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Gay Fort Lauderdale Hotel Resort, Press Review


Liberty Garden Suites – Gay Accommodations in Dania Beach, Florida


Liberty Garden Suites
Dania Beach, Florida

Gay owned and operated garden suites between Fort Lauderdale and Haulover Beach

By Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong

Liberty Suites in Dania Beach has been our favorite south Florida gay resort for years. Now rebranded as Liberty Garden Suites with a new look and focus, we know it will be a success with gay travelers looking for gay owned and operated accommodations just minutes from Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport and the world-famous clothing-optional Haulover Beach.

If you talk to guests at Dania Beach’s Liberty Suites, it won’t take long before you sense a theme – Liberty Suites is a home away from home where guests from all over the world feel like family. For thirteen years, Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman have nurtured that “Liberty Family” feel. It is working. More than sixty percent of their clientele are repeat customers.

We chatted with owners Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman.

How would you describe Liberty Garden Suites in one sentence?

We are sure you will love our unique “Piece of Tropical Paradise” with attractive, immaculately clean, turn key, self-catering accommodations, and the company of our Gentlemen Guests.

What makes Liberty Garden Suites unique?

We are centrally located in Greater Fort Lauderdale in Historic Dania Beach, just 5 minutes south of the Fort Lauderdale-HollywoodInternational Airport and Port Everglades, and are the closest Gay Accommodation to the World Famous Nude Beach at Haulover. Everyday conveniences of markets, restaurants & shops are within blocks, and we are short 15-20 minute drive to all Gay GreaterFort Lauderdale & Wilton Manors Nightlife and Attractions, as well as 5 Casinos including the new Casino @ Dania Beach..

The entire property is lushly landscaped and offers clothing optional sundeck, outdoor living room, patio dining with BBQ, Hot Tub/Spa, complimentary laundry facility and private off street parking. Each apartment is uniquely decorated, has private adjoining outdoor patio space, all with full kitchens and perfectly set up with all the amenities for vacation or longer term “Home Away from Home” Stays.

How would you describe your guests?

There are so few properties left that still offer a safe secure and private environment for exclusively Gay Vacation Rentals….our clients remain mostly mature, retired, well educated, successful and upscale Gay Men, singles and couples….which we believe there is a continued market, mostly with the aging boomers… as you know the Gay travel world has substantially changed, especially with the younger generations…the vacation rental market has exploded with Airbnb, Home Away, and the hundreds of other sites….and they no longer have to be so protective as we did in the early years and travel to large cites with Gay populations and Gay villages, and stay in safe Gay Guesthouses, and patronize strictly gay bars and restaurants….which I think is just wonderful…especially when I remember that I got my first apartment in Manhattan in January of 1969, 6 months before the Stonewall riots… “WE’VE COME A LONG WAY BABY !!”

Do you have any upcoming specials or packages?

Currently we are offering Summer Specials with rates as low as $79/Night and $495/Week….through September 30th …and as always during the off peak season we continue to accommodate longer term relocation stays as we remain an affordable and more pleasant alternative for those relocating in or out of the area, as well as extended business stays…and as Always, Pet Welcome.

Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman have been known to treat guests to complimentary fresh flowers, fruits, chocolates and even cannoli from the local New York style bakery!

To learn more about Liberty Suites or to make your reservation, contact Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman at or phone (954) 927-0090 or text (954) 383-5548.

Liberty Suites is located at 1500 S. W. Second Ave., Dania Beach, Florida 33004-4209.

You can visit their website at

Liberty Suites is one of our favorite places to stay in South Florida. Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman have created something special – a quality GLBT resort that truly makes guests feel like family.

Read our article on Haulover Clothing Optional Beach!
Gay Travelers Magazine
PO Box 560318, Rockledge, FL 32956
Staff Feature – Sunny Harbor Publishing / Gay Travelers Magazine
copyright Sunny Harbor Publishing


Article by Steven Skelley and Thomas Routzong
Copyright 2016 Sunny Harbor Publishing
Sunny Harbor Publishing, PO Box 560318, Rockledge, FL 32956
Phone: 321-446-7552

Read our article on Haulover Clothing Optional Beach!
Gay Travelers Magazine




Community Travel Telegram

 Is it Winter Time for You?

Or Maybe It’s Just Time to GET A WAY?

Lately we’ve received a lot of requests for warm weather getaways. It’s our pleasure and a lot of fun to recommend some great gay-friendly places to stay. We’ve gathered a collection of well known and off the beaten path destinations for your consideration. Remember to pack your sun screen!

Liberty Suites (Pet Friendly!)

Where’s Dania Beach? It’s an easy drive from the Ft. Lauderdale airport and just a short drive to the famous Nude Beach at Haulover and the Gay Beach at John U. Lloyd State Park. The Fort Lauderdale area differs markedly from other popular gay resorts in that it’s a decent-sized city with urbane shopping, museums and attractions, and it lies within an hour’s drive of multicultural Miami and sizzling South Beach. It’s a perfect place for a sojourn in the sun and the ultimate spring break retreat.

