Tag Archives: Key West

A Case for the Gay Hotel

Pool at gay hotel

A Perfect Day at the Almar Resort in Puerto Vallarta

I’ve recently had conversations with several gay men in their 20’s about the necessity, or lack thereof, of the “gay hotel.”  First, I think it is truly amazing that many of our younger gay peers feel so completely comfortable in their skin in any surrounding.  I think it is tangible evidence of progress.  And one I celebrate—wholeheartedly—as I toast with my frozen cosmopolitan, pomegranate margarita or glass of crisp sauvignon blanc. But these conversations have made me examine why I personally am still drawn to the congregation of gay.  Now, I love to travel often and on many different types of trips, frequented by many different types of people.  And I don’t ever want that to change.  But yet I find myself consistently drawn to the comradery of the gay hotel.

I’d guess this is greatly generational.  Perhaps it’s the childhood years of being schooled in the appropriate ways boys gesture. Or the exhausting energy expended in youth hoping no one will figure you out.  Or the many times you heard the f-word and continued walking pretending you weren’t the subject.   And I am thrilled if kids these days don’t grow up with any of these same concerns.  Because though I have never been targeted or mocked as a traveling adult, this well-adjusted gay New Yorker still can’t wait to return to Puerto Vallarta or Key West or Provincetown.

There is a world of difference between not feeling endangered and feeling truly welcome.  I am so accustomed to my life in New York City, where I never worry about holding my boyfriend’s hand as we stroll through Hell’s Kitchen or fret if my shorts are the appropriate length on a hot, summer day (I’m bringing the 5” inseam back!).  With so many elements of which to keep track on vacation—currency exchanges, language barriers, convoluted directions—watching yourself so you are not watched seems like wasted energy.

I prefer to spend that time meeting new friends—many of whom, especially now in the age of social media, will continue to be part of my life beyond my departure from the destination.  I have been fortunate to share unforgettable moments with some pretty fantastic people who I may or may not ever see again.  But if I ever visit their home cities, I guarantee you they will be my first call.  Because they are now part of my community.

So, I will continue to travel everywhere and stay anywhere, but I will always have a soft spot for the gay hotel.  And I hope all of our generations can join in the spirited, tipsy conversations which could never be replicated on an app or anywhere else, other than at that pool, with that fruity cocktail in hand, while blasting that Deborah Cox remix that will forever give us life.

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Key West: Island House 2-4-1 Vacations

It is time to strip off your winter coat (and shirt, and pants, and…) and cash-in on two tropical vacations for the price of one.  The Island House in Key West—the historic, men-only, clothing-optional resort—is once again offering their “Buy Four Nights and Get Three Free” promotion.

To qualify, purchase four nights at the resort before June 30, 2012, and get three free weeknights between July 12 and October 19, 2012, subject to availability.  The Conch Republic (as Key West is commonly known) is hot in any season:  enjoy a little winter warmth, a little summer sizzle.

With its slogan of “One Human Family,” the city of Key West, celebrates us all.  Come as you are, and join the colorful community of artists, intellectuals, eccentrics, natives and tourists who spice up the southernmost city in the continental United States.

At the Island House, you can season the spiciness to your particular taste.   Enjoy the outdoor café and bar anytime of the day or night; work up a sweat at the gym, steamroom or sauna; and cool off with a refreshing swim—fully clothed, fully naked, or however you are most comfortable.

So gentlemen, this winter, trade the snow for a little sweat, and trade the cold for a little…conch.

For more information visit www.islandhousekeywest.com or call 1-800-890-6284

To read about my first Island House clothing-optional resort experience click here.

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Key West: Free Willy

I would soon be naked.  I was visiting Key West for the first time, and staying at an all male, clothing-optional gay resort.  I had given myself an assignment.  I would free my inhibitions, free my insecurities, free my… Willy.  Now, I am not shy.  I don’t specifically have issues with nudity.  Yet I must admit I was a bit nervous about the nude resort experience.  Why? Was I concerned people would look?  Was I afraid people wouldn’t?

As I approached my soon-to-be, nudity-inspiring home, I was instantly charmed by the white wooden siding, covered porches and lush vegetation of the Island House exterior. As I roamed the resort, met the staff and chatted with guests, I was quickly seduced by the ease and friendliness that comprise its core.  I can totally do this.

On our introductory tour I learned that the Island House is the oldest gay resort in the world, established in 1976 at a time when Key West was a sweet, teeny bait of a town, dangling off the Florida fishing rod.  Much has changed since those days:  Key West, today, is more accessible, commercial and culturally diverse.  The Island House has expanded and remodeled to include a heated outdoor pool, two hot tubs, gym and sauna area, 24-hour café, and full service bar.  Yet both the island and the House are ruled by Key West’s official slogan of “One Human Family,” an inclusive, live-and-let-live philosophy that celebrates us all.  I was happily hooked.

The first day was about acclimating, decompressing and taking it all in. On day two I’d let it all hang out.  I emerged into the 82˚ morning wrapped in only a towel.  I took one step out of my hotel room, pivoted and returned for a pair of shorts.  Breakfast first, then… I told myself.  The poolside café’s ham, egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin (they were out of croissants that day) was delicious.  And I’ll take a breakfast Rum Runner over OJ any day of the week.  Soon. I laid on the sun deck an ordered a drink, then another.  It was very hot; I was very thirsty.   By the time my sweat had drenched the waistband of my shorts, Willy pleaded for fresh air.  Now or never.  I downed my fourth drink, sucked in my belly and threw shorts to the wind.

Properly SPF’d to avoid a potentially uncomfortable trip home, Willy greeted the Florida sun. Together, we met new friends from San Francisco, Amsterdam, New Haven, Ann Arbor and Sharon Springs, and sipped a few more of those Run Rummers… Rum Rummers… Rum Runners.  It turns out many of our new pals had met each other during previous stays at the Island House, continued their friendships and had actually coordinated reconnecting at the House for subsequent vacations.  Our group effortlessly integrated the curiosity of new acquaintances with the comfort of old friendships.

The most remarkable aspect of being naked was how unremarkable it was.  At times I was naked; at times I was not.  Some of the guests were naked; some were not.  I never felt pressure to… I never felt pressure.  Period.

Perhaps it was the blazing sun, the beautiful location, the new best friends, or the ever-flowing sweet, fruity cocktail concoctions.  Most likely it was the combination of them all.   I realized that full southern exposure at the southernmost point in the continental United States was not the goal.  Disrobing is simple.  Stripping free of preconceptions and insecurities was the challenge.  Dropping my guard—not my shorts—was the key to unlocking the Island House experience, and being welcomed as a happy, new member of One Human Family.

Island House, Key West

For more information on the Island House or for a full (frontal) photo tour of the facilities, visit the Island House website.

To learn more about Key West, visit the websites for The Florida Keys & Key West and Gay Key West.

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Key West’s Island House Celebrates Tropical Winter

New Yorkers have endured the snowiest January in history.  It’s time to strip off your winter coat (and shirt, and pants, and…) and cash-in on two tropical vacations for the price of one.  The Island House in Key West—the historic, men-only, clothing-optional resort—is offering a “Buy Four Nights and Get Three Free” promotion.

To qualify, purchase four nights at the resort before June 30, 2011, and get three free weeknights between July 13 and October 20, 2011, subject to availability.  The Conch Republic (as Key West is commonly known) is hot in any season:  enjoy a little winter warmth, a little summer sizzle.

Click on the picture below to read my full article, published in EDGE

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