are seeking to get the maximum benefit from their trip, POP offers a simple service, with emphasis on an economic price point. The forty-four rooms reflect the smart design of the urban clientele, created for comfort and flexible use of the specific space. POPCORN Lounges are on each floor with a specially designed area for pleasure, relaxation, comfort, recreation or to meet other guests. The F&B Lounge, located on the first floor, is a space to enjoy snacks and drinks, where you can interact with fellow guests plus make new friends. The 24/7 gay-friendly, knowledgeable front desk staff will quickly assist you to find your way around the Villa Crespo community.
Krok Cafe For Breakfast

Included in the low room rates is a morning breakfast and it is served at the nearby Krok Bar and Cafe. Here you will be able to enjoy complimentary coffee, fresh juice with a fruit plate, plus toast accompanied by preserves, dulce de leche, or cream cheese, and of course the local Argentine speciality---medialunas. Krok offers both indoor and outdoor seating with friendly, efficient service.
Jamming Radio+Bar

In close proximity to the POP Hotel many local restaurants offer a variety of menu options. The Almacen Purista Cafe is on the same block as the hotel and offers an extensive menu of Argentine specialities all prepared on-site. Just three blocks from the Hotel is the Cafe Crespin where the lox and cream cheese on a bagel or New York Cheesecake are rarely seen on Buenos Aires' menus and the hearty brunches are renowned. Central Cafe on Serrano Street will delight you with fresh baked breads, pastries, salads, and more. For a unique experience the Jamming Radio+Bar on Loyola Street offers pizza, baquettes, tapas, burgers, and veggi specials accompanied by live Jamming Radio Reggae for musical entertainment. Of course there are several local Parillas (BBQs) where traditional Argentine assado and grilled meats are prepared for hearty appetites.

Murillo Street Leather Shops

Another fashionable reason to stay at the POP Hotel is the close proximity---fifteen minute walk---to the Murillo Street leather shops. Here you can find the best prices for genuine leather goods, made in Argentina, including shoes, coats, jackets, bags, accessories, and novelties.
If you are looking for a break from the urban excitement and shopping then a twenty minute walk will take you to the Parque Centenario---Centennial Park.  Here you can relax in twenty-five acres of parkland including a mile-long promenade around the lake's perimeter which is very popular with local joggers. The Buenos Aires characteristic Tipa trees provide lots of shade but there is plenty of open space for sun worshippers.
Parque Centenario---Centennial Park

So if you are looking to plan an economical visit to the gay mecca of Buenos Aires, the POP Budget Boutique Hotel and Villa Crespo offer a fashionable, budget conscious, and smart alternative to the more expensive and well-known tourist neighbourhoods. But there is no need to sacrifice any of the LGBT excitement of this metropolis which is still close at hand when you stay in Villa Crespo. This is one of Buenos Aires' best kept secrets!
For More Information Visit:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gay-Friendly Rosario, Argentina

Paseo de Diversidad, Rosario, Argentina

By Roy Heale

Rosario is a radiant city on the move with a tolerant and gay-friendly population. The city is nestled in a gentle twist of the mighty Paraná River about 300 km northwest of the city of Buenos Aires. Due to this close proximity to the Capital City, it is often overlooked as a potential gay vacation destination by first time LGBT travelers to Argentina.

However, Rosario freely displays its natural ‘water-world’ of the Upper Delta with its magic islands covered by lush vegetation and the many desirable sandy beaches. In the city proper there are a number of museums, a curious blend of Spanish and Italian architecture, lovely parks harboring beautiful statues and monuments. The rainbow adorned LGBT Paseo de la Diversidad walk and monument is proudly located on the river boardwalk---located between Corrientes and Paraguay streets---for all to see. There are numerous beaches along the river front, restaurants with international cuisine, and steakhouses where you can sample the renowned Argentine beef cooked on a parilla, or taste the local gourmet speciality---fresh river fish.

Florida Beach, Rosario, Argentina

Vacation activities abound for the LGBT traveler to enjoy in Rosario. Night life is exciting with several gay discos---mostly open only on weekends--- gay-friendly bars, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants in a balmy, romantic atmosphere.

The local gay map and guide De Ambiente is an excellent source of Rosario LGBT information which is updated and published four times per year. It is readily available around town including the Official City Tourism Information Centers---another sign of how gay-friendly this city really is!