For a lodging option, we’re delighted to introduce you to the gay owned and operated Liberty Suites; an intimate, all suites apartment hotel and guest house. Liberty Suites offers 18 beautifully furnished units. This property has received a Florida Superior Small Lodging award.

Don’t just consider Liberty Suites for a weekend getaway. They offer affordable daily, weekly and extended stay rates. Enjoy their fabulous, clothing optional, heated pool. PETS are ALWAYS WELCOME. Mention for a special discount. Click for details.




Go Gay USA: Dania Beach, Florida

March 6, 2008 – Gay Travel By Donald Pile and Ray Williams

Dania Beach, Florida (March 6, 2008) – Wanting to get away for a week or two or even a month of two? We can’t think of a better place to go than to FLORIDA where gay life is EVERYWHERE !

And for those wanting to spend a week, a month or more, there is no better place to go

than to Dania Beach, Florida. Dania Beach is located right on the Atlantic Ocean and is a wonderful get-a-way for people wanting sun and fun in winter. It is a 10 minute drive to Fort Lauderdale to the North or just a 30 minute drive to South Beach and Miami to the South but much less expensive than either. The city of only 28,000 welcomes everyone. It has a great small town atmosphere. They are minutes away from world-class museums, concerts, plays festivals and other cultural events. Professional sports ranging from football to hockey to rodeo are also readily available.

Dania Beach itself hosts Jai Alai, a local performing arts theater, a natural history museum and the I.G.F.A. Fishing Hall of Fame, and is internationally known for it’s marine industry, repair and storage facilities, prominent shipbuilding companies, and dockings for cruise lines and other vessels are found all over Dania Beach’s numerous waterways and canals.

Port Everglades, which spans over 2100 acres and occupies part of Hollywood, Dania Beach and Ft. Lauderdale is one of the nation’s top seaports, busiest cruise ports, and has the deepest entry channel of any port in the southeastern United States.

A great place to stay is at the Liberty Apartment and Garden Suites which is located just one block west of the main highway thru the center of town. It is the perfect place to stay. Just bring your luggage and a bathing suit and that is all you need. We get so tired of staying in just “simple rooms” when we travel. Just drive or fly down and you can move right in for a week, a month or more. Your suitcase full of bathing suits is all you need. Every apartment comes with your own private telephone, Cable TV/DVD/CD and Wi-Fi Internet access. For less than what most accommodations charge for a simple room, at the Liberty Suites you can get a huge apartment for less than that! They have an on site laundry and off-street parking for their guests.

All apartments are either on the first or second floor and they are pet-friendly! so if you have a dog or cat, you can take them down there with you. We always go to the fresh produce markets while we are there. They have some of the biggest grapefruits and oranges that we have ever seen! Everyone walks in Florida and it about a 20 minute walk from Liberty Suites to the beach whether you want to take a picnic and spend the whole day or just a few hours.

Haulover Beach is a 15 minute drive from the Liberty Suites which is the famous NUDE BEACH in Florida. Hundreds of people flock there daily. It is located in the 10800 block of Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach near Sunny Isles Causeway (SR #826) and Highway A1A. There is a vehicle entrance fee of $3.50 and it is open from Sunrise to Sunset. Facilities include restrooms, showers, concessions and picnic tables. Lifeguards are on duty. For those who enjoy sunning in the nude this is one of the best places in the entire country.

For nightlife, Wilton Manors (the gay suburb of Ft. Lauderdale) is just a 15 minute drive away so you have plenty of bars and nightlife to choose from. There are over 20 gay bars in that area from everything from leather, strippers, disco, piano bars, video/dance bars and quiet bars. With that many bars you will certainly be able to find just the right bar for you.

And don’t forget to dine at the Hi-Life Cafe when in Ft. Lauderdale. With their award-winning contemporary American cuisine, Chef Carlos Fernandez and Host Chuck Smith have created an ambiance that feels as if you a guest at a private party in their own dining room. We dine there every time we are in the Ft. Lauderdale area. They are always busy so call for reservations. Be SURE and leave some room for their fabulous Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. It is to die for! They have been in business for over 12 years and it just keeps getting better and better every year.

And for lunch we love Rosie’s Bar & Grill, which is in the heart of everything. We had lunch there twice when we were there. You can either dine inside or on their tropical outdoor patio. They have a wonderful ambiance. It is always packed because everyone KNOWS it is so great. The servers are extremely professional and friendly.

Whether you live in the Midwest, up North or anywhere, why not get a away from it all and relax and rest in beautiful Gay Florida where “the boys are” and make new friends.

Actually Dania Beach is a great place to visit anytime of the year. A great website to visit before going to Florida is They have up to date information on all the gay businesses in any major city in America. The local gay publications are 411 Magazine, and HotSpots, Be sure to visit Liberty Suites at

Always remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

© 2005-2007, All Rights Reserved.






