The Duckling travel group are headed to Club Secret Orlando April 5-12. Come join us!



The Ducklings in Orlando April 5-12!

It’s the first ever Duckling travel adventure! We are planning a group trip to the clothing optional Secrets Hideaway Resort near Disney in Kissimmee just outside of Orlando. This is not your parents Disney vacation. It’s about fun, sexy pool parties, chasing gators, dancing naked, sunshine, drinks by the pool, volleyball, beach trips, optional airboat and ziplining, hot tubs, games with other Ducks, a Disney Springs walkabout, and BBQ’s among so much more.
We have Curtis, the longtime Duckling (and kick-ass travel agent) who has been working tirelessly to put this together for us. Have a look at the 360 tour of the Secrets resort (www.optiview360.com/secrets) and choose your hotel room (either modest or newly renovated with a variety of interesting additions). Check out the video looking at our day trip to Florida’s largest naturist resort at Cypress Cove (www.cypresscoveresort.com) just down the road. That’s two big resorts and you can wear (or not wear) anything you desire.

The trip includes an optional visit to Sue’s favourite theme park (www.gatorland.com) complete with gator chow for everyone to feed the wildlife. You can decide whether or not you want to zipline over the reptile-infested lake. We are also organizing a walkabout to Disney Springs to take in the live music, as well as a trip to the nude beach near Cape Canaveral to frolic in the ocean. Finally, an airboat ride through the headwaters of the Everglades should give you lots of PG pictures to show people at home.

And throughout all this we will be based at the Secrets resort with a full disco, lounging areas, hot tubs, pool, tiki bar, playrooms, and eating area. It’s a 5 duck resort. Please note that it is not a Duckling takeover (unless 200 people sign up) therefore there will be locals and other guests partying with us. We will set up Duckling outdoor areas and indoor rooms and fellow Ducks (as usual) will be well labelled 😊

If you need a getaway with guaranteed warmth and sunshine after a long winter to laugh, sing, dance, drink, sun and play with your Duckling friends then consider booking off a few days April 5-9 or the full week April 5-12 to join us in Florida. Please note that minimum numbers are required for either itinerary and we reserve the right to cancel the trip providing a full refund if there are not enough participants. We looked at Jamaica and Mexico. This is our most economical choice and Secrets really want this to be a success. It goes without saying that future travel depends on the turnout for this event. The more Ducks that turn out, the more fun we have. The resort is lifestyle but very well policed. And as always, we will be on duty full time and staying with you. Prices and itinerary is below. Consider joining us in Florida!
Pricing and Itinerary is below.


Itinerary:

Note – unless noted as a la carte, meals and snacks are provided. Alcohol is your own responsibility

Thursday April 5th
Flight from Ottawa Arrives in Orlando (MCO) at 10:30 am
Transportation to the resort and check in
Shopping trip and alcohol run to stock the rooms at the local store
Snacks by the pool and first pool side activity
3 pm leave for Disney Springs. Snacks, shopping, live music (a la carte)
7:30 pm buffet dinner at Secrets
9-midnight (or later) themed party at Secrets disco
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Friday April 6
Breakfast buffet at Secrets 8-9:30 am
Transportation to Cypress Cove Resort (a 4 duck only resort)
Activities by the pool, paddle boating and kayaking with the gators on Lake Brown
Sand volleyball, Cove tours in the golf cart, pickleball, pitch and putt golf tournament, music, swimming in the two pools
Lunch picnic BBQ and snacks. Cypress cove is byob.
7 pm Return to Secrets for a dinner buffet and ready for the themed dance party 9-midnight (or later)
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Saturday April 7
Breakfast buffet
10 am Optional trip to see the nature preserve and walk on the boardwalk through the Cypress Swamp, alligator sighting, and ice cream.
Picnic lunch back at Secrets
2 pm Activities by the pool and pool party at Club Secrets
6-8 dinner buffet
9-midnight themed dance at Club Secrets
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Sunday April 8
Breakfast buffet
10 am (optional) Transport to Gatorland
Feeding the reptiles, jumparoo and gator wrestling shows,
(optional ziplining over the gator pools)
A la carte lunch at a local restaurant
Late Afternoon back at Secrets for pool lounging and activities
Disco theme night dance
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Monday April 9
7 am breakfast buffet
Anyone staying four days only will be off to the airport for a morning flight back to Ottawa
Free day to shop, visit Universal, Disney, or other Orlando attractions (a la carte)
Dinner buffet and activities at Secrets.
Inappropriate board game night and other fun Duckling activities

Tuesday April 10
8-10 am Breakfast buffet
Transport to the east coast of Florida (near Cape Canaveral) to visit the Playa Linda clothing optional beach
Full day of Duckling beach activities
Beach Picnic
Late afternoon return to Club Secret for dinner buffet or (optional a la carte restaurant excursion)

Wednesday April 11
Breakfast buffet
Free day to take in Orlando activities or optional trip to Boggy Creek airboat rides (www.bcairboats.com/) for the airboat ride
Pizza lunch back at Secrets
Final wrap up Duckling activities by the pool
Margaritas Meet and Greet with the new group coming in 6-8 pm
Dinner buffet
Themed dance party 9-midnight
Late night design your own omelet bar is open 11 pm and onwards

Thursday April 12
Breakfast buffet
Final goodbyes and everyone is taken to the airport (MCO)

Food/land transport organized by the Ducklings.

A $250 (non-refundable) deposit per person holds your spot. Balance is due Feb 1st, 2018. Etransfer to Marlin Travel c/o Curtis Brown Travel Agent at curtis.brown@marlintravel.ca (password Ducklings)
Note: 4 day airfare is confirmed. 7 day airfare may vary. We can’t lock it in till we have a sense of numbers. Anyone who has points or wants to make their own travel arrangements can look at the land-only prices. Medical and cancellation insurance (if desired) can purchased through Marlin Travel ranging from $160-$200.

