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ISSUE #16 | WINTER 2014

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Fea tur Sta ed tes

Celebrating 5 Years!


How to be a Traveler and not a Tourist According to a recent survey by the Community Marketing & Insights, the leader in LGBT market research, strategies and corporate training since 1992, the LGBT traveler is a savvy traveler. On average the LGBT Traveler makes between 6 - 7 trips per year, including business trips according to the survey. Gay & bisexual men between the ages of 25 - 44 are more likely to take leisure trips over a business trip. Lesbians and bisexual women between the ages of 25 - 44 are twice more likely to take a leisure trip than a business trip. LGBTs between 45 – 64 are more likely to take equal amounts of business and leisure trips. Cruising Cruising is more popular among gay and bisexual men of all ages, and lesbians and bisexual women 45-64, with Carnival Cruise and Royal Caribbean taking the top 2 spots accordingly as the cruise lines of choice for the LGBT Traveler. Urban vs. Outdoor The majority of the men surveyed describe themselves as being “urban core” travelers, which means they prefer large urban areas, while the women prefer the outdoors or action adventure trips. However, everyone agrees that warm weather and budgets are a huge reason for determining travel destinations. When traveling with children, LGBT parents prefer child-friendly hotels and destinations over places that are just LGBT friendly. Hotels When choosing a hotel, the LGBT Traveler really prefers the biggest bang for their buck, along with free Wi-Fi and complimentary breakfast. On the other hand, an impressive lobby, business center and in-room mini bars are found at the bottom of the list of preferences. Traveler vs. Tourist The LGBT Traveler researches articles and ads in LGBT websites and media, like Connextions Magazine, because we only provide you our personal experiences. At Connextions Magazine, every story we tell is an experience we’ve lived and would only recommend those locations, venues, restaurants and hotels that really care about our community.


CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Manny Velasquez ART DIRECTOR Lucia Camarda

r e t t e L

from the editor It’s not about the destination, but the journey we take and the memories we create.

ADVERTISING SALES sales@connextionsmagazine.com

Generally, that phrase is the last sentence in my articles for Connextions Magazine. However, this time around, it takes center stage and top billing because this journey I embarked upon a couple of years ago, is now taking me on a whole new adventure. I have had the pleasure to work with Shelly as an LGBT Family Travel Writer and now Shelly has offered me to take on the role of Editor In Chief for Connextions Magazine, and I couldn’t be any more excited.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS David Duran Shelly Straub

Connextions Magazine is celebrating 5 years of informing readers and bringing positive attention to our community and those allies, countries, cities, hotels, restaurants, etc. who are thrilled to see the LGBT community members. As we continue together on this journey, please let me know how we can serve you better. Contact me: mvp@connextionsmagazine.com Read Connextions Magazine online or purchase your print edition through our website at:

www.connextionsmagazine.com WRITE TO US: Do you have a question or comment regarding this issue or future issues of Connextions Magazine? We would love to hear from you! E-mail responses and press releases are always welcomed.

Looking forward to many more new adventures and let’s continue creating memories.

MVP Manny Velasquez-Paredes

mvp@connextionsmagazine.com All submissions become the property of Connextions Magazine. The views and opinions stated throughout this magazine are not necessarily the opinions of staff at Connextions Magazine. Connextions Magazine, LLC publishing office is located at 68 Wooded Ct, Calverton, NY 11933. Connextions Magazine will not knowingly publish or advertise text which is fraudulent or misleading. The publisher reserves the right to edit, limit, revise, or reject any text without cause. Connextions Magazine assumes no financial responsibility for typographical errors. If any errors are found, please notify Connextions Magazine immediately. Materials in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher.

LIVE free TRAVEL often CONNECT daily Get social with us!

ISSN 2160-4347 (print) ISSN 2160-4355 (online)

@Connextionsmag

Cover Photo: Alpine Free Falls photo courtesy of Six Flags Great Escape Resort


CONTRIBUTORS Lucia Camarda Graphic Design Lucia brings innovation and creativity to create simple, yet sophisticated eye-catching layout designs. design@connextionsmagazine.com

David Duran Contributing Writer David is a culinary, hospitality and travel writer who focuses on both domestic and international travel destinations for several different markets. His love for discovering cities and travel spots is evident as he is away from his favorite place and home base of New York City the majority of the time. Follow @theemuki on Twitter

The past five years as Editor-in-Chief of Connextions Magazine has been an enlightening and amazing journey. I have met the most fantastic people on earth and I do intend to cherish evrery memory I have made along with way. I proudly pass the torch to Manny who has a contagious positive spirit and the drive, determination, and enthusiasm that will aloow him to take Connextions Magazine to new heights and I look forward to standing by as his biggest fan and cheering squad! I salute you Manny and wish you continued success!

Shelly Shelly Straub

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contents The

tplac e k r

M

e

aCoupons, deals,

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discounts, events, & notables

Five Years of Traveling The States 10 New York

36 Virginia

14 New Hampshire

38 Texas

16 Vermont

40 Alabama

18 Massachusetts

44 California

20 Ohio

46 South Carolina

Ithaca - A Liberal College Town for the Nature Lover

Snowmobiling & ATV Riding with the Wildlife

Top Notch Resort & Spa - a Winter Wonderland

Swank Properties - Luxury in the Heart of Boston Music lovers dream in the North

24 Florida

A Gay Camping Resort in the central region

26 Connecticut

Scenic Olde Mistick Village

28 Washington DC

Clyde’s Restaurant in Georgetown - It’s a Sure Thing

30 Maryland

Historic Battleground lovers enjoy The Inn at Red Hill

34 New Jersey

Three of the best reasons to visit

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Discovering Shenandoah

A Real Dude Ranch in Graham

The Seaport City The Crescent in Beverly Hills

The Westin in Hilton Head

48 Pennsylvania Hershey Park

49 New York

Six Flags Great Escape Resort in Upstate

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48 Five Years of Publishing, Promoting & Pursuing 08 2010

Where it all began...

12 2011

Proudly pushing along in year 2

22 2012

Three years and thriving

32 2013

Fantastic fourth year

42 2014

GET THE APP! Available on itunes.

Celebrating 5 years and big changes!

Subscribe. Find out where to get your print or digital copy at www.connextionsmagazine.com

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2010

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"Whatever you do or dream you can do – begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Where Connextions began... Two people with one dream. A dream to create a travel magazine that catered to the LGBT community but wasn’t filled with politics, celebrities or rainbows. The dream turned into reality with a first publication and small print run of only 350 magazines. Issue 1 was released in November 2010. TOP LEFT PHOTO: The first event we covered was the grand opening of Laci’s Tapas Bar in Syracuse, New York. Laci’s has made huge waves in their community and recently celebrated their 5th anniversary! Pictured: Laura and Cindy, Owners. TOP RIGHT PHOTO: The first bar we promoted Connextions Magazine in was Avenue Pub in Rochester, New York. Opened in 1975 and still going strong! BOTTOM LEFT: The first of many wonderful connections we have made since publishing our first issue. Pictured: (L) Jarl Haugedal (M) Hera Bjork (R) Magnus Jonsson BOTTOM RIGHT: The first hotel we reviewed was NYC-JC in Jersey City, NJ - We still visit at least twice a year, and have every year since!

