February is LGBT+ History Month where we celebrate the community and its heritage to advocate, support and help bring about awareness and change. The term was first coined in 1994 by High-school teacher Rodney Wilson, who became the founder of the first Gay history month celebration, not to be confused with Pride, which came as a result of the 1967 Stonewall riots. As well as celebrating, LGBT+ History month also emphasises education, as a study conducted by the charity Stonewall in 2017 explained that 2 in 5 LGBT+ students had never experienced any form of education that reflected them or the history behind the LGBT+ movement. Education is key to highlighting the lived experiences and important matters of all those in the community. It’s vital for advancing the visibility of diverse and inclusive safe spaces and institutions such as schools and workplaces. Crucially, it is important to keep raising awareness in order to stamp out homophobia, transphobia and hate crime. So which countries are striding forward as an accepting and loving society? Keep reading where we think YOU should go for your perfect LGBT+ wellness holiday.
What Makes a Country LGBT+ Friendly?
- Civil Rightssuch as gay marriage is a fantastic place to start. Checking to see if your desired destination has legalised it because dejectedly whilst writing this, only 29 of 193 nations have done-so according to the UN. This doesn’t mean many of those countries won’t be safe for LGBTQ+ members but the best bet for safety and peace of mind is where gay marriage has been legally recognised and anti-discrimination laws are in place.
- Pride is another great place to start, as these fantastic events ignite city streets with a buzz of excitement, love, freedom, and unfiltered liberty of expression. It is always good to research ahead, does your desired getaway celebrate Pride? Is it just the capital city or numerous other destinations around the selected country too?
- Religious Beliefs are another factor to take into consideration as certain creeds have outlawed homosexuality, so make sure to check whether the country’s religious attitude is laid-back or zealous.
Where do We Recommend?
Malta has seen one of the quickest turnarounds in terms of LGBT+ acceptance and inclusion. In 2006, a poll conducted found only 18% were in favour of same-sex marriage, when this poll was re-conducted in 2016, the result had jumped to 65%, which is a big jump for a culture deeply associated with Catholicism. Homosexuality was made legal in 1973, with same-sex marriage being legalised in 2017. Since 2015, Malta ranks first in ILGA-Europe's latest rankings for LGBT+ rights, and has held this title since.
Perched on the island of Gozo - the northern Maltese archipelago, the grandiose Kempinski San Lawrenz stands with stunning architecture, 30,000 meters of grounds and cutting-edge facilities, set amongst gorgeous sweeping hills and verdant countryside. With multiple swimming pools, extensive classes, gourmet restaurants and a stunning spa, this retreat has it all! Yet, the main drawing factor is the practice of the traditional wellness techniques of Ayurveda that include Udwarthanam, Dhara herbal tranquillity, Abhyanga, Elakkizhi, Naranga Kizhi, Ayurvedic Queen's Facial and full-body lymphatic massages, making it a perfect Ayurveda holiday.
Due to the ancient Romans, homosexuality was commonplace in Spain for centuries! This changed due to strict Christian influence leading into the fourth century, but it was once more legalised in 1979. Since then, Spain has been one of the leading nations for LGBTQ+ rights with same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption legalised in 2005 and anti-discrimination employment laws since 1995 in sections of the country. With this, Spain is home to some of the gay capitals in the world in Madrid and Barcelona with multiple Pride celebrations and gay-friendly communities.
The Spanish archipelago of Ibiza is considered one of the most welcoming gay-friendly destinations around the globe with teal waters, white sand and a wonderful atmosphere, Ibiza is also the perfect spot for a fitness holiday! This isn’t any fitness holiday though; The Body Camp offers expert-led fitness classes and circuits as well as nutritional coaching, cooking classes, mindfulness coaching and goal setting/visualisation sessions. This is all the while you are relaxing on the south coast of the tropical Ibizan isles being fed a nourishing 100% plant-based diet for a truly wholesome experience for the body and the mind.
Information and Booking: The Body Camp
Perhaps you are planning for a family holiday away? If so a top choice on this list would be, Marbella Club. A converted Spanish Royal residence that was home to Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, perches on the Costa Del Sol’s ‘Golden Mile’, sandwiched between the dazzling Alborán Sea and the Sierra Blanca mountain range. What makes this destination particularly appealing is the multiple family-oriented programmes on offer, these provide activities that are specifically designed for everyone to join in and enjoy. Some of these include horse riding, paddle-boarding, bike tours and cooking classes, as well as a kids club and childcare options if parents need a moment together. This palm-clad gem is also home to a wealth of facilities with their holistic Thalassa spa which offers treatments including lymphatic drainage massages, detoxifying seaweed wraps and Reflexology, as well as multiple wholesome restaurants and an 18-hole golf course.
Information and Booking: Marbella Club
The United Kingdom has a lot to offer the LGBT+ community with certain areas being particular hotspots such as Brighton, Edinburgh, and London. Same-sex adoption in England, Scotland and Wales has been legalised since 2005, then same-sex marriage in 2014 and the 2010 equality act was also a huge step forward to protect the LGBTQ+ community. According to a study conducted by Pew Research in 2020, 86% of the UK’s society supports and accepts homosexuality. There are also multiple Pride celebrations across the UK, notable mentions in addition to those already stated are Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, and Southampton.
Everything COVID-19 related has left an impact on our physical and mental states, so why not heal both on a thorough detox holiday? Only an hour from London, upon the Essex countryside, resides the cutting-edge modern marvel that is The Glass House Retreat. Detox runs in this facilities veins as you are provided with interchangeable wholesome diet plans, art body composition analyses and goal evaluations as well as cryotherapy Lava shell massages, Colonic Hydrotherapy, Lipofirm Pro Body Contouring, Caci non-surgery facelifts and Dermalux Light therapy facials! All the while enjoying complimentary access to the swimming pool, Himalayan salt block sauna and state-of-the-art exercise studio and gym to purge your body of all unwanted toxins.