Published 12/31/2009

New flights mean bargains to Fort Lauderdale

It has never been cheaper, faster, or easier to get to the gay resort capital of the east, Fort Lauderdale.

Thanks to competition from the upstart airlines, JetBlue and Virgin America, roundtrip nonstop flights between San Francisco International and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International start at $198. That’s about what you would pay to fly between the Bay Area and Palm Springs. The only nonstop flights from the Bay Area are out of SFO, but if you prefer to fly out of Oakland or San Jose and don’t mind a stop, expect to pay about the same or a little less.


The Liberty Suites, with 18 units, is just a five-minute drive south of Fort Lauderdale’s airport. All the units are apartments, making it ideal for long-term rentals. There is a three-day minimum rental. It also one of most affordable resorts in the Fort Lauderdale area. Rates for the high season start at $99 or $595 for a week. A gay couple from New York has owned the property for 12 years and has obviously poured a lot of money into it to keep all the units in great shape. It is in the city of Dania Beach, near Dania Beach’s gay beach and about 15-20 minutes from the nude gay beach called Haulover Beach, south of Hallandale and north of Miami. It is the closest resort to that nude beach and the closest to Miami. It is about a 10-15 minute drive from the nightlife of Wilton Manors. Almost all the guests are gay men.



MEET Joe and Jack on the Channel 7 News

Original Broadcast in November 2002, following The South Florida Sun-Sentinel Story below.


Resorts for Gays Rejuvenate Once Neglected Dania Beach Neighborhood

DANIA BEACH — In an area once plagued by drugs and prostitutes, rainbow flags flap in the wind. Below the colorful banners, a Canadian couple soaks up the sun beside the pool, a small dog sits quietly on a lounge chair and a cleaning crew slips into apartment-style suites.

It’s just what Joe Van Eron had in mind when he envisioned building a guest house village in Dania Beach that would cater to gays.

In the past five years, Van Eron and his business partner, Jack Zimmerman, have carved out a successful niche in the gay resort market by offering extended-stay resorts. After opening two rentals across the street from each other on Southwest Second Avenue near Sheridan Street, the men are getting ready to open a third on the same street, this time targeting the lesbian market.

Their venture taps into the billion-dollar gay tourist industry in Broward County, and it’s fueling the rejuvenation of a Dania Beach neighborhood that had been neglected. “It’s nice to find a place where we can be comfortable among ourselves,” Van Eron says. “For the first time in my life, I’m in the right place at the right time.”

Tourism statistics compiled by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau show Broward is the right place for gay tourist ventures. Conservative estimates are that between 600,000 and 1.7 million gay men and women visit the county every year.

Van Eron’s pioneer spirit led him to Dania Beach a little over five years ago. After running a successful special-events company in New York & New Jersey, he moved to Florida to start something in real estate. Zimmerman relocated with him. Van Eron saw past the decrepit condition of the apartment building he chose for his flagship motel, Liberty Suites. Residents had deemed the building at 1501 SW Second Ave. an eyesore, but Van Eron saw potential. “Gays love being pioneers,” Van Eron said. “Gays are always on the cutting edge. Look at Victoria Park, Poinsettia Heights and Wilton Manors.”

Van Eron and Zimmerman paid $314,000 for the two-story, yellow building, which they renovated inside and out. In five years, the property’s value has doubled. Three years later, they purchased their second property, a couple of duplexes across the street, for $225,000 and converted it into Liberty Garden Suites. That property’s value has risen, as well. Together, both resorts offer about 18 rental units, which cost $250 to $795 per week. Zimmerman said the suites usually operate at 90 percent occupancy, which dips into the 80s during the off-season. They draw at least 60 percent of their business from the Internet.

At least six patrons have bought homes in the community that surrounds the resort, boosting the number of gay residents there. Liberty Suites has become a hub for gay homeowners in the area. The resort owners have dinners around Thanksgiving, a pool party on Independence Day and several fund-raisers for local AIDS organizations throughout the year. “This place has so much to offer,” Van Eron said. “It’s a wonderful location, with the charm of Key West.”

The small, southwest Dania Beach neighborhood is a racially diverse enclave with small streets, alleyways and mostly single-family homes and duplexes. In 1999, the median household income at owner-occupied homes was $26,000, below the median household income for the city, which was $36,000, according to census data. Gays are in the minority in this neighborhood, but small rainbow flags above some mailboxes mark their presence. Some gay residents say what they appreciate most is that newcomers and the longtime residents live together with hardly any tension.

Times have changed in this neighborhood, which has been making a gradual turnaround. For years, this section of southwest Dania Beach, tucked a few blocks behind Federal Highway and on the boundary with Hollywood, was known for its drug and prostitution problems. “It was one of our first target areas back in the ’90s,” said City Manager Ivan Pato, a former Broward sheriff’s deputy. “Not only does it feel better, which is important because that’s how perception develops, but it looks better.”

