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Olivia sails ahead (9192)

9192Advocate Travel2003-07-08

Olivia sails ahead

A dad with
some carry-on

With a new resort vacation for gay-led families planned for Halloween and a new partnership with the all-American AAA, the travel company Olivia is no longer just about cruises for women--although it's got some of those too. Cruising with the Indigo Girls, anyone?

the staff

Travel and entertainment company Olivia, which proudly dubs itself "the world's largest and best-known provider of travel services for lesbians and their families and friends," is continuing to break new ground for gay travelers. Olivia is offering the first resort holiday targeted to gay- and lesbian-led families this fall, and also recently announced an unprecedented partnership with AAA to assist lesbians and gay men in planning their travel. These are two fitting milestones for a company that this year celebrates 30 years as (to quote its own press materials), "a catalyst for social change that connects, transforms, and celebrates the lives of women through music and travel."

The first Olivia Kids and Family trip is scheduled for October 25 through November 1, 2003, at the popular Club Med at Port Saint Lucie, north of West Palm Beach, Fla. The resort can accommodate more than 750 guests.

"For 30 years, Olivia has created one-of-kind experiences ranging from music concerts to international cruises," said Olivia founder and president Judy Dlugacz in a statement. "The new Kids and Family program is part of the natural transformation of Olivia services developed to meet the growing needs of lesbian and gay families."

More than 20% of households headed by lesbian couples have a child under the age of 18, according to the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that analyzes federal census data. About 6% of households headed by gay men also reported having children under the age of 18 years. With those figures in mind, "This is a natural evolution for Olivia," said Olivia CEO Amy Errett. "We are proud to be the first in the travel industry to offer this family vacation option."

The Olivia Kids and Family vacation will include the usual ample range of Club Med activities, from flying trapeze classes to water skiing, with some added Olivia touches and a few Halloween-themed surprises.

Meanwhile, AAA of Northern California is partnering with Olivia to direct gay and lesbian travelers to the company's vacations. Olivia will train AAA travel consultants to answer questions and direct AAA members seeking lesbian- and gay-friendly holidays to Olivia's many travel options.

"This alliance with AAA plays a significant role in Olivia's larger business strategy and supports our vision to reach a broader, more diverse audience in the travel arena," said Errett. "Both AAA and Olivia are well-trusted brands within the travel industry, and it makes sense that we would partner to offer lesbian and gay travelers throughout California specialized cruise, resort, and active travel vacations."

The deal developed when AAA approached Olivia. Partnering with the auto and travel club, the company noted in a press release, will allow Olivia "to tap into a new market that may not be well educated on Olivia's offerings, all the while ensuring that AAA customers are offered a broad selection of vacations from which to choose."

"Olivia is a business trailblazer as the first company to successfully reach the lesbian consumer market," said Jenny McMutrie, vice president of product management for AAA of Northern California. "Knowing we wanted to reach lesbian and gay consumers, we turned to Olivia as the best known name in lesbian travel."

Olivia is also known for the quality of the entertainment on their cruises, particularly musical talent. Dar Williams will be featured during the company's Mexican Riviera Cruise, January 16-23, 2004, while the Indigo Girls will appear for a Caribbean cruise, April 3-10, 2004. Other upcoming trips include a Tahiti-South Pacific cruise in August; a Nice, France, to Rome cruise in October; a Barbados sailing adventure in November; and a Boston-to-Montreal cruise next July. Plan your Canadian same-sex wedding now!

The company also offers land-based holidays, typically centered around biking or a "multisport" variety of activities. For more information on Olivia vacations, visit their Web site at

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