You know that you have arrived at a gay-friendly Hotel when the De Ambiente is displayed prominently in the hotel lobby along with other tourist information brochures. Such is the case with The Plaza del Sol Hotel in the heart of downtown Rosario where the local gay guide is readily available in the foyer. The welcoming gay-friendly staff are also extremely helpful and it is nearby all the historic attractions, including the Paseo de la Diversidad, Independence Park Theatre, and El Círculo Opera House, plus numerous gay-friendly cafes, bars, and clubs.

A short City Bus ride---costing less than two dollars---on the special “de la Costa” bus route will take you from downtown to the extensive sandy beaches of La Florida neighbourhood. Here sun worshippers gather around the umbrellas, beach volleyball games are everywhere, outdoor bars and cafes are dotted along the shore, nautical sports and bathers catch the eye. Were it not for the calm river and the lush islands in the background, it would seem akin to a tropical ocean resort beach.

Cafes On The Beaches

For relaxation, you can take a leisurely cruise on the Paraná River and thread your way through a maze of vegetation-rich islands in the delta or, if you are more adventure-minded, paddle a kayak across to one of the islands. Many tourists and locals alike ride bicycles or horses around the parks.

Rosario is the city where General Manuel Belgrano, one of Argentina’s most important forefathers, designed the country’s flag. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the impressive Flag Monument placed in the Parque Nacional de la Bandera (National Flag Park). There is also the possibility of heading to the top of the monument's tower for a great view of the city and river valley.

The history of LGBT Rosario is extensive and fascinating. According to local historian and long time Rosario resident Carlos Italiano---writer, history and Italian teacher---even during the oppressive dictatorships and religious influences the gay community in Rosario continued to thrive in secret. Some of their clandestine meeting places still exist today like the Hotel Savoy lobby bar. Although it has been renovated and upgraded it still seems to have a gay atmosphere inherited from those early days. Even Ricky Martin chose this hotel for his gay home-away-from-home when he visited Rosario. What could establish a gay reputation more than a “Royal Visit”?

National Flag Monument

In those early days the main gay cruising street was San Juan Street dating back about forty-five years when there were no bars or clubs in which the LGBT community could gather and no internet for instant hook-ups. Coincidentally, the gay-friendly Plaza del Sol hotel is located on this street today.

The renowned El Cairo Cafe was also a gathering place for the gay community along with local famous artists and authors. Today the Cafe has undergone a major restoration and is still a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

The journey from Buenos Aires by bus, train, or rental car takes about three hours. It is well worth a side trip to Rosario for LGBT city life with some great opportunities for a change of pace and some relaxation during a gay vacation to Argentina.

Unique Rosario Architecture

With such a rich LGBT history, the Paseo de Diversidad, and a thriving LGBT community, it is no wonder that Rosario is recognized as an extremely gay-friendly major city in Argentina.

Contact De Ambiente Gay Guide:
Contact Plaza del Sol Hotel:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gay-Friendly Argentina?

By Roy Heale

Not surprisingly, when any country or territory takes the bold step to legalize same-sex marriages the business community subsequently decides it is acceptable to adopt a gay positive attitude. Such was the case in other countries like Canada following the 2005 Same-Sex Marriage Act and it now appears to be the circumstance in Argentina since the passing of the new law in 2010. While this is a positive outcome of gay marriage there are also some precautions for the LGBT community to observe. What really defines “gay-friendly” and how genuine is this moniker versus just an opportunity to garner new business from the LGBT consumer?

In Argentina since 2010, the National Government Tourism offices known as INPROTUR (National Institute of Tourism Promotion) have been travelling the globe attending major travel trade shows promoting “gay-friendly” Argentina as a new destination for consideration by LGBT travellers. On many occasions the Minister of Tourism of the Nation, Sr. Enrique Meyer, has personally been accompanying the exhibit and attending the travel shows to demonstrate the country's serious commitment to the LGBT community. But how gay-welcoming is Argentina really to the LGBT traveller visiting the country for the first time?

Before embarking on a month long journey around central Argentina, I decided to pay a visit to an official Tourism Office in downtown Buenos Aires, on Santa Fe Avenue, to garner some LGBT information for my travels. Arriving at the office I was accompanied by two friends from Toronto, Canada who were visiting the country for the first time and also wanted some information about gay Buenos Aires. The friendly Argentine Tourism employee proved to be extremely helpful when we asked for gay information---no shocked expression or anti-gay vibes---but this subject matter proved to be sadly lacking in availability.