Dennis Radar and his partner had no idea where Dania Beach was before they heard about Liberty Suites. The couple stayed there after relocating to Florida from Arizona two years ago. After searching the county for a house, they decided on a duplex in the southwest neighborhood that needed renovating. “We saw an opportunity, since it’s an up-and-coming area,” Radar said. “This was kind of a run-down neighborhood, and it’s still kind of a work in progress.” Radar likes that his new neighborhood isn’t exclusively gay or straight. “Here, it’s people kind of just blending in,” Radar said. “I’ve lived in a gay ghetto, a neighborhood completely saturated with us, and I didn’t want to do that again.”

Although not known as a gay destination, Dania Beach, Broward County’s oldest city, has long had a strong network of gay businesses. The lesbian bar Partners opened on East Dania Beach Boulevard more than a decade ago. The popular gay nightclub Copa is also in Dania, and low-key gay hangouts are scattered throughout town. “We’re slowly becoming another Wilton Manors,” said Ralph Denicola, a gay man who owns Uncle Ralph’s Paws ‘N’ Claws, a pet-grooming business in Dania Beach.

Those who study the gay market say it’s no surprise that cities like Dania Beach and Hollywood are attracting more gay residents and tourists. Fort Lauderdale’s popularity as a gay destination is carrying over into nearby cities, said Ian Drew, news editor with The Express, a gay newspaper based in Wilton Manors. “It’s incredible the gay mecca that Fort Lauderdale has become,” Drew said. “If you look at Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors, you see it’s going to overflow. And everyone wants to be close to the center.”

While the tourist market is steady for gay men, hotel proprietors say the lesbian resort market is difficult to tap. Attracting lesbian clientele is harder because women tend to stay at mainstream hotels, but gay men usually search for exclusive spots. Van Eron and Zimmerman know a lesbian resort is a bold move, but they think there is a need for it. For years, Van Eron said, women have been asking for more options.

Van Eron is so enthusiastic about the project that he joked he might move his 12-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty draped in a rainbow dress from beside the pool at Liberty Suites to the pool at Lady Liberty. “I’ve beaten all the odds,” said Van Eron, who is hoping to open the new extended-stay resort on Thanksgiving. “I don’t just dream, I demonstrate.”

Georgia East can be reached at or 954-385-7921.

Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Contact: Joseph Van Eron, Tel: (954) 383-5548


Dania Beach Innkeepers Become Community Legends

DANIA BEACH, Florida – June 26, 2008 – As the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaches, Liberty Suites proprietors Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman plan on celebrating the success of their award winning Superior Small Lodging which caters to the Gay & Lesbian market, and the impact and changes that they personally have achieved in their community. Their pioneering spirit has helped to transform and redevelop their Dania Beach Neighborhood and lead the way for tourism success for Dania Beach, Broward County and the State of Florida. According to Van Eron, “Our first ten years were a remarkable journey, and we are very proud to have had the opportunity to influence so many changes and to have created a very special Guesthouse Hotel that continues to accommodate the needs of local, national and international clientele year after year”.

Among their many accomplishments was the formation of the Triangle Village Civic Association which is dedicated to the redevelopment of their neighborhood, including bringing both tourism related businesses to the area and creating a village atmosphere where locals and visitors can live, work, play and stay. Dania Beach Vice Mayor Anne Castro says proudly, “Their efforts have resulted in the funding of over $500,000 in improvements to the triangle area including new sidewalks, traffic calming, street improvements, and solar lighting”, and “Joe & Jack have worked tirelessly set an example for redevelopment while remaining great corporate citizens and the greatest cheerleaders for Dania Beach, and its diverse population”

Both Liberty Suites and Joe Van Eron have been recognized with numerous awards, including the “Award for Excellence” from the Florida Superior Small Lodging Association on 3 different occasions, and recently bestowed the “2007 Pink Choice Award” which establishes Liberty Suites among the best Gay & Lesbian accommodations in Greater Fort Lauderdale. In addition to serving as the founding chair of the Visit Florida GLBT Task Force, Joe has always championed the cause for diversity, and continues to be an activist for issues of great importance to the GLBT Community. “Saving our communities and businesses from the ever changing challenges is my passion”, and when folks ask why, Joe chimes “I have been fortunate to possess the ability to influence change which has been the driving force to make our world a little better place”.

The Liberty Suites story continues to be a beacon of light for leadership, business success and community pride, with a passion that these two gentlemen so generously share. “After 30 years as partners it continues to amaze me with what Joe will come up with next” says Jack….” We both love our community and appreciate its continued friendship and support”


October 21, 2007

Florida Cities Come Out Against Naugle
City hopes to attract visitors, residents with pro-diversity resolution.

DANIA BEACH, FL — Dania Beach, a neighbor city of Fort Lauderdale, is hoping to take advantage of anti-gay remarks by Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle to attract tourists and new residents.

Leading the effort is gay activist Joe Van Eron, founder and president of the Dania Beach Tourism Council, who recently persuaded commissioners to pass a resolution stating Dania Beach “prides itself on being a community that is inclusive and welcoming, rather than divisive,” Sun-Sentinel reports.

