As last year began drawing to a close and the holidays loomed, I needed an escape, and, when you think of a gay tropical paradise what else comes to mind but Key West? It seems that the folks at Provincetown’s legendary Crown and Anchor had the same idea because they bused an entire crew of performers down for a weekend residence in Key West the week before Christmas, in what they hope will be an annual event.
Havana Cabana, named one of Florida’s top 10 resorts by Travel & Leisure, was the host hotel. With many of the events being held at the hotel. The weather, usually the one thing you can count on in Florida, did not cooperate. The entire program of events took place during one of Florida’s few cold snaps (meaning in the ‘60s) and it rained all weekend, which washed out the slated pool parties, but everything else at the hotel took place on the lush, covered veranda. So, we all threw on sweaters and enjoyed the shows.
Located waterfront, Havana Cabana radiates Cuba’s joyful and sometimes rebellious spirit, embracing the art and culture that famously seduced Hemingway and deeply influenced Key West. As you arrive, stroll past vintage cars gleaming in the Florida sun, as the sound of Flamenco music and the aroma of hand-rolled cigars draw you inside. Although not in the middle of all the bar action on Duval St., when adventure calls, hop on a Vespa or 5-speed bike, or hitch a ride in the hotel’s shuttle or classic mid-century Chevy for the short ride to historic Old Town.
Our rooms were lush, with two queen beds and as an old married couple, my husband and I enjoyed the opportunity to each hog our own bed for a change. Our pup, Coco (yes, the hotel is dog-friendly and even provides a welcome kit for your pooch), hopped from bed to bed, not certain where to sleep. The room was huge, clean, and comfortable and the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating.
Events at the hotel included a welcome cocktail party on Thursday, Dec. 14 with performances by Yoli Mayor (seen on “America’s Got Talent”) Delta Miles, and Alexander Zenoz. Friday night another cocktail party, as “RuPaul Drag Race” contestant Tina Burner hosted “Anything-But-Silent Night.” Burner sings in her own (spectacular) voice. Something that wasn’t highlighted fully on “Drag Race”. The holiday sing-along also included Matthew Darren (American Idol), Yoli Mayor, Yaron Spiwak, João Santos, Delta Miles, Roxy Pops, Qya Cristãl, and Boomer Banks. Many of the performers also joined us on a trolley tour of holiday lights with Delta Miles hosting. Saturday started the day off with A Holly Folly drag brunch which in Provincetown, ushers in the holiday season, recreated on the hotel’s veranda, with performances by all the performers and a delicious brunch buffet.
In the evenings, the fun moved to Sidebar in the Aqua complex. Thursday night’s show focused on Tina Burner’s one-woman show “I’d Rather Be Naughty Than Nice,” with Tina as Mrs. Claus taking a hard candy look at her relationship with her husband, and how things aren’t always a Winter Wonderland. Saturday saw us back at Sidebar for “The Holiday Follies: Spread Queer Cheer,” featuring all the Provincetown performers, along with Key West guest artists. I was impressed by the fact that all the queens sang in their own voices and did so very well.
Sunday’s Detox pool party was canceled because of the chilly weather (it had finally stopped raining), but we were worn out, anyway. We’re hoping this does become an annual event and look forward to attending next year.