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Great escapes.

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A MOB OF DESPERATE SHOPPERS TO MAKE YOU WISH YOU COULD GET AWAY FROM IT ALL. SO WHY NOT DO JUST THAT? THIS YEAR GIVE HIM OR HER THE GIFT OF A ROMANTIC GETAWAY FOR TWO

From cruises to quiet inns to big-city eateries, these gay and lesbian establishments promise to restore your loved one's spirits anytime during the coming year. And best of all, you get to go along. (A word to the wise: Although only a few of these businesses limit their services to strictly either women or men, do call and inquire in advance.)

If funds are unlimited and fun in the sun is preferred, go for the warm-weather voyages marketed by [1] Olivia Cruises and Resorts (800/631-6277) or [2] Atlantis Events (800/6-ATLANTIS). Designed especially for women, Olivia has a West Caribbean cruise scheduled for April 4-11, an Eleuthera trip in the Bahama Islands planned for May 15-22, and a tour of the Greek isles in the works for July 24-31. The primarily male Atlantis goes Caribbean January 31-February 7. Other trips include Gay Mardi Gras in Sydney (February 24-March 1), two sails to Mexico (April 17-24 and April 24- May 1), and the first-ever cruise to Alaska (tentatively scheduled for August 31-September 7). The major advantage of booking with these bicoastal biggies is that they charter the entire ship or resort. No sharing means zero chance of encountering less than gay-friendly fellow wayfarers.

Looking for something a little more specialized? Hanns Ebensten Travel (305/294-8174), whose expertise lies in granting vagabonds the trip of a lifetime, has "Easter on Easter Island," among other odysseys, upcoming. Meanwhile, Pampered Pathways Travel Tours (800/510-4261) is offering "Valentine's Day Weekend in Sedona, Arizona" or an April "Holland Tulip Tour." Joie de vivre is the order du jour at the French-American Exchange (800/995-5087), where Francophiles can learn the language of love while exploring the chateaus of the Loire Valley, the museums of gai Paris, the secrets of Provence, or the sandy beaches in the south of France.

Yacht charters worldwide are available via [3] Journeys by Sea (800/825-3632), while UnderSea Expeditions (800/669-0310) offers scuba-diving jaunts around the globe. If the Rocky Mountains of Montana, Wyoming, and Utah are your fancy, contact OutWest Adventures (800/743-0458). That company is branching out next year with a trek to Nepal planned for October. And don't forget [4] Mariah Wilderness Expeditions (800/462-7424), California's only women-owned whitewater rafting and adventure travel company. For the more meditative nomad, Spirit Journeys (828/258-8880) suggests such pilgrimages as "Awakening Your Spiritual Heart" and "Winter Yoga Warm-Up."

If six days and seven nights away from home are just too much, a weekend escapade may be perfect. How about Hawaii, where Maui's Hana Plantation Houses (800/228-4262) and the women-only Alohalani's Guesthouse (800/511-3121) await? And there's always a rainbow overhead at the Kauai Waterfall Bed and Breakfast (800/996-9533). Back on the mainland, Palm Springs, Calif., boasts gay resorts for every taste, from the sexy-singles playground of Inn Exile (800/962-0186) to the more couples-oriented--and quite luxurious--Santiago (800/710-7729). Pacific Northwest aficionados will adore Ashland, Ore.--home of the very gay-fiendly Oregon Shakespeare Festival--where you can stay at the gay-owned Country Willows Bed and Breakfast Inn (800/WILLOWS). For fans of the Southwest, there's always Santa Fe, N.M., and the Inn of the Turquoise Bear (800-396-4104). And you can recharge at the enchanting Brass Key Guesthouse in either Key West, Fla., (800/932-9119) or Provincetown, Mass., (800/842-9858).

If one enchanted evening is all you can afford, go culinary by surprising your family, friends, and lovers with dinner for two at a popular gay- or lesbian-owned restaurant. Au courant queer hot spots coast to coast include Atlanta's [5] Flying Biscuit Cafe (404/687-8888), Austin's East Side Cafe (512/476-5858), Boston's [5] Club Cafe (617/536-0966), Chicago's [8] Mashed Potato Club (312/255-8579), [5] Mark's (310/652-5252) in Los Angeles, New York City's ever-packed [6] Eighteen & Eight (212/242-5000) or the newly opened Bottino (212/206-6766), San Francisco's [7] Vertigo (415/433-7250), Santa Fe's Geronimo (505/982-1500), and Jeffrey's (305/673-0690) in Miami's South Beach.

No matter how you slice it, a retreat may just now jibe with your pocketbook right now. [9] Catskill Morning Farm (914/482-3984)--an organic grange, nursery, and gift-specialty food shop in New York State--proposes an affordable alternative in the form of gift baskets they'll ship to anyone, anywhere. Choices range from "Mountain Breakfast" to "The Well-Groomed Gardener" to "The Sensual Farmer." Incidentally, if you're a couple with children, take a family drive up to the farm in the spring. You can stroll in the display gardens, and the kids can enjoy the animals.
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Title Annotation:vacations as holiday gifts
Author:VAILLANCOURT, DANIEL
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 8, 1998
Words:789
Previous Article:Books for looks.
Next Article:Back to the Bates Motel.
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