A Peek into my Stay at The Grand Resort and Spa, aka Paradise

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to spend more time at The Grand Resort and Spa in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. This time was even more fun-filled, special, and relaxing because I got to spend four full days and three nights there. The last time I enjoyed two days and was able to experience the truly top notch spa, lay by the pool, and explore the area. This time I was able to really RELAX, make some truly amazing new friends, enjoy the pool and the property, and of course that ridiculously luxurious spa.

As I mentioned last time I stayed, the staff at the Grand Resort and Spa is so attentive from the moment you arrive. And I’m not saying that because they invited me. I continually witnessed them interacting with the same kindness and attentiveness to every guest from the moment they checked in right up until they check out. This is not a place where the hospitality has limits. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Edward, Kevin, Chris, Jay, Tommy, and the entire team who took care of us throughout our stay.

There are so many desirable things about the Grand. The location is so close to the beach and restaurants, the property itself is a secluded paradise, and the rooms are luxurious. Even the smallest room is larger than my apartment in NYC. Of course, the spa is the icing on the already delicious cake. The staff in the spa is so knowledgable, have won many awards, and are constantly learning new techniques to keep up with what is healthy, hot, and beneficial.

One of my favorite parts of the spa is talking to them. I’ve never walked out of there without some new insight or information about my body, skin, hair, and wellbeing. JD is particularly talented and well versed in such things so I get great suggestions about what to do on a regular basis to improve my overall beauty routine (and YES, men should have a beauty routine!).

My original intention was to spend my days by the pool, enjoy the spa, and then explore the area. I only ventured out one night for dinner and one day to hit the beach. The rest of the time I literally spent playing card games, talking to people, and just chilling out among friends. I met this adorable, sweet couple named James and Brian who delighted me with their company. Of course, in true Teeco fashion, it turned out James went to school with one of my very good friends so there was a common connection that leads back to social media!

What made this stay so outstanding was the promotion we did prior and during. Matt Martin and I promoted the weekend so if you stayed, you got your room at a discounted rate AND the best part was that there were lottery drawings each day to give away two and three night stays, drink vouchers, and more. It was a great way to get to know everyone staying there and for them to get to know us. As I stated, I made fast friends with one couple in particular and it was James’ birthday. When I was drawing the winner for the three night stay on Saturday, my intentions were for it to be a special win for someone. I had no idea at the time that it was James’ birthday until I announced his name and he revealed that he was there to celebrate his day. You all know how I feel about things happening for a reason and from intention. The next prize was a $25 drink voucher and James’ husband Brian was the winner there! So, I actually felt like I was a winner too because the whole intention thing worked to make a special weekend a little more special.

Some of the Staff at the Grand Resort and Spa

The last time I stayed at the Grand Resort and Spa I got my haircut, had a facial and enjoyed a massage. The facial I chose in October was an age smart facial, which is an 80 minute rejuvenating and relaxing experience for your skin. This time, I decided to do a 20 minute Microzone Facial to target some of the damage I inevitably do to my skin by shaving and from exposure to the sun. I don’t think we actually realize how much stress plays a role in the health of our skin too. I learned that the moisturizer I am currently using is a bit too thick and therefore, not exactly the healthiest for my pores.

This time around, I also decided to try the Swedish massage since I had already received a deep tissue massage in October. I figured it was a good way to be able to sample more of the work they do here. Both massages are completely relaxing from the music, to the temperature of the room, and the smell of the oils used. An hour goes by so fast that you are left wanting more time to just “be”. I have to say that before my trips to the Grand, I didn’t really understand the need or desire for massages on a regular basis. Now, I totally get it! They are so necessary to promote healthy circulation, to calm you, and to remove much of the stresses or our daily lives.

If you are a gay man or a gay couple, I highly recommend a trip to the Grand Resort and Spa. Most airfare to Ft Lauderdale is affordable on any budget, depending on the time of year and the rooms are actually less than a room in a hotel that doesn’t offer spa services or a resort atmosphere.