Joe Van Eron, president of the Dania Beach Tourism Council, talks about diversity in the city and that Dania Beach is making it comfortable for all peoples—- gays and minorities— to visit, live and work. His hotel, The Liberty Suites, which he started 10 years ago, caters strictly to gay and lesbian travelers. He recently got the city to pass a resolution making it clear Dania Beach embraces diversity. The resolution is in response to Mayor Jim Naugle’s diatribe against gays in Fort Lauderdale. (Sun-Sentinel/Mike Stocker / October 12, 2007)

While Broward County, Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors already have taken a similar position, Van Eron said Dania Beach couldn’t remain silent because it has been a steady destination for gay travelers and up to 20 percent of the city’s residents are homosexual.

Roger Handevidt, chairman of the Rainbow Alliance, which represents a group of gay-owned and gay-friendly hotels in the county, called the city’s resolution “a very enlightened move.”

While it may not necessarily sway visitors to make Dania Beach their primary destination, Handevidt told Sun-Sentinel, “what it will do is that there won’t be a red flag saying: We don’t want you.”

Van Eron, 58, said Naugle gave a “black eye” to Broward and its municipalities by accusing gays of having sex in public bathrooms. He said some African-American groups have told him they had second thoughts about holding family reunions in the county because they interpreted Naugle’s remarks as a civil issue.

The city, which was Broward’s first municipality, was not always perceived as so tolerant. In the former Tomato Capital of the World, blacks and whites used to be separated by a railroad track, with each group restricted to its own facilities. “It’s moving; it’s doing great,” said Jimmie Peterman, 64, who was born and raised in the city. Still, “some improvements can be made,”.

“Hate is hate and hate doesn’t have any color,” Van Eron said.

The resolution, he added, “is not just about visitors. We want people to come visit, live and work in Dania Beach.” Commissioner Anne Castro calls the resolution “a business decision” in line with efforts to turn the city into a tourist destination for people from all social and economic backgrounds. Business owners embrace the city’s new diversity push. “It’s great Dania Beach is doing this,” said Clare Vickery, owner of the downtown Grace Café & Gallery. Through its Web site,, the tourism council is promoting the antiques district, Dania Jai-Alai, the pier’s restaurant, Bass Pro Shops and the International Game Fish Association’s Hall of Fame Museum, among other attractions.

Van Eron also is trying to preserve certain buildings of historical significance, such as the old Negro Chamber of Commerce, the former tomato packing house building, Bibleway Church and the Church of God property, all in the city’s northwest section. “I do believe they need to be preserved,” said Vice Mayor Albert Jones, 61, who said he used to work part-time at the Negro Movie Theater.

Neighbors say Van Eron’s efforts are helping them as well.

Teddy Bohanan, former president of the Dania Beach Heights Civic Association, said Van Eron worked with city officials to weed out crime in the neighborhood west of Federal Highway between Sheridan Street and Stirling Road.

Before Van Eron opened his hotel, the area was a hangout for drug dealers and prostitutes. “We’ve become a lot better city,” Bohanan said. “People are trying to do what’s best.”


Joe Van Eron Named Chair of Visit Florida GLBT Tourism Task Force

State tourism board to increase gay marketing
Visit Florida approves task force to study how to grab gay and lesbian tourists

Saturday, June 24, 2006

joeexpressThe board of directors of Visit Florida, a statewide tourism organization, has approved the creation of a task force to study strategies for attracting more of the gay and lesbian travel market.

The board voted June 15 to create the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Task Force. Joe Van Eron, owner of Liberty Suites, a gay hotel in Dania Beach, has been appointed chair of the task force.

“It’s a major step forward for gay tourism in Florida,” Van Eron said. “The board did not make a lifestyle decision; it made a good business decision.”

Van Eron said the task force will be composed of six to eight people representing various segments of the tourism industry and regions of Florida.

The group will make recommendations on how to best spend advertising dollars and promote the state to gay tourists. There will be an emphasis on international marketing efforts, Van Eron said.

No gay-specific ads

“We will be mapping out a three- to five-year marketing plan,” Van Eron said.

Vanessa Welter, director of communications for Visit Florida, said the organization spent about $100,000 last year on gay marketing efforts and will be looking at increasing that number.

“The task force will examine what we’re currently doing and what we need to do to attract the gay market,” Welter said.

Visit Florida has similar marketing programs for African-American and Hispanic tourists, Welter said.

Welter noted that gay and lesbian tourism is a $50 billion market worldwide, according to a 2000 study by Tourism Intelligence International. The gay market accounts for 10 percent of the total U.S. travel market, Welter said.

The 3,500 members of Visit Florida include large hotel chains, smaller properties, restaurants, Walt Disney World and numerous other types of hospitality businesses, Welter said. The organization is a public-private partnership that receives about $24 million in public funds from the Florida Commission on Tourism, which is appointed by the governor.

Only about $12 million of Visit Florida’s budget is earmarked for advertising, so the organization has to be thrifty in how it spends its money, Welter said.

