Recession Forces Key West’s Lez-Only Guest House To Welcome Straights. Men-Only Venues Not Changing

Pearl’s Rainbow hotel and resort in Key West used to bill itself as an all-lesbian, adults-only, clothing optional (well, bottoms are required) getaway for the discerning traveler. Then along came the recession, and the place is letting in guys. Even if they’re straight. WITH KIDS!

The about page for the hotel is a bit more inclusive than past clientele might recognize: “Pearl’s Rainbow is an all-welcoming, clothing-optional (tops only), mostly adult, gay-friendly, straight-friendly (and, in some rooms, pet-friendly) resort. We offer special weeks just for women travelers – and some for families as well.” The change, which still isn’t reflected on travel review sites, happened over Thanksgiving, says owner Heather Carruthers, who bought the 32-room property in 2000 with her late partner Leslie Leonelli. Carruthers points to economic stresses as the reason the one-time lesbians-only venue is going the inclusive route. Oh, and lesbians clients wanted to be able to bring some breeders, apparently.

Gay women “can hold hands wherever they want to. It’s really the world we want to have. We don’t necessarily want to be segregated,” Carruthers tells the Daily Mail. Her decision might make the Highlands Inn in New Hampshire the nation’s only remaining all-lesbian guesthouse.

But don’t expect the all-male gay guesthouses in the area to follow suit. With nine major men-only properties in Key West, there are still plenty of options for gay guys. Key West staple Gerry Tinlin, who operates three of them, says he “certainly” won’t be changing his entrance policies, which probably says more about the gay male travel economy than it does about a willingness to be all-inclusive.