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It is no surprise to me that Ithaca made the list as “Most Liberal Places in America” by www.epodunk.com, or that The Utne Reader named the city “America’s most enlightened Town.” Home to the prestigious Ivy League Cornell University, it would not be unusual to see a local walking through the infamous Ithaca Commons with dreadlocks, a backpack and no shoes in this college town. Robert H. Treman State Park

A s a child, I can recall camping trips to Ithaca, visiting Buttermilk

Falls and Robert H. Treman State Park. Riding bikes and swimming during the day, then eating smores while laying flat on the picnic table staring at the blanket of starts glistening in the clear night sky. It wasn’t until much later in life when I was able to appreciate the fascinating culture and delectable diversity offered in a community as gorgeous as Ithaca.

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Ithaca may not be a place where ’everybody knows your name’… but the LGBT community certainly feels welcomed rather than just accepted. Partners walking hand-in-hand don’t get the ‘double take’ from passers by. It is commonplace in this community. Statistics from city-data.com show lesbian couples account for 0.8% of all households and gay men account for 0.5% of all households. This may seem like a small percentage but


compared to a city such as Rochester, NY where the population difference is over 203,000 more residents, their statistics show only 0.4% for lesbian households and 0.5% for gay men. You ask: What is there to do in Ithaca? I ask: What ISN’T there to do in Ithaca? Set on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake, sailboats, fishing, and tours on the water are pristine when weather permits. Imagine a 220 acre wildlife sanctuary with more than four miles of walking trails, found at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology/Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary. Take a scenic hike through a one mile long gorge at Fall Creek with waterfalls, cascades and rapids!

de a m a c a h t I t e tha m o t a” e c is i r r p e r m u s A n o i n s s It i Place l a r e b i L t s Mo “ s a When seeking shelter t s i l e th from our temperamental weather in Central New York,

Ithaca Commons

Buttermilk Falls State Park

visit several art galleries, find plenty of unique gifts in ‘the commons’ shopping strip, or maybe a wine tour is just up your alley! For a great history lesson, the Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution, as well as the EarthScience Center are great ways to practice reverse psychology on the kids! Did you know? • The Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca hosts a used book sale twice a year and it is claimed to be the 3rd largest used book sale in the United States. • In June of 2008, 6,000 Ithaca residents set the unofficial world record for the largest human peace sign at Stewart Park. • In 2006, VegNews Magazine listed this unique town as one of the “12 Hippest Hometowns for Vegetarians.” • According to a poll taken by www. city-data.com, East Ithaca is #49 on the list of “Top 101 zip codes with the most full service restaurants in 2005”. So whether a camping trip with the young ones is on the agenda or a romantic getaway at a quaint B&B would better fit your mood, I would say Ithaca is a great place to stop and smell the roses! As the locals would say, “Ithaca is gorges!”

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2011

AUG 2011 Issue #4

WINTER 2011 Issue #5

Glenn Packard 7 Reasons LGBT FamiliesRock Canada’s New Gay Getaway

Domestic Violence

CHOREOGRAPHER / TV PERSONALITY / RECORDING ARTIST / ACTOR / DIRECTOR

IDOLS My Body made him gay

The Unspoken Truth

Massachusetts

Melissa Ferrick “Still Right Here”

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$3.95 USA/CAN

Why Ohio?


To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. - Thomas Watson, Sr.

In 2011, Along with a visit to New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Ohio, Connextions Magazine celebrated a contract to distribute through out Barnes & Noble nationwide. It was the year of promotions, parties, and parades! TOP LEFT: Assault City Roller Derby at the CNY Pride Parade. TOP RIGHT: A few of the wonderful reviews we received after releasing Connextions Magazine Issue 2. BOTTOM LEFT: Lil Kim and P Diddy spotted at the NYC Pride Parade. BOTTOM RIGHT: Wanda Sykes at GayFest 2011.

www.connextionsmagazine.com

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Northern New Hampshire ATV Adventures & more

Bear Rock Adventures

The northern region of New Hampshire is one of the last true wilderness areas in the eastern part of the United States. The Great North Woods is where the attraction ‘is’ the outdoors. Phenomenal fishing makes this a sportsman’s paradise, with the upper Connecticut Lakes and River which are famous for trout and salmon. All season fun can be found in the Great North Woods region, including leaf peeping during the fall foliage season in October. Summer activities such as hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, rafting, camping, and wildlife viewing. One of the big winter attractions is snowmobiling, as the area offers the most comprehensive snowmobile trail system in this part of the country.

The Great North Woods is the Moose Capital of New Hampshire, where you are more likely to run into a moose than a McDonald's

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Ride The Wilds

On a mission to see a moose, we rented an ATV from Bear Rock Adventures and rode along the new 1,000-plus mile interconnected ATV trail system throughout northern New Hampshire. Knowing the best time of day to spot a moose is dusk and dawn, we opted for the sunrise ride. About $125 will get you and a guest, one hour on a new 2013 Polaris ATV. There is storage space for your camera and bug spray; no helmets required, but are available if you choose; tour guides are also available or you can venture out on your own. Although we didn’t spot any moose on this ride, we did see several deer and captured a picturesque sunrise, while we shared a moment of peace at Diamond Pond. Coos County offers four season fun with trails for both ATV’s and snowmobiles. For more information about this interconnected trail system called “Ride the Wilds”, click to www.bearrockadventures.com/ ride-the-wilds/

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alking into Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vermont, feels like being enveloped in a long, deep hug. From the constantly burning fire in the cozy and rustic lodge to the plush, enormous beds in the guest rooms to the way the staff smiles, big and genuine, the message is clear: you are welcome here. It’s not just your imagination. The Top Notch Resort is a smart choice for anyone, but it also happens to be the only TAG Approved gay-friendly hotel in the entire ski town of Stowe. Better still: Top Notch offers an elopement package for just $1,500. Where better to tie the knot than Vermont - one of only six states in which gay marriage is legal - and what better way to celebrate than with champagne, dinner for two, cake, flowers, luxurious robes to take home and a Justice of the peace to officiate? Forgo the limo in favor of a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride over the grounds; it’s all included in the package. If you’re not ready to exchange vows, Top Notch can offer you whatever type of getaway you’re in the market for. Those in search of relaxation and pampering will find solace in the spa, which offers everything from a wealth of massages, facial care, full salon services and even a wink at local fare with a maple sugar body scrub. The spa, which spans 35,000 generous square feet and includes 30 treatment rooms, a sauna and steam room, three pools, a Jacuzzi and a hot tub with a cascading waterfall, is open year-round. With six outdoor and four indoor tennis courts and a pro shop on the grounds, those who crave athletic adventure are sure to be satisfied. The Grand Slam tennis package, available from Mid-May through Mid-October includes nightly accommodations, morning small group workshops, racquet tune-up and a discount on pro-shop merchandise. And don’t forget about the mountains! The Stowe ski area is minutes away from Top Notch. Dine on the grounds at Norma’s, a beautiful restaurant with mountain views that features creative, Vermont-inspired cuisine with dishes like a local cheese tasting and roasted beet carpaccio with Vermont feta and endive. Or just order in 24-hour room service and share a meal in your guest room. With stunning views of the natural landscape and resort, as well as decor fit for a king - or a queen - one thing is for certain, staying at Top Notch Resort is like coming home.

