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.

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.

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