Again, there is so much to do because you are so close to the beach and the strip. I can tell you first hand that Rocco’s Tacos, The Foxy Brown, and the Drunken Taco are all fantastic places to enjoy a good drink and fabulous food. Plus, with Uber Eats, you are pretty much open to everything in the area. My new friends Brian and James had a red velvet birthday cake delivered for James’ special day. What did we do without apps?

I hope that you will consider the Grand for your next vacation experience and continue following me for my next trip there, you never know what specials we will make available and you never know what you could win during a weekend I am around! If you have already enjoyed a stay there, please feel free to comment here and if you are considering going, definitely reach out to me to let me know. You can get me on Twitter and Instagram at @Teeco71 and on Facebook too! Visit The Grand Resort and Spa for even more information on their services, prices, and specials.

 

Check out what The Grand Resort and Spa has been up to

SOUTH FLORIDA’S VERY OWN THE GRAND RESORT AND SPA IS A NEW PROUD SPONSOR OF VH1’S “RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE” SEASON NINE PREMIERE!

I’m so proud of and happy for my friends at the Grand Resort and Spa! Can’t wait to head back May 19th to the 22nd! You can even join me, learn more here: http://www.teeco71.com/?s=grand+resort&submit

Look at what they’ve been up to:

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Saturday, March 25, 2017: RuPaul’s Drag Race kicked off their season nine premiere on VH1 on Friday, March 24th at 8:00 pm EST.  During its first episode, Emmy Awarder Winner, RuPaul awarded contestant, Nina Bo’nina Brown, a trip to Fort Lauderdale Beach’s, The Grand Resort and Spa. The prize included a one week stay, for two, in the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Grand Penthouse that boasts an 800 square foot private, ocean view terrace with a Jacuzzi and outdoor shower. Also included in this prize package will be airfare for two, and a complimentary massage and facial. The total prize value of $6,000.  Casey Koslowski, Proprietor of The Grand, states that he looks forward to seeing Nina and his guest, at his award winning spa-resort and sunning themselves on Fort Lauderdale Beach very soon!

The Grand Resort and Spa is Fort Lauderdale’s premiere gay-owned and operated men’s spa-resort that first opened in 1999. With 33 well-appointed rooms and suites, it is located just steps from the beach and convenient to all of Fort Lauderdale’s attractions and nightlife. As Fort Lauderdale’s first gay resort with its own full-service day spa and hair studio, they offer guests an experience that is unique and wonderfully indulgent. From a relaxing Swedish massage to a haircut before your night on the town, the talented staff can accommodate all your needs – guaranteed to “Exceed Expectations.” A sample of the property’s awards and accolades include “Certificate of Excellence, Hall of Fame” – TripAdvisor; “Editor’s Choice” – Man About World; “#1 in Fort Lauderdale” – Pink Choice Award; “Best Small Hotel or Resort in the World” – Out Traveler Award Winner; “Top 10 Resorts” – The Travel Channel; “One of the top 10 gay-owned spas in the United States” – Out Traveler Magazine; “USA TODAY 10 BEST” – USA TODAY.

At The Grand Resort and Spa, guests will experience first class service from their elite staff members providing a vast knowledge of the South Florida region, which includes the world famous “gayborhood,” Wilton Manors.  Some of the fantastic amenities for guests include free Wi-Fi, continental & hot breakfast catered daily (available while supplies last) and no hidden “resort fees.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race previously announced this season’s celebrity guest judges which included in the first episode, Lady Gaga.  The 13 previously announced Queens include: Aja, Alexis Michelle, Charlie Hides, Eureka, Farrah Moan, Jaymes Mansfield, Kimora Blac, Nina Bo’nina Brown, Peppermint, Sasha Velour, Shea Couleé, Trinity Taylor, and Valentina. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season nine is produced by World of Wonder Productions with Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe, Mandy Salangsang and RuPaul Charles serving as Executive Producers.  Tim Palazzola serves as Executive Producer for Logo.