Information and Booking: The Glass House
Everything about Grantley Hall exudes opulence and class, be a member of high society at this stunning retreat that has hosted Royalty. Hidden away in the rolling Yorkshire landscape, this private estate is home to a 2-Michelin star restaurant, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and stunning architecture, where you can enjoy knowledgeable cultural-historical tours of the house and grounds. The Three Graces spa is the real eye-catcher though, with cutting edge technology such as an underwater treadmill, cryotherapy chamber, EMS suits and 3D body scanners fused with wellness practises offering a comprehensive treatment programme.
Information and Booking: Grantley Hall
Gay rights have been drastically improved over the last 40 years in Portugal, only being decriminalised since 1982 but since then there has been a boom of legislations protecting and safeguarding the LGBT+ community. With same-sex marriage being legalised in 2010, the gender identity law of 2011, 2016 saw the approval of same-sex couples adopting a child and gay, lesbian, and bisexual citizens can also join the military. Whilst it has all happened very quickly, this is a fantastic and safe destination with a vibrant gay-scene and is deemed one of the top LGBT friendly travel destinations as per the Spartacus Gay Travel Index report in 2019
EPIC SANA, An Awesome All-Rounder
This holistic wellness haven rests in the picturesque Algarve, upon 8 hectares of stunning Portuguese natural beauty, looking out over the North Atlantic Ocean. Epic by name, epic by nature with 5 outdoor swimming pools, but the real drawing factor is the cutting-edge Savanna Wellness centre that boasts saunas, Hammam baths as well as expert-led wellness therapies with Osteopathy, reflexology and their bespoke Savanna massages. With this, enjoy the 24/7 gym with activities like boxercise, Yoga, TRX suspension training as well as idyllic bike excursions. All the while dining on a mixture of Portuguese and international cuisine, cooked using locally sourced ingredients, perfect fuel for an active holiday.
Information and Booking: EPIC SANA
Feel yourself submerse into a state of pure serenity with a stunning spa holiday, a top choice is Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa. This exclusive retreat is also located in the Algarve, on a whopping 11-hectare estate with an ethos of health and rejuvenation. Medical and nutritional consultation and subsequent evaluation lead to bespoke treatments to maximise the benefit on your body. Their state-of-the-art spa offers Osteopathy, cranial-sacral therapy, pressotherapy, aromatherapy as well as complimentary access to herbal and alkaline balancing teas and multiple group classes. If you want a bit of fun too, Vilalara provides exhilarating activities with scuba diving, motor-boating and watersports.
Information and Booking: Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa
Australia’s gay rights at first glance appear to have occurred rather recently in comparison to some of the other nations already listed with homosexuality for men only being legalised in 1997 and adoption rights being approved for all territories in 2018. However, many territories in Australia have been repealing anti-LGBTQ+ laws as far back as 1975 and Australia is famed for Sydney being one of the gay capitals of the world with their renowned Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras festival. A poll in 2013 found that 79% were in support of the LGBTQ+ community which has no doubt increased today in 2021.
For the adventurers and thrill-seekers, we recommend one of our hiking holidays, more specifically our Great Walks of Australia! with multiple choices and routes to take exploring the Aussie outback this is a truly memorable experience. With an expert guide, you will discover some of the most stunning natural beauty on offer with mountains, lush greenery, and sea views. This can be enjoyed whilst stopping in rustic yet plush accommodation varying from lodges to glamping, where you can lay looking at the clear Australian night sky, a true sight to behold.
Information and Booking: Great Walks of Australia
The term Gaia goes back to ancient Greece and was the personification of Earth, an accurate description for this stunning retreat that sits perched high up upon 25 acres of private Australian greenery. Founded by a group including none-other than Olivia Newton-John, guests enter a state of spiritual tranquillity arriving for a personal wellness consultation, a bespoke massage and Chinese medicine treatments of preferred choice. However, Gaia truly shines with its complimentary classes on offer such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Meditation, Organic Cooking Classes, Body Balance, Health and Well-Being seminars and Pilates, perfect for a mindfulness holiday!
Information and Booking: Gaia Retreat & Spa
New Zealand is arguably the most welcoming country for people from the LGBTQ+ community in the world as back in 2018, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden marched in New Zealand’s biggest Pride parade of 25,000 people. She is quoted saying ‘The streets were packed, and what an important message that sends about diversity and inclusiveness’. Same-sex marriages and adoption rights were legalised in 2013 and since, more bills have passed granting the LGBTQ+ community the exact same rights and protections as every other NZ citizen, talk about equality!
Aro Ha, Enigmatic Escapism
If you’re looking to escape from the worries and stresses of life, then a top choice is an all-inclusive holiday as everything is taken care of for you! Aro Ha is a perfect choice, surrounded by awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains, overlooking the sapphire lake Wakatipu, and immersed in the verdant alpine forests that New Zealand is known for, this is a magnificent trip of a lifetime. The striking yet minimalist architecture of Aro Ha is home to a Finnish sauna, Infrared sauna, spa, as well as orchards and of course, idyllic hiking trails. In this stunning environment, you are treated to a gourmet plant-based diet to nourish the body and soul whilst also receiving life-coaching sessions, daily Yoga, therapeutic massages, and dynamic movement classes.
Information and Booking: Aro Ha
This list covers all the bases in terms of a wellness holiday, whether you’re after detox, a fitness haven, an indulging spa or perhaps a blend of everything! This list has an option for you to celebrate and enhance body, mind and spirit!
Talk to one of our Travel Specialists on 0203 397 8891 or contact us here to discuss tailor-making your perfect wellness holiday.