Firstly, my friends were offered a two year old gay Buenos Aires city guide, but with the caution that they could only use this for a reference guide as it was their only copy and must remain in the Tourism Office. They were told they could go to the publisher's website for more up to date information. However, I happened to know that this website has been “under construction” for the past year. When I asked for LGBT information for Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza, and other major Argentine tourist destinations I was told that none was available.

Our endeavours spent heading to this important tourist resource center proved to be fruitless and a total waste of our time. Although the employee was very gay-welcoming she clearly had not been armed with the appropriate tools and materials to welcome an LGBT traveller. She did not even mention we were a short ten minute walk away from the Pink Point Buenos Aires Information Center where we could find a wide range of LGBT information and services for all of Argentina.

Clearly this is a case where a Marketing 101 course is sadly lacking for INPROTUR to explain the importance of preparing the product and services before advertising these offerings to the LGBT consumer.

Argentina is a very gay-friendly travel destination with many diverse and spectacular attractions for the gay traveller, it was a great disappointment to see the official tourism services sadly lacking in information. The gay guide to Rosario, the gay-friendly map of Bariloche, the Gay Mendoza Wine Festival details, Gay Pride information, brochures of gay-owned and gay-friendly accommodations, and more should have been readily available for LGBT tourists.

If Argentina is going to promote a gay positive attitude internationally then much work needs to be done within the country to make this a genuine gay-friendly welcome.

Notwithstanding government initiatives---or lack thereof---my personal experiences in Argentina have proven this to be a very gay-friendly and gay-welcoming country.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gay-Friendly Azur Real Boutique Hotel, Cordoba, Argentina

Azur Real Boutique Hotel
By Roy Heale

In the center of Argentina---about 700 km northwest of Buenos Aires---with a student population of more than 300,000, Cordoba is a bustling, gay-friendly city. With nearly 1.5 million people, and 3.2 million in the region, Cordoba still has a small town feel to it with a variety of neighbourhoods and parks to enjoy. Nueva Cordoba is the heart of the university scene, full of gay life and community hang-outs. Just a short walk from here is Viejo Cordoba where the historic part of the city includes the San Martín square, the Cathedral, Córdoba´s Townhall, and the Jesuit Block which was declared by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage Site with a group of buildings dating from the 17th century.

Viejo Cordoba
The most gay-friendly living quarters in the city is surely the Azur Real Boutique Hotel located just two blocks from the heart of Viejo Cordoba and a ten minute walk to the Nueva Cordoba community. The historic hotel exterior proffers an unassuming entrance, but the short elevator ride to the hotel lobby reveals an elegant, calm, and tranquil haven in the heart of the city. Stylish and comfortable with gay-friendly, English speaking staff, the 24/7 reception area will immediately make you feel right at home.

Azur Real Boutique Hotel Lobby
The original house, where Azur Real Boutique Hotel is located, was built in 1915 as a traditional home-store, where the household members and the family business co-existed. The property evolved over the years, becoming a Drugstore, a Restaurant, and later a Students Residence. Part of the building was used by Dean Funes National School, where personalities from the City of Cordoba attended classes. Perhaps its most famous student was Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

The current owners began restoration work in 2004 and after five years finally the hotel opened its doors in 2009. However, the property is so well maintained and cleaned it appears to have made its debut yesterday.

Luxurious Designer Rooms
Azur Real Boutique Hotel has fourteen spacious rooms each with a unique architectural style and exquisite modern design, equipped with LCD TV, Internet Wi Fi, computer sized safety deposit box, mini-bar, multi-function shower, and American percale 180 thread count sheets. The attention to detail is luxurious including bath robes, slippers, and nightly turn-down service. Comfort is combined with an opulent ambiance to make every guest feel pampered while staying here.

Rooftop Sundeck
A sumptuous daily breakfast buffet is served from a civilized 7AM to 11AM in the top floor restaurant, or by room service, or outside on the comfortable rooftop sun deck. The restaurant is also open for À La Carte lunch and dinner with exquisite local Argentine specialities being served. The Deli Lounge lobby bar also serves refreshments throughout the day and evening.

