The W Costa Navarino in Greece has earned the first IGLTA Accredited certificate in the world for being consciously supportive of LGBTQ+ guests. Jenny Southan reports
Part of Marriott International’s W chain, the W Costa Navarino opened last year in the sustainably driven vacation destination of Costa Navarino in the Greek region of Messinia (just over a three-hour drive from Athens).
The property has implemented a number of practices to ensure a welcoming experience for LGBTQ+ travellers, including staff training that involves role-play inclusivity seminars, establishing an LGBTQ+ associates ambassador, and the creation of gender-neutral room amenities, spa treatments and restrooms.
Unfortunately, the hotel doesn’t cater to families with children under the age of 12, however, so Globetrender will be on the look out for certified hotels for queer parents with young kids. (Queer Family Travel is a key trend in our Future of Queer Travel trend report.)
At the moment, gay people cannot get married in Greece but this summer, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced plans to legalise same-sex marriage, a huge step forward for LGBTQ+ rights.
“The foundation of Costa Navarino is built upon a deep respect for our guests. Our commitment is not only to meet but to exceed their expectations,” says Stephanos Theodorides, managing director of Temes, the developers of Costa Navarino. “We strive to anticipate diverse needs, ensuring that everyone feels as comfortable as they would in their own home,” he says.
The destination of Costa Navarino (where there are a number of other high-end resorts such as the Westin and Mandarin Oriental), says it wants to become a “fully inclusive destination”. Over the past year, Costa Navarino has also formed partnerships with the University of Piraeus and HospitableMe so that it can conduct research on the needs of different consumer groups and how these can be met in the tourism sector.
In light of the results, Costa Navarino has applied several practices to ensure that the needs of people from different cultural backgrounds, gender identities, ethnicities, and people with autism, visual, hearing and mobility impairments, are successfully met.
IGLTA Accredited – a new stamp of approval for queer-friendly hotels
Recognising its efforts to welcome queer travellers in particular, leading LGBTQ+ travel association the IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) has created a “groundbreaking” accreditation for hotels that “genuinely welcome LGBTQ+ guests through their actions, not just empty words”.
Since launching, the Swissotel Nankai Osaka, Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam, and the Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel in New York have also earnt the accreditation.
In today’s cultural climate, trust has become a rare commodity. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 28 countries, showed that nearly six in ten people currently say their default emotion is “distrust”. It is no longer enough for brands to claim authenticity, it must be proven. This is especially true for the LGBTQ+ community.
To make it easier for queer travellers to choose where to stay, IGLTA Accredited recognises hotels that are consciously catering to the queer travel market. Unveiled in June, IGLTA Accredited has opened applications to hotels and accommodation providers worldwide, in anticipation of “rapidly building momentum” as travel organisations globally seek to champion LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
As Globetrender highlights in its Future of Queer Travel report, before the pandemic, travel spending from queer people reached US$218 billion worldwide but by 2030, experts predict that travel spending by queer travellers could reach US$568.5 billion.
IGLTA Accredited sets the standard as an independent quality assurance process, “providing concrete evidence that participating hotels genuinely welcome LGBTQ+ guests through their actions, not just empty words”.
To obtain the accreditation, hotels must successfully document the fulfilment of eight criteria, showcasing their dedication to creating a safe and welcoming environment for their staff and LGBTQ+ travellers.
The eight criteria of IGLTA Accredited are built upon the pillars of diversity, equity, inclusivity, policy, community, advocacy, transparency and sensitivity.
They encompass the implementation of non-discriminatory policies protecting both LGBTQ+ travellers and hotel staff, comprehensive sensitivity training, a proven commitment to inclusive marketing practices, and tangible evidence of genuine support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“We believe allyship should be year-round, not just for pride,” says IGLTA president and CEO John Tanzella. He says: “LGBTQ+ travellers are looking for real accountability in their travel experiences, and travel advisors want to know they are directing LGBTQ+ clients to hotels/accommodations that truly welcome them.
“We invite properties around the world to join us in championing integrity within the travel industry and elevating the standard of travel for all. IGLTA Accredited strives to provide peace of mind for all LGBTQ+ travellers, wherever their adventures might take them.”