For example, it runs only generic ads in the various markets, including the gay market, Welter said. It’s most recent advertising in the gay market included an ad in Passport, a gay travel magazine. She said the organization probably couldn’t afford to run gay-specific ads.

Statewide approach is rare

A statewide approach to gay tourism marketing makes good business sense for a state like Florida, said Jerry McHugh, manager of market research for Community Marketing, a gay travel research company based in San Francisco.

“It makes a lot of sense to me that Florida would market statewide because so many gay tourists visit more than one city during trips to Florida,” McHugh said.

He noted, for example, that it’s not unusual for gay tourists to combine a trip to Key West with a visit to Fort Lauderdale or Miami Beach.

And visitors to Orlando, where Gay Days takes place each year at Disney World, often venture over to St. Petersburg, where there is a popular gay resort.

But he pointed out that statewide marketing to the gay market is rare. Most of the gay travel marketing in the United States is done by city tourist boards, he said. Cities with significant gay travel marketing programs include New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dallas and Fort Lauderdale, McHugh said.

He added that Canada has had a lot of success with national marketing efforts aimed at gay tourists. In fact, he said Canada’s gay tourist boom in recent years has been partly the result of the gay marriage issue, but also the result of aggressive marketing efforts by Canada’s national tourism commission.

“It’s been incredibly important for Canada,” he said. “Our research showed that more gay and lesbian tourists visited Canada last year than visited Europe.”

© 2006 | A Unite Media Publication



VISIT FLORIDA Announces New Board of Directors Officers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 26, 2006) – VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official source for travel planning, announced the appointment of its new officers and committee chairpersons. Donna Ross and Nicki Grossman, were named as Chair and Chair-elect of its Board of Directors for the 2006-07 Fiscal Year, which begins July 1. The official announcements were made during VISIT FLORIDA’s quarterly Board of Directors and Florida Commission on Tourism meeting held in Fort Myers, at the Sanibel Resort and Spa.

Finally, in response to the growing niche market of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender travelers who spend in excess of $76.5 billion dollars per year on vacations, VISIT FLORIDA has created a new task force to create strategies to better reach this emerging market. Joe Van Eron, President of the Dania Beach Tourism Council and proprietor of Liberty Suites in Dania Beach, has been selected to chair this task force for the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

Gay South Florida – January 15, 2009

South Florida resort honored by Pink Choice Awards

PROVINCETOWN, MA. – Pink Choice (, a trusted website for gay and lesbian travelers seeking information about accommodations worldwide, is pleased to announce the winners of its 2007 Pink Choice Awards. The Pink Choice Awards highlight gay friendly properties that earned the highest traveler ratings in their price range for a second year in 2008. Ratings take into consideration essential categories such as guests’ first impressions, check-in, staff, and overall value.

“Pink Choice Award winners deserve the highest praise, having captured the loyalty of so many of our members,” said Trevor Pinker, co-founder of Pink Choice. “Gay and lesbian travelers today expect more from their hosts, and our winners have answered the call by providing welcoming, relaxing safe havens for guests from around the world.”

Stephen Mascilo, co-founder of Pink Choice, added, “Celebrating our second annual Pink Choice Awards, we are thrilled to see that while destinations well known to gay travelers remain highly ranked, new regions are also attracting visitors by providing outstanding service and amenities. We enthusiastically congratulate both our repeat winners and those properties receiving their first Award!” The winner is: $$ Price Brand

Liberty Suites, Fort Lauderdale


About Pink Choice

Pink Choice ( is the most reliable, honest and trusted web site for gay and lesbian travelers seeking information and reviews about accommodations worldwide. Reviews and background on the website help gay and lesbian travelers choose the type of accommodation that meets their needs. Armed with information, they can be confident that when they arrive at their destination there will be no surprises and they will be made to feel welcome. Since launching in 2006, Pink Choice has expanded to include over 200 global destinations covering 1000 hotels, inns and guesthouses. The site has over 4,000 registered members.









Dania Beach Innkeepers Keep Tourism Alive in Dania Beach

Success continues for Liberty Suites proprietors Joe Van Eron and Jack Zimmerman with the announcement of the 2010 Pink Choice Awards for excellence in providing top rated accommodations and service to the Gay & Lesbian Community. This year just 22 hotels made the grade among the more than 2000 properties in 700 destinations spanning 66 countries included on “Pink Choice Award winners deserve the highest praise, having captured the loyalty of so many of our members,” said Trevor Pinker, co-founder of Pink Choice. “Gay and lesbian travelers today can enjoy a wealth of accommodation choices and expect more from their hosts, and our winners have answered the call by providing welcoming, relaxing safe havens for guests from around the world.”

