Globetrotter: Bernadette Smith of Gay Wedding Institute on Why She Loves Riviera Maya

Courtesy of Blue DiamondCourtesy of Blue Diamond

Our friend Bernadette Smith has long been a leader in same-sex weddings. She started planning same-sex weddings in 2004 with her company 14 Stories, and has written three books on the topic. When legalization began sweeping across the country, she wanted to bring her passion and knowledge to other planners. So in 2009 she founded the Gay Wedding Institute, which works with individual planners and travel corporations like Marriott, teaching them all how to best serve their same-sex clientele.

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Photo by Thompson Photography GroupPhoto by Thompson Photography Group

Bernadette travels a lot for work, educating on same-sex wedding planning, but when she needs a break, Riviera Maya, Mexico is close to her heart. “I like places where there’s a lot to do,” she says. “I get bored easily if I have too much time on my hands, so I like a destination where I can have activities. Riviera Maya is great for that! I’ve done everything from climbing the Maya ruins at Coba to snorkeling in cenotes and off the beach. Walking around Playa de Carmen is fun, Tulum is gorgeous — there’s something for everyone.”

Ik-Kil cenote by fototehnik/shutterstock.comIk-Kil cenote. Photo by fototehnik/shutterstock.com
Ruins at Coba by Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock.comRuins at Coba. Photo by Nataliya Hora/Shutterstock.com

The region hits the mark for acceptance as well. “There are a lot of hotels there that are eager to serve the same-sex market,” she says. As for favorites, “I love all-inclusive resorts. They make it so easy! I don’t want to have to think about what the bill will be, or wait for a check — I can just relax and forget about everything. That said, I also prefer boutique hotels, and all-inclusive boutiques are hard to find.”

Enter Blue Diamond, an adult-only all-inclusive with 128 suites. ” I have a contemporary design aesthetic, and I like places where you can merge that with a genuine warmth, not just cold and sleek minimalism. Blue Diamond has that vibe,” she says. “I also thought their food was outstanding,” she adds. “That’s key in an all-inclusive, and not always the case!”

Pool at Blue Diamond Riviera MayaCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
Pool at Blue Diamond Riviera MayaCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
bathroom at Blue Diamond Riviera MayaCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya

Like many hotels along the coast, Blue Diamond has a deep footprint, with rooms stretching back from the beach instead of along it. Which makes the beachfront rooms even more special, says Bernadette. “We stayed in one of the beachfront casitas — it was great! I love having outdoor space, and our suite had a private roof deck with a pool, another big deck off the main space, and an outdoor shower.  It’s definitely the way to go if you stay there!”

beachfront casitas at Blue Diamond Riviera MayaCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
 casita interior by Blue DiamondCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
Courtesy of Blue DiamondCourtesy of Blue Diamond Riviera Maya

As for her own honeymoon, when that time comes, she’ll look a little farther abroad. “For a honeymoon, I’d go somewhere more exotic. Maybe Australia, where two of my clients are going later this year. Or Bora Bora, or Hawaii — somewhere that’s extra special!”

If you’re looking for an extra-special honeymoon, let us know — we’d love to help you plan it!

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