Prices:

Single Double Single Double
basic room basic room Renovated room Renovated room
April 5-9 per person per person per person per person
Land Only $1,110.00 $880.00 $1,875.00 $1,265.00
Air p/p $450.00 $450.00 $450.00 $450.00

total $1,560.00 $1,330.00 $2,325.00 $1,715.00

April 5-12
land only $1,410.00 $1,180.00 $2,175.00 $1,565.00
air p/p $450.00 $450.00 $450.00 $450.00

total $1,860.00 $1,630.00 $2,625.00 $2,015.00

Why the Couples resorts in Jamaica may be the best bang for your buck in nude travel this winter

As Florida home owners we bit our nails the entire week that Hurricane Irma approached the Sunshine State. The good news is that the massive hurricane only did moderate damage to Central Florida and left the Cove without power for a week. And our citrus tree survived the on slot. After leveling much of the Caribbean including wiping out big swatches of Orient Beach, Caliente DR, and the Florida Keys Irma left nudists with less choices this fall and winter. As we sit in November rain and sleet thoughts quickly turn to sunshine and frolicking naked. And no matter how much Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley playing the background it doesn’t replace the real thing. So where is the best bang for your buck if you want to be naked this winter?

We suggest looking to Jamaica.

We once spent a whole month at Hedonism ll in Negril. And went on weekend trips to explore the Couples destinations in and around the island. They were magnificent. The nude sections were small but the resorts more than made up for it with outstanding service and accommodations. Our favorite was Couples Tower Isle, Ocho Rios, Jamaica which has it’s own nude island. The resort has this to say about it’s private island.
” It’s more intimate. We can’t add hours to the day, but we can make every hour count with more of everything you love. From the island’s finest farm-to-table cuisine to heart-pounding recreation to on-island treks to Jamaica’s most renowned attractions. Because giving you more is what our all-inclusive hideaway is all about.”

We think it may be a great place to look at -especially before Christmas. The resort is offering both air and resort credit of up to $500 and given that Jamaica was largely unscathed it will give couples the getaway that’s heavy on the romance but lighter on the pocketbook.

Temptations open with much fanfare in Cancun

Temptations has certainly been known in the erotic travel circles as the “most elegant of spring break hotels”. Less about drunk students and more about drunk 25-35 year olds with party buses into the big bars in downtown Cancun. But with a re-opening and complete renovation of their Cancun property Temptations is catering more to the over 35 party crowd with elegant fun and more to do later at night directly on property. Not as sophisticated and openly sexy as the Desire properties down the road in the Riviera Maya, Temptation has always been more about the tease- rather than the full Monty. And given that it is situated right in Cancun, the beach took a back seat to the party pools.

But now Temptations has become much more cosmopolitan. It’s just won awards for the design and aims to bring playful, topless sexy to Cancun’s skyline. There media package had this to say about the new renovations.

“Inspired by the human body, Temptation Cancun Resort’s smooth, multi-colored seven story façade will be a beautiful, sensuous highlight of the Cancun Resort strip.

“Temptation’s new design by Karim Rashid showcases everything we stand for – excitement, sensuality, passionate and innovative; with legendary and top-notch services,” said Rodrigo de la Peña, CEO of Original Resorts. “With its grandiose façade, excellent restaurants and facilities, Rashid’s redesign includes everything from the colors to the shapes and the furniture to the open spaces, creating a sensual atmosphere where vacationing couples are immersed in our adults only playground during their entire stay.”

It will be interesting to hear the reviews. We have a number of Ducklings attending the Halloween festivities over the next week as the resort becomes the place to go for adults wanting to re-live their mis-spent youth. Like with any Original property the pool side service and wait staff in general is excellent. The staff is motivated and attentive. But we continue to hear that there is a high pressure push to purchase the timeshares which can take away from your vacation experience. Especially if you are only there for a short visit. No matter what they offer stay away from the “membership presentation”. We heard of a couple of people leaving feeling very strong armed.

But for a quick trip down to sunny Mexico for a few days Temptations is a great choice. It’s easy to get there, sexy but it stays away from the full-on swinging and nudity of Desire (or Hedonism) and emphasizes the innuendo. With newly appointed rooms and great new facilities the time to visit Temptations may be on hand.



Desire Pearl, Mayan Riviera, Mexico 2017


A tale of two worlds.
Having traveled a good part of the world, and experienced some amazing service, this resort is second to none when it comes to attitude, effort, politeness and making a guest feel special. The food and drink is spectacular (especially if you take the time to listen to your server. Their suggestions and knowledge of each chef’s specials can guide you to mouth watering local treats!)

The hotel is small to medium allowing a very personal feel. The facilities are wonderful. Even the beach which can be stony in the general area is quite passable. You can walk quite a distance feeling safe and you can walk out into the ocean.

The animation staff tries to engage you but recognizes those who wish to remain in their own worlds. However, the serving staff is ever present and this is most appreciated in an all inclusive.

Here comes the other world….DO NOT get sucked into a time share presentation. Run away screaming or make a big scene but no matter what is offered, take a giant pass. If you make the mistake be prepared to face the wrath of the sales team unless you write a big cheque. They get very impolite bordering on nasty. I don’t want to dwell on this as it ruins a wonderful property. Just be forewarned and stay resolute!

Back to the happy aspects. The price is upper end but you can watch for deals. And the hotel is perfect for a 4-night getaway from home. Cancun is easy to get to and relatively inexpensive. You will return home talking about your next visit to Desire. It leaves that kind of impression.

It’s Valentine’s Day. Where are the sexiest hotels in the world?