www.topnotchresort.com

photo courtesy Stuart Gallagher Photography


Swank 18

Properties

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D uring a recent trip to Boston, Connextions Magazine enjoyed a superb stay at 51 Sumner Street, Unit 2, a property owned and managed by Lance Swank of Swank Properties. The cleanliness was impeccable and no detail was overlooked.

Each of Swank Properties offers Condo style apartment living at economical rates. The Sumner Street location offered a fully-equipped kitchen, living room, library, deck, 2 separate bedrooms, 2 full baths, as well as off-street parking. If you are new to apartment renting vs. hotel accommodations, erase the fear from your mind, as check-in is as simple as following a few instructions that are emailed to you prior to your stay. Detailed instructions include where to park and the key box code to enter the secure building. Perfect for those who prefer privacy. As previously mentioned, the overwhelming attention to detail leaves no questions unanswered. For example, take-out and restaurant menus were placed in the kitchen drawer and directions to the “T” (Boston subway) were located at the front entry, as well as plenty of tourist attraction books, cards and pamphlets. As stated by Lance, “It’s the little things that matter!” Lance Swank was born in Alexandria, VA, grew up in Western PA, spent 7 years in Hawaii, and finally landed in Boston after attending Grad school in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In addition to the 12 rental property units in the Greater Boston area, Lance’s private development company is currently renovating a 9 unit building. Lance adds, “Without the guidance and support of my spouse, Allan, since 1994, I wouldn’t be able to do all that I do.” Well-respected in his community, Lance devotes a great deal of time to his surrounding neighborhood s, and enjoys working with non-profit organizations, such as dotout.org.

DotOUT is a grassroots, member driven organization committed to the ideals of acceptance, inclusion, fairness, and equality in the community of Dorchester. First-class service and stay at Swank Properties certainly offers the ultimate traveling experience. Once exposed to this style of "healthy," affordable vacationing, it is not possible to look elsewhere for overnight accommodations. This new found 'comfort of home' with personality and charm creates an eager desire to return. http://www.swank-properties.com/

A Superb Stay in Boston, MA www.connextionsmagazine.com

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h O

? o i h O y h W

20 www.connextionsmagazine.com Cleveland


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hat started as a road trip with no specific destination, turned into a scenic drive through Northern Ohio, with more things to do than we were able to fit into one extended weekend. Who knew? Cleveland is home to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame! The 150,000 square-foot, extremely unique building design captures your attention from the highway. And the museum itself, with its seven floors, five theaters, and ever-changing exhibits, is filled with iconic artifacts from musicians throughout history. My jaw dropping moments however, were at the Women Who Rock exhibit and gazing at all the outfits worn by 70 of the most influential women in music. Rolling Stone says “A stunning collection of artifacts.” The Huffington Post says it’s “A must-see” and The Wall Street Journal quotes the exhibit as being “thoroughly entertaining.” If architecture is your passion, a visit to Ohio most certainly needs to be on your to-do list. Akron, Ohio (dubbed as “Rubber Capital of the World”) is home to the Stan Hywet Estate (Old English for stone quarry.) In 1898, F.A. Seiberling founded The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, naming it after Charles Goodyear, the

inventor of the vulcanization process for rubber. Between 1912 and 1915, he and his wife, Gertrude, built their country estate. The short-lived American Country Estate building boom began to decline in the 1920s, and by the 1960s many of the most elegant homes ever built in this country had been lost to the wrecking ball. Stan Hywet remains as one of the most important historic estates to endure from this bygone era. Above the Manor House entryway, the crest bearing the motto Non Nobis Solum (Not for Us Alone), still welcomes guests as it did a century ago. This 65-room manor with original furnishings, including 18th-century British portraits, 15th-century French and Italian furniture and priceless antiques is one of the finest examples of Tudor Revival architecture in the United States. Amusement Parks galore! From Splash Zone in Oberlin and Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora to Cedar Point & Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, there’s fun for the whole family no matter what time of year you visit. With such a rich history and plenty to keep busy, Ohio surprisingly flourishes with something for everyone, no matter the age or interest.

ohio spread Rock n Rocll Hall of Fame

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2012

LIVE TRAVEL CONNECT

Summer 2012 Issue #7

Get a maintenance free yard with

7simple steps

Compare two of the world’s most unique

Casino’s Up close & personal with

Fabulous Finds to organize your travels

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What’s the state of Equality in

Connecticut LGBT Lifestyle & Travel

10 Steps

Fall 2012 Issue #8

Winter 2012 Issue #9

13 cities

to facebook success

for relocation in 2013

LGBT Activist Sarah Schulman gives insight into

Where is the

the REAL fight for equality

Honeymoon Capital

of the world?

Sweet Success

Tilghman Island on the Chesapeake ABC’s

The

of

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Travel to the Ocean, the Bay & the Mountains

it’s all in

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Maryland


Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. - Maya Angelou

2012 was the year that we really learned how to make the most of our trips, both business and pleasure. Between reviews, interviews, photographs and writing, as well as learning to relax during the down time, it was our trip to Maryland for the final issue of 2012 that we perfected a week long trip, making the most of every minute and not forgetting a single memory. This year, Connextions Magazine began offering “special features�, which include itineraries and cost calculations to specific location in less than a dozen pages. TOP LEFT: Special Feature - A weekend in New York City. TOP RIGHT: Connextions Magazine booth at the NYC GLBT Expo in March. BOTTOM LEFT: The best pina colada in Maryland found at Hammerheads on the beach. BOTTOM RIGHT: Connextions Magazine found at Barnes & Noble in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Vitambi Springs Resort

Vitambi (Vee-tom’-bee)

– a tribal African word meaning – Pride

269 acres of century-old oak trees, tropical palms and majestic pines that shelter four-themed campgrounds, rental homes, an inn, secluded cabins and bungalows, is only the beginning of this rare exotic getaway resort. The campground offers several choices for accommodations. The Pine Tree Inn is for those who like more traditional arrangements; it offers a dorm-style experience with private rooms and shared bathrooms. If you and your friends need more space and privacy, try one of the two or three bedroom homes complete with kitchen and living areas or

