The idea of attending a nudist camp feels so risqué, vaguely European and possibly outdated. But according to the results of a recent opinion survey, one out of seven people say they're interested in au natural recreation. Though the open-mindedness and lack of self-consciousness required sounds more foreign than native, the "naturist" (the preferred term) trend is gaining momentum. According to a Wall Street Journal article from early 2003, it's become an estimated $400 million business. The type of travel runs the gamut of regular, clothing-preferred travel: cruises, rural retreats and upscale destinations. They're just like you and me except the like to do more than just skinny dip. Most of these organizations, if not all, state that they do not tolerate any inappropriate behavior; they promote a safe comfortable environment for families and those in monogamous relationships. In other words, it's not a sleazy pick-up scene by any means.
There may indeed be a nudist camp by you. For a tasteful and informative introduction, complete with resources and answers to questions you maybe dying to ask, visit the 50,000-member American Association for Nude Recreation (tel. 800/TRY-NUDE; www.aanr.com), proving there's truly an association for every interest group. (As an indication of longevity, they just published the 22nd Edition of the North American Guide to Nude Recreation.) According to the FAQ section, people chose this form of recreation because "it embraces the joy of living and experiencing nature in the most natural way possible. To relax and be nude is to let yourself be totally free." Nevertheless, the site continues, they do recommend and choose clothing when practical, for certain activities. Joining the 75-year-old organization entitles members to a 20 percent discount or more off regular rates for activities and vacations and the site feature a searchable (by state) listing of camps across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and Dominican Republic. Featured vacations include Berkshire Vista Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, the Cypress Cove Resort and Spa in Kissimmee, Florida, and Turtle Lake Resort in south central Michigan. To spread the word on traveling in your birthday suit, they're celebrating the 30th annual Nude Recreation Week (July 4-10), where many of the AANR-affiliated clothing-optional clubs across the country will host open houses. To get oneself acclimated to the idea, they suggest try any activity around the house in the nude for starters, such as bathing the dog, reading a book or scouring the shower.
Another resource for travel news, deals, membership, community building and news is NudePlaces (tel. 800/615-7543; www.nudeplaces.com) a site sponsored by the Nudist Friends Network Travel International, which boasts over 5,000 members. Unsurprising, many of the spots listed are warm beach environments. One upcoming event planned is the Annual Lifestyles 4th of July Bash at a resort called Hedonism II in Jamaica, from July 2-9. Current specials include Eden Bay Resorts in Dominican Republic -- every seventh night is free; Desire Resort, in Cancun, where the fifth night is free in garden view and ocean view rooms, but only if you book between May 23 -- August 1 for travel between July 1 and August 31. Other specials include one at Club Orient in the St. Martin, where a ten percent discount is offered if you stay fifteen nights or more. Other travel spots include Grand Lido Braco Jamaica; Desert Fountain Inn, Palm Springs, Florida; and Casa Tiene Vista, Sedona, Arizona, but that's hardly an exhaustive list. In order to find out cost, which is not openly listed, interested travelers must fill out a form online in order to receive a free quote. One bonus: for those who are new to the lifestyle, there are over fifty trip reports available on the site, entered by users and fellow travelers, so you can do a little research before booking.
The International Naturists Association (tel. 877/261-6184; www.clothesfree.com) hosts a busy site with lots of photographs, travel ideas, news, message boards, an online store, polls, and hyperlinks to nudist resorts, hotels, and spas. In general, it's a community-minded site geared toward the dissemination of information. If you click on "where to get naked" there are links to countries all over the world with listings of nude recreation sites; similarly, there ways to find an INA representative in your area. Upcoming events advertised include the World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday June 11, which takes place in major cities all over the world. Suffice to say, this is a flashier, less sedate resource than the others listed here; there's a blurb with a link to a company looking for people who are interested in appearing in a documentary about nudism. And INR also produces a series of DVDs called Nudes in the News, which shows naturists engaged in sports activities such as skiing, roller skating, water skiing. The DVDs are geared toward introducing novices to the community by providing a glimpse into its members and resorts by promoting the lifestyle.
Trade Association for Nude Recreation (www.tanr.com), located in Kissimmee, Florida, is a similar organization with a registry of resorts across the U.S. and around the world, with companies that are both registered and unregistered with them but which may be recognized with other nudist organizations. For those searching for a particular type of trip, the criteria are pretty detailed; by restaurant, by beach, hotel, or even RV resort. The site also provides information on special offers from other companies, such as a coupon for Two for One on your First Visit to Lupin Naturist Club in Los Gatos, California, and a $100 off coupon for Hidden Beach Resort in Spring, Texas, but you must book through Castaways Travel and a minimum of a six-night stay is required. On the left-hand side of the page are hyperlinks to resorts and like-minded companies. The only downfall: there does not seem to be a toll-free number or place to submit a question via e-mail about the services offered (probably because it's a trade organization) but you can subscribe to their newsletter.
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