Some of the biggest names in women-exclusive resorts like Pearl's Rainbow in Key West and Casitas Laquita in Palm Springs have changed name and gone all-welcoming, but there are still a few women-only and lesbian retreats to explore. And, if not exclusive, there are some very nice places to stay that are either lesbian-owned or managed. Here are some of our top picks.
Bethlehem, New Hampshire
Touted as one of the most romantic lesbian destinations on the planet, this lesbian paradise in New Hampshire's White Mountains has been proudly serving the community since 1983. Although founding innkeeper Grace Newman retired, new owners Jenny Wakerle and Gia Koumantzelis have preserved the spirit of the inn - a meeting place for relaxation, recharging and reaffirmation. The property includes the Main Inn with 11 rooms, the Farmhouse with five rooms and the rustic Cottage. And there is no shortage of activity in the area with cross-country skiing, golfing, zip-lining, white water rafting, hiking and nearby ski resorts. Family friendly.
Sugarloaf Key, Key West, United States
The Sugarloaf Women's Village, about 17 miles (27 km) from Key West, is a lush island sanctuary for women only. It offers a campground for tents as well as small, self-contained RVs, three private guest spaces in cottages and two bedrooms in the village's Community House. The relaxed vibe includes kayaking, dance parties, potlucks and evening sing-alongs. All women are welcomed, but only lesbians can apply for extended stays. It operates on a donation basis - suggested $15 a day for camping and $15-$50 a day for the indoor accommodations. Work exchange is also an option. Visitors are asked to limit their first stay to two weeks. Activists and authors Barbara Deming and Jane Verlaine founded Sugarloaf in the mid-70s in an era of establishing "womyn's lands."
Lesbian owned and operated, Labrys has been a peaceful retreat for women for over three decades. Set on spring-fed lake at the south end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, its four rustic cabins come with fully-equipped kitchens, a living area, dining table, either one or two bedrooms and of course the great outdoors. One cabin has a full bath with shower, while the others have access to the private shower house next to the hot tub. Singles, couples and groups all welcome. Pet friendly.
New Mexico, United States
Set on 1000-acres of high desert wildlife refuge surrounded by national forest, this retreat and healing center for women offers lodging in comfortable adobe casitas and a main house with accommodations, hot tub, library of women's books, sunroom, living room and large kitchen. Perfect for writer's or artist's retreats. Rates available by day, week, month or season.
East End, Provincetown, United States
A bright, personable B&B housed in a gray-shingled Victorian on the East End, Roux is one of the most welcoming spots in town and host to the annual Bride Pride. Owned by innkeepers Allison Baldwin and Ilene Mitnick, the 1870s Victorian mansion has six character-filled rooms decorated in bold, artistic flourishes. The magic at Roux is all in the details - from free drinks and snacks at happy hour to fresh-squeezed orange juice at breakfast, no comfort is overlooked. Be sure to take a soak in one of the large claw-foot tubs.
Bucerias, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Lesbian-owned, Casa Traquila is just that - peaceful, relaxed, serene, tranquil. In a fishing village 12 miles (20 km) north of Puerto Vallarta, the property has five one-bedroom apartments, a pool and spa services, which include detoxifying and cleansing seaweed wraps and redefining clay packs. It features extras like purified drinking water, a cell phone for each apartment, a Weber gas grill on the patio and a bookstore with books in English, French, German and Spanish. A block from the beach, it is two blocks from restaurants, food shops and art galleries. The village of Bucerias holds a whale of a fiesta each January to honor its patron saint.
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Overlooking the Caribbean Sea on a beautiful stretch of beach close to downtown Fredericksted, Sand Castle on the Beach is an idyllic resort with a choice of rooms, suites and villas. A $5 resort day pass for cruise passengers includes a beach chair and access to the hotel's restrooms, outdoor shower and beach side fresh water pool. Friendly hostesses Simone and Sheryl make it a point to celebrate inclusion and diversity.
Old Town, Key West, United States
The 50-room Silver Palms Inn is a green boutique hotel with a salt-water pool and pool bar. The property is managed by Mey Espinosa, former general manager of Pearl's Rainbow, the once famous Key West women-exclusive resort that went "all-welcome" in 2010. The staff speaks Russian, Polish and Czech as well as English and Spanish.
Halfmoon Bay, BC, Canada, Vancouver, Canada
A lesbian-owned property in remote Halfmoon Bay, Honeysuckle Rose Cottage is a leafy idyll perfect for large groups traveling together. The cottage sleeps up to seven people, though it can fit more in a pinch, and has a large manicured garden complete with hot tub and barbecue. Nearby activities include golf, hiking, swimming, kayaking and fishing. Downtown Vancouver is about a two-hour drive away.
Nippes, Cologne, Germany
Frauen Zimmer is a well-appointed female-only hotel located on a quiet side street in the trendy Nippes quarter and offers three airy rooms with oak floors and custom made wood furnishings. Breakfast is served in the dining room or the garden and cocktails in a casual lounge. Within easy reach are attractions like the Grüngürtel park, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne Cathedral and Cologne Zoo.