“BRAVO to you!” declared Nicki Grossman, President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, to Liberty Suites upon the announcement. Greater Fort Lauderdale has more than 100 gay-owned establishments including hotels/guesthouses, bars, clubs and restaurants. More than 860,000 gay travelers visited Greater Fort Lauderdale in 2010 and spent more than $900 million, and thanks to Liberty Suites, Dania Beach has shared in the wealth for the past 13 years. Never resting on his laurels, Van Eron emerged himself in the Dania Beach community first serving on the Dania Beach Centennial Committee promoting our 100th Anniversary, which eventually brought the attention of the Florida Tourism Commission, and served for 5 years on various Visit Florida marketing committees, including founding Chairman of the Visit Florida GLBT Task Force, the first Statewide marketing campaign in the US designed to reach the booming $80 billion+ global Gay & Lesbian travel market.

Van Eron and Zimmerman moved to Florida to start something in real estate, and came to Dania Beach in January of 1998, after running a successful Special Events company in New York and New Jersey. They established the Liberty Suites, a boutique apartment hotel catering to the Gay & Lesbian community, in what was considered a pioneering move for both the City and the neighborhood that they chose for their new business. The pair’s pioneer spirit led them to Dania Beach Heights, an area once plagued by drugs and prostitutes, and saw past the decrepit condition of the apartment building he chose for his flagship hotel, Liberty Apartment Suites. Residents had deemed the building at 1501 SW Second Ave. an eyesore; but they saw the potential.

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Times have changed in this neighborhood, which has been making a gradual turnaround. Today, guests enjoy a beautifully landscaped & furnished patio/sun-deck surrounding the immaculate heated pool at the 11 unit Apartment Suites, each with distinct South Florida warmth & charm with full kitchens, which have been uniquely decorated, beautifully furnished, and fully equipped with all the comforts of home. After the first 3 years, the couple opened the seven unit Liberty Garden Suites, which are located directly across from the Apartment Suites, on a Key West style property, with lush flowering landscaping, gardens and private patios. “Our Guests return year after year and have come to love our location in Historic Dania Beach”, says Van Eron. “With average stays of two to four weeks, our guests consider Dania Beach and Liberty Suites to be their Home Away From Home and create a significant economic impact with their support our local shops, restaurants and attractions.

Among their many accomplishments was the formation of the Triangle Village Civic Association which is dedicated
to the redevelopment of their neighborhood, including bringing both tourism related businesses to the area and creating a village atmosphere where locals and visitors can co-exist in a safe and secure environment. Dania Beach Vice Mayor Anne Castro says proudly, “Their efforts have resulted in the funding of over $500,000 in improvements to the triangle area including new sidewalks, traffic calming, street improvements, and solar lighting”, and “Joe & Jack have worked tirelessly set an example for redevelopment while remaining great corporate citizens and the greatest cheerleaders for Dania Beach, and its diverse population” The recent addition of the neighborhood in the expanded CRA has set the stage for the Triangle Village area to welcome investment and potentially allow certain special uses such as Bed and Breakfast, artist residence/studio and other live-work uses

Van Eron pioneered the citywide efforts for Neighborhood Redevelopment, and has worked tirelessly as a community activist for many Dania Beach causes while serving on various City Advisory Boards, Committees and Community organizations over the past 10 years, including the board of the Greater Dania Beach Chamber of Commerce. Recognizing the tremendous potential for Dania Beach to take its place once again as a Tourist Destination, he founded the Dania Beach Tourism Council in 2005, and remains committed to making Dania Beach the perfect place to Live, Work, Play and Stay.

The Liberty Suites story continues to be a beacon of light for leadership, business success and community pride, with a passion that these two gentlemen so generously share. “After 33 years as partners it continues to amaze me with what Joe will come up with next” says Jack….” We both love our community and appreciate its continued friendship and support”




GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE – May 14, 2004 – Small in size, unique in style, special in service, and big on value are just some of the characteristics of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Superior Small Lodgings. Three distinct small lodgings were honored at the Annual Superior Small Lodging Awards Gala, held Friday, May 14 at the Broward County Convention Center. Each Superior Small Lodging is reviewed on a yearly basis by an independent inspector.

The 2004 Award of Excellence for Best Outdoor Renovation was presented to Joseph Van Eron & Jack Zimmerman of Liberty Suites in Dania Beach. The original 1950’s era house and 1930’s cottage received a major transformation, including new roofs & gutters, plumbing, electrical, lighting, structural, painting & windows. The garage was converted into a one bedroom Carriage House with a private patio, a rear porch into a canopied guest lounge & a breakfast room with outdoor seating. The entire property was excavated, privacy fenced, patios installed and landscaped to achieve the sense of a privately enclosed tropical enclave.

For more information about Greater Fort Lauderdale and free copies of the destination’s new Superior Small Lodging guide contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1850 Eller Drive, Suite 303, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316; call 800-22-SUNNY (U.S. and Canada); website at




Superior Small Lodging Proprietor Goes Above and Beyond in 2006

BOCA RATON, Florida – December 15, 2006 – What does it mean to go Above and Beyond? Well meet Joe. Joseph Van Eron that is.

