By Denny Patterson
VACAYA is a large-scale LGBTQ travel company that offers adult-only trips that take over entire cruise ships and resorts.
Since launching in May 2018 and created by award-winning tourism and travel industry executives like Randle Roper and Patrick Gunn, VACAYA continues to rewrite the rules of what’s possible within LGBTQ travel. The company takes guests to all-new destinations that have never been served by existing market players and tailors to the LGBTQ community’s needs and desires.
The debut of VACAYA was heralded as an evolution in an industry that has largely gone unchanged for several years.
“Our LGBTQ world has changed immeasurably over the past decade, and it was important for the LGBTQ travel experience to evolve along with it,” Roper said. “VACAYA is that evolution. A utopian paradise for all members of the LGBTQ community.”
When guests book a trip with VACAYA, they are guaranteed a unique, one-of-a-kind experience to amazing destinations and can expect stellar entertainment and world-class hospitality. VACAYA charters entire ships and resorts, so that LGBTQ travelers have the freedom to express their individuality, make personal connections, celebrate life, and simply relax together.
“For so long, our community has been divided into its all-gay or all-lesbian tribes in regard to travel,” Roper said. “None of the other letters ever really had a chance. VACAYA has flung open those doors of inclusivity to everyone.”
Small-ship cruises can be as intimate as 200 guests, while big-ship cruises can welcome well over 2,000.
It is highly recommended that one reserves a spot well in advance because select trips can sell out fast. The Iceland Cruise scheduled in September 2021 is a prime example. However, the Mexico Resort vacation set for the end of October, beginning of November, 2021 still has spots available.
Other upcoming trips include visiting destinations like New Orleans, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean.
“We coordinate trips all around the world, and then some,” Roper said. “We take our guests to the far corners of our world. For example, in nearly 50 years of all-gay and all-lesbian travel, no company has ever charted a full-ship to Antarctica. That will take place in December 2022, and when VACAYA launched the sale back in January 2021, it sold out in 10 days. Coming out of the pandemic, that is a remarkable feat – especially considering the starting price was around $25,000 a room.”
Speaking of the pandemic, like every other travel company, VACAYA navigated through the challenges of COVID-19.
“It was the toughest year every travel company on earth has ever faced, and many did not survive,” Roper said. “At VACAYA, we stayed very close to our guests, meeting with them face-to-face over Zoom in many cases so we could talk through the challenges, frustrations, and opportunities. Those connections throughout 2020 paid incredible dividends as everything began to shift. Starting with the U.S. presidential election and continuing through the release of the vaccines, there was a tangible shift in our community’s optimism and willingness to return to travel. Because we stayed so close with everyone throughout the great pause, people rallied behind us. To sell out Antarctica in 10 days, followed by our Seychelles Cruise in eight days, followed almost immediately by our Greek Isles Cruise in five days was a clear sign that not only had VACAYA survived, but we were actually thriving.”
With business continuing to boom and evolve, Roper and Gunn will always find opportunities to build upon VACAYA’s early successes to create an even more wonderful experience for LGBTQ travelers.
“We will never sit on our hands, rest on our laurels, or be so stuck in our ways that anything we do becomes too precious to let go of,” Roper said. “We want to continue pushing the bounds of inclusivity and taking our community to places they have never been before.”
To see which trips still have availability and to sign up for e-announcements, visit MyVacaya.com. One can also follow VACAYA on social media by searching @myVACAYA.
“Choosing an all-LGBTQ vacation for the first time is a leap of faith,” Roper said. “We all look at marketing and think, ‘Will I fit in?’ ‘Will I be accepted as I am?’ ‘Will people like me?’ With VACAYA, the answers to those questions are an unequivocal yes! Each and every person who travels with us is unique. No two people or their stories are alike. At VACAYA, everyone and everyone is welcome. Once you take that leap of faith, you will make some of the greatest connections. That keeps nearly all of our guests coming back year after year.”