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A dog’s love of a luxurious retreat in the desert

La Quinta’s Waldorf is waiting for you and your human

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We jumped in the car. I curled up on the floor in my bed behind the passenger seat and off we went to Palm Springs, heading to a place called La Quinta Resort & Club.

Just 120 miles from home, and a couple hours later and we arrived.

The car stopped and the heat stung my paws when I jumped out. But, a very nice man welcomed us over to a water bowl, where I got a sip of fresh, cold water, along with a crunchy treat while we waited in the cool lobby to be assigned our room.

Mocha (Selfie)

Nestled beneath the beautiful Santa Rosa Mountains, I overheard the woman at the desk say the resort offered championship golf courses, an award-winning 23,000 square foot spa, fitness center, 23 tennis courts, 41 pools and five outstanding restaurants. This was going to a real treat, where I was 100 percent welcome. There are even pet friendly services including in-room massages.

La Quinta Resort was established in the 1920s by San Francisco businessman Walter H. Morgan, who envisioned creating a relaxing retreat for his friends and family.

Once referred to by the Cahuilla Indians as the “Land of the Eternal Sun,” the area we now know of as La Quinta has a rich history dating back hundreds of years.

The hotel opened in January 1927 and represented a total investment of between $150,000 and $200,000, and included 20 casitas. Morgan’s idea was to create a retreat for Hollywood’s movers and shakers to have privacy and find respite from the hustle and bustle.

After a long day basking in the California sunshine – there was a pool directly outside of our casita (one of 617 guestrooms and 161 villas) – my fur-parents enjoyed a day in the water, while I slept in one of the comfy lounge chairs.

The Spanish-style casitas and suites offered views of the garden or mountains – gardens in our case — and was appointed with a huge bathroom with a double sink, king bed, oversized tub, walk-in shower, a Keurig coffee maker, refrigerator and ice maker.

After a great sleep in the big comfy bed, I got a long walk in the cool early morning dessert, along the acres of paths on the property. Then we got a tour in a golf cart — this is the way to travel.

We were told that La Quinta has been visited by several Hollywood legends – Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Frank Capra and Bette Davis. Frank Capra is said to have penned “It Happened One Night” in one of the casitas. Today, the less legendary, but still impressive visit the resort — Will Smith, Barbra Streisand, Andre Agassi, and Al Pacino, to name a few.

Today, the resort hosts all the Coachella kids, it’s sold out a year ahead for the festival, and the property is a hot spot for weddings where everyone is welcome.

There are plenty of hotels that claim to be dog friendly, butLa Quinta Resort & Club is a getaway furry friends can truly enjoy – it’s gone to the dogs, but not in a bad way.

You better hurry for New Year’s Eve.  There’s so much to do there!

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Travel

VIDEOS: Wilton Manors during a pandemic

Bars, restaurants and clubs open with some COVID restrictions

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Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Fla., on March 8, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

WILTON MANORS, Fla. — Bars, clubs and restaurants in the Florida city of Wilton Manors are open, but with some pandemic restrictions still in place.

Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar, a bar and restaurant on Wilton Drive, on March 6 had socially distant tables inside and outside.

Bartenders and servers wore masks, but a go-go dancer who was dancing on a platform near the dance floor did not wear one.

Small groups of patrons who were standing on the dance floor were also not wearing masks.

A drag queen who greeted patrons inside Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar was wearing a mask and a face shield. Windows were also open to provide additional ventilation.

Several dozen people at Hunters, a nightclub in the same strip mall where Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar is located, on the same night were crowded onto an outside patio as they were drinking. Lit, a bar a few blocks away on Wilton Drive, had cornhole and other games set up in the parking lot.

Other bars and restaurants along Wilton Drive had tables placed along the sidewalk. Indoor dining was also available, but at limited capacity in order to adhere to social distancing rules.

Broward County as of last Oct. 16 has allowed businesses to serve food and alcohol to remain open until midnight, and offer dine-in service until midnight.

“Social distancing and facial covering requirements, restaurant capacity limits, and sanitation and safety requirements to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) remain in effect,” reads the city of Wilton Manors’ website.

The website notes businesses “licensed to serve food may operate at up to 100 percent of indoor capacity if a distance of six feet is maintained between tables, and no more than six people at a table.” Bars that “only serve alcohol, and are not licensed to serve food, must operate at no more than 50 percent of their indoor capacity.”

