Upon arriving on the nude beach at Hedonism II, I quickly undressed and reclined on a lounger to take in the views. Couples and singles of all body types, nationalities, ages, and sexual orientations floated in the ocean, sunbathed, and walked between the pool, beach, and bar. One man lightly pleasured his wife with his hands while she laid on her back on a lilo in the ocean. Nearby, a woman helped her husband put on two coats of sunscreen. At times, hands massaged shoulders and lingered on paler body parts, and it all seemed so… normal.
Opened in 1981, Hedonism II is a famous adults-only resort. The hotel labels itself as “lifestyle-friendly,” and is quick to say they’re not a nudist or swingers’ resort, but welcomes people of all sexual proclivities.
“It’s very important that people coming here have a basic understanding of what the resort is about; Hedonism II is not for everyone.”
You’ll find the usual at Hedonism II – gym, spa, pools, beach, restaurants, bars, and nightly entertainment – but that’s not what makes ‘Hedo’ famous. They offer nightly parties with themes like toga night, lingerie, and leather, as well as activities like foam parties. Emboldened by a few drinks and a sexy show where Jamaican entertainers dance provocatively, visitors fade into the night for more fun.
Some visit the beach or the small jungle, to walk, talk, or… do other things. Many visit the nude pool with their partners, and some return to the rooms – recently refurbished spaces with mirrors on the ceiling, glass showers, and balconies replete with hot tubs.
There’s also the “Romping Shop Playroom”: a non-judgment zone with shallow pools, beds, a cage, and a harness. It’s open to couples and single women – single men must be invited – and almost anything goes in terms of sexual pleasure, provided that it’s respectful of other guests.
For those who haven’t been to Hedonism II, it sounds like a bacchanalia-fest of sex, nudity, and pleasure, but the reality is different. There are places on the property where clothing is required – the main restaurants, for example. I sometimes hung out on the Prude side: an area where you can be fully clothed, but other times hung out topless, or nude at the beach, or pool, or snack bar.
PDAs are strictly limited to the private nude jacuzzi and Romping Shop; although day and night, I witnessed plenty of PDAs or sex in hidden (like a dense jungle area) or not-so-hidden (like on a pool cabana) areas.
When speaking with Social Engagement Manager Michelle Facey about feedback from first-time guests, she said: “First-timers are always surprised at how friendly and relaxed our other guests are, and how there isn’t any pressure to do anything other than exactly what feels comfortable for them.”
While Hedo welcomes all visitors, Facey adds that “[It’s] very important that people coming here have a basic understanding of what the resort is about so that they have the correct expectations; Hedonism II is not for everyone.” If you think Hedo could be for you, she says, “We create an environment that is very relaxed, sexy, non-judgmental, and fun, which is an unusual combination to find in paradise.”
General Manager Kevin Levee echoes Facey in saying that Hedo is “an environment where [guests] can create their own experience, at their own speed.” He adds: “Hedo provides an atmosphere that encourages guests to fulfill their fantasies and reignite the fires of lust, love, and romance. It’s a liberating experience that people crave more of once they leave. They return to have uninhibited fun and to feel free.”
Speak with guests and you’ll discover that Hedonism II isn’t a one-stop visit for most. Hedo’s repeat guest rate is 70 percent, with some visiting from 10 to over 100 times, and it may have to do with the resort’s lifestyle-friendly environment.
Psychologist Amy Muise said vacations can lead to what psychologists call “self-expansion,” where you “engage in novel, exciting activities… This can promote sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual and relationship satisfaction,” adding that it can “broaden your perspective of your partner or the world.” With the, shall we say, unique environment at Hedo, self-expansion is probable, if not guaranteed.
As the resort finishes an $11 million upgrade to the property, there’s a new vibe in the air, and it feels youthful. Though the hotel estimates that a third of visitors are between 45-54, and 90 percent of total guests are couples, I caught sight of couples 40 and younger during my stay – even one with a blue room light to indicate an open-door policy.
I also met the Men and Women at Large, 24 Toronto calendar models on site for a photoshoot, as well as women from the BARE self-love retreat, which included around 80 young women of colour. There are yearly events that cater to diverse groups like people of colour, the LGBTQI community, and couples under the age of 30. Currently, one in ten guests are 25-34 and just under a third are 35-44. Each year the crowd grows younger, thanks in no small part to social media.
As a single, 28-year-old woman, I found Hedonism II invigorating and empowering. I felt sexy playing naked volleyball and dancing with the Men at Large models, and empowered in conversation with the BARE retreat women. I even connected positively with guests of my parents’ and grandparents’ age. They looked me in my eyes, even when naked, and provided useful insight on the resort. They wanted me to enjoy Hedo, just as they did.
Sure, some conversations were done in the nude or where guests engaged in sexual acts nearby, but after an hour at the resort, you barely notice. By visiting Hedonism II and experiencing it for yourself, you quickly learn that it’s less about the sex or nudity, and more about the good energy, and how it allows you to tap into the sexual and empowered person that you are.
Facey said it best: “Hedonism II ultimately is about honesty, with yourself and others. You are forced to let your guard down and open up to others… you are comfortable being nude in front of a few hundred people who were strangers yesterday and your new best friends today, forming very real and special bonds, [that are] not necessarily sexual.” To me, that’s a vacation like no other.
Alex Temblador is a freelance travel writer based in Dallas, Texas, and was hosted at the resort by Hedonism II. Keep up with her on Twitter.