So you want to take your sweetie somewhere truly sensuous. Forget the typical dinner, this is all about the statement. So if money is no object, where do you go? The luxury travel bible has amassed the list of truly sensuous hotels. Our personal favorite, Jade Mountain, St. Lucia didn’t make the list. Having eaten in some world class restaurants, nothing prepared me for the food and open-air atmosphere of Jade Mountain. They have homemade ice cream with ingredients grown on property that was unbelievable. Blaik raved about the bread cart and specialty butters. I had snapper that was infused with edible flowers. A most memorable meal and sensuous hotel.

However with heavy on the European and big cities (we like out-of-the-way places) here is the list of some of the world’s sexiest hotels.

TopTen Sexiest Hotels in the World (in alphabetical order)

Andaz San Diego, San Diego, California, USA
Can a suite really be stylish with a stripper’s pole at its centre? We think so. It is all about how you present it.

Crazy Bear Hotel, Beaconsfield, UK
This is where English eccentricity meets s-excess and it works.

Fleming House, Goldeneye, Jamaica
Make like 007 in this house built on a cliff, overlooking a beach and designed by Ian Fleming himself.

Hotel Amour, Paris, France
Who could resister a hotel called ‘love’, especially when it is in Paris?

Hotel Sezz, Paris, France
There is no denying this is a devil’s lair ripe for raw seduction.

Maison Moschino, Milan
Who’s been sleeping in my bed? Fairytale fantasies take flight in this hotel where beds are dressed as ballgowns and even a Little Red Riding Hood has her wolf tucked up in bed.

Night New York, New York, USA
Black is always sexy right? The nearly-all-black Night New York hotel, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, was inspired by the ‘pulse and passion of Gotham after dark’. Sounds promising.

The Library Hotel, New York, USA
A hotel which bases itself on books may not seem that sexy (hey, didn’t you know the mind is the real erogenous zone?) but wait until you see the books….

Abject luxury, naked style


Hidden Beach is in a class by itself. Set along the Riviera Maya about 75 minutes drive from the Cancun airport, Hidden Beach is a small 42 room, five-star, all-inclusive, upscale resort attached to the El Dorado Seaside Suites. The price per room ranged from $450 to $800 a night on their website, but there are deals to be had if you joined a nude travel group or sought out tour operators. Based on this price point Hidden Beach is the highest priced naturist resort we’ve found in the Caribbean to date. However, what they do, they do exceptionally well. The rooms are beautifully appointed (we stayed in a spectacular second floor dome room with a balcony) and fellow guests raved about comfort and convenience of the first level swim-up rooms.
As a rule, nudists are used to/ forced to pay 50% more for vacation rates at sun destinations than at equivalent textile resorts or hotels. It’s not fair, but that’s the reality. Nudists hate wet, sandy bathing suits and are willing to pay the premium to go without them.
You can be naked from the moment you walk through the door of the property. You are provided with an excess of towels, robes if you want, and slippers to use. Despite the heat we thought that rubber-soled slippers were important. The shiny, Mexican tile everywhere in the resort was treacherous when wet. Even the staff mentioned that they had frequently slipped. For that we would caution anyone to think twice about visiting if you are ambulatory challenged.
Hidden Beach prides itself on both the luxury of their resort and the grace of their service. The staff tries incredibly hard to meet your every need. The guests we spoke to were very happy with the service. We were over served at breakfast and dinner, with the response “it’s a pleasure” when you request anything of them. By day two the wait staff is asking if you want your usual. The staff tries hard to please, and work hard to remember your name and serve with that smiling, understated Mexican charm. The animation staff was of particular note. Outgoing and enthusiastic without being pushy, they walked the line beautifully between encouraging participation while letting those who wanted to read a book on the beach relax in the sun. Water volleyball, guided snorkeling trips, 30 person twister may be just some of the activities that happen around the pool. Playing water volleyball where everyone was laughing so hard because of the outrageous cheating was great fun. Some of the evening events included a fire show, Caribbean and world tour dancers, poker nights, karaoke, and live bands that kept the entertainment staff hopping 14 hours a day. The evening shows were held in the huge moon palapa by the beach. The palapa also provided a spectacular setting for group dinners and dancing. It should also be noted that the palapa included a hot tube that would hold 40. It was fabulous to be able to move from dancing to dinner to the hot tub while under the same roof. Our only complaint about the entertainment was that it started far too late in the evening. After a day of sun, volleyball and unlimited alcohol, most of the guests (45 plus in age) were in their rooms before the entertainment had even set up and thus the bands played for only a handful of guests.
Travel articles tend to focus on the features of a specific location and property. This resort really is as luxurious as any we’ve stayed at throughout the Caribbean. But what makes the vacation memorable is the guests. Nudists are friendlier than most any other type of group. Something about taking off your clothes makes everyone friendlier and more apt to start conversations. Eliminating clothes gets rid of pre-conceived ideas about other people and opens up the lines of communication. We were invited to join a group of 10 strangers for dinner within a few hours of our arrival. The staff immediately (and cheerfully) pulled tables together in an elegant dining area and everyone was included in the conversation. Hidden Beach even more than most naturist resorts has you making friends quickly.
For the most part the guests were couples over 40 (a majority over 50) who came from Europe, Canada, and all over the continental United States. A majority had been there before as those who like it, like it a lot. We met four couples who visited four to five times a year. They have a low-key membership package for repeaters wanting to buy extra weeks, or get their vacations discounted over a decade of visiting. Of the five couples who sat in on their presentation for the first time, three chose to become members and commit to Hidden Beach as their holiday destination for the next five years. We did mention that those who like it really, really like it. Most of these couples had frequented the now defunct Superclubs resorts in Jamaica like Grand Lido Negril, Grand Lido Braco or Hedonism III.
There are benefits to hanging naked. It makes doing fun things even better. Our favorites included hand feeding the reef fish bread from the breakfast buffet and wading into the water with the sting rays. With green and loggerhead sea turtles using the Hidden Beach waterfront as nesting grounds, many of the repeat guests had witnessed and/or aided the turtle hatchlings in their moonlight dash to the sea. The romance of sitting on a private beach swing bed watching for baby turtles under the moonlight is worth mentioning. Compared to the Maroma beach which is spectacular (El Dorado Maroma is 30 minutes drive away and is the departing location for the nude cruise which can be booked at Hidden Beach), Hidden Beach oceanfront is rough, shallow and not great for swimming. You still have the turquoise Caribbean Sea water and swaying coconut palms, but it is the community – not the beach that is what makes Hidden Beach special.
We would be remiss if we didn’t write about the food. Hidden Beach shares the property with the El Dorado Seaside Suites. The Seaside Suites is an all inclusive resort with 5 restaurants that you have complimentary access to if you feel like dressing for dinner. Having had outstanding dining experiences at the El Dorado Royale, as part of the Karisma Hotel gourmet inclusive (GI) program we had expected the same great food. This time we were disappointed. The breakfast and lunch menus at Hidden Beach had a sameness about them that was typical at all inclusive resorts but wasn’t up to the usual Karisma standards. The Seaside Suites were casual with our food allergies resulting in a bad reaction. The desserts were minimal and we had orders forgotten by room service on two occasions. On a positive note, the drinks weren’t watered down, in fact they were delicious and the bartending was outstanding.
As the repeaters keep coming back and Hidden Beach increasingly becomes the destination of choice for people who are looking for luxury naturist holidays, being naked is getting better in Mexico.

