Why being naked in nature should be one of your New Year’s Resolutions

There is a quote on the door of the outhouse at a nude camp in Canada that goes something like this:
“Nature is mean to be experienced without clothes. Until you feel the breeze on your skin and the earth beneath your bare feet you realize that life in clothes has been like experiencing the world through a dirty window.”

We absolutely buy into this philosophy. It has done a world of wonder for body image issues, in making friends, feeling alive, finding a community, getting rid of tan lines, and losing the uncomfortable, sandy bathing suits. There is a great list of why doing kind things for yourself should include a nude beach on pintrest. Have a read.
And know that it’s the most natural thing in the world.

“They basically have the same exact things going on as typical beaches, aside from the obvious lack of swimwear. Everyone, whether solo or in groups, was basically just doing their own thing. They were there to enjoy the sunshine, hang out in the water and feel the sandy beach between their toes… and everywhere else.”

If you want to try it with a group of kind, fun, happy people consider joining the Ducklings at Club Secret (and the nearby nude beach on Florida’s space coast) April 5-12, 2018. Here are the details.

The best romantic (and inexpensive) hotels in Florida NOT washed away by hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma was devastating to much of the Florida Keys and the Gulf Islands on Florida’s west coast. Even Central Florida is still re-building after such destruction from a Category 5 storm.

But there are still places to be visited inexpensively this fall and winter to up your romance level. What’s new is Allegiant Air’s many flights from Canadian border cities for a song this fall. As we priced one vacation out of Ottawa via Ogdensburg NY’s new airport hanger it was $180 return US for a long weekend to Sandford/Orlando Florida. That’s almost just the price of gas return for a Toronto trip. If you are looking for some deals in accommodation for a lovely, 5 day trip to the sun there are some great ones.

Islands magazine published a list of romantic hotels in this month’s edition. They aren’t inexpensive however. Have a read about them here.

Our favorite of that list is the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine.
Not only do we love St. Augustine (and home to the best alligator/crocodile zoo in the world) but St. Augustine beach is a fantastic place to stay.

The Casa Monica Hotel “blends modern luxury with old-world charm, this circa-1888 landmark in America’s oldest city takes you back to another time. The castle-like feel is present in every detail of the resort (it even has turrets!). Every one of the 138 rooms is uniquely appointed and decorated. We love the two-story Signature suites, especially the Ponce de Leon with its rooftop whirlpool and private balcony.”
At. Augustine feels like the cobblestone cities of Europe mixed in with a little Disney marketing. It is Florida. Great speakeasy distilleries and wineries, fantastic seaport areas and amazing food.

We found an Air Bnb in downtown St. Augustine for $96 dollars a night with parking and breakfast included. It had a balcony and a great bed. Mount Dora is great for a day or two while Miami, the Keys, Naples, and lower St. Pete’s is under construction. There are fall deals to be had in clothing optional vacations at both Cypress Cove Resort and Caliente north of Tampa.

Don’t give up on Florida this fall. There are deals to be had for outstanding romance getaways. And as we espouse, great vacations make for great relationships.

Top 8 travel must haves for romance adventurers

We believe that adventure travel is one of the best thing you can do for your relationship. It often requires a leap of faith, stepping out of your comfort zone and realizing that mini vacations are sometimes as effective as more exotic, elaborate get-aways. But if you are a super cool

We’ve come up with the top 8 travel must have’s for romance adventurers.

1. Tilley Clothes. We love the scrunch up, throw in a bag, mix and match, wash-in-the-shower travel collection of casual elegant travel clothes. We swear by the hats, buy them online and roll them into a tube for light, easy packing. We know a nudist friend that once traveled around nude St. Martin with nothing on but flipfops and a Tilley hat. The hat had his passport, hotel key and money in it.

2. We try to keep the shoes to 3 pairs each. Limit yourself to a casual super comfortable pair, a pair of flip flops/burks and a dress pair if needed.

3. Beach bag. We’ve got an old one we bought at Chapters that scrunches up but carries a ton of stuff. It has a secret pocket to store emergency money, and is bright and beachy.

4. Swiss Navy Silicone Lubricant. It stays on even in hot tubs. And everyone (and we mean everyone says Sue the sex therapist) needs lube. We’ve used it as a moisturizer in a pinch and won’t stain clothes.