For reservations and information on The Grand Resort and Spa, visit their website www.grandresort.net or call 1-800-818-1211 ֪– 24 hours, 7 days a week. For up-to-date “The Grand Resort and Spa” news and exclusives, join the “The Grand Resort and Spa” Facebook page or follow #GrandResortSpa on Twitter at @GrandResortSpa. Follow along on our Instagram page by searching for GrandResortSpa.  For marketing and public relations, please contact Edward Otto Zielke at edward@grandresort.net.

Let Frank J Avella LURE you into Learning about the Plight of others

From the moment I read the press release for the play LURED, I wanted to see it. I immediately researched the writer, Frank J Avella which made me want to talk to him. As luck would have it, I was invited to see the play this coming Sunday and I was given the opportunity to interview Frank as well. I will bring you a review of the play after but I didn’t want to wait to share the interview with you. I know you will find Frank as interesting and passionate about social injustice as I did. I’m hoping it encourages you to find out more about him, his projects, and that it makes you want to see LURED as soon as you can.

Projects like this make me proud to spell my name LGBT. I love artists who get Social Good and make it part of their mission. Entertainment can educate, change the world, and give a voice to the voiceless.

Here is the press release that started it all:

NEW YORK, NY, August 22, 2016 – LURED, a new play by Frank J. Avella that explores the persecution of gays in Russia, will be presented in the 2016 Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic Director). 

Based on factual accounts and events, LURED focuses on a Russian hate group’s attack on a young gay man and its repercussions. The play brutally depicts how these vigilantes lure and entrap LGBT people, humiliating and sometimes torturing them on camera.

“In Russia, in the last several years, gays have been persecuted and tortured, with the blessing of the Russian government and Russian-Orthodox Church,” said Avella. “The play reveals some of the shocking ways in which vigilante groups are involved in LGBT persecution.”

The cast of LURED features Cameron August, John Ball, Carlotta Brentan, Cali Gilman, Brian Patterson, Dave Stishan, and Ian Whitt.

LURED is directed by Rod Kaats. Christine Cox is the associate producer. David Shocket is the lighting designer. Fight choreography is by Kris “Cappy” Caplinger. John David West is the social media coordinator. Mario Merone is the stage manager.

Frank J. Avella (Author) received a 2015 Fellowship Award from the NJ State Council on the Arts for his play Consent, which was a semi-finalist for the 2012 O’Neill and will be published by Adirondack Plays as part of an LGBTQ anthology this winter. He is the recipient of a 2016 Helene Wurlitzer Residency Grant & Bumbalo/Chesley Foundation Playwright Award, also for Consent, which confronts bullying and homophobia. Frank has written 19 full-length plays. Vatican Falls, set against the backdrop of the Catholic sex abuse scandal, will have its World Premiere in February of 2018 in Malta. His other work includes:Lured, For Mamma, Michael’s #1 Fan and Orville Station (published in the UK by Lazy Bee Scripts). Upon reviewing Frank’s farce Iris, the Cincinnati Post wrote: “Avella’s plays tend to send earthquakes through his audience’s comfort zones.” He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild.

Rod Kaats (Director) directed Marvin’s Room (with T.R. Knight) and Company (with Norm Lewis & Donna McKechnie) at the Helen Hayes Theatre Company in Nyack, NY (where he was also the Artistic Director).  He directed Neil’s Garden at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre and wrote and directed The Ballad of Little Jo in The Harold Prince Musical Theatre Program, a new musical that was subsequently awarded The Richard Rodgers Award and produced at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. Rod produced the West Coast production of Silence! The Musical and What You Will starring Roger Rees at American Conservatory Theatre. TCG New Artistic Directors Program, Charles H. Revson Directing Fellowship, Lincoln Center Lab Director, Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop.