Wild and crazy romance and honeymoon spots

We keep getting asked for fun, new romance holiday locations. Blaik picked the blog picture….). Anyway we got a list of current off-the-beaten path places from our friends at Wildland and thought we would pass them along.

§ Romantic Belize – The eight-day, Romantic Belize adventure is the perfect trip to fall in love all over again. Stay in a comfortable ecolodge and thatched, beachfront bungalow. Explore inland rainforests and ancient Maya ruins, and snorkel with the tropical fish on the Caribbean’s barrier reef. For more adventurous couples, plan an overnight underground stay in a limestone cave.

§ Honeymoon in Costa Rica – Costa Rica’s lush rainforests and secluded tropical beaches make the perfect backdrop to any new couples’ dream honeymoon. Spend a few days on the Pacific Beach at Punta Islita Lodge and in the private rainforest reserve of Lapa Rios Ecolodge, where you can plant a tree in the rainforest in honor of your love.

§ Romantic Galapagos and Ecuador Honeymoon – Begin your new life together with a voyage through the Galapagos Islands. Hike, snorkel and explore by day, then enjoy fine dining, wine and evening lectures by your on-board master naturalist at night. Top off your trip by escaping on a romantic getaway high in the Andes at a boutique colonial hacienda in a colorful native village of Banos.

§ Zambia Honeymoon Safari – Discover the romance of the hidden jewel of Zambia. In this 11-day itinerary, spend two nights in an open-plan house on the banks of the Zambezi River. Fly to the remote Lower Zambezi National Park for a stay in a deluxe tented camp and then explore the wilderness on game drives, nature walks and night drives in areas teeming with diverse species. Finish your journey in the wildlife-rich river valley of South Luangwa National Park.

§ Highlights of Turkey – Planning to pop the question? Consider doing it in the basket of a hot-air balloon, soaring over Cappadocia at sunset. In this nine-day adventure, explore Istanbul on foot and by boat among outdoor markets and artisan workshops, experience village life in the Aegean highlands and spend several days meandering through the dramatic landscapes and underground of Cappadocia. In the evening, relax in our unique and comfortable accommodations, including a boutique cave hotel, renovated from ancient cave dwellings and architecturally designed to bring in natural light and spectacular views overlooking the picturesque valley.

§ Cape to Kruger Adventure – For newly blended families, have your first Brady Bunch moments on our Cape to Kruger Adventure. Check in at the Kensington Place located on the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain. The younger travelers will delight in the suite’s in-room iPod docking station, laptop and Skype phone and sparkling plunge pool, while the parents enjoy the peace of an outdoor supper in the tranquil garden. Then, travel to Kruger National Park in search of the Big Five and relax in style and comfort in shade of indigenous trees on the banks of the Msuthlu river in the Sabi Sabi Private Reserve. For the newlyweds, private dinners can be arranged under the stars and the gently lit acacia trees.

Love and Architecture at Jade Mountain


Love and Architecture at Jade Mountain

Jade Mountain is a love story. It’s the blending of the love of St. Lucia’s famed Piton volcanic mountains and one of the most breathtaking views in the Caribbean. It’s the love story of how Nick Troubetzkoy, a Canadian trained architect created his vision for a five star resort and destination spa on the west coast of St. Lucia at Soufriere. It’s also a love story for most of the couples and honeymooners who visit. Jade Mountain is a one-of –a-kind resort. Partnered with its sister resort Anse Chastanet, we discovered that it’s about beauty, nature, modern art, and a blending of architecture into jaw dropping scenery. All this with truly exceptional gourmet food and service, Jade Mountain propels relaxation to the highest level in an adult only resort.

The quality of the food at Jade Mountain can’t be over emphasized. The resort boasts an American Academy of Hospitality Sciences five star rating for food and service. Much of the organic produce is grown on the owner’s surrounding 600 acre plantation including mangoes, spices, and chocolate used in their so named Caribbean culinary festivals. We had homemade rum and raisin ice cream that instantly became a lifetime favorite. By day two the staff had an understanding of our food and beverage preferences, and was suggesting a favorite tea. With English Butler Academy trained butlers (they call them major-domos) at your service to fulfill any need, the attention to detail was superb. The Guild of English Butlers means that these professional hoteliers can unpack for you, arrange for your favorite foods at preferred tables, acquire hard to find items, and aid in travel arrangements. They are available 24/7 with the push of a button on your firefly, a small little cell phone that you are given for the duration of your stay and which contacts the front desk or your butler instantly.