5. Baby wipes. They double as toilet paper and hand wipe’s and after play clean ups. We don’t leave home without them.

6. A collection of sealable plastic bags in different sizes. Good to keep things from leaking, important to put your liquids in for travel through security and great to keep things organized and cleaned up in the bottom of your bag.

7. Couple or personal business-type cards. We were first introduced these at Hedo where everyone had their names, email addresses and a picture of them in some vacation picture. Great way to stay in touch with friends and we now have quite a collection from all over the world. We got 500 for $20 off vistaprint.com. It allows you to give a fun description of your mission statement and they are a great way to connect.

8. Silk travel blanket — as warm as a regular blanket, yet takes up much less space. Pocket at bottom keeps feet toasty; blanket rolls up and tucks into a 12 x 4″ pouch you can toss in your carry-on. And silk is oh-so-nice on your skin and for cuddling together on long plane rides.

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.

Vero Beach. Personal boutique hotels that feel like home

We spent a couple of nights at the Vero Beach Resort and Spa this month. Known for its romantic get aways on the east side of Florida between Palm and Daytona Beaches. It was an exceedingly warm, friendly, luxurious escape from the everyday. We loved the little touches. A pet goldfish in your room. Overall pet friendly they had both dog biscuits and M and M’s (for the owners) at the checkout. Our suite had a full kitchen, dining room and a bathroom with an echo. The restaurant is spectacular and with all the traveling we do we felt the most at home in Vero Beach. The ocean is close and a little wild on the Alantic side. Vero isn’t completely populated with what we affectionately call “the grey-haired set” but they were reasonably represented :). Vero doesn’t have the craziness of Miami, the tourists in Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale, or the expense of Palm Beach. More than any other place on the east coast of Florida, Vero should appeal to middle aged Canadians laid back, relaxed culture.

It was the nature that called us. We did a couple of day trips into the Everglades, and into eco-regions that surround Vero’s extensive nature preserves. The duality appealed.

Think abject luxury on the edge of Florida’s great river system and eco reserves. You can find manatees on one side, alligators on the other and with a quick 2 minute walk to the beach you can explore for crabs and sea turtles. The three ecosystems are connected and make for a great nature trip with all the amenities at the end of the day.

Vero is one of the most modern, boutique hotels that stays in touch via facebook and other social media outlets. You can become a friend, get great deals and feel like you are coming home. The hotel makes that kind of an effort to stay connected. I gave them a bunch of novels I finished to start a book trading nook and left a warm note to the general manager upon departure. Name me another hotel where you feel compelled to do that?

Vero Beach Resort and Spa, one of the few hotels we’ve reviewed this year that gets 9 coconuts from us. We can’t wait to go back

Romantic adventures. Why you need to keep at them.

adventuresOne of our colleagues is the Chief Psychologist for the counseling group we belong to, and is a Senior Professor of Marriage and Family Counseling at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. He’s an expert in how to stay connected in relationships. In a conversation this week, Martin commented that “married couples fall out of love after years of being together. It’s their job to do the work with connecting activities, touch, and intimacy, to fall back into love”.

Falling back into, and staying in love takes work. We think it takes play, “out of the ordinary experiences”, and good sex to encourage the endorphins you made when you first fell in love. See the blog at www.sexwithsue.com for more about the hot sex.

One of the best ways we’ve ever discovered to do this involves romance adventure activities. That’s the reason we write this blog. Romance adventure activities can be anything from a picnic in the woods by your house, to an early morning balloon ride or Disney Resorts. It can be boating in the Everglades, or playing flirty mini golf (putt putt). We make it a point to follow a few rules. Bi-weekly local date nights where we each take turns planning the evening. We’ve done naughty pirate cruises, the local reptile zoo (with backward, longing glances), or the local burlesque show. Our quarterly activities involves clothing optional beaches, and over 30 dance clubs. And we try and go away twice a year. Once within a 6 hour drive or short flight of home, and the other a romantic adventure somewhere on our bucket list.

It’s a priority for us. And we budget for it. In turn our relationship stays connected, and close. We try and post a few affordable and intimate suggestions that get your adrenaline up and has you clutching each other and gazing into each others eyes. As Martin the Professor says, “connection is eye contact, touch and words of love”. We’ll go one step further, we think it involves sexual intimacy and trying new things together.

Try the steps and see if it works for you. Invite your partner on a date. Make sure it involves touch, eye-contact, words of love, and something out of the ordinary. Play a board game, go to the local dinosaur museum, or better yet, go parking. We are quite sure that you’ll find it surprisingly effective in re-kindling some intimacy.

