Today was going to be a great day. After FOURTEEN years, my wife and I were taking a trip to Land O’ Lakes to visit one of the three nudist resorts in the area. We’d been to nude-friendly islands in Greece and to Hidden Beach Resort in Cancun, but hadn’t been anywhere else since we started dating. Weekends in the restaurant business are always hectic, and weekdays with the kids became devoted to ballet, tae-kwon-do, gymnastics, marching band, and homework. A visit to a nudist resort felt like a long-lost dream, until, finally, our eldest turned sixteen and my wife managed to get Sundays off. Finally! . . . we were about to relive the carefree, clothes-free, days of our youth. I was thrilled, yet cautious, certain that a sudden hurricane, an employee coming down with COVID, or a zombie outbreak would ruin our plans.
The sun was shining and the wind was blowing through the top of my wife’s Jeep as we started down the road toward Lake Como Nudist Resort, Florida. Paradise and Caliente, I’d heard, has been overrun by swingers, and was dropped from AANR’s approved list of places to visit, so I figured Como was our best option. After all, I’d visited a dozen times on my own, doing research for my book, The Feral Girl. There is a great nature trail that circles the property, making it easy for a writer to experience, or pretend to experience, survival out in the wilderness, and I was excited to finally bring my wife along to show her.
Now let me preface this story by saying this: nudists have a reputation problem. People think we’re weirdos, which is why I think we should be doing more to normalize the lifestyle, to help make nude recreation as mainstream as a trip to Disney. Treating patrons like Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut just isn’t going to do the movement any good. All I wanted was to jump in the pool with my wife and maybe have a picnic, not join an orgy cult, but the woman at the front desk was someone I’d never seen before, basically, Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. With a tone straight from the Eastern side of the Berlin Wall, she asked me, “HAVE YOU BEEN HERE BEFORE?” Yes, I said, smiling. Many times. “Well . . .” she replied, like I was trying to trick her or something, “I don’t see you here in the computer.”
I told her I’d been there a month ago with my dog, Mocha, and that I’d even arranged a book signing on Veteran’s Day in 2018, where I sold 11 books. A stack of Ages of Aenya bookmarks had been sitting right there on her desk for months. “Nope,” she said, “I don’t see you here.” Can you possibly ask around? Talk to someone who knows me? No. No, she can’t. I proceed to describe the place to her, the cafe, the hot tub, the volleyball court, etc. Nope. I need a background check. Now, I can understand how important this is. We don’t want rapists and pedophiles hanging around naked children. Thing is, I’ve already done the background check. Paid for it and everything. But again, she can’t find it. So she hands me a new form and says, “Does this look familiar?” Yes, I tell her. “AHA!!!” (OK, she doesn’t quite say ‘aha’ but something close to it) followed by “this is a NEW form!” like she caught me in a lie, to which I reply, “I filled out a similar form three years ago. Christ, lady, I don’t recall the exact font, but the questions are the same.”
Being treated like the suspect of a crime puts me in a very bad mood. Again, I can understand the need for precautions, but I found the lack of common sense here utterly absurd. If they were that worried about bad people, they should have never let me, a single guy with a dog, roam the grounds on so many occasions. But now that I’m here with my wife? Sure, we could be the next Charles Manson couple, but what are the chances? It’s like detaining the woman with three kids at the airport while letting the twenty-something with no baggage right through the checkpoint.
So we’ve handed over our licenses, our social security numbers, our DNA samples, etc., eager to get some sun before the end of the day, but again, Mrs. Umbridge stops us. “I can’t let you in!” she says. “You must take the day tour.”
I’ll never understand what, exactly, the day tour is supposed to prevent. Does knowing where the shuffleboard is played stop me from committing a crime? Well, apparently, it’s REEEEALLY important, because under NO CIRCUMSTANCES are we to enter the place without being driven around in a golf cart. “OK,” I say, “let’s do the day tour,” even though I can probably draw the lady a map from memory. But then she says, in her very exasperated tone of voice, “you can only take the day tour between ten and two.”
