Thursday, September 25, 2014

LGBT Buenos Aires With An Eye On Business

Introducing the first of a series of articles by Pink Banana Media, focusing on the business aspects of LGBT life in various parts of the world.  The decision to start with Buenos Aires was an easy one to make.  Despite some of the financial setbacks Argentina has gone through over the past 15 years, the LGBT business community has continued to thrive, with both Buenos Aires and Argentina as a whole standing out as a beacon of light for moving LGBT rights in the region forward in the 21st century.  Same-sex marriage was legalized in 2010, making Argentina the first country in Latin America to make this extraordinary step.

Taking the lead in bringing the LGBT business community together and moving it forward in Argentina is GNetwork360,  Founded by Gustavo Noguera and Pablo De Luca in 2007, their annual LGBT Business & Tourism Conference has continued to bring together both LGBT business leaders from around the country, as well as LGBT business movers and shakers globally, bringing their knowledge and expertise to an ever-growing LGBT business movement here in South America.

Starting in 2007, their conference took over the Axel Hotel Buenos Aires, with the owner Juan Julia both hosting the event, and sharing his experience in starting one of the first gay hotels in South America (based on his first Axel Hotel in Barcelona).  The dynamics in that hotel were incredibly energizing, with the lower conference area packed wall to wall, and an entire seating area upstairs connected via closed-circuit tv for over a hundred attendees not able to be seated in the live conference area.

From this start the event has grown, including offering attendees incredible opportunities to both meet various members of the ever-growing LGBT business community in Buenos Aires, as well as for attendees go get to know some of the various gay restaurants, bars, clubs and other local business establishments that have developed over the years for the gay & lesbian community.  As a bonus, attendees and speakers from around the world have been introduced to Tango shows, Malbec wine and Argentine steaks second to none!  In addition, regions including the wine country of Mendoza, the historical region of Salta, and the winter vacation and outdoor adventure spots of Patagonia, have also been part of the mix.

As the event has grown over the years, the venues have had to adapt and grow as well.  The most recent conference held in 2014 was at the Hotel Alvear, with the opening reception held at the historic Palacio San Martin.  Sponsors included Delta Airlines, Austral Assistance, IBM and the Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion. Speakers included destination marketing folks from Miami, Brazil and Thailand, just to name a few.  They also included Grindr, Here Media, NGLCC and more.  The closing dinner gala was held at the Alvear Palace Hotel.

Wine / Dine / Rest & Unwind
When traveling to Buenos Aires for business or vacation, there are a variety of interesting neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own style and quality of accommodation.  For pure business, the Puerto Madero makes for a great choice... it's one of the newer developments in Buenos Aires, and sits across the Rio Plata from the city center, offering incredible views of the city from across the river.  The hotels there are some of the newest and largest, with the restaurant choices perfect for a long business lunch or dinner. For something a little out of the ordinary, the Faena Hotel is located in this area, offering both great accommodations and excellent dining, as well as the unique Rojo Tango show.

Across from Puerto Madero is San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires.  Characterized by its colonial buildings, it's cafes and arts scene... it's antique markets, old gas lamps and cobblestone streets... this area is a great place for dining and exploring, day or night.  Some of the restaurants and steak houses in this area are also some of the oldest in Buenos Aires, making this neighborhood a culinary favorite.  One of the highlights is Aldo's, sporting its own winery and owned by the same folks who own Casa Cruz in Palermo.

On the other side of downtown is Recoleta, one of the more upscale areas of Buenos Aires and the site of the famous Recoleta Cemetery where Eva Peron is buried.  Besides a wide range of restaurants, this area also has some excellent smaller, boutique hotels from which to stay, including the Serena Hotel and the Algodon Mansion... both providing a wonderful reprieve from the city's hustle and bustle.  For an incredible meal tucked away as well, check out the Tarquino, nuevo cocina Argentino.

Lastly, Palermo... up a bit from Recoleta and currently sporting some of the trendiest boutique shops and restaurants in the city.  For fine dining, restaurants range from Osaka (Peruvian/Japanese fusion) to a variety of "parilla" steak houses (including the famous La Cabrera, traditional asado with incredible gourmet dips), with wine bars and various watering holes in between (including Casa Cruz).  The area itself is quite diverse, with Palermo Viejo, Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood all making up some of this unique mosaic of shopping and dining experiences. Winding down after a long day, 878 make for a perfect hideaway, with a great cocktail menu and known as one of the best gourmet bars in Buenos Aires.

 - GNetwork360 LGBT Conference:
 - Faena Hotel & Mercado Restaurant (Puerto Madero):
 - Serena Hotels (Recoleta):
 - Algodon Mansion (Recoleta): www.AlgodonMansion
 - Tarquino (Recoleta):
 - La Cabrera (Palermo):
 - Casa Cruz (Palermo):
 - 878 (Palermo):

 - Argentina Gay Guide:
 - General Information about Argentina:
 - Argentina Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce: