Image: Gerardo Gentile
Natacha Pisarenko  /  AP
Gerardo Gentile, sits next to the Axel hotel's pool in Buenos Aires. The Axel is the first five-star gay hotel in Latin America, which opened to the public on Oct. 31. Buenos Aires is a city securely positioned as a destination on the worldwide gay tourist circuit thanks to night clubs, guided tours, cafes and tango dance halls catering especially to homosexuals.
updated 10/31/2007 2:10:25 PM ET 2007-10-31T18:10:25

The first five-star gay hotel in Latin America opened Wednesday in the Argentine capital, an increasingly popular destination on the worldwide gay tourist circuit.

The hotel, set near the historic San Telmo neighborhood, is the second of its kind developed by Spain's Axel Corp., which opened a five-star, 66-room gay hotel in Barcelona in 2003.

"Like any other business, we have economic objectives," general manager Nacho Rodriguez said. But "we're also about fighting to help the normalization and acceptance of gays in society."

He said the hotel was designed to be open and airy.

"Many gay hotels and places are closed off and can't be seen from the street," Rodriguez said. "We wanted our hotel to be open and visible. Why should we try and hide ourselves?"

Swimmers in one of the hotel's two pools certainly can't hide themselves: The hotel's top floor is a glass-bottomed pool that draws visitors' gazes upward as they enter the breezy lobby.

Visitors can also choose between the typical "do not disturb sign" or a "please disturb" sign.

Image: Argentina Gay Hotel
Natacha Pisarenko  /  AP
A person is seen inside a room of the Axel Hotel, the first five-star gay hotel in Latin America, in Buenos Aires.
The 48-room hotel is "hetero-friendly," company officials say, noting about a quarter of the Barcelona hotel guests are heterosexual and predicting a similar pattern here.

Buenos Aires has vied with Rio de Janeiro for the title of South America's "gay capital."

In September, Buenos Aires was host to the first international gay "World Cup" soccer championship. In 2002, the city became the first capital in Latin America to legalize same-sex civil unions.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Tango time

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  2. Passion dance

    Two tango dancers perform in Calle Caminito, a street in La Boca district of Buenos Aires famous for this passionate dance. (Sergio Pitamitz / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
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