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secluded nature cabins. The Barracks offers military-style shared accommodations with other recruits, while individuals or groups may prefer the cowboy camp with its mesa lookout tower, the heavily wooded medieval camp or the pirate hideaway camp nestled in a tropical jungle setting. Other visitors may just want to simply pitch a tent in one of the expansive campsites or a remote area of the wilderness park. Not far from any camp is the Big Oak Lodge and Scrub Palm Spa with its spacious new shower house, including individual dressing areas, sparkling fixtures, tile floors, air conditioning and lockers for day use


"We just spent our first of what will surely be many weekends at Vitambi! The property is beautiful and perfectly rustic! Great friendly hospitality from all staff. Thanks Martin , Wayne, Neal and Steve ... You guys are great! See you soon!” -Richard and Bob

members. Other amenities include; the Bongo Bar, Woof ’s dog park, a lakeside dock with a screened pavilion, a regulation-size beach volleyball court, miles of scenic hiking and biking trails and the Olympus gym. The offerings at Vitambi Springs are as unique and diverse as the community it serves. Managing Member, Steve McCloud says, “we’re building much more than a campground, we’re building a community.” This all-male, member’s only, vacation camping resort is centrally located in Florida, just south of Lake Okeechobee.

photos courtesy Vitambi Springs

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Olde Mistick Village Meander down brick pathways in the tranquil setting of duck ponds and waterfalls, while browsing over 40 quaint stores and restaurants in Olde Mistick Village.

D

uring a trip to Connecticut, specifically to check out the gaming scene, we stumbled across a small dogwood lined village. For those who are unfamiliar with Connecticut, Olde Mistick Village is located less than 2 miles from Historic Downtown Mystic, and about a 15 minute drive from Foxwoods Casino. I don’t know about you, but when I shop for gifts, I prefer the unique, hard-to-find, meaningful, “I put thought into this” type of offering, rather than another Yankee Candle or Applebee’s Gift Certificate. Not that one can have too many candles or dinner certificates, but personally, I try (when time permits), to give from the heart. With the plethora of stores, that contain an abundance of artisan hand crafted items, I shopped until I was ready to drop! Sofia’s Mystical Christmas has every possible ornament you can think of, from guitars, drums, and Elvis; to dogs, cats and holiday ornaments. I polished off at least 4 people from my Christmas list in this store alone. Southern Exposure is the perfect destination for handmade Navajo Inlay jewelry and authentic Cowboy Boots. Vegetable Ivory and Organics has unique Jewelry & figurines made out of nuts, as well as natural soaps, bath salts, detergent, honey, hand painted wine glasses and hand poured soy candles. The Gray Goose Cookery has over 4,000 square feet of gourmet kitchen products, featuring All Clad, Cuisinart, Kitchen Aid, Le Creuset, Viking, Krups, Henckels and Wusthof. Irish Eyes has been a cornerstone in Olde Mistick Village since 1979, with Claddagh & Celtic Jewelry and wedding bands, Guinness Licensed merchandise, Belleek fine china, hand knit Irish sweaters and Hanna hats & caps.

Olde Mistick Village photo courtesy: David Iannuzzi

Olde Mistick Village photo courtesy: David Iannuzzi

Olde Mistick Village

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Mystic, CT photo courtesy: Glenn Koetzner, Crazy Dog Photography

Olde Mistick Village

While sitting in the gazebo, we enjoyed an outdoor picnic with tantalizing gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. The award-winning Blue Squid Bakery, Cheese Shop and Grilled Cheese Café has 30 varieties of cheeses, a bakery with over 40 flavor combinations for cupcakes, and hundreds of freshly made grilled cheese sandwich choices. The most popular is a Lobster Grilled Cheese with chunks of fresh lobster meat and their "original" cheese blend on extra thick white bread. Although, my favorite is the roasted artichoke hearts, fresh tomato, basil pesto & fresh mozzarella cheese on sour dough bread.

the chowder cook off. Each store provided a good sized sampling of the chowder for less than $1.00 each, with all proceeds to benefit the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center Emergency Food Pantry for families in need. The Cabin Fever Festival also offered an intriguing demonstration by the Police K-9 unit, a Live Birds of Prey presentation, and several entertainers.

As if shopping wasn’t enough, during our visit, we were thrilled to join the Cabin Fever Festival and partake in

For more Connecticut travels, adventures and restaurant reviews… visit www.connextionsmagazine.com

Needless to say, the activities and shopping were so inviting at Olde Mistick Village, that we ended up staying (at a hotel within walking distance) for three days!

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W

Clyde’s Restaurant

ith 14 restaurants throughout the Washington DC area, each having their own unique style, but keeping the same high standards for cleanliness, fresh produce and the finest meats, Clyde’s is a favorite among the natives and a must-stop for visitors. If you are in DC for a tour of our Nation’s capital, be sure to click to Clyde’s website prior to your stay. No matter what the reason for your visit to clydes.com, you will, without a doubt find what you are looking for! A complete history of the restaurant and the founders, detailed information on each of the locations,

to make, via Clyde’s Restaurant website, that I just keep going on and on about. I made the reservations 3 days in advance of my trip and instantly received a confirmation email with the address and phone number, should I choose to change anything, such as the confirmed time or the number of people in attendance. On the day of my visit, I received a phone call to remind and confirm once again, which came at a perfect time… I was able to let them know I was running late due to the traffic during rush hour on the B-W Parkway (Baltimore Washington Parkway.) Then, since it was my first visit to Georgetown in DC, I was able to pull up the email from my iPhone and grab directions with ease. Fast, friendly and knowledgeable service set the stage for a wonderful dinner at the Clyde’s Georgetown location. Seating is somewhat tight but if you are visiting from a big city, such as NY, you are more than accustomed to making new dinner friends with the up close & personal tables. Our dinner neighbors were very friendly… they even offered to take our picture.

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including directions, hours of operation, methods of payment accepted, photos, customer reviews, special events, recipes and a downloadable menu with pricing!

Now on to the good stuff… DINNER! We started with the fried green tomatoes, which have a crispy cornmeal crust and pancetta, sitting on a bed of shredded lettuce and buttermilk bacon dressing. Our main courses were the penne with Italian sausage and rapini, which included garlic and parmesan cheese with marinara sauce; and a BBQ Pork tenderloin with asparagus and collard greens. An added bonus was the semi-sparkling glass of moscato, which in my neck of the woods is hard to find on a restaurant menu.

Before I tell you how wonderful the service and my meal was, let me just express my gratitude for the reservations I was able

Dinner was devine, the service was superb, the drinks were delightful and the company was captivating!

