The Gaythering Hotel in South Beach is about to celebrate their first anniversary and I recently had the pleasure of going down to The Gaythering Hotel in South Beach to meet with the owners, Alex Guerra and Stephan Ginez, and the General Manager, Matt Downey. Not only did they give me a tour of the entire property, which is quite beautiful (see pictures), but I also got a behind-the-scenes look at how The Gaythering was created, what happens currently, and what the future holds for this fabulous gay South Beach hotel.
How long have you and Stephan been together and when did you decide to open a hotel?
We have been together for eight years, and after a year we bought this building. It took four-and-a-half years to acquire all the correct permitting, but during that time we rented the building out. Once we obtained the permitting, it took about a year and half to where we were able to build everything and open our doors.
Tell me more about the hotel aspect of The Gaythering.
Well, we have 25 rooms and three types of rooms: A Petite King (as low as $99 a night), a Large King (as low as $119 a night), and a Double King (as low as $139 a night). Every room is decorated with different art work that was created by Alex. Since we had plenty of time before we opened, we played with one of the rooms to experiment on wall colors, furniture, et cetera, so we can give our guests what we feel is the perfect design.
What was the goal when you opened The Gaythering?
It was to build a community space that was not pretentious. A place where you can come as you are and not have a dress code. This is why we chose the name “Gaythering,” as we wanted a place where gays can come together. To our delight, it has become the Cheers of the neighborhood, with lots of regulars. We have actually witnessed locals who have lived near each other for years meet for the first time at The Gaythering.
Speaking of a place where people gather, I know that the “Library Room” is very popular. Tell me more about the Library Room.
It’s a great space that we rent out at times for private events, but we also feature many other events there, including yoga three times a week, not-for-profit meetings, The Silver Circle group that meets there for open forums, we have lectures there, and many other special events. For example, acclaimed writer and actor David Leddick did a book reading there. We are currently remodeling one of the walls to have a huge South Beach map on it with points of interest to make things easier for our guests.
Which events do you have on a weekly basis?
Our most popular night of the week is Friday’s Bears and Hares event, which has gotten so busy that we now even pack the courtyard with people.
The second night we started was Wednesday’s Trivia Night, Alex hosts this, and it’s a low-key way to meet people. We have many teams of trivia players and what we have noticed is that 95% of the people stay until the end, because it is so much fun. Trivia starts at 8 p.m. and goes until 10 or 10:30 p.m.
Are you planning more weekly events for the future?
Yes, since Wednesdays and Fridays are doing so well, we have two new nights starting very soon. Thursdays will be a college night and we are calling it “Study Hall,” and we will feature live music and fun stuff. This will start the first Thursday in March. We are also staring a Saturday Latin Night on February 21. Our main objective with our daily events is not to copy anything that’s happening already.
You have a men’s self-spa in the hotel. Can you tell me more about this?
The self-spa offers unlimited complimentary use to registered guests staying at the hotel and features an aroma steam room with temperatures ranging from 110-114 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 100%, an aroma hammam/mud lounge with a temperature just under 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a lower humidity level (mud and treatment products are available in the hotel lobby for self-application and to be used in the hammam), a dry cedar sauna, a jacuzzi with massage jets, changing rooms, showers, lockers for day use with built-in combination locks, and bath towels. The self-spa is open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight and day use is available for visitors and locals.
Tell me more about your amazing membership program.
The membership program is sold out until March, but that’s right around the corner. It is free to join (but it won’t be that way forever, so join fast when March arrives) and is really a loyalty program where the more you spend, the more you get back. After 10 visits, you get 10% back on anything you spend at The Gaythering. There are also sign-up benefits which include a free cocktail, a free coffee, a spa day and $25 off a hotel stay.
Have you implemented anything new lately?
Yes, we recently implemented two new things. The first is an anonymous texting service for our guests so that they can feel comfortable expressing their opinions, concerns, or compliments. This has been executed beautifully and most of the comments are complimentary. The second is a Skype system in the Library for lectures so that authors, who could possibly be cost or time-prohibitive, can still talk to our guests.
Your one-year anniversary is Valentine’s weekend. What plans do you have to celebrate this momentous occasion?
We view our anniversary much like a birthday. We are planning on having a large cotton candy cane with balloons and all of our gayborhood friends, old and new. The party starts at 8pm with an Absolut open bar till 9pm. We are also going to be raffling Gaythering Gift Cards from $25-$100 to present guests, along with Slik Willie Self Love Pouches and Starrf*cker Magazines. Just before Midnight we will have a complimentary Perrier-Jout toast with our Cotton a candy Cake cutting.
For more information on the Gaythering go to: Gaythering.com or call them at: 786-284-1176.