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.
In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.
You know you’ve considered it: “What if I went skiing this year… in Alaska? But then, the inevitable list of excuses rolls in: the flight’s further, it’s more expensive, none of my friends would come, I can’t reasonably drive it should I want to, etc. Pish posh. Utah may lay claim to The Greatest Snow on Earth, but Utah hasn’t met Alaska. Girdwood, Alaska — just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage — is home to Alyeska Ski Resort & Hotel, an increasingly luxurious stop for those who’ve grown tired of the challenges found in America’s Mountain Time Zone. What’s most staggering about Mount Alyeska isn’t the near-4,000 foot top elevation, but the 250 foot base elevation. Going from 250 feet to nearly 4,000 is truly a sight to behold — it’s not everyday that you find a ski resort with its base at sea level, you know? Read on to find out a little more about winter gem, and why should most definitely bring an appetite while visiting.
An overview and peek inside of Hotel Alyeska, plus a ride up the scenic tram
Frankly, Alyeska has a lot of things going for it. For one, it’s located in Girdwood. It’s just a 45 minute haul to ANC, but it feel miles apart. It’s definitely got that “ski town” vibe, much like Whitefish, Montana. Forget about dodging the haughty and uppity here — Alaska wouldn’t be caught dead trying to be Park City. Girdwood’s also served by a Glacier Valley Transit shuttle, which is free to use for Alyeska guests. It’ll take you to a number of locally owned (and infinitely cute) eateries, with The Bake Shop, Chair 5 and Double Musky earning high marks from the locals. You’ll also be able to scoot down to the Tesoro station, home to Coast Pizza, a killer ice cream stop and the Tourist Trap Gift Shop; contrary to its title, the latter is also home to Glacier City Snowmobile Tours, which is a discussion deserving its own attention.
Secondly, there’s Mount Alyeska, which is surrounded by its colleagues in the Chugach mountain range. What else can you say? The scene is just gorgeous. There’s just something about being at sea level and looking up at a peak that’s three-quarters of a mile high that takes your breath away. Those postcards and screensavers you’ve seen of Alaska? Yeah, a good portion of ’em are right here. The mountain is in impeccable shape, and while the majority of runs cater towards advanced and expert skiers, there’s a sliver of novice courses as well. ‘Course, those who are really looking to get crazy can select from a myriad heliskiing operations in the area. The weekends are bolstered by night skiing, and with one of the longest ski seasons in North America, you won’t have to squeeze your ski trip into the months of January and February (unless you’re keen on it).
Then, there’s the hotel. If you’re coming to Mount Alyeska, you might as well stay at a ski-in / ski-out property, right? Aside from having an GVT shuttle run by the hotel every so often, you’re also able to pick up the Alyeska Tram or just walk right out and catch a lower lift from the rear of the hotel. During my stay here, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the layout. The recent renovations (2007) are immediately noticeable — the lodge and common areas are simply gorgeous, and you’ll find more food options that you’ll know what to do with. I was also a bit taken aback by just how kind the staff was — they aren’t charging 5-star prices here, but you’ll have no issues getting waited on should you need anything. The pool and spa area was also a real boon for weakened, weary bones after a day out on the slopes, and the rooms themselves were both modern and well-equipped. Free bottles of Alaska’s own Glacierblend water at night? Check. A Serta pillowtop mattress (one to die for)? Yep. Free in-room Internet? It’s there, as is free Wi-Fi in the commons areas. It’s hard to put a price on being able to walk right out of the hotel and into the snow, but for those who’ve dealt with de-gearing and making an hour-long trek back to a resort after skiing, you’ll probably have an easier time assessing a value.
