By Ed Salvato
Originally published on Advocate.com January 05 2009 1:00 AM ET
A 1950s Miami Beach icon gets a 21st-century update.
After a $1 billion reboot, Miami Beach's most celebrated hotel, the Fontainebleau, delivers a massive jolt of sleek, joyful escapism while paying adoring homage to its 1950s roots. Black bow-tie-patterned marble floors -- from the days when Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland crooned at the Morris Lapidus-designed original hotel -- flirt with chandeliers created by Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei and collages by the late gay artist Robert Rauschenberg; a new pair of high-rise towers join the vivacious curve of the main two-building complex (seen in Goldfinger ), upping the room count to a convention-minded 1,504. Grooviest room feature? Not the big-enough-for-two marble showers, but the 20-inch iMac in each room. The supersize showmanship that makes Las Vegas catnip to queers is alive and well throughout the hotel's 22 oceanfront acres, which include 11 restaurants and lounges, a gym with floor-to-ceiling Atlantic views, two large pools, and a 40,000-square-foot spa.
Hot list: Put these destinations on this year's travel itinerary
Buenos AiresSexy, serious, and beautiful, tango perfectly reflects Buenos Aires, its culture, and its residents. This urbane, gay-friendly city-the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex civil unions-proudly hosts an annual International Queer Tango Festival and offers a growing number of LGBT venues to learn this sultry dance. Now's the perfect time for a trip-the dollar is strong and the summer sun is blazing. Pack a wide-open dance card. ( Pride-Travel.com )
La RéunionA picturesque, remote island in the Indian Ocean, La Réunion is a French territory 500 miles east of Madagascar. With mountains, high-altitude forests, and one of the most active volcanoes in the world (Piton de la Fournaise), it's a refuge for nature and her lovers. Speaking of nature, the island's postcard-perfect beaches include one just for gay nudists. Bonus: You probably won't have to worry about running into someone you know. ( LeGayReunion.com )
PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia has been called "the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection)" for good reason. The birthplace of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" has an officially designated gayborhood, many gay-friendly hotels, and thriving nightlife. Opening April 4, "Galileo, the Medici, and the Age of Astronomy," a must-see exhibit for science buffs, brings 100 priceless artifacts from museums in Florence, Italy, to the Franklin Institute Science Museum. ( GoPhila.com/gay )
Facing Fears About Travel Abroad Q: After last year's terrorist attacks in Mumbai, I'm reconsidering my plans to take a two-week trip there next fall. Should I stay in the States? Am I being irrational?
A: India is fascinating, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a true feast for all the senses. Terrible tragedies, man-made and natural, can occur anywhere. And it's usually much safer to visit after such events -- when locals and authorities are hypervigilant about suspicious activity and safety issues. However, considering your justifiable anxiety, I recommend skipping Mumbai. It's a vast, vibrant, incredibly interesting city -- but perhaps one to visit another time. For now, focus on the jewels in the crown of India: Agra, for the majestic Taj Mahal; Udaipur, with its gorgeous lakes and palaces; Jaipur, the Pink City; Jodhpur, the Blue City; Goa, the Portuguese-accented beach state; and Delhi, rich in history. Consider going with these highly recommended gay travel specialists: Zoom Vacations , Hanns Ebensten Travel , Hermes Tours .