So, basically, even though I’d been there a dozen times already, even though I’ve SOLD books there, she cannot find any proof that I’ve ever been, and I am forced to take the tour, which I can’t because it is now 3 o’clock. What if we were only free after two? Are people who work day shifts, and who are busy on weekends, unable to enjoy nudism? And is it any wonder younger nudists are choosing to stay home to avoid this horrid treatment?
So now you may be thinking, “Nick, stop being a Karen. They obviously lost your information, and these checks are very important. What if your kid was there and they had let a pedophile in?”
Good point! Which is why this next part is utterly baffling. As we turn to leave, my wife says to me, “Let’s go to lunch,” at which point Dolores stops us, saying, “Oh? Do you want to go to the restaurant?” Sure, I say. So she hands me a restaurant pass, a yellow slip of paper that looks like something elementary school kids need to go to the bathroom. It even has the time written on it. We have precisely two hours to go directly to the restaurant, and nowhere else, and then come straight back.
Now, I hadn’t felt this talked-down-upon since high school, and probably should have told the lady to shove that restaurant pass up her ass, but I timidly agreed.
All the while, I’m thinking to myself: we’re not allowed to enter the resort for fear that we MIGHT be criminals, unless, of course, we’re having lunch!?! If you let us through the gate and WE ARE CRIMINALS, how is this little ticket going to stop us? WTF is this nonsense?
So we go to lunch, and when our server sees the ticket, she treats us like convicts who just got out on a work permit. Her exact words are, “Oow, they take that very seriously here!” But I ask her, “Can I please take my sandwich to the picnic table?” which is about ten feet from the screen door. “Oh no! You can’t! You have to stay right here.” I guess the lady had to watch us at all times, lest my wife and I kidnap a child as we are finishing up our chips. At least our server was nice enough to add 5 minutes to our allotted time, “just long enough to use the bathroom.”
And now, thanks to Lake Como Family Nudist Resort, my wife and I know what it feels like to be on parole at a nudist resort. Not sure I’ll be back.
Last time I went to Olive Dell, I had reserved and paid for a spot online. Arrived at the front gate. The guy there couldn’t find me on the approved list. I showed him the email on my phone confirming that I paid. Ok, cool. He penciled my name in on the list and I was good to go. He then took me on a golf cart (!!!) to where I could park and put up my tent.
And yes,, there were a number of children there as nudists. Some ran in the Bare Burro 5K. A couple even ran in the Naked Beer Mile and drank smaller servings of root beer or Dr. Pepper or some other similar soft drink.
You are not being the Karen here, it is the clerk behind the counter. The club facilitates and encourages the Karen-ness with its rules. Let me suggest that any nudist venue where the staff are not as welcoming as any hotel is not one I’m interested in visiting. They are doing a great disservice to nudism in general.
Maybe they are hoping to catch you drooling at all the naked bodies you see or getting aroused on the golf cart tour. Maybe they don’t want to wandering around the camp looking for things – keep in your place where you belong! Maybe they are too cheap to print maps for their customers. Maybe it is just a ritual. Some organizations really love ritual.
Her attitude sounds like she was really inconvenienced by your arrival. That’s how a bureaucrat responds to a customer needing service, not a receptionist.
I suspect the point is to emphasize their exclusivity and all the hoops you have to jump thru are ***theater*** intended to weed out ordinary people thru inconvenience and give those who get thru a sense of (false) security and exclusivity. I cannot help but wonder if the standards are applied evenly or if some people get closer scrutiny that others.
All you need to do a background check for sexual crimes is a name on a valid ID of some sort and then go on line. There are government web sites dedicated to this. It literally takes seconds. (Maybe they are doing a credit and other checks as well?) It would only filter out convicted pedophiles. Most have never been convicted and many who are turned out to be pillars of the community active in youth organizations for decades before being caught.
Because it is so easy to check, convicted sex criminal would generally never go near a nudist resort. They aren’t even allowed to go to a city park. Or if they did they’d have to use a fake ID with someone else’s info. They are easy to get.
