Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gay Ski Holidays and Winter Pride Events: An Overview

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Winter Pride includes lots of skiing.

Winter has two destinations for the LGBT community: sunny and snowy. Among the most popular sunny locales are South Beach, Key West, Palm Springs and Puerto Vallarta.

Key West has never been shy about its LGBT population.

But winter is also a wonderful excuse for getting outside, skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing, only to return to the warmth and joie de vivre of a roaring fireplace, friends and maybe a hot rum toddie or mulled cider. Winter Pride events have been, well, snowballing, as young LGBT 's opt for more than just a tan and a hangover. Of course, you can get both skiing too, so if that is your goal, fear not. The sun is wicked strong on the slopes.

Lots of LGBT ski holidays take place in the next couple of months around the US and Canada. They co-exist as both part of and separate from the mainstream mountain crowds. On the lifts and trails it's all about the terrain, the challenge, the fun of a great downhill run. Afterwards, in the chalets, clubs and base lodge, it's the camaraderie, companionship and comedy headliners.

This weekend you can head up to Gay Stowe in Vermont for the annual Winter Rendezvous ski week which runs until January 24. Stoweflake Resort and Spa is the official host hotel. Plus plenty of rooms at the Stowe Motel & Sun Ski Hotel. Call directly for discounted rates.

Some of the OutRyders at Sugarbush.

For other mountains in New England, you could hook up with the OutRyders who have plans to hit Magic Mountain or Mount Snow on January 30, Stratton on the January 31 and Killington on February 6.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no gay welcoming ski resorts or events in the Berkshires. If there are, I would be writing about them, and they would be listed in guides all over the LGBT universe.

Drag skiing? Absolutely daring, darling!

One of the biggest and best ski weeks ever is WinterPRIDE (March 1-8, 2010) at Canada's Whistler which is close to Seattle. This has replaced the Altitude event that preceded it. Whistler itself is an incredible ski destination, with more than 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, 200 runs, and the longest ski season in Canada. The list of activities, entertainment and social festivities is incredible. It has grown over the years because of the dedication of its planners, and the support of the gay community.

There are lots more. Like Lake Tahoe's Winterfest, the Gay and Lesbian Ski Week, March 7-14. There you can ski day and night. Best fun of course are the Drag Races on skis.

Mammoth means great outdoor living.

Also worth checking out are Aspen Gay Ski Week, Vail Gay Ski Week, both of which happen in January, Mammoth Gay Ski Week (March 17-21) and the fabulous Telluride Gay Ski Week (February 20-27) now in its fifth year which was recently featured (watch it here)on Logo, the gay cable channel.

The Ski Bums make Stowe one of their destinations.

The Berkshires are Ready for Gay Skiiers!

Although there are no LGBT ski events in the Berkshires, there sure are some fine possibilities. I first skied the Berkshires with gay friends. The mountains are still here and have more interesting runs than ever before: Butternut, Jiminy Peak, Berkshire East, and Bousquet. Nearby is Catamount in Hillsdale, NY and a score of Vermont areas.

One hopeful sign that something may develop is that the Berkshires Visitors Bureau is hosting a discussion of gay tourism next week that is open both to its members and to those interested in tourism on January 27 at 3:30 at the Visitors Center in Adams. That the first session will focus on gay tourism, and how to capture more of it is encouraging. I will be there taking notes.

Perhaps one of our wonderful ski resorts wil team up with some gay promoters to pull together a gay ski week that could attract LGBT visitors from both New York and Boston, as well from our own area. It may take a few seasons to establish it, but we should be a player on the national scene. All of our Berkshire mountains are near to our legendary cultural attractions, both museums and performing arts.

They are in a unique position to present the Berkshires as more than just another downhill run, but a workout for the body, the mind and the spirit. A Berkshire ski vacation comes with lots of great food and entertainment nearby. Anyone who has gone looking for a great, affordable restaurant in Rutland,Vermont, near Killington and Stratton know what a task that is. From Williamstown to Sheffield, there are dozens.

Where to Stay in the Berkshires when you Ski

Near Butternut and Catamount in Sheffield is the 1802 House. The 1802 House is a well located and a classic bed and breakfast that is owned and run by Dan Rossi and Ronald Smith. 413 229-2612. They are one of the few Berkshire guest houses that are gay owned, and anxious to help make LGBT visitors feel welcomed and pampered. They also are very familiar with the ski areas nearby. Skiers and hikers are off-season guests, but so are couples from other states who want to get married in Massachusetts. They recently catered a reception for two lesbians who tied the knot, and provided accommodations for many of their guests. If you are thinking of skiing the Berkshires, this should be your first call.

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