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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers are a diverse bunch, and they can find a variety of noteworthy vacation experiences. But for years, Puerto Vallarta has enjoyed its role as Mexico’s highest-profile destination on the LGBT travel map, and the reasons why are as varied as the travelers who arrive at its sun-soaked shores.
“Puerto Vallarta has been a major North American beach destination for the gay community for decades,” said Don Pickens, principal at Milagro Properties, which owns Casa Cupula, a gay boutique hotel. “The formula is no longer a secret: Mix a beautiful, welcoming destination that has fabulous beaches, mountains and bays with gay nightlife, hotels, boutiques, restaurants and an increasing amount of live entertainment, and you have the perfect vacation venue. As the peso is affordable against the U.S. or Canadian dollar now, it’s an even greater value.”
The destination’s always-evolving offerings make it even more popular with LGBT travelers, according to Timothy Wilson, owner of GayPV Magazine, a local magazine and website, and Gay Vallarta Bar Hopping, which offers organized tours of the city’s nightlife.
“There are always new gay bars and clubs opening, new restaurants and amazing new cabaret and entertainment acts coming to town,” Wilson said. “Even if you have been coming to Puerto Vallarta for many years, there are always the old familiar favorite bars, restaurants and entertainment to give you the assurance you will have a great time, but enough new LGBT offerings to keep things fresh and exciting for a totally new vacation.”
Pickens says that LGBT vacationers — and how they experience Puerto Vallarta — are also changing.
“We’re seeing a shift to people who are investing in residences and who visit more regularly — two to three times a year,” he said. “So as Puerto Vallarta becomes their second home, they can appreciate the quality of the destination’s offerings more than someone who experiences it in a five-day trip. Ask anyone who has visited: They come back again and again and tell their friends. Many of our hotel guests visit and remark that they were surprised to run into friends from other cities here during their stay.”
A Centennial in 2018According to the Puerto Vallarta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city’s Zona Romantica is home to more than 70 businesses that serve LGBT consumers, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, stores and tour services.
Among the businesses that cater to LGBT travelers is Casa Cupula, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a new Frida Suite decorated to honor legendary artist Frida Kahlo, and gay-owned restaurant Deux Mec, where Swedish chef Andreas Fischer changes the menu every two weeks to provide guests with fresh culinary options.
As Puerto Vallarta gears up to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018, Wilson predicts that the new year will be amazing for LGBT tourism growth.
“With new improvements at the cruise port terminal and airlines offering great deals on national and international airfare — plus overall increased awareness of Puerto Vallarta as one of the top international LGBT destinations — I think it will be a record year,” he said.
Gay Vallarta Bar Hoppingwww.gaypv.mx/hop
Puerto Vallarta Convention and Visitors Bureauwww.visitpuertovallarta.com