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A

pproaching the Blue Ridge Mountains, one can not help but to be inspired by the beauty of such a wonderful place in this Country. The towering trees with their lusciously thick canopy, sprinkles streams of bright sun light onto the creatures beneath. Seemingly untouched by civilization, the smog of the city melts away into the crisp, clean, fresh mountain air. Tucked quietly away in its own corner of beauty, sits the Inn at Red Hill Bed & Breakfast. While comfortably relaxing on the beautiful wooden deck, sipping coffee or tea, the cool mountain breeze wisps away any heavy thoughts or concerns as if they are nothing more than dust. Cindy Neugebauer, Owner and Innkeeper, radiates her welcoming personality which only magnifies this already embracing and wonderfully peaceful atmosphere. She takes great care to ensure that every detail of your stay is heart warming, relaxing and adventurous, for those who are interested, right down to the extra soft toilet paper. Bailey, Cindy’s chocolate lab, is delightfully well mannered and a genuinely unique companion to every visitor. Although Bailey is not permitted inside the common areas or bedrooms, she is allowed to make personal appearances upon request. The Inn itself is decorated in a modern country theme with a cottage feel. Upon walking in, you immediately feel at home and want to curl up on the couch with a good read or the remote.

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The Inn at Red Hill Bed & Breakfast

Maryland

The bedrooms follow suit for a cozy stay in a comfy bed covered with plush bed linens. Cindy provides a lavishly healthy breakfast and obtains all the food from local

sources, including the morning coffee! Whether visiting for a secluded rest, personal exploration or specific event, the Inn at Red Hill B&B can provide for your needs. The Inn overlooks Antietam National Battlefield. These lands are enriched with Civil War history. The battle grounds and museums stretch for miles along the main road into town, and historic markers can be read by pulling over on the shoulder of the road for more insight into the people who gave their lives in

building our Nation. Walk through the historic Cornfield, Bloody Lane and Burnside Bridge. A driving tour in the comfort of your own vehicle, while being guided by CD brings to life your surroundings as you listen to the sounds of cannons and gunfire behind the narration of different soldiers from the era, who landmark the turning of events. Enjoy the July 4th spectacular fireworks show, Civil War reenactments in September and the Annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in December, where a brilliant array of 23,000 luminaries are lit in honor of those solders who fell in battle. Fall is peak leaf peeping season and the mountain roads are a prime place for bicyclist to train. No matter what your plans are, or if there are no plans at all, just submerge yourself in the western mountain region of Maryland. Your mind and body will thank you.

Cindy Neugebauer and Bailey

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2013

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You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. - Steve Jobs

2013 was a very busy year and our reach began extending to several other countries, outside the comfort of America. We visited Antwerp, Austria, and even helped host a gay competition in Puerto Rico. In keeping true with the name of the magazine and the whole reason we drummed up the idea for a publication as unique as this, we began several roadtrips across the land of the free, in order to make memorable ‘face to face’ connections. TOP LEFT: Connextions attends the GLBT Travel Expo in Florida. TOP RIGHT: Snacks from the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth Texas. BOTTOM LEFT: 25hours Hotel in Vienna, Austria, every corner was home to another funny saying BOTTOM RIGHT: Michael Billy and Jarl Haugedal in Puerto Rico, hosting Mr Gay World Puerto Rico.

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Destination New Jersey

3

of the best reasons to visit

Wildwoods Resort Located on the Cape May Peninsula, sits a small but booming resort town called Wildwoods. The resort boasts an award-winning beach, a 2-mile long boardwalk, an amusement complex, two water parks, “Doo-Wop” 1950’s style motels, and a trolley that runs from one end of the resort to the other. The Wildwoods offers enjoyment for the whole family. With 38 blocks of exciting boardwalk attractions, including three incredible amusement piers, three wet ‘n wild water parks, along with FREE beaches, more than 180 spectacular events held annually, beautiful main streets and downtown districts full of shops and eateries, the Wildwoods Resort leaves no room for boredom.

photos courtesy Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement & Development Authority

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Many cities have been self-proclaimed as “the birthplace of rock and roll,” including Memphis, TN because of the many pioneers, such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, who recorded their ground breaking hits; Hattiesburg, MS as noted in the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, because of a song recorded in 1936 that featured guitar riffs and a rock & roll beat; and of course, Cleveland, OH, because it is the home of the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” Well, you can add Wildwood, NJ to this self-proclaimed list because of the “Rock Around the Clock” performance on Memorial Day weekend in 1954 by “Bill Haley & His Comets.” Most notable events during the year at Wildwood -- the Firefighter’s Convention and parade in September, and the Ultimate Flying Disk competition, that attracts over 5,000 players and is the largest annual beach Ultimate tournament in the world.


Asbury Park on The Jersey Shore In 1974, legendary music club, The Stone Pony, opened its doors for the first time. The Stone Pony hosted many native New Jersey musicians including performers such as Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Since then, many of the world's most popular musicians have played The Stone Pony and perhaps it can be considered one of the greatest rock & roll venues of all time. Venues like The Stone Pony, The Wonder Bar, Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall have not only helped launch many musicians' careers but they also contributed to the creation of an entire music genre known as the Jersey Shore sound.

Lesbian superstar Lori Michaels performs at Asbury Park for Jersey Pride in 2011

Asbury Park is located 60 miles south of New York City and approximately 90 minutes north of Atlantic City. With year round events at venues conveniently located along the Asbury Park boardwalk, there’s no shortage of entertainment. For a taste of the culture at Asbury Park in a uniquely designed website, along with a list of upcoming events, venues, & attractions, a visit to apboardwalk.com is recommended. Of all the Jersey Shore destinations, Asbury Park is the gay beach of choice. With its hip vibe, diversity is welcomed! Asbury Park also hosts the Jersey Pride celebrations that take place annually in early June.

Photo courtesy Rula Kanawati

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Discovering Shenandoah

Photos courtesy: Chesley Creek Farm

A Cabin in the Mountains Looking for seclusion and privacy so you can enjoy quality time with your special someone? Romantic cabins tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains await your arrival. The Cottages at Chelsey Creek Farm offer individual cabins, each with fully equipped kitchen amenities; a BBQ grill on the deck; Jacuzzi tub; fireplace; covered porch with rocking chairs; and most importantly - seclusion. Enjoy picturesque views of the sunrise over lush mountaintops, miles of hiking trails, wilderness, wineries, and evening star gazing. Located on Brokenback Mountain Road and in the city of Dyke, Virginia -- would it surprise you to learn that this property is gay owned?

