Sweet is Not Your Aunt’s Lesbian Travel Experience
One happy camper celebrates the lesbian eco-travel organization.
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 01:57PM
For a long time, contemplating lesbian travel options was much like pondering whether to bet “black” or “red” at the roulette table – a rather limited choice at best.
Founded in 2009 by Jen Rainin and Shannon Wentworth, Sweet offers an affordable and distinctive lesbian travel experience, merging first-class tourism with community service, a blend known in the industry as voluntourism. Many Sweeties, as Sweet’s patrons are known, find this an appealing combination.
“Aside from Shannon’s warm and welcoming demeanor, what drew us to Sweet was the community service aspect which was unique to our previous vacation experiences,” say recent travelers Melody and Felicia. The couple set sail on a Short and Sweet Bahamas cruise in February to celebrate their second anniversary, an adventure that included a private Nassau tour and a stop at the Ranfurly Home for Children to deliver donations for the home’s residents.
“By far, visiting the orphanage and talking and interacting with the children there was the highlight of the trip for us,” say first-time Sweet travelers Michelle and Gladys.
Also unique to the Sweet experience is the sense of community that exists amongst the guests, whether veteran travelers like Tamara who marked her fifth Sweet excursion in February or rookies like Melody and Felicia who note, “Our favorite memory was the first day of the trip. We didn’t know any of the previous Sweet travelers, but they went out of their way to interact with us, including us in their conversations, and making us feel like family.”
The Sweet team is also uncommonly accommodating. “The Sweet staff was extremely attentive, which we never got on our non-Sweet cruises,” say Michelle and Gladys. “Wherever we went, we were greeted by either Shannon, Julie (Scher, Sweet’s Director of Sales), or Babs (Daitch, Director of Programming for Sweet). We always felt welcome and they really cared that we had a good time. They were very organized, too, with numerous planned events and land tours.”
Many Sweeties are at a loss when asked to identify their single favorite memory from a Sweet trip, as for all the do-goodery that takes place, there is no shortage of fun and frolic. “Rescuing Julie Scher and a fellow Sweetie as their raft drifted out into the Caribbean at Great Stirrup Cay was a highlight for me,” muses newly initiated Sweetie Gina. “I’ve never gotten the opportunity to perform a rescue mission [before]. The only down-side was that I had to put down my beer.”
Once Sweeties leave paradise behind, most are unflagging champions for Sweet and can’t wait to book their next trip. “We’ve been recommending Sweet to all our friends since the day we got back from our trip,” Kristi and Chloe beamed. “We’re trying to rally a crowd for Cozumel in September. There are so many positive things to say about Sweet that it’s hard to know where to start, but we find ourselves mostly talking about the people and the community that forms while on these vacations. We loved that we really got to know a number of the other women we were vacationing with. That’s not something we’ve ever experienced on any other vacations.”
Sweet has several 2012 adventures scheduled and is already looking ahead to another South Africa excursion and a Tahiti cruise during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Learn more at www.discoversweet.com or by visiting Sweet on Facebook.
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