Recession has not spared anyone as it has emerged that Key West's only lesbian-exclusive resort Pearl's Rainbow is going 'all welcome' for the first time over this Thanksgiving weekend.
The resort was honored in October by Curve, the best-selling lesbian magazine, as the guesthouse that had the greatest impact on lesbian culture in the past 20 years.
AdvertisementHeather Carruthers, Pearl's Rainbow's lesbian owner, said it was a business decision based on tough economic realities and requests of some lesbian guests who would like to bring male family members or friends.
She said lesbians were being more accepted and felt more comfortable in the mainstream these days.
"They can hold hands wherever they want to. It's really the world we want to have. We don't necessarily want to be segregated," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
However, her "all welcome" decision is not sitting well with all gay and lesbian businesses in the area.
Tinlin, who runs three of Key West's nine major all-men gay guesthouses, replied 'certainly not' when asked if he would be allowing women onto his premises.
"Our business is down because of the economy and BP oil spill, but it's very important for this destination to maintain its all-gay reputation," he said.
Key West, with a population of around 25,000, has a gay police chief, gay president of the Rotary Club, more than 400 members of its gay chamber of commerce and several elected gay officials - including Carruthers, a Monroe County commissioner.
Stephen Smith, sales manager for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, said exclusively gay and lesbian resorts were under pressure because gay travellers had far more options than they did a decade ago.
"More and more hotel chains, car-rental companies and destinations are reaching out to the gay and lesbian market," he said.
"And why wouldn't they? It's a 1 billion dollars-a-year market," Smith added.
Smith said many gay visitors to Key West now chose to stay with a mainstream resort chain like the Westin, Marriott or Hyatt.