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Photos courtesy: Luray Caverns, VA

Virginia is for Wine Lovers The landscape and climate of Virginia, along with ideal soil conditions, offers Virginians plenty of grape-growing opportunities, and therefore boasts vineyards and wineries in all regions of the state. Virginia is home to hundreds of wineries and vineyards. In the Shenandoah Valley alone, there are more than a dozen wineries to choose from. Interestingly enough, the state also produces Whiskey and you can tour both on what locals call The Blue Ridge “Whiskey Wine Loop”. The Discover Shenandoah website provides maps and recommendations for visiting numerous remote “treasures” including wineries, a whiskey distillery, eateries and more. discovershenandoah.com/whiskey-wine-loop/

From High Above to Low Below Take a subterranean meander and discover a magnificent and profuse variety of rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites, crystalline deposits, towering stone columns, shimmering draperies, and crystal clear pools -- all in the beauty of unsurpassed natural color. Luray Caverns is known to be the most popular cave in Eastern America and an internationally acclaimed destination. Beneath the Shenandoah Valley, discover the wonder of this “must see” U.S. Natural Landmark. Tours are offered from well-lit paved walkways, which lead visitors through cathedral-sized rooms. Spectacular natural beauty awaits your arrival. luraycaverns.com

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T

raveling from New York, Wildcatter Ranch offered the taste of Texas I was looking for. A real western experience with cowboys, horses, and longhorns -- minus the tents and snakes. Wildcatter is a 1,500 acre ranch in Northern Texas. The quiet surroundings invite you to relax and reconnect. There are no crowds and no waiting lines, only a perfect opportunity to unplug and unwind. The guest suites, impeccable service, mouth watering meals, and activities on the ranch will remain an unforgettable experience. The most memorable moment during my stay, was the tipping of the hat by each cowboy, upon introduction – my jaw literally dropped. Their mama raised them right! I was truly under the belief that chivalry was dead -- and being the feminist that I am, I have become accustomed to opening my own door – BUT, it felt so good to be treated with such honest respect that this memory will remain embedded. Wildcatter Ranch offers 16 individual luxury cabin suites; 16 guest rooms within the western style hotel; one charming cottage with two bedrooms, one bath and a full kitchen; as well as one completely secluded luxury guesthouse with two king bedrooms, each with private bath, large living room, dining area, full kitchen and rock fireplace.

I had the pleasure of staying in the Fort Belknap Cabin Suite. The room was beautifully decorated, it was clean, and certainly spacious -- from the tall log cabin style ceiling and the large wooden doors, to the separate toilet and shower room. I instantly felt relaxed and at peace, without lacking the comforts of home. The bedding was cozy and comfortable; the atmosphere is quiet and private; and sitting in the rocking chair on the back patio offered serene panoramic views that took my breath away. Guest room amenities include: Internet access; Satellite TV with DVD player Fireplace; Coffee, microwave & refrigerator; and back porch rocking chairs! The on-site steakhouse offers true Texas “hand cut” mesquite grilled steaks, barbeque, fresh fish and chicken fried steak, along with an award winning wine list and great selection of craft beers. Outstanding service coupled with fresh food and an incredible view give Wildcatter Steakhouse 5-stars. Find a romantic getaway; find southern hospitality; find cowboys, horses, longhorns, big skies, tons of stars and scenic landscape views! Find a taste of the old west at Wildcatter Ranch. www.wildcatterranch.com


Luxurious guest accommodations Infinity pool and hot tub Lounge Bar & Restaurant Conference Center Spa Activities, including: horseback riding, skeet shooting, ATV rides & tours, hiking, tank fishing, frisbee golf, canoeing, wagon rides, & so much more!


A

Alabama’s Seaport City

Museums, Mardi Gras and Runway Models in Mobile. As I walked past the sidewalk, I noticed a very odd sign that read, “Buy 2 drinks get both half off,” I was intrigued at the odd way of phrasing “two for one drinks” during a happy hour special. I walked in to find a long and narrow bar that lead to a sizeable outdoor patio with separate bar. It was daytime, and the joint was empty, but I opted to stay for a drink, or rather, two. What I had walked into was the newest gay bar in Mobile, Alabama, located right in the heart of downtown, and steps away from two others. Flip Side Bar had an oddly familiar feel to it, but I didn’t solve my mystery until my second appearance, when I chatted up the manager Bob Brunsen. I quickly discovered that Bob had been the manager and “man in charge” of the infamous San Francisco, Castro bar, Daddies, now 440. When I lived in San Francisco, the bar was already 440, but maintained most of what Daddies was all about, and was always my go to spot. The same narrow lengthy bar, with generous pours, and great looking staff, are just some of the similarities I was picking up on when I had first entered, but after speaking to Bob, and looking around a bit more, the comparison was uncanny. If Bob was responsible for running one of the most successful bars in San Francisco, then I knew Flip Side was going to stand a good chance. Also, it’s brother bar, B-Bobs, owned by the same team, literally across the parking lot seems to be a local establishment with deep roots and loyal clientele, so the two bars share a lot of the same patronage. Now back to those sexy bartenders at Flip Side. On night one, I was introduced to Paul Wilkins, a bearded, redheaded Southern boy, who at first appearance was striking with his rugged looks. We chatted about my travels and my work, and he kept a low profile, until my third visit, when he was bartending in the back patio. It was there that I learned about his academia

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background and all the intense goals he had set for his future after just graduating with his bachelor’s degree in History. It was also that night that Paul confessed to me that he was straight. It was that moment of pure truth and admittance on his part that solidified what I had realized during my week in Mobile; that once again, the South has proven to not fully live up to its stereotypes, well, at least not Mobile.

spending, but once opened, it will bring in visitors from all over. I was fortunate to have a preview of the facility and the exhibits are beyond interactive and the first of their kind. It’s very easy to see children and adults enthralled with exhibits and information the museum plans to offer. While also in town, I visited the Mobile Carnival Museum. Now prepare yourself for

Fort Conde Inn

Mobile is on the verge of a massive change with the news of Airbus coming in and building three different aircrafts in the small Gulf Coast city. The majority of locals are ecstatic at the news because they know that this type of massive industry will bring jobs and help the local economy. In addition, the country’s largest and most technologically advanced maritime museum is set to open in the spring of 2014. Gulf Quest, the national maritime museum of the Gulf of Mexico has been years in the making and millions in

what you are about to read, as I personally had no idea, and I am pretty confident that most -- outside of Mobile -- also were clueless as to the reality of where the original Mardi Gras began. That’s right, you guessed it, Mobile claims to be the originator of Mardi Gras, having introduced it to New Orleans much later in history. And if you don’t believe me, go visit the museum on a day that volunteer Craig Roberts is working, and he will gladly school you in one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable tours you will ever take.