The rooms are called sanctuaries for a reason. They are huge, offering a fantastic view of the two famed Pitons (or mountains). The Pitons are the two volcanoes that UNESCO has deemed a world heritage site, and are bordered with a lush canopy of rainforest. St. Lucia is awash in color, even during the dormant season when we were there. The turquoise of the Sea, the silver of the volcanic sand, a rainbow of flowers, and the most beautiful multi-colored hummingbirds along with the spectacular St. Lucian parrot can best be described as a feast for the eyes.

Most of St. Lucia is mountainous and covered in rainforest. The whole island is only 29 miles long, but you can expect driving the length of it to take over two hours. The roads are switch back and a bit of a roller coaster ride- especially along the east side of the island. Bring your Gravol or other travel-sickness medication if you are driving around the island much. We read one report that suggested that “St. Lucia allows you to get in touch with your calf muscles” which we found to be oh, so true. Almost everything in St. Lucia is uphill or downhill (and it seemed more uphill to us), and everyone is expected to climb flights of stairs. Meals at Jade Mountain meant that we had to climb 10 flights of stairs to get to the dining area, with no elevator option. Fortunately, the food would motivate anyone to climb. If you are mobility challenged, you can request an upper room, but it is a resort on a hill and the lay-out of the resort requires a level of fitness to in order move around easily.

The rooms (or sanctuaries as they are called) are self contained units that come with everything you need to relax (no television, phone or radio). The sanctuary does have its own tranquil infinity pool in the three sided rooms which means you have the best of living both inside and outside for your entire stay. (authors note: The sanctuaries are rectangular with no outside wall. That means open air in all the rooms, dining and common areas. It is a very different concept, and one of the few places in the world that has limited bugs, very few mountainous creepy or slithering things, warm weather, offers reasonable shelter from hurricanes and tropical storms and is relatively crime-free and difficult to access along the mountain-side. Think tropical camping with decadent comfort and push of a button service. The sanctuaries really do have to be seen to be believed.)

The full 29 rooms were occupied during our visit, but the place seemed empty, with everyone living in their villa-like sanctuaries or taking in one of the adventure excursions. With a majority of people able to do anything from sunbath, partake in gourmet room service, swim, and relax completely undisturbed for the entire time while never leaving their rooms, the sanctuaries offer absolute privacy for couples wanting to get away from it all. Jade Mountain really is romance personified. The small touches are well thought out. There was local poetry on the pillow (St. Lucia boasts the highest percentage of Nobel Lauriat’s per capita on the planet) and live guitar music at dinner. The owner’s cocktail party and the sunset cruises added to the ambiance.

As therapists, we’ve long believed that adventure leads to connection within a relationship. Anything that gets your adrenaline pumping together will bond you as a couple. One of the driving reasons to visit Jade Mountain is the duality it offers. At Jade Mountain there is the aforementioned complete tranquility of the sanctuaries, as well as the opportunity to take in couple adventures off the resort. We went zip lining, and during that tour had a quick lesson in the growing of bananas, bay leaves and cinnamon. We checked out the historic town of Soufriere. Other adventure couples took in the whale watching, rum tours, volcano hiking, and ocean kayaking. The honeymooners we spoke to were just happy to be together and uninterrupted. Many were on the joint honeymoon package with a half-and-half stay at Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet (where there was more beach living and marine life). Jade Mountain offers a shuttle service that can take you up and down to the beach that is situated on the edge of a protected marine area. A number of beach bars and restaurants are included on your Jade Mountain meal plan at the beach level Anse Chastanet resort so you only have to make the strenuous hike (or not-so- strenuous short car ride up the hill) once per day.

Jade Mountain is well on its way to becoming a complete destination-spa resort as well. Between a full menu of organic, low fat foods and a holistic health professional spa director with a well-trained staff (including a former US Navy fitness instructor), you can heal the body as well as the mind. And as mentioned, you have easy access to the famed volcanic hot springs and mineral baths which have been espoused to cure everything from arthritis to intestinal disorders. With all this emphasis on health (and all of the stairs to climb), you can avoid the five pounds of holiday bulge from too many umbrella drinks. You actually may return leaner than when you left without feeling like you’ve missed out on amazing food. It will be worth watching Jade Mountain’s evolution into a new level of spa and health centre.

Jade Mountain, while spectacular, is priced outside of normal vacation budgets, and lends itself well to short “get-aways” or long weekends. We travelled lightly and were able to get on and off the island over three days. We met a Miami physician and a New York lawyer who loved how they could arrive easily and leave without once hearing a telephone. It is perfect for intimate honeymooners, or couples wanting to recharge together. Many of the guests fly in via helicopter from the Hewanorra International Airport in the south of the island (which is a seven-minute flight), and land on Jade Mountain’s own private heli-pad.

With all of these amenities, Jade Mountain firmly falls into the highest end romance resort destination as the place to try this year.

Desire Resort, Riviera Maya. Why it shold be on you bucket list.


Desire Rivera Maya
By Sue “Sex with Sue” McGarvie and Blaik Spratt, Clinical Sex Therapists, Syndicated Talk Show Host, authors of The Ethical Hedonist
www.sexwithsue.com

As sex and relationship therapists we’re on a mission to seek out the most romantic, the most sexually charged, and the most unique erotic vacations for adult couples who we describe as “Ethical Hedonists”. Tough job, staying away from all those calorie- rich pina coladas and preventing sunburn on your naked parts, but it’s a mission we take seriously. No hurricanes this year to worry about, but if there are hardships to lying naked at a five star, all inclusive resort in the Caribbean, we just can’t think of them at the moment. As part of our nude and romance havens worldwide tour, we have just returned from a week this fall at the upscale Desire Rivera Maya resort 40 minutes outside Cancun Mexico. All in the name of science of course, (grin) our interest was to determine where on the sexual continuum of Ethical Hedonism, the couples staying at Desire found themselves.

