Profile - David Rubin of DavidTravel
Profile - David Rubin
Around the World with DavidTours [DavidTravel]
by Duane Wells
planned a trip only to arrive at your destination to find
that there was some small detail you had overlooked?
Ever been disappointed that you couldn't get a
reservation at a wonderful restaurant in your destination
city because you only discovered its existence after your
arrival? Ever longed to meet other gay people like
yourself while on vacation in some place other than a
nightclub? Ever checked into a hotel with your partner
and requested a single king size bed only to have the front
desk tell you upon arrival that they caught the error and
changed your room to one with twin beds? Well if any
of these things has happened to you, you were clearly not on
a tour created by DavidTours [DavidTravel].
Since 1996, David Rubin, through his DavidTours [DavidTravel], has been
pampering gay travelers with 5-star, luxury travel in
destinations that range from South Africa and Botswana to
Budapest, Morocco, India, Copenhagen and a host of others.
For every destination Rubin tirelessly researches
accommodations, restaurants, sites and every possible detail
imaginable to insure that his clients' travel experience is
maximized and to guarantee that they are not only treated
with respect, but also treated royally. Beyond this,
Rubin's DavidTours [DavidTravel] take travelers beyond the typical tourist
experience, by insuring that on all his tours clients have
the opportunity to meet other similarly situated gay locals
in each destination.
Rubin's hard work has been rewarded with Out & About's
Editor's Choice Award for three years running and led the
Advocate to proclaim, "For strictly 5-star-treatment, look
no further than DavidTours [DavidTravel]".
I recently chatted with David about DavidTours [DavidTravel]' success and
the art or traveling in 5-star luxury and let me just say,
David Rubin knows travel (I guess that's why he does what he
does)! Here's a little of what I gleaned from the
DW: I know you left practicing law to launch DavidTours [DavidTravel].
What kind of law were you practicing at the time you
launched DavidTours [DavidTravel]?
DR: I was doing business litigation, [but] I started
my career doing maritime work in New Orleans.
DW: How many years did you practice?
DR: 10 years. And although I don't practice I still
maintain my license. Once a lawyer, always a lawyer
they say. [Laughs]
DW: What inspired you to leave law and start DavidTours [DavidTravel]?
DR: I've always loved travel, meeting people and connecting
people. It just brings tremendous joy to me.
While I was practicing law and when I was in college,
I was the person friends would call and say 'I'm going to
Paris. Where should I stay? Where should I eat?
Who do you know there and who can you put me in touch
with?' Before e-mail, I'd connect people...I'd call or
fax a friend and say 'A friend is visiting...I think you
guys would enjoy meeting one another'. Really just
making the world a smaller, friendlier place.
For me the greatest joy of traveling has been the people
that I've met and the friendships that have developed.
I really wanted to incorporate that into travel.
I found once I was busy practicing law, I had a week
or two weeks to travel and I needed for things to go pretty
perfectly and I was losing some of that ability to interact
with people and socialize with people. So when I
realized that I didn't want to practice law anymore, I
looked around to see if I could combine what I love with
what I do [for a living]. That's how it all came
The thought was how can I set up trips for the busy,
successful professional person with luxury, but not isolate
them from the local people and a real sense of what I think
is the magic of travel.
DW: How do you go about choosing the DavidTours [DavidTravel]
DR: A lot of it is pure instinct. Initially it started
with New Orleans because I had lived there for 10 years and
I had great contacts there...I had great friends there.
Then it went to central Europe where I also had very
good friends in Prague and in Budapest and in Vienna and
that can often be the basis of a decision because I invite
locals to join a group. So having strong social
contacts in a destination really helps me with that
foundation. It's really a combination of what I think
will be hot, what I think will be popular and where I think
I can add a tremendous service.
DW: What have been your most popular tours thus far?
DR: My southern Africa tour, the central Europe tour, India
DW: About how many people are on each tour?
DR: Anywhere from 6 to 20.
DW: Of all the destinations on the DavidTours [DavidTravel] itinerary, are
there any in particular that you look forward to with glee
DR: I especially love the Budapest, Vienna, Prague
destinations. I love those cities.
DW: Now you're going to have to explain the Budapest part of
that to me David. I was there maybe 7 years ago and
had a dreadful time. Maybe I should have been on one
of your tours!
DR: First of all, we stay at the Intercontinental and I
think it has some of the best service of any hotel in the
world. Every client gets a room with a view of the
Danube and it's just magic. You don't have to leave
your room to enjoy Budapest. It is gorgeous! You
see the Danube, you see the castle, you see the Chain
Bridge. I like a room to be dark when I sleep, but it
[the Intercontinental, Budapest] is one of the few
hotels where I leave the curtains open because I love seeing
the sun rise over the castle.
The dining we do there is just fantastic. The Gundel
is one of the most magnificent dining rooms in the world.
It was the dining room during the height of the
Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Ron Lauder of the Estee
Lauder family and the owner of Café des Artistes in
New York went in and renovated it about 12 years ago and
brought it back to it's Old World glory. It's a
Plus, I have great friends in Budapest who my clients love
meeting. Our Hungarian tour director is always adored
by our clients. The city has a great balance between
old world charm and beauty, combined with decaying elegance
and warm, fun, friendly, stunning, and hunky Hungarians.