Mobile Shipyards

- Mobile story & photographs by David Duran

I also happened to be in town during MFW, Mobile Fashion Week. This blew my mind because who knew Mobile would have a fashion week. Well, the organizers put together a week of fantastic shows and events. After showing the pics to San Francisco fashionista & TV host Bianca Starr, she confirmed the legitimacy of the show and compared it to many underground San Francisco shows. With her approval, I knew Mobile had it going on. I didn’t venture further out into Alabama, and not sure I am ready to just yet, but Mobile did win me over. It’s completely unexpected and beautiful. The food scene has already taken off, and gems like Panini Pete’s serve up some kick-ass food. The antique shops are plentiful and the boutiques full of local artists make it worthwhile. The Centre for the Living Arts also offers up some pretty modern interpretations and instillations that leave your creative mind craving more. For the ultimate in accommodations, visit the Fort Conde Inn. Nestled in what once was the most prestigious neighborhood of Mobile, the B&B has slowly taken over the old homes and transformed them into a street lined with luxury suites. With a chef on staff, prepare yourself for the ultimate indulgence options for breakfast. Mobile, with its friendly folks, left me wanting more. I’ve already planned my next visit for Mardi Gras, as I now have to experience the amazingness everyone in Mobile speaks about. The liberal friendly coastal city has a rich history and a welcoming manner that is helping change the perceptions most have of the south. The region isn’t fully there, but with small pockets of awesomeness like Mobile, it’s well on its way.

David & Paul

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2014

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Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first. - Frederick B Wilcox 2014 brings exciting changes for Connextions Magazine as we welcome our new management team, including Manny who will take on the roll as Editor-in-Chief. The possibilities are endless as we continue connecting and making memories through our travels. These five years have been made possible because of the loyal supporters and readers that have continued to share our journey. Cheers to the next five! TOP RIGHT: Our awesome contributing writer, David Duran with Paul from UnCruise in Hawaii. TOP LEFT: Connextions is proud to be part of the first Virtual Reality GLBT Travel Expo! BOTTOM LEFT: Connextions hit 7,000 fans on facebook this year. BOTTOM RIGHT: Connextions rolled out the first annual 2014 Pride Awards inside Issue 15 that featured 45 pride festivals across America!

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Crescent The

of

Beverly Hills

Ah, Beverly Hills, the place where the rich and famous live. The beautifully manicured streets, lined with high-end shopping and obnoxious tour busses passing by, trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. We’ve all seen it on television and on the big screen, but most of us have not ventured to actually visit and stay the night. With so many great shops and restaurants inside the city, visitors shouldn’t quickly dismiss the opportunity to lodge themselves in Beverly Hills.

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Originally constructed in 1927 and established the first boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, the Crescent Hotel is dead center in the best spot of the city. Directly across from the original MCA studios, the property played host to the studio’s stable of actors, giving this place a very colorful history. It’s also just two short blocks from Rodeo Drive and some of the best shopping in the world. The property is art deco architecture with an abundance of modern luxury. Having recently completed a full

by David Duran

interior renovation, the Crescent, with its historical past, has been contemporized to fit the needs of the current traveler. Entering the new mini lobby of the hotel, guests are warmly greeted and made to feel more than at home. With extremely personalized attention, guests are escorted to their room, either on the first or second level. Each of the 35 rooms is unique in size, as the older property has been reconfigured throughout the year. Individually decorated


to blend together and reflect the layered history, each room stands out on its own. The headboards in Grand King rooms and Prime Queen rooms feature digital art prints designed by Oliva Villaluz, while Petite Queen rooms feature locally designed upholstered and built-in headboards. Each room offers inviting warmth in a comfortably scaled setting with Libeco Belgian linens, down pillows and quilted throws. Sleek concrete bathrooms are outfitted with plush towels, kimono-style yukata robes, and slippers. Additionally, each bathroom features skin-friendly seasonal and organic custom blended Crescent Hotel bath amenities. The hotel offers a lounge with a palm-lined terrace for warm Southern California days, and an indoor-outdoor fireplace for candlelit evenings. The bar features classic as well as unique cocktails, small production wines and a good selection of craft beers. Cocktails like the Honey Bee, made with Honey Bourbon, maple, citrus and soda, and the Earl, made with Earl Grey Tea infused Gin, simple syrup and lemon juice, are among the favorites. In addition, there is a restaurant, currently open for breakfast and dinner, and run by Executive Chef Diana Hernandez (Soho House, Hotel Bel Air), who has created a guilty menu, that will not fit into the typical Beverly Hills starvation diet. From truffle fries to the most mouth-watering burger you can get in the area, Chef Diana is making sure that with the property renovations completed, her kitchen and menu were not left behind in the race to modernize the hotel. The Itty-Bitty Room Hidden within the 35 guest rooms are two, very itty-bitty gems. Each totaling just 130 sq. feet, including the bathroom, the two rooms are the area’s hottest rooms. Each is beautifully decorated and provides the same amenities as a standard room, but just in a tighter space. It’s the perfect room for a quick overnight guest, a local who might need a place to crash after a night out, or a super budget traveler. With a year-round rate of $99, the two rooms are in high-demand. The two rooms are not available to the general public on traditional hotel booking sites. If interested in an itty-bitty room, guests must call the hotel directly. The remaining 33 rooms range from $159-$249, still a steal for Beverly Hills.

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I

Westin Hilton Head

by David Duran

personally didn’t know too much about Hilton Head, South Carolina, but after some great experiences visiting neighboring states, I thought I would give the south another opportunity to impress me. What had me most excited about the trip was the chance to stay at the Westin Hilton Head, an iconic property known by most who have been to the area. It was on the beach, and a Westin, so I couldn’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t meet all my expectations. The Westin brand has taken a major turn in the past few years by introducing a healthier concept. With focus on the mind, body and spirit through different initiatives, they are truly making the guest experience with their resorts and properties a more welcoming one. With programs such as the New Balance lending program where guests can borrow workout clothes, including shoes, the Westin was very much about promoting a healthier travel experience. Even their room service menu has lighter fare options, including calorie counts, which is a fantastic alternative for travelers like myself who don’t want to feel guilty while indulging from their beds. Arriving to Hilton Head was easier than expected. A new direct flight on JetBlue from NY’s JFK to the Savannah/Hilton Head Airport was inexpensive and super convenient. Upon arriving to the resort, I was immediately taken back by the openness of the lobby, and the friendliness of the staff. My ocean view room with balcony was a welcoming touch. Later in my stay, I spent an afternoon on the balcony watching a poolside wedding taking place, a very special moment that I was able to experience, from the privacy of my balcony. I knew I was going to eat, and eat good food while in the south. The options were varied and all decadent. I might have ordered the chicken wings in the Carolina Café more than once… On that note, I was thrilled to find out the property was partnered with an activities company that offered active adventure type program for guests of the Westin.

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photos courtesy Westin Hilton Head

Since I’m an avid kayaker, I took advantage of an eco-tour around the area where I learned about the local environment while still getting in a good workout. Our guide took the time to really answer any questions we had and really left an impression on the group. Southern hospitality was in full effect with every activity arranged through the Westin.

to the LGBT community. Having met and spent time with their in-house team, I was delighted to learn just how accommodating the resort is. Hilton Head is a family destination, and that includes LGBT families, because a family is a family, in their eyes. But personally, since I don’t yet have a family, I could easily see myself sneaking away with a plus one for a quick weekend.