Described as an “elegant and exclusive, clothing-optional, couples-only resort” Desire is an adult-only, 114 room, secluded resort somewhat off the beaten path. It’s situated between acres of mangrove swamps – take the “beware of crocodile signs seriously – (we had five, 2 meter crocs swim towards us a few feet from the edge of the road outside the resort when we got out of the car) along with an interesting array of jungle birds and animals including a baby coatimundi (wild jungle raccoons that are social, curious and let you pet them on your way to dinner). The resort is located on the wayward side of the road, and is situated on a strip of Mexico’s typically breathtaking Caribbean beaches, complete with white sands and warm, turquoise water. The beach includes 40 canopied beach beds (complete with drink-providing waitresses and cabana boys) situated along the edge of the water. These beds are the ultimate in decadence beach relaxation. Apparently couples frolicking romantically on the beach beds were a common sight in the past. Desire Rivera Maya had previously been sequestered from any other resorts, but as development has hit this area of the coast (with a new resort a little down the beach) the sexual adventure has had to be curtailed by the security guards asking you to take the sex inside your rooms, or upstairs to the hot tub. A few couples grumbled about the “evil bed police”, stopping their “from Here to Eternity” wave crashing. It deterred those who really enjoyed rolling in the surf and had loved the freedom to be intimate in the Sea, but overall the tone on the beach tended to be more romantic than sexual.

Desire Resorts claim it is for couples over 25, but the average age of couples we observed would probably be in their mid 40’s. We met one couple who were a remarkably active and well preserved 80, (if only we could all be at a nude resort at 80), most of the couples had been together for ten years or longer and were what we call the “empty nesters gone wild” group, or anniversary couples looking for something different. According to the staff (which has some variation depending on the time of year), guests were 20% Mexican/Latin, 20% European, 20% Canadian, and 40% American in nationality, all in varying stages of undress. Clothing optional, as opposed to nude means that bathing suits are seen, but the majority of the couples were either nude or topless throughout the day. They had typical resort games such as water polo and beach volleyball taking place, (nude volleyball is always an interesting eyeful) along with far more sexual ones such as the chocolate eating contest (where two couples compete to see who can drizzle and eat the most chocolate and whipped cream off their partners). Nobody was pressured to participate. The tone was entertaining and playful during the day, rather than sexual, and the evening theme was more erotic, rather than smacking of blatant sex. There is no “getting jumped in the lobby” fear that some people perceive happens at lifestyle friendly resorts. The activity staff was relaxed, but enthusiastic and did their best to be inclusive of everyone interested in participating, and respectful of those who wanted to read quietly, or simply lounge on the beach.

The large elevated hot tub (which is off limits to management and only manned by a bartender and one cleaning staff for the mountain of towels being used) gets going about 4 pm, and is the place to socialize until couples start getting ready for dinner at 7. The hot tub is surrounded by a bar and six beds (all in view of the hot tub) which are either draped or open depending on the level of exhibitionist tendencies of the couple in question. A few couples were seen playing on the beds, (mostly with their own partners, but with some group massages going on). However for the most part, people were simply flirty and friendly in and around the hot tub, and exceptionally respectful of couples who were only into each other. Provided you don’t stare, it’s quite acceptable to watch. And everyone is understandably curious, and wanted to see if the participants are having longer, or more interesting sex than they are. It can get wilder depending on the flavor of groups staying any particular week, but the concern that one young man had before coming to Desire of “being afraid to leave his wife alone while he went to the bathroom for fear she would be mauled” was completely unfounded. A couple of people approached us asking if we were lifestylers, but like most lifestyle aficionados we’ve ever met, they graciously understood the etiquette and body language of disinterest.

Three dinner restaurants (an Asian, a fine dining, and buffet style) had enough of a quality and variety to keep everyone happy, although we found the sameness of the breakfast and lunch buffets had us craving for anything beyond the typical beach food by the end of the week. This is not the place to go if you are trying to manage your weight – and we struggled to find things that weren’t deep fried, or carb loaded (although yummy). The service was outstanding. There is something about Mexican waiters that let them show their appreciation of you, without ever being schwarmy. The dress for dinner was sexy and elegant, and a second change into erotic costumes or lingerie was common for the late evening entertainment and disco, so paying attention to the days themes before you arrive meant you were up for prizes, and admired by the other guests. Disco themes include “pimp and ho night”, Latin fever, costume and mask night, and sexy pj’s, and participants were encouraged to do a strip tease or “show off” to determine who won the t-shirt for the most enthusiastic performance. A couples- only playroom off of the dance floor was popular for about an hour a night (after 11pm), and was the only other condoned, sex-friendly zone in the resort. However it took us two days to find the door leading into it, and with no windows, any active play certainly wasn’t in your face.

The highlight for us were the evening shows before the disco got shaking which were brought in activities including a classic rock band, body painting, lingerie fashion show, casino night (with an auction for Desire merchandise) and where you could find the entire cast of resort guests lounging on chairs, mingling, or just cuddling romantically after dinner on cabana chairs built for two. The late night hot tub action (we were leaving upstairs a few nights at 2 am and the action was just beginning), didn’t get going until very late, and there were a few groups who found beach beds after 3 am to continue the revelry. We marveled at their stamina.

Desire’s concept is certainly upscale, and anyone who tried the couple “Desire” massage (which included very sensuous touching, and a guided “happy ending” in a private room) raved about it. Desire seems to oscillate between the decadent “indulge yourself” mantra of “what goes on in Mexico”… while emphasizing their spa-like features of relaxation and health. To their credit, they had very little of the time-share, or excursion aggressive sales pitches that seem to be the bane of other resorts we’ve visited.

