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Puerto Vallarta - second most popular foreign destination for Gay tourists
by Ed Walsh - SGN Contributing Writer

A survey by the Gay marketing company, Community Marketing, found that Puerto Vallarta was second only to London as the most popular foreign destination for Gay tourists. For those of us in the West, a vacation in the resort town on Mexico's West Coast probably has London beat by a wide margin.

Puerto Vallarta's Gay clubs, bars, and hotels are centered in the southern end of the city, in an area known as Zona Romantica or Old Town. It's also where you will find Playa de Los Muertos, the city's largest public beach and home to Blue Chairs Beach - the unofficially Gay section of that beach.

Zona Romantica boasts more than a dozen Gay or Gay-friendly hotels and nearly 20 Gay bars and nightclubs. Everything is located within walking distance. Don't even think of renting a car. Cab service is cheap and plentiful. You can take a cab anywhere within the zone for about $4.

ACCOMODATIONS
The newest Gay hotel in PV is also its largest. The Abbey Hotel (www.abbeyhotelvallarta.com) has 55 units, 12 suites, and is perfectly situated in the heart of Zona Romantica, just a block from the beach. Rates start at $94 a night but check its web site for deep discounted specials often available during low season. PV's low season runs from late spring to early fall.

The San Franciscan Resort and Gym (www.san-franciscan.com) is another good option in Zona Romantica. It sits high on a hill just a block from the neighborhood's main drag, Olas Altas. Room rates start around $100 in low season.

The Hotel Mercurio (www.hotel-mercurio.com) remodeled its pool area three years ago and is worth visiting even if you aren't staying there. The pool is now complemented by a waterfall and bar and is perfect for an afternoon or early evening stop. Like the Abbey, it promotes itself as a Gay and Lesbian hotel. Its rooms start around $65 in the low season.

The Vallarta Cora (www.vallartacora.com) is the oldest Gay hotel in PV and attracts a very loyal crowd, even during the slower summer months. It is all male and is clothing-optional. If you aren't staying there, a $5 entrance fee, which includes a free drink, will pay for your admission to the pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, and dark room. Its public hours are 3 p.m.- midnight. Rates in the low season start around $65.

NIGHTLIFE
The Blue Sunset Rooftop Bar, on the top of the Blue Chairs Resort by the Sea (www.hotelbluechairs.com), is a must-stop. The open-air bar features a series of theme nights, including drag shows, dancing, bingo and stripper shows. The upscale Club MaƱana (www.clubmanana.com) has an indoor disco but its centerpiece is its open-air pool surrounded by a dance floor and seating areas. This club quickly drew big crowds since it first opened in November 2005.

There are no Lesbian bars in PV, but Apaches on Olas Altas is Lesbian-owned and is popular with Gay women. The Uncommon Grounds Buddha Lounge (www.uncommon-grounds.com) bar and restaurant is owned by a couple of Lesbians from New Jersey and is also popular with Gay women.

Paco's Ranch, formerly Club Paco Paco, is spread out over three floors plus a rooftop patio bar. The old Club Paco Paco was once the place to go in Hay Puerto Vallarta but it lost business when Club Manana opened. But the crowds are returning and Paco's is well on its way to reclaim its past glory. The rooftop bar is great place to enjoy the warm late-night ocean breezes.

DAYLIFE
Don't even think about visiting Puerto Vallarta without taking Diana's Gay Cruise. It's run by a Gay woman, Diana DeCoste. Diana's all-day cruise (www.dianastours.com) includes breakfast, snacks, a lunch stop, snorkeling and whale and dolphin watching. Her trips are Gay and Lesbian mixed but the bulk of the cruisers are Gay men.

If you would prefer to hang out at a pool rather than the ocean, Club Manana's pool opens to the public at noon every day except Mondays when the club opens at 6 p.m. They serve lunch or dinner poolside.

GETTING THERE
Alaska Airlines (www.alaskaair.com) is a good way to get to PV. In high season, starting October 27 through mid-April, the airline offers nonstop service from Seattle to Puerto Vallarta. The other times of the year, Alaska as well as other airlines, offer direct (same plane) or connecting flights (change of planes) to Puerto Vallarta. Fortunately, Alaska still does not charge to check a bag.

A great guide for all things Gay in Puerto Vallarta can be found on www.gayguidevallarta.com, or you can pick up a free copy of Gay Guide Vallarta at most Gay or Gay-friendly businesses in Puerto Vallarta.

Ed Walsh's video multimedia blog on Puerto Vallarta can be found on http://www.edwalshtravel.blogspot.com.
 

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