Have you ever had sex on a beach?

No, I’m not talking about the cocktail with orange juice and vodka. I’m talking about sand in your bathing suit and fish nibbling on your toes kind of sex. Think of the “From Here to Eternity” scene where the couple is making out, rolling around in the surf and dream about how hot and exciting that looked.

It turns out that many Canadian women have a fantasy about beach sex. In a new Ipsos Reid survey done for tripcentral.ca, 43% of women admitted that they had sex outside of their hotel room while on holidays. These women fantasized about sauna sex, hammock sex, public bathroom sex, and just about other private and romantic spot you can think of while on holiday. And who said that Canadian women are conservative!
I wasn’t surprised. When I speak to women about the best sex of their lives they invariably talk about parking, picnic blankets, or any place outside of the bedroom as their most memorable romps. Most people think that it is men that are looking for newness in the bedroom (and they would be right), but it turns out that it is women who overwhelmingly prefer the unique locations. Men tend to think about interesting positions and duration as their best sex. So holiday sex works for both parties.

I often ask my sex therapy patients how much sex they have on holidays. It’s a great barometer of the health of a couple’s sex life. If you have no outside stress, and your only decision of the day is a Mojito or Margarita, how easy is it to re-kindle some of that waning passion? Given that I think everyone needs sensual adventures, a great romantic holiday is one of the best things you can do for your relationship. It can certainly help your sex life. And in keeping with the survey results, if you can sneak out for some discreet shagging outside of the hotel room then the vacation ranks up there with the best sex of your life.

Road Trips. 11 Things to do this summer close to Ottawa

We love road trips. A fun way to see your community before going on adventures farther from home. Here’s a list of new and exciting things to do within 90 minutes of the Nation’s Capital.

Upper Canada Village (45 minutes south near Morrisburg) Step back in Fairs & Finer Things
time where costumed interpreters re-enact 1860’s life in homes, shops and
farmyards. uppercanadavillage.com

Thousand Islands Boat Cruise (1 hour south-west in Gananoque) Cruise the
islands and tour the romantic turn-of-the-century Boldt Castle built by the
proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC. ganboatline.com

Westport Charm (1.5 hours west on Big Rideau Lake) Wander the charming
boutiques, art studios and antique shops. Relax at the Sundari Day Spa or
spend the night at The Cove Country Inn. coveinn.com

Steam Train (Gatineau)
Hop aboard Canada’s
oldest operating Steam
Train for a 5-hour, 64 km
guided tour of the
Outaouais Region with a
2-hour stop in scenic
Wakefield. steamtrain.ca.
Stay overnight at the
Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa.

Merrickville (45 minutes south) Local artists abound with over 100 heritage
properties – voted ‘Canada’s Most Beautiful Village’ in 1998. Don’t miss the
Merrickville Antique and Artisans Show Aug 27. ontariotravel.net

Old Chelsea (15 minutes north-east) Begin the day with a hot coffee at Les
Saisons. Then wander the shops before a relaxing massage at Le Nordik –
Nature Spa (lenordik.com) followed by a vegetarian lunch on the patio of
Soup d’herbe.

Montebello (1 hour east) Get up close and personal with buffalo, black
bears, red deer, wolves and more at Parc Oméga (parc-omega.com). Then,
enjoy a picnic lunch or make a reservation at Fairmont Chateau Montebello
for a more luxurious dining experience. fairmont.com

Kingston (1.5 hours west) Take in the waterfront by sailboat, kayak, canoe
or bike. Sip wine on a patio or shop the boutiques. Visit Fort Henry for a
glance into the War of 1812. tourism.kingstoncanada.com

Heritage Perth (1 hour west) Wander through artisan shops, the Farmer’s
Market (Sat) and the Wildlife Reserve. Try the Good Wood Oven for
pizza. beautifulperth.com

Bon Echo Provincial Park (2.5 hours west) With a 1.5 km rock face that
rises 100 m above Mazinaw Lake, the park is incredibly photogenic. Hike,
canoe or simply relax on a sandy beach. ontarioparks.com

Prince Edward County (2.5 hours south west)
The ideal wine and dine getaway, spend the night at The Inn at Huff Estates
Winery, enjoy a round of golf at Wellington Golf Course or stretch out in
the sand at Sandbanks Provincial Park. prince-edward-county.com