The same day, through the same tour company, I also took a very beautiful small boat trip over to Harbour Town for lunch. Biking on the beach direct from the hotel access, and a beautiful new zip line course by Zipline Hilton Head added to the active weekend.

Direct flight, private poolside cabanas, an appropriately named, Heavenly Spa, the beach, great weather, all the activities one can plan and do, in addition to the first-class service makes this a desirable destination. When visiting Hilton Head, travelers can expect to feel a connection with the south, and with the people who live there. Expect lots of smiles and “hellos” from strangers, and take a moment to meet someone, as they will most likely have an interesting story to tell you, or words of wisdom to share.

Although my impression of the Hilton Head was a positive one, especially because of all the activities available to me, what really blew me away was how welcoming the Westin Hilton Head was

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Sweets & Thrills A

By: Manny Velásquez-Paredes

s summer turns into fall and back to school we go, and stores have Halloween and Christmas decorations already on their shelves, it’s time to start planning new adventures! If a road trip in the fall or winter is on the works, here are some quick tips to make the drive a more pleasant experience.

rides in the park or the tasty sweets that bring out your inner child, but also because of its history. Hershey Park was the dream that a man had in creating a town surrounding his business of chocolates.

photo courtesy: Hershey Park

- Bring plenty of snacks for everyone to enjoy. - Portable DVD player with movies and cartoons, as well as games are a big plus. - Cameras are a must, even better if it’s waterproof. - My kids love to bring books, as well as take pictures and make short videos of our journey on their leap pads, so we always bring extra batteries. - Blankets or pillows always help make the transition to hotel better. We recently had a chance to visit Hershey Park in Pennsylvania and Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park in Lake George, NY. These theme parks, which are open year round, are created with every member of your family in mind, regardless of age. Hershey Park in Hershey, PA With over 30 years of being the sweetest place on earth, Hershey Park has been an adventure not only because of the awesome

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Mr. Hershey started as a child entrepreneur, obtaining a loan from a relative he was able to start the fires of what was to be a dream and a fantasy world that very few people ever dream about.

Starting life at the end of the 19th century, he saw a lot of poverty and the sacrifice of hard work and still not able to obtain security and fortune. Obtaining an idea from caramel and the passion people had towards sweets he decided to focus on chocolate. Chocolate, at the time, was an item only available to certain elite members of society and he made it available to everyone. He not only worked on inventing machinery that was an innovation at the beginning of the 20th century, but recruited a town to help him achieved that dream. He not only thought of his own needs and dreams, but also saw the needs of the people around him. Actions speak louder than words, and at a certain point in his career, he had the option to choose between a machine that could do the work of 10 employees, and he instead chose to hire 10 people and eliminate the machine. Mr. Hershey was considered the “Moses” of those times because he built a town with everything that its people needed, while building a park to entertain every man, woman and child of every creed. His legacy will live on as one of the few men who were able to build a city around a sweet dream of chocolate and to help community members, including building a school for children in grades K-12. During the holiday season, the Park is transformed into a delightful holiday village with more than 30 rides, Santa and his nine live reindeer, live entertainment, games, shops, food, and a magical light show featuring over 125,000 dancing lights dancing to Christmas music known as Hershey Park Christmas Candylane. As always, Hershey Park is free for children ages 2 and under.


Six Flags Great Escape Resort

If the lights of Hershey Park isn’t enough, Hershey Sweet Lights is a holiday drive-through experience, where guests drive along a 2.3-mile route while enjoying nearly 600 themed light displays, all while listening to holiday music through a customized radio broadcast. Activities include ornament making workshops, clear-toy candy making demonstrations, music and storytelling. The Sugar Plum Fairy visits daily, and friendly, indoor snowball fights scheduled throughout the weekend round out the fun. Hershey Lodge offers guests a holiday dinner theater experience titled “Christmas in Chocolate Town, A Holiday Dinner Musical,” which includes a festive dinner topped off with a decadent chocolate dessert of course. Beginning in early December children have the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves at Santa’s Secret Garden, as they travel through a path of twinkling lights to discover Santa and his secret garden. Families can take a hands-on Chocolate Lab class to learn about the unique qualities of chocolate. Seasonal classes include Candy Cane Bark, Let It Snow Chocolate, Make a Very Merry Bar and Create a Kris Kringle. A special Chocolate Lab class will be offered during the Old Fashioned Family Christmas – Marshmallow Mischief. No festivity would be complete without a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, which showcases Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House, which is on display starting November 15. This life-sized house is completely covered in Hershey’s famous chocolate and confectionery products and is Santa’s home throughout Christmas. The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and Hersheypark Camping Resort offer accommodations. Families may be interested in making reservations for the “Lunch with Santa” package at The Hotel Hershey, the Christmas in Chocolate Town package at Hershey Lodge or the “Breakfast with Santa” package at either property.

Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Water Park A recent visit to the Lake George area led us to discover this great escape from the everyday. Six Flags, where it is always 80 degrees and host to over 38,000 square feet of water rides, pools and slides, everyone will surely enjoy white-water rafting, indoor surfing, or a tree house full of slides and over 160 interactive water games. The little ones will love the swivel water rifles, hydro blasters, arch jets, and my kids’ favorites the pull-cords that splash showers. The 18 and over crowd can relax and hangout in the hot tubs. Guests of the lodge can access the water park and daily passes can be purchased by those who are staying elsewhere. The Lodge has 200 rooms, where each can accommodate from 4 to 12 guests, extra guests can be accommodated for an extra fee per person. There are theme suites, such as the Klub Moose, which is an Adirondack themed suite. We experienced this suite during our visit, and my kids absolutely loved the idea of “camping” and “sleeping in a tent,” while the Daddies loved the comforts of electricity, comfy bed, cable tv and hot showers! Check-in is 4pm, early arrivals can take advantage of the spa, the arcade or the different dining options. During the holiday season, a celebration that offers families the ultimate holiday vacation featuring visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus, many fun characters, and festive activities, and decorations including thousands of twinkling lights, a themed light show, festive foods and endless holiday fun for the entire family. Guests are greeted with a live 25 foot Christmas tree, Santa’s Workshop, story time with Mrs. Claus, and much more, surely created to awaken the spirit. If you visit the Lodge in mid-November, you might be lucky enough to see the crew transform the lodge into a magical holidays scene. We were lucky to experience this last year, and it made for some amazing pictures and possibly the setting for our family’s Christmas card.

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Connextions Magazine Issue 16  

Issue 16 is filled with a celebration of 5 years traveling America and beyond. Over 16 States are featured inside and an overview of the bu...

Connextions Magazine Issue 16  

Issue 16 is filled with a celebration of 5 years traveling America and beyond. Over 16 States are featured inside and an overview of the bu...

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