Finally, there’s Seven Glaciers. Oh, Seven Glaciers. The whole experience of this place is second to none. First off, you have to grab a ride in the Alyeksa Tram to get to it. It’s a AAA Four Diamond, mountain-top restaurant, which means that you’ll be eating while looking out at the Chugach mountain range. Quite honestly, this along would warrant a visit even if the food were horrific, but I’m happy to report that it’s the polar opposite. Not only is the food beyond outstanding, but Chef Jason Porter does an immaculate job with the presentation. Service is top-notch, the wine list requires a book of its own to peruse, and if you’re terrified of food being “faniced up” just for the sake of charging you an arm and a leg, you’ll be happy to know that your fears are no good here. This really is Alaskan dining at its finest, and even southern legends like Paula Deen have dropped by for a bite. If you’re desperate for a recommendation, I’d say make a reservation (that entitles you to a gratis (and redicuously beautiful) ride on the tram) and grab the scallops or Wagyu beef.
You’ve probably heard mainlanders gripe about how Alaska’s “dark all winter,” but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. I saw daylight from ~8am to ~6:15pm during my stay in late February, and couldn’t have been more thrilled with the weather. If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding (or you’re traveling with someone who fits that description), you’ll find plenty to do nearby: gold panning at Crow Creek Mine, bore tide viewing, dog sledding, snowshowing and hiking / biking. My suggestion? Push aside any hesitations you may have had about trekking to The Last Frontier in the winter — you’ll dodge the crowds, savor the snow and have everyone back in Utah teeming with envy. We kid, we kid… sort of.
Thumbing your nose at the Taliban has never been so fun.
The Malam Jabba ski resort in the Swat Valley of Pakistan has been a battleground between the Pakistani army and the Taliban for years. When the Taliban seized the area in 2006 they blew up the resort. They decided that skiing is unislamic, probably because it’s fun. Well, the Muslims in the Pakistani army didn’t agree with this interpretation of Islam and when they retook the region in 2009, they rebuilt the resort. Now they’re hosting a skiing competition to show off the new facilities, the BBC reports. Six Pakistani teams are competing. No news on the winners yet, but the only losers are those grumpy nutcases in the Taliban.
The army, which runs the resort, is hoping to attract tourists to the region. It used to draw intrepid foreign skiers but the fighting, which continued into last year, scared them away. Judging from the above photo, the skiing looks pretty good. Unfortunately it’s hard to tell what the facilities are like now because this picture was taken in 2005 by M. Sajid Ishaq, before the Taliban got their hands on it.
A mob of about 150 people took over Lake Chivero Recreational Park, the Kumba Shiri resort, and several other sites around the lake, forbidding guests and employees from leaving.
This is one of a string of land grabs across the country committed by semi-legal mobs taking advantage of the Indigenisation Act, a law passed by President Robert Mugabe in which 51 percent of any foreign holding transfers into Zimbabwean hands. SW Radio Africa wryly noted that the mob promised several resorts to “ministers and other top officials”.
Things seem to have calmed down now. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, a group set up by the new coalition government to stop this sort of thing, intervened and got the mob to leave. Mugabe was forced to make a coalition government after gross mismanagement of the country. The Indigenisation Act was widely seen as a populist move to divert attention from the economy by targeting foreigners and white Zimbabweans.
Ironically, the Zimbabwe’s tourism minister is currently in Madrid attending the travel expo Fitur, where he’s pushing the country as a tourist destination. Zimbabwe has a lot to offer the adventure traveler: safaris, wildlife, traditional societies, ancient monuments, and beautiful countryside. If the government could offer some stability the tourist industry could blossom.
[Photo of Lake Chivero courtesy user Gyron via Wikimedia Commons]
One swimmer was killed and four others injured in attacks by at least two sharks.
The new safety measures include patrol boats and onshore viewing stations. Swimmers, divers, and snorkelers will be reminded to stay within certain areas and not to feed the sharks.
Sharm el-Sheikh hasn’t had a fatal shark attack since 2004 and it’s unclear why so many incidents have happened in so short a time. One theory is that a boat carrying animals threw some dead carcasses overboard and that encouraged the predators. Another theory says that overfishing has forced sharks to hunt closer to shore, bringing them in contact with humans.