Occupancy at Desire is one of the highest in the Caribbean, with Rivera Maya being close to 80-100% filled from mid October until April. Martin Good, the charming General Manager said that they had purchased the vacant land next door, and were building another 40 units to deal with the occupancy levels, as you will struggle to get in any week during high season. He went on to say “about 40% of Desires guests were repeaters (we met one couple who had been nine times already), and that people seemed to really enjoy the concept”. Desire has no “spring break” feel to it, and with that kind of occupancy, and high end entertainment, the room rates are a bit dear. Rates vary during the high season range from $250 to $540 US a night per person, with bottles of wine, massages, and specialty foods like lobster being extra. This is not discount travel, and within an eight days time span, 90% of the guests turn over.

But it is one of the only places that tolerate what we call “upscale sexual encounters done with taste”. The clientele are affluent, professional, open minded, and have the time and money to explore the boundaries of their relationship. Like with all nude resorts we’ve encountered, the minute you take clothes off, the barriers to meeting people come down. You make friends easily, and most people are happy to tell you about themselves. There is a “no camera policy” and discretion is expected. In interviewing as many couples as possible, Desire vacationers seem to fall largely into one of three categories. They were the “honeymooning type” – couples who were into each other and their relationship, enjoyed a sexually charged environment, but stayed away from the hot tub, disco, and simply re-connected monogamously. They may or may not be nude through their stay. The next third were what we call “exploratory lifestylers or nudists”. These were the couples that were open to “something happening” if it felt right (although many weren’t sure what that something might be), liked trying relaxed nudity, and may participate in a gentle, and somewhat innocent group massage. This group were committed to their own relationships but usually went home without seeing any kind of action as they were just testing the waters. The final third were the swingers, or lifestylers who were social, and interested in meeting and hooking up with like minded people, along with the group we called “indiscriminate lifestylers”, for whom this was about how many partners they could try on their week away. This group was friendly, but were really only interested in meeting other lifestylers.

On the whole Desire really is what you make it. Elegant, upscale, quietly naked and romantic, or with late night happenings, disco dancing, and hut tubbing along with 50 new friends and sexual adventures under the stars. We heard absolutely no complaints, about the resort, rooms, food, or service, and Original Resorts who run Desire Rivera Maya and their Los Cabos location have really found their niche. Anything the resort could control, they managed very well. We really can’t rave about the service more. It is very similar to Desire Los Cabos, in theme and layout (although Los Cabos in our opinion is the nicer, newer resort), however the type of guests seemed to differ at the west coast Desire Los Cabos. They get more of their visitors from California, (think Hollywood clothes, and way more silicone), and on the whole weren’t as laid back and relaxed as the “let it all hang out” group we met at Rivera Maya.

The clientele changes by the week, but as a whole, this is the sexy honeymoon most of wish we had, and can still have. It is worthy of its reputation, and a “must-try” on the bucket list of any adventuring Ethical Hedonist.

Green and Naked in Tulum

the place we went snorklingNaked and Green
By Sue McGarvie and Blaik Spratt, Clinical Relationship Therapists, Travel Journalists

Where’s a nudist to go if you want to get away from all the same clothing optional resorts, but don’t want to be arrested for inappropriate streaking? We’ve made it part of our personal mission statement as travel aficionados and naturists to find as many great nude spots in the Caribbean as possible. This year, we also were increasingly aware of minimizing our carbon footprint as we travelled. Eco tourism, while not a new concept has really begun to take off. Especially for naturists. While most nude resorts have a surcharge for the privilege of being naked (up to 40% extra in our experience), we have really started looking into other warm places where we could be naked outdoors while experiencing different cultures.

We went looking for these examples of Green and naked Mexico during a recent eco-minded trip to Tulum. Known as the “eco coast”, Tulum is home to a few large resorts and many small, six to 20 room boutique hotels. It is an area of authentic Mexican feel, lots more wilderness, and a bohemian, Jimmy Buffet laid back lifestyle. Many of the Tulum resorts have an emphasis on being green. Driven by the close proximity to the Mayan land preserve and the indigenous “spirit led” Mayan Shamans, there is a movement afoot to respect the land. Tulum is in the heart of Mayan (native Mexican) country.

This part of the Yucatan is home to beatnik travelers, authentic Mexican music and amazingly fresh and healthy food. We stayed at the adult-only Azulik resort, one of the three resorts that makes up Eco Tulum (along with Zahra, and Copal resorts located side by side). Azulik has 15 private villas ($260-320 a night), Zahra has 22 more traditional rooms, and the large Copal has 47 different kinds of cabanas. Copal’s huts range in size from family quad size, at $250 a night to a tiny hut at $35 a night without a bathroom. It was what we would call “high end beach camping”.

Eco Tulum’s concept is to provide huts on the beach, and blend in as closely as possible with the natural environment. In fact, the whole resort fits into the landscape better than anyplace we’ve ever visited. There are no lights, no outlets (so leave your hair dryer at home), and a generator powers a ceiling fan during the day. The rest of the time you are feeling a bit like you are in an episode of Gilligan’s Island. If you are looking for an accessible, convenient, well groomed hotel- this isn’t it. Eco Tulum is the opposite of a “big box resort” and we heard again and again how much guests were looking to stay anywhere but at one of the typical all inclusive’s. Each hut was unique, the pathways were made of sand and the stairways to climb into the hut were not for anyone with a disability. Some of the stairs were downright scary, but they had muted lighting at night, and the area had a very safe feel. The rooms were beautiful, clean, entirely made of wood (including a huge bathtub made out of a hollowed log) and offered a secluded beach that would rival anywhere in the world for white sand and wildlife.

