Marriott relaunches their LGBT tailored hospitality portal

Marriott announced today the relaunch and new look for their popular site LGBT travel portal.
The multi-language website is tailored for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) customers worldwide.
First developed in 2010, the “redesigned website is our way to express Marriott’s loyalty and commitment to all our guests,” said Randy Griffin, Vice President, Global Sales, Marriott International, Inc. “In 2012, our aspiration will be to ensure [the website] is the trusted and welcoming source for leisure, business and group travel for the LGBT community as we do for all our customers.”

The new site will feature hotel openings, special events, destinations, deals and promotions as well as a special focus on wedding and honeymoon packages.

While the company currently earns high marks each year in the HRC Corporate Equality Index year and belongs to the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, it’s the Kimpton name that ranks as the top hotel chain in the gay travel business (at least in 2010).

Of course, Marriott is smart to be on the gay-focused bandwagon. The LGBT Community Survey in 2011 shows that mainstream internet and gay-focused internet sites are the best way to target the community, and that 39% of gay men and 32% of lesbians plan to take a major trip in the next year.

Do you think this new website will help bump Marriott’s ratings?

Lesbian couple sues hotel after being denied double room

A lesbian couple is suing a hotel in England after being refused a double room.

Rebecca Nash and Hope Stubbings say they tried to check into the Brunswick Square Hotel in Brighton but were refused a room because the hotel only gives rooms to couples.

This is surprising for a number of reasons. First, it’s illegal in the UK for hotels to refuse rooms to gay and lesbian couples. Second, Brighton is England’s most popular gay and lesbian seaside town and surely the Brunswick Square Hotel has had to deal with gay guests before. And third, a court fined a bed and breakfast for refusing a room to a gay couple earlier this year.

In the earlier case, the hotel owners were defiant, saying homosexuality was against their Christian principles. In the Brighton case, it’s a matter of “he said, she said.” The manager says the couple hadn’t made a booking. The lesbian couple said the manager got angry and told them “no two boys, no two girls” in the rooms before kicking them out.

[Lesbian flag image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Florida finds another reason to draw GLBT travelers: gay wedding specialists

Gay travelers have yet another reason to consider visiting Florida on their next vacation. Although Florida as a state has not legalized civil unions or gay marriage, The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach has become the first hotel in both the brand and the state to hire a certified gay wedding specialist.

Nancy Salatto-Deighan completed a program led by the 14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute to help same sex couples plan a special and meaningful celebration of their big day.

“The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach can further provide exemplary options and service to our guests and it is with great pride that The Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach build a community for same-sex couples to celebrate their love and lives together,” said Michael King, the hotel’s general manager.

The hotel’s wedding specialist will offer services for very similar to that of a heterosexual wedding planner, seeking out unique venues, customized options and personalized services to help the bride and bride or groom and groom enjoy a memorable wedding day.

The service is definitely interesting, and we’re happy to see a brand encouraging same sex unions. But we can’t help but wonder – what makes the fundamentals of planning a same sex wedding that much different than those of a heterosexual union? Furthermore, why elect to begin this program in a state that doesn’t yet recognize gay marriage?

What do you think? Would you utilize a gay wedding planning specific service when planning your celebration? Is this a wise move by Ritz-Carlton or a PR blitz?