Thursday, January 7, 2010

You might be a nudist column from AANR E-Bulletin

I think AANR has done a great job in the last number of years in showing that nude recreation and nude vacations are normal and mainstream. The Guinness world record skinny dip was a genius idea and generated lots of positive PR for nudism.

In the current AANR E- Bulletin (I don't have a link as it comes as an e-mail, John Kinman the president wrote a fun "you might be a nudist" column.

Here it is:

"Below is an excerpt from AANR President John Kinman's President's Podium column that will appear in the February issue of The Bulletin.

While nude recreation and nude travel opportunities have grown a great deal over the past several years, we are still mostly a boutique business compared with large textile resorts with greater economies of scale. If you're willing to pay more to wear less, you could be a nudist.

I've heard of some other descriptions of nudist travelers. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy and his comedy routine, "You might be a redneck," I offer the following:


* You spend a great weekend at a nudist resort and are almost to the exit gate when you realize that you forgot to get dressed.

* You sign up to a time share presentation, take the free gift, and when shown the other resorts you could trade for ask, "Which ones allow me to be nude?"

* You start to walk out of your RV in the morning naked and, for a moment, need to verify that you aren't staying at a KOA.

* You are never without a towel.

* You choose an upstairs room at a hotel with an interior hallway so that your window curtains can be left open and still allow you to be nude.

* When checking in to the Holiday Inn you ask, "What are the clothing-optional hours for the pool and spa?"

* At home, you keep a robe by your front door.

* You buy a velcro waist band to hold tennis balls.

* You can actually identify with this list."

Now besides from being cute, his column brings up a number of issues that pertain to nudist resorts and nudism.

He wrote "If you're willing to pay more to wear less, you could be a nudist." High prices is one of the biggest turn offs for potential nudists. Yes, John is right, this is a boutique industry and yes we have much heavier expenses compared to chain hotels who have the economies of scale, and yes some nudists are weather sensitive and unreliable, they will cancel even if there is only a 5% chance of rain, yet nudist resorts still should be competitive with textile hotels in their area.

When we started The Terra Cotta Inn 15 years ago, because we have been nudists for a long time before we opened, we were tired of paying the so called "nudist premium." Extra money for less amenities and service is not right. Thus, we priced our resort to be competitive with other textile hotels in Palm Springs. Within 3 years time, we had one of the highest occupancy rates of ALL hotels in town which we have maintained ever since. And we have ALWAYS been considered one of the best values of ALL hotels in Palm Springs.

However, many nudist resorts still insist on over charging. Look at the places in Mexico and the Caribbean. They all charge way more to be on the nude side compared to the prude side. This turns off so many people. And they also think American nudist resorts overcharge too.

Many times we have had nudists stay at textile resorts in Palm Springs and come to our hotel for day use. They figured that we were way more expensive than local textile hotels. Which wasn't true. They didn't even bother to call us for rates as they just assumed we over charged just like the Caribbean places. For nudism to grow, nudist resorts are going to have to become more competitive price wise.

John writes "You spend a great weekend at a nudist resort." Nudists have to stop thinking that nudist resorts are only weekend getaways. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. Think vacation resorts.

When we opened 15 years ago, we looked for spacious property with big rooms. There were no nudist vacation resorts in the western US at that time (and there still aren't except for us). I remember Lee Baxandall who was the head of the Naturist Society tried to give us some "fatherly" advice.

When we told him at a meeting that we intended to find a property that catered to vacationers instead of being a weekend getaway, he told us we were naive. He said nudists and naturists all know you only vacation in the Caribbean. American nudist places are just weekend getaways. His advice was buy a cheap place with tiny rooms and target the Southern Californian weekend getaway market. Get a bar, charge lots of money, and bring in lots of day guests who will buy a lot from your bar. That's the way to make money he advised.

Of course as our guests all know, we did not follow any of his advice (he also told us don't promote nudist resorts as being fun as that would attract the wrong element. Market body acceptance). We bought a spacious resort with large rooms and limit day use. We also let guests BYOB instead of having a bar and overcharging for cocktails. Thus we are the only nudist resort in the western US that caters to vacationers and is popular 7 days a week instead of just weekends like everyone else.

The other thing is nudist resort owners have to be honest with their guests. In December right before Christmas, we are slow (the whole travel industry is slow then. We tell potential guests there may only be 4 or 5 other couples here (we are still busier than everyone else) when they book. We actually will lose guests as they want to come when it is a more social atmosphere here. Yet, I know from doing tours at our resort that other nude places in Palm Springs book people and don't tell them that they are slow. Many a time we let couples stay here for free day use at our resort as they are so disappointed that no one told them that no one else would be at the place they booked and they can't get out of their reservations.

In my opinion, nudist resort owners have a responsibility for guests happiness. Now I know there are some people that don't want other people around when they nude sunbathe and we always recommend other places instead of booking them here, yet, most people like social nudism. And to book someone at a nudist resort when they are going to be the only one there is not fair to the guests. And to book a member of the press midweek at a nudist place where they will write they were the only person there is even worse as it makes nudism appear to not be popular.

For nudism to grow, people in the nudist movement have to stop saying weekends and say vacations. Otherwise, first timers will only think of American nudist resorts as weekend getaways.

Finally John writes "When checking in to the Holiday Inn you ask, "What are the clothing-optional hours for the pool and spa?" This brings up one of the biggest points. Card carrying nudists are probably the biggest group of people that do not support their own businesses. Immigrants have always supported their own small businesses. The Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, always shopped at their own small businesses. Gays try to shop at gay businesses, yet so many card carrying nudists and naturists purposely will not stay at a nudist resort. Even proud of that fact.

Earlier this week, someone wrote on the true nudist website "Are there public places in Palm Springs CA area? Looking for a place to enjoy the sun without going to a resort?" Now that person is Canadian, I assume they will be staying at a hotel somewhere in town. Why are they purposely not wanting to support nudist resorts and instead give their money to textile hotels? On other forums I have read where so called "nudists" proudly write they would never go to a nudist resort. This behavior is so strange. You never see gays write they would never support gay businesses, yet nudists do it all the time.

Well nudist resorts and organizations are what makes nudism popular. If it wasn't for nudist resorts and organizations getting the positive PR, nude beaches would never come into existence. If nudists want places to enjoy nude recreation, they have to support nudist resorts and the organizations. especially in with this economy. So many nudist places are going out of business. And people are dropping out of the nudist organizations.

Yes, I know people say we have free nude beaches, but if there is no longer any organizations or resorts to get positive PR, then someday, there will be no free beaches either.

So change your thinking. Think of American nudist resorts as places to take vacations not just weekend getaways. Get more competitive with pricing, continue to generate lots of positive PR. If we do things like this, the nude recreation industry will grow in the US.

Tom Mulhall
Terra Cotta Inn clothing optional resort and spa, Palm Springs, California
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