Then add the homoeroticism of the not gay but very gay
popular Turkish baths that are hundreds of years old and you
have a very magical destination. Duane, if you "do
Budapest" with DavidTours [DavidTravel], you will love it as all of our
DW: What are some of your more gay-friendly
DR: Actually, to step back, I wouldn't necessarily define
many of our destinations as "gay destinations".
Morocco...India...Tanzania... don't have gay venues.
In fact, India, with almost a billion people, has no
gay venues. There might be certain places that are
'gay-popular' in these countries, but there are no gay
In Scandinavia, going to Stockholm and Copenhagen, I think
it's quite a non-issue. We do make it clear [that
it is a gay group], but it's almost an unnecessary
question. Even so, they may not be gay-knowledgeable.
So we'll say we want to make sure the concierge is
knowledgeable or if he doesn't know the address of a club or
something that he takes the time to find out [the
information] for the client as any top concierge
Overall, we have worked very hard to be ambassadors for the
gay community and strive to make sure that everyone we work
with and every property we use is or learns to be gay
friendly. This is an exciting part of our work.
Through our work and meeting our clients, people
around the world enjoy great times and experiences with our
clients who they know are gay people. We are regularly
told that our groups are favorite groups. As a bottom
line, people have fun with our groups.
DW: You've talked a lot about your clients. Who is the
typical DavidTours [DavidTravel] client?
DR: On one tour, the age range was literally 22 - 92.
Our median age is 30 - 60. We typically have
about 50% singles and 50% couples on a trip. We have
90 - 100% men so we are very happy to have more women.
More and more we're getting clients from different countries
and to me that's really exciting. We have straight
clients, too. They know and are comfortable with the
fact that our clientele is 90 - 100% gay. The single
straight women love the way the gay men look after them.
The straight couples love the fact that our groups are
fun and the tour members are younger than a similarly priced
Several things are different on our tours from most luxury
mainstream tour companies and our clients love this.
For example, on most luxury mainstream tours almost
all tour members are the age of our clients' parents or
grandparents and they dine without locals at 6:30pm at the
hotel restaurant. Our median age is about 30 - 60
years old and our clients don't pull out the photos of
children and grandchildren. All of our clients like
the fact that we do things like dine at the best, most
trendy restaurant on Saturday night at 8pm at the best table
with great locals joining us.
DW: Do your clients tend to be professionals, for the most
DR: They're generally well traveled...and quite successful.
They're from all walks of life. We do have a lot
of doctors...[and]...attorneys who are clients.
We have quite a number of successful models,
professors, bar owners, interior designers,
architects...people really in all walks of life are taking
DW: You've got such a full schedule of tours at the moment.
What destinations are you still interested in adding?
DR: I'm adding Kenya...Peru...Iceland and we're considering
Cuba and we'll be working on getting permission from the
Treasury Department to do that. At some point, I'll be
adding Russia...I'm [also] looking at perhaps Turkey
DW: I think that means you're going to have to split
yourself in two!
DR: [Laughs] Well, this will be over a period of a
DW: I know you must have many, but can you recount for me
one of your more memorable Epicurean experiences?
DR: In the South African wine country, the restaurant we use
for lunch...many clients have told me that it's one of the
finest meals they've ever had.
DW: Well, don't be so mysterious. Where exactly is
this little hidden South African gem?
DR: It's in a town called Franschhoek, near Cape Town, and
it's called Haute Cabriere. In Marrakech, the
restaurant Yacout...it's in a gorgeous small palace...It's
about a 4-hour meal and everything is exquisite.
DW: Okay David, as a final question I have to ask you about
some of the more unusual things that might have happened on
some of your tours. I mean you can't put that many gay
men together and not have something interesting happen.
What's one of the wildest things that's ever happened
on your tours?
DR: January 1, 1998 in Johannesburg, South Africa...I had
about 15 clients on tour. So many local friends wanted
to join us for dinner that we had 20 guys from Pretoria and
Johannesburg...we had more locals than clients! One of
my clients who is an incredible art collector, met one of my
local friends who is one of the top architects in South
Africa and also has an extraordinary art collection.
They have been together ever since.
My client, who lived in New York and the Hamptons, moved to
Johannesburg and they now live there and in Cape Town.
And that's not an isolated story. Some very
wonderful friendships and long-term relationships and
wonderful evenings have developed from the tours and that's
been really wonderful for me.
Well I don't know about you but I'm sold. Romance,
unparalleled luxury, art, culture and interesting company?
Where do I sign up? As far as I'm concerned,
those are all the elements of the perfect vacation and the
best part of all is with DavidTours [DavidTravel] doing all the legwork;
you can just sit back, relax and truly enjoy the experience.
With DavidTours [DavidTravel], David Rubin has succeeded in creating
an environment whereby the gay community can travel the
world in style and with dignity. No small feat.
And who says all lawyers are bad?