Performances will be held on Mon., Sept. 5th at 6:30pm, Sat., Sept. 10th & Sun., Sept. 11th at 2PM, Mon., Sept. 12th & Thurs., Sept. 15th at 6:30PM and Sun., Sept. 18th at 8PM.

Tickets ($18) can be purchased online at www.LuredThePlay.com or by calling 212-864-4444. LURED is recommended for mature audiences.

Theatre for the New City is located at 155 1st Avenue between East 9th and 10th Streets, NYC. Subways: 6 (Astor Place), L (1st Av), N, R (8th St – NYU).  

For more information visit www.LuredThePlay.com or call 973-715-2356.

Here is our interview! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed doing it!

Q: Tell us a little about your project LURED.

Frank J Avella: LURED is a pretty honest and brutal portrayal of the Russian persecution of gays that began in late 2012 and reached epidemic levels in 2014.

The play blends real events and characters with a few fictional twists, telling the story of one hate group’s attack on a young gay man and the repercussions that follow. The play shoes how these vigilantes lure and entrap LGBT people, humiliating and sometimes torturing them on camera, hoping to ruin their lives by getting them fired from their jobs and shunned by their communities and families. We don’t pull any punches so audiences should be warned about the violence in the piece.

I just came from the last rehearsal and the actors are just electrifying.

Q: With current events at the Olympics where gay athletes were outed many of us were reminded why it isn’t always safe for some to live their truth, even now. What were your thoughts during that? 

Frank J Avella: What that journalist did was irresponsible because he did not take into account the realities of the situation in MANY countries around the world–That homophobia is still a part of the fabric of many cultures and outing someone could destroy their careers and even put their lives at risk.

Sure, things have significantly changed here in the U.S., but it happened very quickly and should not be taken for granted. I  think it’s a mistake to feel too secure–even here. If some right wing loon is ever elected president, we could find ourselves in another lavender scare situation. I’m not advocating that LGBTQ people should cower in fear, I’m saying we need to continue to be loud and proud and demand to be accepted and celebrated (not tolerated). But we also need to be aware that there are places where homosexuality is still considered abnormal and where outing could endanger lives. It’s called empathy.

Q: It surprises me to see the criticism entertainers get for coming out late like we’ve seen with Colton Haynes. I’ve always felt coming out was a very personal experience and we each have a different journey. What do you make of it all? 

Frank J Avella: I see both sides. And I am just speaking specifically about Western countries. On the one hand it is a very intimate thing that each person should have the luxury of dealing with their own way in their own time. But when you have someone who, say, is a closeted conservative politico voting against LGBT rights issues, that person should be outed. And I would go one step further and advocate outing certain big name celebrities who “refuse to do a same-sex kiss” onscreen or turn down any film with a gay theme. I think that hypocritical behavior hurts us.

Haynes wasn’t doing any harm to anyone by taking his time and coming out his way. The criticism against him was unfair. But we live in social-media-blather-frenzy times where everyone has to bitch about everything.

Q: How does it feel to have your work presented at the Dream Up Festival?

Frank J Avella: I am thrilled because Michael Scott-Price, the awesome Dream Up Festival Director, is all about the art and believing in the work. Dream Up is a great place for this brand new play to be birthed and there are less than 2 dozen plays chosen so there’s less of a chance to get lost in the mix. I’m so happy we have this opportunity.

Q: This is not the first time you’ve tackled tough issues. Your play Consent confronted the problems of bullying and homophobia. Do you feel a responsibility to address these issues in your work and do you feel we all should explore these social good topics more?

Frank J Avella: In the last decade my work has turned more to social issues and themes and I think it’s made me a stronger dramatist. I’ve been so angered and appalled by so much and the only talent I have is to write about it. When Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge, it was such a wakeup call for me. How was it that in this day and age a young gay man would rather die than have people know he was attracted to men? How could that happen? That was the reason I set out to write about bullying and CONSENT was the result. I am damn proud of that play.

