Pictured From the Desert Gay Tourism Guild's media tour kit for Palm Springs.
The snow is snowing, the wind is … well, you know all that. What you might want to know is how to get out of the Chicago winter and where to go for a gay old time.
How about the world-class GLBT resort area on the sunny west coast of Mexico—Puerto Vallarta? It's affordable, very gay friendly, and above all, sunny and warm. This region of Mexico has one of the most ideal winter climates, with warm sunshine and low humidity. It can be in the 90's during the day and drop to the 50's at night for good sleeping.
In the Chairs on the Beach
For those of you who have been to Puerto Vallarta before, you know that there has been much confusion and consternation regarding the blue chairs and the green chairs. Is the blue chairs gay friendly or not today? For those who have never been to Puerto Vallarta, don't worry about it. The blue chairs have been sold to new owners, and they are now not only politically correct, they are downright progay.
The concept of chairs on the magnificent Los Muertos beach is very Puerto Vallarta. Setting out beach chairs is a marketing tool of most of the beachfront restaurants. You may settle into a chair under an umbrella on the sand outside a restaurant all day if you like. Waiters will come and take your order for lunch or drinks. That's all there is to it.
All the chairs have a different color. The green chairs are located next to the blue chairs at the far southern end of Los Muertos. The southern end is the place to meet and greet gays and lesbians from all over the world—even other parts of Mexico. You are certain to make new friends by trotting to the south end of Los Muertos with your beach things and settling into a chair. The Blue Chairs Beach is officially back in the GLBT fold. The green chairs establishment next door is also just fine. You will be warmly welcomed at either place.
Gay men, of course, make up the majority of blue/green chairs patrons. But there are always women around, too. And we found that the men and women mingled very well.
Just a Massage
Don't be surprised, guys, if a nice man comes up to your chair to offer you a massage. He probably means just a massage. Sex is usually extra. The locals advise you to negotiate a massage-only price before hand. The going rate is about 300 pesos. Anything extra is extra.
You may also call a service for a nonsexual massage. The Blue Chairs Massage and Spa offers body treatments and massages from around 550 peso's (about $50). Call 222-5040. (All phone numbers given in this article are local Puerto Vallarta numbers.)
Pepe is a professional masseuse who charges $50 for a one-hour massage in your room. Pepe can be reached at email@example.com . You can also schedule a massage appointment with OSIEL by calling 222-4031 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org .mx.
Everyone is talking about the NET House Cyber Café, which is open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. That should give you plenty of time to stay in touch. NET House is right in the heart of town. They serve such treats apple pie and rolls, and the coffee is great. It is a good gathering place for those who are too sunburned for the beach and don't feel like going to a bar.
You can book a Blue Chairs Gay Cruise with Diana, a lively French-Canadian lady. The cruise goes every Thursday at 10 a.m. and returns around 5:30 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets for $65 at the blue chairs. If you wait until the day of the cruise, it will cost you $70. Here's what you get: Continental breakfast, lunch at Las Animas, and a post-cruise party! You will enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and an open bar. We went on one of Diana's trips and not only had a fabulous time, we met fabulous people. We all palled around together for the remainder of our vacation. A priceless plus.
Another great way to spend a day is at Paco's Paradise, a gay beach and wilderness area for men only. Paco's is open every day except Monday and Tuesday. It costs 50 pesos (about $5) per person per day. This 20-acre private area is on the south coast of the bay. It's a fun adventure getting there. You can go at no extra charge with a tour group that leaves at 11 a.m. from Club Paco Paco on days the beach and wilderness area are open. You can take a public bus to Boca de Tomatlan and head for the beach. On the beach, ask for Paco's free water taxi, La Rosita. The taxi departs at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. You can even stay overnight in rustic accommodations. For more information, call 223-0277. For the more adventurous, the Blue Chairs offers a horseback riding and jungle tour. The trip costs 400 peso's (about $40). Trips leave every day at 10 a.m. and include round-trip transfers to a horse ranch. Refreshments include beer or soft drinks. Another horseback riding adventure is Boana's. The trip leaves daily from Bona Torrie Malibu at 2:30 and returns around 6:30. The cost is also 400 pesos. The price includes transportation to and from a mountain ranch resort, snacks, and two drinks on the trail.
Dining and nightlife
There are plenty of excellent places to eat in Puerto Vallarta, both on and off the beach. You might want to try the gay-friendly Santa Barbara Restaurant, Bar & Playhouse for something a bit different. It offers dinner theater Sunday, Monday, and Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. You can play Bingo Games there on Thursdays and Saturdays at 7 p.m.
We had a really unique dining experience at the out-of-the-way Red Cabbage Restaurant. This restaurant is decorated in funky movie memorabilia and offers truly excellent traditional Mexican recipes. We can recommend the Frida Kahlo dinner, allegedly served by she and Diego Rivera to their guests. It begins with a shot of tequila, of course.
Puerto Vallarta has lots of gay bars. The Blue Chairs Hotel has a rooftop bar where you can enjoy Puerto Vallarta's legendary sunsets. Garbo is a nice art deco piano bar. Los Balconies, the oldest gay bar in Puerto Vallarta, features stripper shows. Kiko's Cantina is the hot new bar in the older part of town. One of the biggest bars in town is Paco Paco, which is actually three bars in one and is frequented mainly by men. Paco, the owner, also owns Paco's Gay Beach.
Where to stay, how to go
Puerto Vallarta has a wonderful selection of accommodations, from small inns to big-chain hotels, full-service resorts, condos, and villas. The Blue Chairs Beach Resort with air-conditioned units claims to be the largest gay/lesbian beachfront resort in the world. Descanso del Sol is a gay hotel on a hilltop above the gay beach on Los Muertos. Hotel Mercurio is a gay-owned and operated vacation hotel for those traveling on a budget. Vallarta Cora is Puerto Vallarta's party hotel. The rooms are like suites, with kitchettes, ample sleeping accommodations, and living and dining areas.
Do you prefer the pampering of a B&B? Casa Cupula is a luxury guesthouse for gay men and their friends. Villa David is a gay bed and breakfast in the historic, colonial part of town.
GLBT families or groups of friends might find it more convenient to rent a condo or even a villa. There are plenty to choose from. Rates can be quite reasonable, especially if you purchase an air-hotel package.
Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone, from the party guys to the lesbian families looking for a comfortable place to just unwind. And did we mention that it's sunny and warm there?
Your travel writer: Cynthia A. Marquard along with Ted Lally owns and manages Aqua Terra Travel, 65 E. Wacker Place, in Chicago. Cynthia or Ted can be reached at 312-787-2400 or 1-800-44-ENVOY. Visit www.aquaterratravel.com .