Belmond and Ashford Castle Aim To Attract LGBT Travelers
PHOTO: The newly restored Presidential Suite at Ashford Castle is welcoming to LGBT honeymooners. (courtesy Ashford Castle)
This has been a red-letter week in the history of LGBT travel.
Ireland’s passage last Saturday of a bill to legalize gay marriage was a shot heard around the world. Leaving the enormous impact the decision will hopefully have on human rights around the world to the side, it will also have an impact on travel.
The destination wedding market will surely be heavily catalyzed by Ireland’s decision as it encourages other destinations to make the same step. Ashford Castle has already leaped into LGBT weddings with both feet and Belmond made a surprise decision to focus more intently on LGBT travelers.
On Monday one of Ireland’s tourism icons, Ashford Castle, announced packages targeting the LGBT wedding market. The 800-year-old castle hotel has announced new Gay Wedding and Gay Honeymoon packages, available this summer. The castle, located on Lough Corrib in County Mayo, just finished a multi-million-dollar restoration.
"While Ashford Castle has long been a favorite of LGBT travelers, in the wake of the vote, gay couples tying the knot or celebrating their honeymoon will be some of the first to experience the properties' completely renovated Victorian and East Wings which house the grandest suites, the elegant George V dining room and Connaught Room," said Niall Rochford, Ashford Castle general manager.
For large weddings of up to 160, the Castle Wedding Package offers exclusive use of the estate and showcases the elegant George V dining room. The package includes a consultation with Ashford Castle's resident wedding coordinator to help plan the event.
It includes a complimentary stay for wedding couple; a wedding menu tasting for the couple; champagne for the couple on arrival; a red carpet at the entrance of the castle; a five-course dinner; a selection of canapés; three glasses of house wine per person; floral arrangement and candle on all dining tables; complimentary use of the cake stand and sword for cutting the cake; table plan and place cards; a PA system; and a 15 percent service charge. The package is priced at €57,800 ($63,050) with a minimum of 75 bedrooms/160 guests per night.
The two-night Castle Honeymoon, priced from €1,485 ($1,620) includes full Irish breakfast for two in a Stateroom suite, including taxes; a bottle of Champagne in-room on arrival; archery lesson for two; a five course meal at George V Dining Room for two on evening of choice; a rose petal turndown service; a movie night with Valrhona handmade chocolates and choice of night cap; and a "Sleep in" room service breakfast for two and mid-afternoon check out
Belmond, a global collection of 46 hotels, trains and river cruises also broke LGBT ground when it named Tom Alderink as the company’s first Director of LGBT Sales. Based in New York, Alderink has been a sales executive with the company for more than a decade. He will also continue on as Belmond’s Director of Leisure Sales for the Northeast (U.S.) in addition to his new title.
Alderink will try to enhance Belmond’s product line with LGBT travelers as well as overseeing global partnerships with key LGBT strategic partners. One of Alderink’s first initiatives as Director of LGBT Sales was overseeing Belmond’s partnership to become a Silver Global Partner of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), a leading global travel network dedicated to connecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers.
Belmond recently launched an LGBT microsite which features a range of travel experiences dedicated to helping LGBT travelers.
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