I Didn’t Kiss A Girl, But I Still Liked It – My Stay At A Gay Resort
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I don’t mean to pry but are you gay or are you straight? And how would you feel about staying in a gay-friendly resort if you’re the latter?
I’m a straight gal, so why have I been feeling completely at home at a self-proclaimed gay hotel? In true Carrie Bradshaw style I got to thinking…
Laid back to the point of being horizontal I’m chilling out in a wicker chair suspended from the ceiling of my alfresco first-floor terrace. I’m in a cute little red-doored villa at the Golden Banana Boutique Hotel, which is tucked away down the eponymous Golden Banana Alley in Cambodia’s tourist mecca of Siem Reap.
I’ve settled in to watch the sun slowly fade behind the bougainvillea blossom and the shadows lengthen, my feet hooked through the slats in the wooden balcony with just the tinkling water feature and the now-familiar sounds of the Cambodian streets beyond as my soundtrack.
I have nowhere I need to be, nothing I need to do and that’s lucky because wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the gentle motion of this swing chair. It’s a moment of pure relaxation.
It’s also my second time at this resort, in a town packed to the rafters with stylish accommodation. So what has brought me back to this place above all others, especially when on paper I’m not exactly the target audience?
The easy answer is that this boutique hotel is right up my street; luxurious in an understated way, rustic but not to a fault (rustic should describe the design style, never the facilities), staffed by easy on the eye folks (all men by the way) who are friendly in a way that comes from the eyes not just the smiles and the surroundings are pleasantly intimate without being too small or cramped.
Plus I’ve really enjoyed the personal service and the unexpected touches I’ve experienced here and at the sister property next door, The Golden Banana Boutique Resort, like outdoor stone tubs and creative food. But that’s only half the story.
I gelled with my first gay hotel because of something quite hard to explain. It’s the vibe. Chilled, unquestioning and bona fide relaxed.
Dangling here in my wicker cocoon I realise this gay-friendly thing has plenty of positives but not many negatives – there’s the attention to detail that comes from having good gay management and the fact that gay-friendly is a definition that really just means open-minded; this isn’t an exclusively gay enclave just an accepting crowd, all of whom happen to be on holiday in a lovely place with a live and let live attitude.
Round the pool there’s a mixture of people; old, young, guys, girls, men, women. Who can say if the older ladies in khaki separates on their MacBooks in the restaurant are friends on holiday or a couple? Or whether the toned chap sitting by the pool is gay or just happens to be sporting a rather metrosexual pair of sunglasses and a liberal attitude to hair products? We’ll never know. And really, do we care?
I’ve always felt strongly that your fellow guests make a startling difference to your travelling experience and having a genuine mash up of stereotypes and anti-stereotypes around you lends a uniquely laissez-faire twist to your trip.
I’m told that from week to week guests here might easily include straight couples, retired folks or single women – and in particular older women travelling solo who feel this is a non-threatening, welcoming environment – and I totally get it. Ladies can come here without feeling they’ll be on the receiving end of a pick-up attempt.
But I can imagine it is a difficult line to walk to remain true to the core gay clientele without alienating the straight yet gay-friendly guests. Then again the straight guests say it’s really nice to know that families aren’t about to show up with kids who’ll pee in the pool.
There’s a trashy structured reality show called Playing It Straight which places a beautiful girl into a hacienda with a bevy of guys, all vying for her attention – and a pot of cash. Half of them are gay, she just has to work out which half.
The senorita’s catchphrase at the end of the showdown when contestants are eliminated and sent to pack their manbags is: ‘Before you go, I have to know, are you gay or are you straight?’ I for one could never guess the truth, maybe it’s because I’m not that keen on stereotyping, or maybe my gaydar just sucks?
I can tell you my time at this gay-friendly resort hasn’t improved my gaydar any, but it’s taught me that the Londoner in me is most comfortable amongst a mixed crowd. You can take the girl out of London it seems, but you can’t take London out of the girl.
Phum Wat Damnak,
Kum Sala Komreuk
On site Facilities:
– Restaurant and bar (though this closes early to ensure a quiet night for guests)
– Free Wifi
– Pool & sun loungers
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