Call us an itinerant gander or simply weak, but when the temperature starts dropping we start looking south to more sunny isles. And thanks to a childhood raised on the sweet nothings of the Beach Boys, Kokomo always pops into our head about this time of year. Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya... Yes, please! Except Jamaica, with official government homophobia and criminalized male-male sex it didn't earn the title Most Homophobic Place on Earth by Time magazine for nothing.
Aruba, on the other hand, is as gay friendly as they come in the Caribbean, along with its Netherland Antilles brethren such as Curaçao, the world's newest country. And now with two new deals geared specifically towards LGBT travelers, the time is nigh to sample its iridescent waters, sugary beaches, and near-perfect weather. (Off-season, scmoff-season, the mid-80s temps only fluctuate about 5 degrees throughout the year.)
Having recently joined the International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association (IGLTA.org), the Aruba Marriott Resort (ArubaMarriott.com) is offering 30 percent off room rates from now through the end of the year. Choose from 411 guestrooms (with balconies!), seven restaurants, a free form pool (with waterfall!), plus a private slice of sand smack in the thick of the Palm Beach area. A newly renovated spa plus on-site Stellaris Casino, the largest in Aruba, are available whether you're looking to relax or party or a bit of both. Book online by December 21 or call 800-223-6388 with code VIQ.
If you've always dreamed of a destination wedding in the Caribbean, now's your chance: The Holiday Inn Resort Aruba (CaribbeanHI.com/Aruba), also a member of IGLTA and TAG-approved, is offering a free commitment ceremony to LGBT guests (valued at $850) with purchase of a seven-night, all-inclusive stay in a Superior Ocean Front Room. That's right, FREE: cake, flowers, champagne, candlelit dinner, decorations, professional planning services, and a romantic location, naturally. The whole shebang. Even a manicure! Check out its gay-specific microsite and click here for more details. Valid through December 31, 2011.