Traveler’s Choice 2012: The NewNowNext Travel Academy

Every year we gather together some of the best travel writers and editors and poll them for our Traveler’s Choice (formerly NNN Travel Awards) nominations. This year we’re honored to have our most illustrious group of journalists yet, travel and lifestyle writers who contribute to Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Out, The Miami Herald, Lonely Planet, New York, Condé Nast Traveller (UK), National Geographic Traveler, the Financial Times, Architectural Digest, The Advocate, etc. We asked them to put their heads together and come up with a list of nominations in each of the categories — from Bossest Beach to Hottest Locals. You’ll find quotes from our academy members on the pages for each of the the nominees.

Just to give you an idea of who’s behind the Traveler’s Choice nominations for 2012– here are their bios and some pretty shots of our crack team of gay, gay-ish or gay-friendly travel experts: (in alphabetical order)

Dan Allen is a Berlin-based contributor to numerous international publications and sites, including Out, the Miami Herald, Fodor’s, Passport, Metrosource, ManAboutWorld,, and He is also the European editor of, and the co-editor of Spartacus Traveler’s English-language edition. This is his fourth year on the Travel Academy.

Matt Bell is a New York-based travel and style writer who contributes regularly to and Essential Homme Magazine. He has also written for, Next magazine, American Spa magazine and was the Senior Editor for Genre magazine. He also occasionally contributes to This is his first year on the Travel Academy.

Jennifer Ceaser is a travel correspondent for the New York Post, and has contributed to Delta Sky, The Washington Times, Christie’s International Real Estate magazine, Gotham and LA Confidential, among others. This is her first year on the Travel Academy

Darren Frei served as an editor of The Out Traveler and contributing editor at The Advocate newsmagazine from 2003 to 2007. As ShermansTravel Media’s editorial director, Frei orchestrated the launch of 300 comprehensive online destination guides and 13 blogs, worked as editor-in-chief at Smart Luxury Travel magazine, and has been instrumental in positioning as a leading source of content and advice.

Adam H. Graham is a freelance travel writer based in Zurich. He writes for The New York TimesTravel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, Details, Art + Auction, National Geographic Traveler among others. This is his third year on the Travel Academy.

Nathan Lump is the Brand Development Director & Executive Editor of Condé Nast Traveler. He is the former travel editor of T, the style magazine of The New York Times, and Features Editor at Travel + Leisure. He recently helped launch the first-ever global tourism campaign for the United States, and he has written for Condé Nast Traveller (UK), The New York Times, and other publications. This is his first year on the Travel Academy.

Heidi Mitchell is a journalist and editor with a focus on travel and trends. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, the Financial Times, Travel + Leisure, and Architectural Digest. Mitchell lives in New York City with her husband and three children. This is her second year on the Travel Academy.

John Polly is NewNowNext’s Editor-at-Large and a freelance writer and TV producer. He covers travel, pop culture and drag queens. He contributes articles and video segments to, the Huffington Post and is also a consulting producer for the TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race. This is John’s fourth year on the Travel Academy — he also started these awards.

Kevin Raub is a Brazil-based travel and entertainment journalist who cut his teeth covering celebs and rockers, and who for the last decade has scoured the globe for a variety of publications, including Travel + Leisure, The Robb Report, Town & Country, American Way, and The New York Post, among others. Raub is the co-author of several Lonely Planet guides, as well as the bi-monthly organic column, “The Green Guy’s Grooming Guide,” which appears in Organic Spa. This is his second year on the Travel Academy.

Charles Runnette is Logo’s Editorial Director and a freelance travel writer. He’s written travel articles for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The New York Post,,, New York, Virtuoso Life, American Way, The Advocate along with several guidebooks for Fodor’s. Before joining Logo he was the Editorial Director/GM and Founder of This is his second year on the Travel Academy.

Emma Sloley is an Australia-born writer living in New York. She writes mainly about travel, with forays into fashion, design and the occasional celebrity feature. She contributes to publications including Travel + Leisure, New York, Flare, Gotham and The Daily, and is a contributing editor for Gourmet Traveller (Australia) and When she’s not living out of a suitcase, she’s trudging up five flights of stairs to the West Village apartment she shares with her husband, or escaping to Merida, Mexico, where she spends winters making her New York friends bitter. This is Emma’s second year on the Travel Academy.

Duane Wells is a leading travel and lifestyle expert, contributing to a number of travel and lifestyle publications in the US, UK and Canada. He authors a blog for MoxieQ Media entitled Living Wells: My Life in Luggage covering everything from the latest travel trends to the hottest destinations. He is presently working on a collection of short essays, a reality series and various other travel-related projects.

Travel Academy 2011
Travel Academy 2010