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VIDEO: Bourbon Street in the French Quarter

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place in New Orleans

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A handful of people drink on the sidewalk in front of Café Lafitte in Exile in New Orleans’ French Quarter on March 1, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

NEW ORLEANS — Bars in New Orleans continue to operate at limited capacity because of the coronavirus.

Café Lafitte in Exile, a gay bar on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, on March 1 allowed groups of up to six people to sit at indoor tables on both of its floors. The bar is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., but it requires patrons to wear masks when they enter.

A handful of people were drinking on the sidewalk in front of Café Lafitte in Exile at around 6 p.m. on March 1 when the Blade drove down Bourbon Street. Oz, a gay dance club across the street, was closed.

Several other bars on Bourbon Street were also open, but only a handful of people were inside them.

Bars in the French Quarter were closed last July when the Blade reported from New Orleans.

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Arts & Entertainment

Sheraton refuses gay couple for wedding, so Hilton offers to host them for free

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Vancouver vlogger and groom-to-be Josh Rimer (Image via YouTube)

When a pair of gay grooms wanted to book their wedding at a major chain hotel in the middle of a famously gay-friendly city, they had no reason to expect that would be a problem.

That’s what made it so surprising to them when they were denied.

Josh Rimer, a popular Vancouver vlogger and TV host who also happens to be Mr. Gay Canada 2019, posted a video earlier this month in which he shared the story of the difficulties he encountered when he and his husband-to-be, Heath, tried to arrange their dream wedding at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center in Puerto Vallarta. After an initial process in which it was difficult to get a response from the hotel, Rimer – who is an LGBTQ activist – finally thought he would be able to set up the event, but when he mentioned there would be an extra boutonniere required because there were two grooms, things got even worse.

As Rimer shared with Vancouver’s CityNews, a staffer at the Sheraton hotel sent them an email that reads:

“I am infinitely grateful that you have thought of Sheraton for your big day, however, our hotel and our staff is not specialized to carry out an equal wedding and we would not like to take your wedding as a trial and error, and our service could be poor compared to what characterized Sheraton, because we know and we are aware that is your special day for you and your fiance, and do not want that by our non-specialed service some conflict can be generated on your big day, my apologies.”

Understandably frustrated, the travel vlogger decided to vent about it to his YouTube followers (“I don’t know if she thinks we’re going to show up in speedos with go-go dancers and we expect the officiant to be wearing leather chaps, this is just a normal wedding. It just happens to be with two guys.”). That’s when things took another unexpected turn – this time for the better.

A couple of days after Rimer posted his video, Hilton Puerto Vallarta tagged him on Instagram with an offer:

“Hi @JoshRimer, we’re looking for you! We’ve heard you want to get married at Puerto Vallarta and we want to offer you the #HiltonExperience! ? We want to celebrate with you this special day, so we’ll gladly host your wedding ceremony and feast for FREE for you and your 45 guests at Hilton Puerto Vallarta!”

Then, things took an even brighter turn when VACAYA, a shipping line specializing in LGBTQ cruises, offered to provide them with free honeymoon cruise as well.

“We’re thrilled to join Hilton Puerto Vallarta in celebrating the love between Josh and Heath because we believe that together we can shine a brighter light on the work we still have left to do to reach equality,” the cruise line wrote on Facebook.

Needless to say, Josh and Heath were thrilled to accept the offers. Rimer told CityNews that the experience was “very frustrating,” but he thinks the incident was “just a case, probably, of somebody not knowing what it’s like to have gay clientele, for some reason,” and that the service at the Buganvilia would probably be improved with “some training in this area.”

Despite the drama he says, “We’re still in love, despite the whole ups-and-down process, so, yeah, we’re just excited for the big day.”

As for the original would-be venue, Jeff Flaherty, a spokesman from Sheraton’s parent company, Marriott International, parent company of Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, said they reached out to Rimer directly to express “our sincerest apologies for his experience,” according to NY Daily News.

“We are troubled and greatly concerned about the experience reported by Mr. Rimer. Marriott has long been committed to providing an environment where all are welcome including our LGBTQ guests and their loved ones,” Flaherty said. “In addition, we are looking further into the matter to better understand what happened and do what we can to prevent hurtful experiences like this from happening again.”

He added, “Marriott has long been committed to providing an environment where all are welcome including our LGBTQ guests and their loved ones.”

You can watch Josh’s original video below.

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