VATICAN FALLS came about because I felt that certain themes surrounding the Catholic sex abuse scandal needed to be explored but no one was doing it (and still isn’t) for fear of pissing off the Church. Even SPOTLIGHT, as great as it was, played it way too safe with the storytelling. Has any institution ever gotten away with the rape and torture of hundreds of thousands of children in the history of the history???

I will get off my soap box now but these are questions that need to be asked.

And I do feel that we should explore more social topics in theatre. I get in trouble for bitching about certain types of shows constantly being tossed onto the great white way because there’s built in tourist money but that’s only because I truly believe that if you give audiences a well-written and acted socially relevant play, they will come and they will leave with something to think about, and talk about. And they will want to see more.

Q: Where can we find out more about you and your work online? 

ImpetusEnsemble.com there is a ton about past work.

https://newplayexchange.org/users/5582/frank-j-avella there is a breakdown of my newest work.

And

LUREDTHEPLAY.com is all about LURED.

 Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?  

Frank J Avella: I cannot live without writing. It gives me such great joy.

And to paraphrase the great John Lennon, I wish we could all live without religion.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Who was it from?

Frank J Avella: Stephen Sondheim who once told me that I should just write and not worry too much about what I was writing or whether it was any good but to just keep writing.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve even given? Are you good at taking your own advice? 

Frank J Avella: To take all criticism and then break it down from where it is coming from and apply it accordingly. For instance, comments from people you know want you and your work to succeed should be heard and seriously contemplated.

Am I good at taking my own advice? Sometimes. I try to be.

Q: What’s up next for Frank J Avella and LURED? 

Frank J Avella: We truly are hoping to give LURED a life beyond the Festival and we are hard at work doing our best to make that happen. Sometimes it’s just about getting the right people to read and/or attend your work. The entire process of people getting on board this particular endeavor has been so gratifying. Most everyone HAD to be a part of this play. You don’t often find that. It’s been a blessing.

‘Troy’s Big Break’ speaks volumes for a community that is often under-represented

Joseph Ausanio is an actor, screenwriter, and creator of the webseries ‘Troy’s Big Break’. Joseph also happens to be deaf but he does NOT allow that to keep him from doing all the things he dreams of and he encourages us all to follow suit. Another thing you should know about Joseph is that he is a gay man who is representing in such a positive way.

The unique thing about ‘Troy’s Big Break’ is there are no spoken lines. Almost all of the dialogue is signed and there are captions for those of us who do not speak sign language. You really have to check it out for yourself! Here is a little about the show and Joseph as only he can tell you:

Q: Can you talk a little about Troy’s Big Break?

Joseph Ausanio: Absolutely! It’s a unique show because it showcases Deaf talent. It’s about a Deaf director who faces different types of life challenges while looking for the perfect actress for his production. Things start to unfold to show what’s going on in his life.

Q: What has the response to the show been so far from the deaf community as well as the hearing community?

Joseph Ausanio: It’s pretty popular with the Rochester, NY folks, because that is where we filmed the show. And the people know us there. Rochester also has a large D/deaf community there and it’s truly a nice thing. The people who watched the show always approach the cast members and let them know that they are fans of the show.  That really means a lot.  I had hearing people messaging me saying that it was so different from the other things they watched because they’re so used to seeing shows with a full hearing cast, but the reception from them has been really positive.

Q: What guest stars would you like to have on the show?

Joseph Ausanio: Ooh, this is a tough one. I’d love to have Marlee Matlin on the show. She’s one of my inspirations. I would LOVE to get Amber Zion on the show. She’s an incredibly gifted Deaf actress and I love her work. I would also love to get Rikki Poynter, who’s a super awesome YouTube vlogger and I love her videos. She’s not afraid to speak out and I have tremendous respect for her for doing that.