Throughout the property there exists a peaceful aura of relaxation combined with the total professionalism of the gay-friendly staff. A rare combination today in many hotels.

Historic Architecture Restored
One of the many attractions of Cordoba is the surrounding Sierras (hills) where many smaller towns and Villas (villages) offer unique tourist attractions and historic buildings from the earlier Spanish Colonialism and Jesuit Orders. Most of these communities can be visited as day trips from Cordoba via local buses or on organized tours. The Azur Real front desk staff will be happy to provide you with additional information.

Villa General Belgrano
The Hotel is also conveniently located close to the main Omnibus Terminal and the Mercado Sur Bus stop for easy access via local transit to the Sierras. A visit to Cordoba is not complete without at least one excursion into these hills to enjoy the scenery and local history. Of special note is the Villa General Belgrano, a small mountain village named after the creator of the Argentine flag---Manuel Belgran---and located in the lush green valley of Calamuchita. The Alpine architecture of the village attracted immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria which gives this small town a truly European atmosphere and charm.

So be sure to stay at the gay positive Azur Real Boutique Hotel while you enjoy the LGBT life and the Sierras of Cordoba. It will be the perfect, memorable gay get-away during your visit to gay-friendly Argentina.

Azur Boutique Hotel Services:
•Deli Lounge
•Room service
•Roof-Top Terrace with splash pool
•Meeting room
•Wi Fi
•Maid service twice a day
•Laundry, dry cleaning and ironing
•Luggage Storage
•Safety deposit box in rooms
•Bilingual Staff
•Pillow Menu
•Shoe shine service
Gays and Lesbians Welcomed
For More Information Visit: www.azurrealhotel.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gay-Friendly Hotel Rosario, Argentina

Plaza Del Sol Hotel, Rosario, Argentina

By Roy Heale

You know that you have arrived at a gay-friendly Hotel when the local gay guide is displayed prominently in the hotel lobby along with other tourist information brochures. Such was the case when I arrived at The Plaza del Sol Hotel in the heart of downtown Rosario and the De Ambiente gay guide was readily available in the foyer. The welcoming staff were also extremely helpful and spoke English, which is not always the case in Argentina.

Located on San Juan Street near attractions such as Plaza Montenegro, The National Flag Monument, Plaza 25 de Mayo, and the Cordoba Street Pedestrian Mall, this is a perfect place to explore Rosario. Also nearby are Independence Park Theatre and El Círculo Opera House plus numerous gay-friendly cafes, bars, and clubs.

Hotel Reception

Of course the renowned riverbank promenade is also just a ten minute walk from the Plaza del Sol Hotel. Here you will find spacious and beautiful parkland with cafes overlooking the Rio Parana plus the islands and beaches of the Westbank.

Plaza del Sol is a comfortable hotel with all the necessary amenities for a perfect trip. Hotel guests can enjoy a free buffet breakfast served daily on the second level. The staff provides concierge services, tour assistance, ticket purchases, business services, and translation services. Additional amenities include a fitness facility, swimming pool, sun deck, laundry, and room service during limited hours. There is also a computer located in the hotel lobby for guest use.

Spacious Rooms

The spacious guestrooms have views of the city with cable television including free movie channels. All rooms have personal safes and telephones. Internet access is provided with free high-speed wireless connections. Beds have down blankets and the bathrooms have shower and tub combinations with jetted tub and rain shower head. They also offer bidets and hair dryers. The rooms include air conditioning and private balconies. In addition, guests may request iron and ironing board, bathrobes, and wake-up services.

During my visit to Rosario I learned that San Juan Street was one of the original gay cruising streets in the city, dating back about forty-five years when there were no bars or clubs in which the LGBT community could gather and no internet for instant hook-ups. Although times have changed it is interesting to find a gay-friendly hotel located on a street with such gay history.

Rosario is situated only 300 kilometers from Buenos Aires making this an easy destination for a visit during an Argentine vacation or business trip. By car the journey takes just over three hours and slightly longer by bus or train. The River Parana with its islands and beaches makes for an ideal relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.

Hotel Foyer
With moderate prices for room rates Plaza del Sol Hotel is perhaps the best option for staying “gay” in Rosario.

For More Information Visit: http://www.hotelesplaza.com/hotelplazasol/hotelplazasol.html