Major hotel in Puerto Vallarta accused of refusing gay couple’s wedding

Josh Rimer, left, with his fiancée Heath

UPDATE 12/13/2019: In a previous update, GayCities stated Rimer was going to have “the wedding of the year” after receiving an apology from Marriott’s public relations team. Rimer told GayCities that he did receive that apology, from Marriott International executives, and he felt it was sincere. However, he has not heard from anyone at the Sheraton Buganvilia in Puerto Vallarta–and an apology from that property is unlikely to come.

A spokesperson for Marriott International told us he communicated with Rimer after the incident, but by then management at the nearby Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort had already reached out to Rimer via their hotel’s Facebook page, and offered to host the wedding ceremony on its property free of charge. Rimer told GayCities that he has not finalized any plans with his fiancee, but he was happy to have such a nice gesture from managers at the Hilton.

UPDATE 12/11/2019: A representative for Marriott International, which includes the Sheraton brand, contacted GayCities with a statement, citing the company’s well-documented history of supporting LGBTQ customers. This was just an issue at that one hotel. They added, “In this specific case, we will focus not only on getting it right for our guest, but also take a closer look at policies and training at the property level, doing all we can to prevent hurtful experiences like this from happening again.” In other words, Mr. Gay Canada is going to get the wedding ceremony of the year, thanks to his new BFFs at Marriott International. Rock on.

Original story:

A gay Canadian man claims that he was denied the chance to have his wedding at a Sheraton hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, because the staff did not want to host a ceremony with two men.

Josh Rimer, who happens to be the 2019 Mr. Gay Canada delegate in the annual Mr. Gay pageant, recorded a YouTube video on Dec. 10, dripping with indignance due to his maltreatment from the events planning staff at Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center, located in Puerto Vallarta.

In the video, Rimer lays out the specifics of a series of conversations with staff at that Sheraton, as he made several requests to confirm a reservation for his wedding at the property. Aside from apparently being unhelpful and unpleasant, according to Rimer, the hotel’s wedding sales executive became particularly distant after Rimer mentioned that the wedding was for two men.

Rimer received an email on Dec. 10, from the wedding coordinator, saying “our hotel and our staff is not specialized to carry out” a same-sex wedding ceremony, and said “we would not like to take your wedding as a trial and error.”

 
 
 
 
 
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It is an odd situation for a major-brand hotel in Puerto Vallarta, which is one of the largest gay and trans vacation destinations on Earth. Same-sex weddings are not legal nationwide in Mexico, but many states and cities have enacted laws for marriage equality on the local level. The state of Jalisco, which includes Puerto Vallarta, is one of the areas where marriage equality is legal.

It is also especially odd for this reaction to come from a Sheraton property, considering the many other Sheratons (and other hotels within the Marriott family of brands) that have hosted same-sex weddings, even LGBTQ wedding conventions, around the world. 

The Sheraton Buganvilias is an all-inclusive property, with 473 guestrooms and 8 restaurants and bars, and is one of the larger hotel properties in the Puerto Vallarta area, making it a popular choice for events such as weddings. 

At the time of writing this post, hotel staff could not be contacted because it was out of regular business hours. But Rimer forwarded the email from the Sheraton staff to us at GayCities, and he also posts a screenshot (with names redacted) of the email in the video.

Check out Rimer’s video here: