When it comes to Fort Lauderdale tourism there is only one name that comes to mind and that is Richard Gray. Richard has single-handedly built the gay travel market here in Fort Lauderdale. He is a living legend here in Broward County – loved by the community and deeply respected by the business community – both mainstream and gay, with over 20 years of experience and contacts throughout the U.S. and …
Travel Industry Icon Moves On To Dallas Texas
When it comes to Fort Lauderdale tourism there is only one name that comes to mind and that is Richard Gray. Richard has single-handedly built the gay travel market here in Fort Lauderdale. He is a living legend here in Broward County – loved by the community and deeply respected by the business community – both mainstream and gay, with over 20 years of experience and contacts throughout the U.S. and all over the world. Richard has never burnt bridges, his philosophy has always been to think of the future of Fort Lauderdale and how to best grow the destination for all markets, not just the gay and lesbian.
As Gay Liaison to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) since 1996, Richard has become an integral part of the CVB family and spokesperson for the destination regarding gay travel. Richard was the first openly gay appointee to the Broward County Tourist Development Council in 2007. Deeply respected and admired Richard has grown Fort Lauderdale into one of the largest gay meccas in the U.S. thanks to his belief in this destination, his commitment, his marketing brilliance and his amazing contact list.
Originally from London, England, Richard is proud to call Fort Lauderdale home.
“It is so easy for me to talk about Fort Lauderdale when I am on TV or on National Radio, because I am so passionate about this destination. I love it here, and I am an American citizen. I am proud. Fort Lauderdale is in my blood,” said Richard.
In 2000, Richard became the first openly gay businessman to be made a Hometown Hero here in Broward County by the County Commissioners for his incredible commitment to growing the gay market here in Fort Lauderdale. In 2002, Richard received his biggest honor of all time when the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association inducted him into their Hall of Fame – a humongous honor and The Academy Award of the Travel World.
“Richard Gray is a superstar,” said Nicki Grossman, President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “No one can emulate Richard, he is one classy guy. He knows everyone in the industry, he is deeply respected and he has an award-winning smile. Royal Palms will miss him tremendously. This destination has never had anyone like Richard, and I find it hard to imagine there being another Richard Gray.”
Fort Lauderdale has become the Gay Mecca it has, because Richard has been the visionary, the driving force, and the gay marketing voice encouraging gay travelers to visit Fort Lauderdale as the top gay destination in the state of Florida as well as the top gay destination in the South East Coast.
A charming and savvy Englishman, Richard opened The Royal Palms in October 1991 after moving to Fort Lauderdale from New York City after a very successful career on Wall Street.
“I was attracted to Fort Lauderdale Beach, the palm trees, the intercoastal waterway and the amazing weather. As a Brit, Fort Lauderdale is paradise to me. There was also something at the back of my mind that said this destination will be hot someday. . .there was something about its location and its waterways that I felt had the potential to become world class,” said Richard. “And now we are on our way to become a chic resort destination with a high comfort zone that welcomes all travelers.”
The Royal Palms was an instant success and very quickly became the highest rated gay accommodation in the United States. It held on to that title until Richard sold the property in 2008. Our accolades started almost immediately and they have have never stopped.
“To be truthful, I find it flattering, but embarrassing,” said Richard. “The last year have been amazing turning The Royal Palms into the largest luxury gay boutique hotel in the United States. The new hotel opened in April to rave reviews.”
The Royal Palms guests love to meet Richard and be a part of his RP family. The staff will tell you that so many of the guests all want to meet Richard. Richard’s good looks, appealing image, perfect manners, charisma and camera appeal make him the perfect person to be the poster guy for the hotel and this destination. He is an all-round classy guy and he knows the industry inside out and he knows everyone in the industry. More importantly everyone knows Richard and they make the time to hear what he has to say.
Richard has been interviewed on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, Deco Drive, Good Morning TV in Britain, Comcast TV, Bump TV and National Public Radio and many more.
Everyone in the gay and mainstream business and press community knows Richard Gray. He is a living legend in the International Gay & Lesbian Travel World. He is well-respected, liked and trusted. Richard has been a sounding board for many people for this destination for the past twenty years.
There is no single person in the global gay travel community who has been the recipient of so many awards as Richard Gray. In 2009 MTV awarded Richard their Gay + award for helping to making the World gayer. This was the first time the award had been given out. What credit to Fort Lauderdale that this award was given to Richard. In 2010, the Pride Center honored Richard with an award for all his work for helping make Fort Lauderdale the destination it is.
In May this year it was Richard’s initiative that brought the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Associations Annual Conference to Fort Lauderdale. Over 38 countries came to Fort Lauderdale to learn about the GLBT travel market and to highlight Fort Lauderdale as the Top Gay Resort Mecca in North America.
Richard has relocated to Dallas, Texas and we all wish him the very best of everything in his new surroundings.
The questions I ask myself as a writer are why Richard has left The Royal Palms after so successfully re-launching and re-branding The Royal Palms into a sleek, stylish and sexy product. Richard is such a likeable and extremely great guy. The talk on the street is that the Hedge Fund Pan Capital who is buying all these Hotels and creating North Beach Village with Richard Gray as its spokesperson will find it extremely difficult to replace Richard with a person with the accolades we have mentioned above.
The answer is that Richard’s partner, who excels at his work has been seeking other employment and they have traveled as far away as to Gubai and as close as to New York to check out offers for him. But out of all, Dallas was selected and, of course, Richard agreed as it was an offer his partner could not refuse, thus the move was on.
Richard sold his home within two weeks and has another residence nearby his old one and also in close proximity to his beloved Fort Lauderdale Beach so we can expect visits from Richard frequently – or at least we hope so.
I, as all of his friends do, wish Richard and his partner the very best of life in Texas. Yes, Richard will be sorely missed, but we only want what’s best for them both.
Remember Richard’s birthday is September 20 and please remember him on his special day. Love you Richard!