There are iguanas on your deck, and gekkos in your room. The pelicans, ospreys and other large sea faring birds cast shadows over the patio canopy beds all day. We were woken up by spider monkeys on the thatch roof along with the nocturnal Kinkajou (a monkey-like mammal). Dolphins are known to swim up and down the coast, and crocodiles are common in the neighbouring mangrove swamps.

There are two relatively secluded beaches affiliated with the resort. When we inquired about nudity, we were told that yes, nudity is allowed on the beaches and on individual decks. Although not advertised as such, we saw a good fifth of the beach users naked, with a large proportion of the remaining women topless. As a rule, beaches are public property in Mexico, and while nudity is still formally illegal there are more resorts becoming increasingly more tolerant of naturism. There was a casual acceptance of clothing optional even among the textiles at Azulik and Copal. We certainly didn’t feel self conscious or frowned upon in any stage of undress on the beaches.

The huts are incredibly romantic. It has the South Sea feeling, built on stilts over the rocks right at the ocean’s edge. It is the romance holiday everyone imagines. Think white sand, turquoise water, iguanas lazily sunning themselves on the rocks outside your deck, canopy bed with mosquito netting, and a huge bathtub made out of a hollowed out tree. We watched the moon come up over the deck in an outdoor tub, and star gazed on a suspended swinging deck bed that allowed a clear view of the sky and ocean. We spent much of the week naked on the deck and were disinclined to move far off it (even to go the 20 meters to the beach) throughout our stay. The wind blows constantly from the sea, and the waves ranged from gentle to spectacular during the week long visit. It would be an astounding place to be in a mild storm. It was that great feeling of wind over bare skin that makes tropical nudity so appealing.

Azulik is the perfect spot for eco-minded nudist honeymooners. Azulik does many weddings performed by Mayan holy men, and the ceremonies are absolutely unique. They are comfortable doing same sex, and pagan weddings as well. While they hadn’t done a nude wedding, Laura the wedding coordinator was open to the possibility.

In keeping with the green theme, you can rent a bike and easily cycle the four kilometers into Tulum for dinner or shopping. For pedestrians six restaurants and some stores make up the Boca Paila cluster where Azulik is located. The small hub of stores, hotels and restaurants gives you a sense of authentic Mexico and community, but is not enough to disturb the tranquil feeling of being naked and private in your eco-hut.

Azulik resort took the eco theme seriously. In Mexico where litter is prevalent, the resort has recycling boxes (including one for batteries), located at regular intervals. And you needed to bring batteries. The downside of rooms with no power is that you had to set up your candles in advance of going for dinner otherwise you returned to pioneer-like blackness. It is a way to get in touch with your circadian rhythm (we were in bed by 9 pm and up with the sun). We found the candle light too dim to read by, and would strongly recommend packing flashlights or head lamps for walking.

One of the most notable things about a movement towards more eco-understanding in the Yucatan is the appreciation of the native Mayan peoples. The Eco Tulum resort and the adjoining Mayan Spa had both a Shaman and holistic healer on staff. They use only organic products, and many of the treatments are done with natural plants picked from the spa garden just minutes before treatments. They are known throughout the area for their traditional Mayan Temascal. A Temascal is a native sweat lodge that has been used for both healing and ritual purposes in Mexico for thousands of years. Throughout the Temascal, the Shaman used different herbs in conjunction with red-hot stones, misting, chanting and singing to cleanse the body and spirit. It is an interesting two hour (or longer) process that is to leave you feeling re-born.

The municipality of Tulum has been putting in bike paths to encourage this form of transportation. Biking really is the way to get around the Tulum area. Bikes are for rent inexpensively all over. You can tour the Tulum ruins, or head off to discover one of the 3,000 cenotes or fresh water sinkholes in the area. Think of a limestone lagoon that open up into underwater caves as part of the underground water table. Cenotes are all different, and the one we visited was like a small, deep lake filled with fish. It reminded us of swimming in a fish tank. We were able to snorkel, and see the entrance to the underwater caves that are so popular with divers.

In keeping with the eco-theme of this trip, we opted to go on the highly recommended Sian Ka’an community tour. This tour absolutely made our trip. Sian Ka’an is a protected natural reserve of 630,000 hectares that crosses traditional Mayan land and is now a UNESCO heritage site as well as a wildlife reserve. Sian Ka’an Community Tours is an international success story. With the aid of a couple of non-profit NGO’s (including Equator Initiatives) that help indigenous peoples with sustainable development, the Mayan community near the Sian Ka’an reserve got together and started a business giving tours. All of the money from this low cost tour ($99 per person including lunch, snacks, park fees, and transportation) stays in the community. Our guide Alberto’s English was impeccable and his knowledge outstanding.

Our seven hour tour included a guided hike through secluded jungle ruins. It followed with an adventure into an underground Mayan passageway built in 300 BC (where we got up close and personal with some fruit bats). We then went into the jungle on the Mayan reservation where we tasted edible roots, smelled copal bark, and burned dead termite mounds as a bug repellent. We climbed a 17 meter tower to observe all eight biospheres in the park before jumping into boats to re-enact a 1000 year old trade route crossing accross crystal clear lakes. After lunch we did a river float along a natural passageway through the grass savannah. We floated peacefully four kilometers an hour for a few kilometers at the edge of the mangrove trees- nursery to millions of baby fish. During our section of the river we saw vultures, a variety of multi-coloured song birds, and countless tropical fish. We ended the day with a snorkeling trip to a nearby cenote with an opportunity to hand feed schools of fish.

Our eco holiday was affordable, personal, and left us feeling healthy (actually down a pound or two given the exercise and fresh foods). It was a great place to be naked, and an incredible place to recharge and be romantic. It’s also a feel good story as we left feeling we had connected to the people, culture and land that is Tulum.