‘Fabulous’ weekend highlights Vegas' outreach to LGBT travelers

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*logoSeveral years ago, Las Vegas tourism and hospitality officials redoubled their efforts to court the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, helping the city compete with New York, San Francisco and Miami Beach for that lucrative travel segment.

According to estimates, the U.S. gay and lesbian community represents a $47.3 billion travel market, or about 10% of the nation's travel spending.

The U.S. Travel Association found in a 2006 study found that gay men spend $800 per trip, compared with $540 per trip for straight men. Tom Roth, president of Community Marketing, a San Francisco-based gay consumer research firm, noted on the Association of Travel Marketing Executives website that convention and visitors bureaus “of Miami Beach, Key West, West Hollywood and San Francisco are reaching out to the gay market for groups and conventions. Perhaps this could be expected, but so are Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and Minneapolis.”

Las Vegas is quickly making its mark with LGBT travelers. In a survey by Community Marketing, Las Vegas topped San Francisco; Fort Lauderdale; Philadelphia; Provincetown, Mass.; and London as the destination that best reaches out to the LGBT community. The study had 3,800 respondents.

The New York-New York hotel-casino actively markets to LGBT travelers and is home to Cirque du Soleil's “Zumanity,” a favorite of many in that group. In addition, Vegas is home to the Blue Moon Resort, the city’s first all-male, gay property.

Blue Moon has 45 rooms and a lagoon-style pool area surrounded by waterfalls. Luxor’s Temptation Sundays pool party caters to the alternative scene. And “Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas” at Imperial Palace features a cast of female impersonators, with Marino starring with his impersonation of Joan Rivers.

At the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood resort-casino, the 17,000-square-foot Krave bills itself as the Strip’s alternative club and the No. 1 gay nightclub in the country.

Other popular LGBT destinations include the Fruit Loop, which has a handful of alternative bars and clubs; Snick’s Place in downtown Las Vegas; off-Strip lounges like Flex and Escape; the Badlands Saloon; and Charlie’s Las Vegas and Backdoor, home of the gay Latino scene, Goodtimes (home of liberal video poker machines) and Las Vegas Eagle, among others.

The city's next big push for the LGBT market is Fabulous Las Vegas, an event that will take place Aug. 12 to 15. Hosted by MGM Resorts International properties Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur, Fabulous Las Vegas will feature special offers and events catering to the LGBT crowd, including tickets to a sold-out Lady Gaga concert at the MGM Grand.

Guests who book Fabulous Las Vegas packages will receive preferential treatment at Las Vegas’ most popular LGBT events, including Heaven at Bare Pool Lounge, Closet Sundays at the Beatles Revolution Lounge and Temptation Sundays at the Luxor.

Other events include blackjack and slot tournaments with the casts of the popular Vegas revues “Thunder From Down Under” and “Fantasy;” docent tours of the Fine Art Collection at CityCenter; and fashion events at Crystals. The Logo Lounge at Eyecandy Sound Lounge & Bar at Mandalay Bay hotel-casino will cater to guests from noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be happy hour at all properties from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Evenings will feature concerts, shows and exclusive parties.

Select packages will include tickets to the sold-out Monster Ball starring Lady Gaga, tickets to “Zumanity” and private parties at Rok Vegas and Studio 54.

Guests booking Fabulous packages will also have a chance to meet chef Susan Feniger at her Border Grill restaurant and meet cast members from seven Cirque du Soleil shows at the cast After-Party at Rok Vegas. The four packages range from $50 to $575 plus hotel. Log on to MyFabulousVegas.com for more information and updates and to book.

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