I’d also love to see Kelsey Lindhorst’s character faint when she sees Nyle DiMarco show up in an episode. That’d be hilarious. Or even Troy’s mom to go out on a date with him! (Think Sophia Petrillo going on a date with Burt Reynolds in an episode of “The Golden Girls”)

I’m all about showcasing more Deaf talent out there.

Q: Who were some of your idols/role models growing up?

Joseph Ausanio: First, Marlee Matlin, because she inspired me to become an actor growing up. Also, Lucille Ball is one of the greatest comediennes I’ve ever watched. When I first saw her on TV, I couldn’t walk away from the television. She never fails to make me laugh every time I watch “I Love Lucy”. I admire her so much.

Q: Do you think we will see more shows that involve hearing impaired characters like Switched at Birth and your show? 

Joseph Ausanio: I REALLY hope so. I would love to write a TV series for any network that features characters that are D/deaf because I want to support diversity. We have millions of Deaf people in the world and it would be great to do more shows for them.

Q: What would you say to others who are trying hard to make their dreams come true and trying to overcome some obstacle they have no control over?  

Joseph Ausanio: I would say this:

“If you want to make it happen, do it. If you want to travel all over the world, go for it. If you want to make movies, do it.  Don’t wait for things to simply fall in your lap. I learned this life lesson the hard way. Just listen to your heart. If you want to follow your dreams, now is the time.”

Q: What made you decide to create a character who is also gay?

Joseph Ausanio: The reason why I decided to create a gay character was because the LGBT #DeafTalent felt that they weren’t always showcased, so I wanted to showcase them more.

Q: What would you say to those out there who are dealing with issues around coming out? Both in the deaf community and in the hearing community?

Joseph Ausanio: I remember when I came out, it was very scary. I was 19 and in college. I broke up with my ex-girlfriend and I was slowly coming out to a few close friends and then my family members. My family and friends are incredibly supportive and I feel fortunate for that. For the others, I want them to know that they are not alone in this. I can’t speak for other people, because we all have different experiences. I can say that no matter what, you will always get support from the LGBT community and their allies. If they’re scared, I’m here to talk. I want to lend a hand to provide support. We have a big support system. We have a lot of LGBT people and the allies in our Deaf community and we are so incredibly supportive of each other, and the same goes for the hearing community.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received? Who was it from?

Joseph Ausanio: I had a great pep talk with a dear friend two weeks before he unexpectedly passed away; he was incredibly supportive of my dreams of moving to Los Angeles.  He said, “Seize the day.” He was right.

Q: What is the best advice you have ever given? Are you normally good at taking your own advice?

Joseph Ausanio: I’m bad at taking my own advice, but I try to give great advice to people. I would tell them, “Life is way too short to be unhappy.  Never give up your dreams even through the tough times, when you realize how strong you truly are.  Nothing….nothing is impossible.”

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Joseph Ausanio: I can’t live without my family, who have been my rock.  I wish we could all live without hate and violence;  there is way too much of that in the world right now.

Q: Where can we find you and your show online?

Joseph Ausanio: You can find me on Twitter via @JosephAusanio and you can find Troy’s Big Break’s Twitter page via @TroysBigBreak. We also have a Facebook page of the show. You can also find the full episodes on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/troysbigbreak. All of the episodes are captioned for the D/deaf and hearing audiences.

Q: What’s up next for Joseph Ausanio and Troy’s Big Break?

Joseph Ausanio: I am hoping to do a third season of “Troy’s Big Break”. I have the season premiere’s script written already. I’m planning to chat with my cast & crew to see if they’re game.  I work with the most amazing people – both cast and crew.  They have all taught me a lot.   I wrote a few pilot scripts here and there. I’m always writing new stuff.

I recently wrote a feature screenplay that focuses on a Deaf woman and her struggles with life and love. I’m hoping that it might catch someone’s attention because the story is so powerful. I gave it to an actress I want for that role and she loved the script.  Maybe something will come of it soon.