Superior Small Lodging announced the winner of the 2006 Above and Beyond Award during its annual meeting at Lynn University, Boca Raton. The honoree was Joseph Van Eron, Proprietor, Liberty Suites, Dania Beach, and Founder & President of the Dania Beach Tourism Council.

“This is our opportunity to recognize the person who really stood out and exhibited the shared values of this organization – quality operations and personalized service,” said Nancy Shaller, outgoing Chair, Florida Superior Small Lodging. “Joe was it for us in 2006. He is very much about providing service that’s unexpected, extraordinary, unnecessary, surprising, caring and perhaps even entertaining and outrageous. Whatever it took, Joe went above and beyond the call of duty,” Shaller said.

The Superior Small Lodging Above and Beyond Award is designed to recognize and reward individuals who, consistent with the association’s goals, have gone above and beyond their formal, identified innkeeping duties to community involvement and leadership. The criteria for the are to: perform in a manner which reflects Superior Small Lodging’s requirement of excellence in service with compassion, vision, and integrity; and recognize and acknowledge that individual attitudes and actions affect the tourism industry as a whole.

In industry circles, Van Eron has a reputation for his thoughtful and collaborative approach in helping cross-functional teams work effectively together. “Superior Small Lodging’s Above and Beyond Award recognizes Joe for his overall effort on marketing Florida’s tourism,” said Catherine Arthur, Executive Director, Superior Small Lodging Association. “Joe’s personal dedication is outstanding by every measure. He is proprietor of a Superior Small Lodging in Dania Beach. He significantly contributes as Chair to Visit Florida’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Task Force and how it operates within a mainstream market. He proactively identifies issues before lodging operators and implements solutions that are key to a positive outcome. He supports a series of Broward County marketing activities resulting in maximum impact to travelers and a high quality delivery to visitors. In all, Joe’s efforts offer real business value in the professional circles he’s affiliated with and certainly from a continuous improvement/operations standpoint,” said Arthur.

“He makes certain all players understand the work he is doing and how they may be impacted,” says Paul Faulise, former Chair of Superior Small Lodging. “Thanks to Joe for his exceptional work in 2006, supporting Superior Small Lodging and his fantastic consultative attitude. I think we all like people who don’t just do things right – but do the right things, and in our business it’s often a struggle to know what’s right,” stated Faulise.




Dania Beach Hotel Receives F.S.S.L.A. 2008 White Glove Award

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – December 01, 2008….At the conclusion of the 2008 Superior Small Lodging Conference at Bellevue Biltmore Resort, the Florida Superior Small Lodging Association presented the 2008 Donal A. Dermody White Glove Award, “FOR SUPERIOR HOUSEKEEPING”, to Liberty Apartment & Garden Suites in Dania Beach. This prestigious award is reserved for those few properties that have scored a perfect 100% rating for the SSL annual Quality Assurance Program, which insures Florida travelers the highest possible standards for housekeeping and maintenance which are maintained on a professional quality level.








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by Jim “Libby” Libonati

Liberty Apartment Suites, new to the Fort Lauderdale area, offering affordable weekly apartment rentals for seasonal vacation and extended stay, debuts for the 1999 season. Life partners of 21 years, and former NYC caterers, owners Joe Van Eron & Jack Zimmerman, set out to fill a niche in the gay accommodations market to complement the existing guesthouses. Beautiful studio and one bedroom suites are available for longer term of a few weeks to a few months (at affordable weekly rates, which are half the cost of most guesthouses or hotels.) Discounts are offered for long term and corporate stays. These units are perfect for those relocating to the area, in need of interim housing while shopping for a home, waiting for a real estate closing, or vacationing for a full season.

The property has been transformed into a resort setting, with privately enclosed and landscaped patio with large pool, nice furniture and BBQ for sunning or partying. Private off street parking and on-site laundry facility creates a secure and comfortable environment. To truly create a “Home Away From Home,” all of the ten suites have been newly refurbished and individually decorated. These are really beautiful apartments, with fully-equipped kitchens, offering everything from fine china & stemware to built in microwave ovens, & dishwasher,… even food processors and blenders… to satisfy the visiting gourmets among the community. All the suites have either Queen or King size beds and are equipped with additional guest sleeping, premium cable TV & VCR, and private telephones (for unlimited local service or data hookups). Fresh flowers await each arrival, and Joe & Jack live on the property to accommodate ant unique requests. They extend a warm welcome for the extended gay family with pets, private patios have been added to the poolside suites.

It’s located in Gay-friendly Dania Beach, the antique capital of Florida (near US1 & Sheridan Street) just 5 minutes from the airport, gay beach, shopping, dining, I95 and the night life. Liberty Apartment Suites offers great accessibility to both downtown Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, with just a 20 minute drive to fabulous Miami.

So should you find yourself with extra visiting guests, or stuck in-between homes give a call )TOLL FREE: 877-927-0090 or email them at . Visit Liberty Apartment Suites located at 1501 SW 2nd Ave. Check out there web site at, Liberty Apartment Suites where you will always feel safe, secure and comfortable.