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Thanks for the response, Fred. I was wondering whether I was being unreasonable or she was. I agree that for nudism to flourish, resorts need to act more like hotels and less like prisons. I’ve actually gone into courthouses and government embassies with much less hassle. I’ve also experienced prejudice for being a single guy in his twenties, back when I used to visit Paradise in college, but a married guy in his forties coming in with his wife? You’d think I’d be their ideal patron.
As for the criminal record, I’ve often wondered how they would feel about someone who’s on the sex offender list for being caught nude at an unofficial beach? That’d be some irony right there. Fortunately for me, I don’t even have a misdemeanor to my name.
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I would also be their perfect patron. Over my life I have been given background checks by the postal service, the defence industrial agency, the us air force and children’s protective services, and various criminal background checks. I had to do these things for access to classified data, large sums of money
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That would indeed be an irony. I suppose it would be evidence you couldn’t play by the rules.
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My letter to Como (let’s see how they respond!)
My wife and I had a TERRIBLE experience when we tried to visit your resort this Saturday. Even though I have visited about a dozen times in the past two years, we were never able to visit together due to work reasons. The Memorial Day weekend offered us a unique opportunity to enjoy the place together as a couple.
Unfortunately, your receptionist was very hostile toward us. Despite the fact that I am a frequent patron, she said she could find no record of my visits since 2012, and since my wife took the tour about 20 years ago (when we were still dating) she wasn’t allowed entry AT ALL.
I tried to explain to her that not only have I been there often, but that I’ve even sold some naturist books there (I am an author of a series of naturist novels). I love your nature trails and could probably draw you a map from memory if you wanted.
But again, the receptionist insisted we do a background check, which we agreed to, giving out our driver’s licenses and filling out a form. Then she said we were not allowed in because we had to take the day tour, and because it was after two, we were refused entry and forced to drive an hour and a half back home! Our Memorial Day weekend plans were ruined and I honestly do not know when we’ll ever have the chance to return.
Your website ONLY states that newcomers are required to fill out a background check; nowhere is the day tour rule mentioned, or that day tours are only given before 2:00 pm. If this is a new rule, I highly suggest you make it known on your website, because turning patrons away, especially those who plan their weekend trips at your place, is extremely bad business and gives a very bad impression. [OK, PIE ON MY FACE… this rule IS mentioned on their site but not in their FAQ, and I still find it misleading because I HAVE BEEN THERE before and was refused entry].
I am an advocate for nudism, so I do not want to bad-mouth any nudist venue, but I have been very put off by this experience, as has my wife, and I am not sure I would ever want to return, not knowing what kind of treatment we will be getting. The receptionist assured us day tours are given every day before 2:00, but since this is not listed on your website, I am not sure my wife and I won’t be turned away again.
Considering we are NOT newbies to the lifestyle or Lake Como, I find this whole ordeal preposterous. I’ve been a nudist my entire life and my wife has been involved with me for over twenty years. We’ve been AANR, Paradise Lakes, and Caliente members—and we only stopped visiting the last two because we feel they do not uphold true naturist values. My articles have been featured in naturist magazines from the US to New Zealand.
To be as committed as we have been and turned away like clueless newbies is really unconscionable. I can only hope that, if we are able to return, we will be treated with greater respect.
In case anyone here is interested, Melissa Dodd, Director of Operations at Lake Como, responded to my e-mail in a very friendly manner. This is what she had to offer:
Sorry for the delay.
I was very upset to hear about your experience at Lake Como. I’d like to extend my deepest apologies.
If you and your wife would consider another visit. I’d like to offer you one of 2 choices.
2 days grounds fees comped
A 2 night stay in one of our rooms or cabins at the discounted preferred rate.
Updated background checks would be needed. These will be of no charge to you.
Again I am so very sorry about your experience and hope you are willing to give us another try.
Have a wonderful day,
Director of Operations
next time, try Cypress Cove Nudist Resort. the staff is great and very welcoming. you won’t get the same treatment like you did at Lake Como.
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I’ve always wanted to visit Cypress Cove, and it isn’t too far of a drive from where we live. From my understanding, it’s the AANR Headquarters, so I imagine it must be a nice place!