10 Photos to Inspire a Stay at the SLS Baha Mar

Something I’ve learned over the past year: I’m not a fan of overly curated places and experiences, unless they’re curated exactly to my taste. Go figure, right? This was the overwhelming feeling I had when I set foot in the SLS Baha Mar, a resort in the Bahamas that I visited this past summer. From the tropical cool meets vintage luxury vibe of the lobby to the intimacy of the curated gallery wall of modern Bahamian art work behind the front desk, this hotel made me feel giddy from the moment I checked in.

When I came downstairs for dinner that night, Little Dragon’s Best Friends was playing. The next morning my new journo friends and I brunched while Anthony Hamilton’s Lucille played softly in the background. All I could think was, yes I am home.

The only other property that made me feel this way recently was the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica. While I’ve written about both of these hotels for World Bride Magazine, I wanted to share a few details about why I love the SLS Baha Mar that didn’t necessarily make it into the article (like, the fact that this hotel smells really good, and all the monkeys and black stripes make me feel like the space was made just for me. That kind of stuff.)

1. The lobby looks like my dream living room…and it’s full of books.

I love it when hotels go the extra mile to ensure that their lobby doesn’t look cookie cutter. If the property actually gives me design inspiration that I want to apply to my own home — even better. When it comes to unique design touches, the SLS Baha Mar is no exception. The vibe in the lobby is part vintage Palm Springs, part Miami cool with a Bahamian twist.

And there’s books everywhere…annnd they’re not randomly selected books chosen for their spines (like my weird uncle has in his “study” that looks like the gloomy home library backdrop of a Sears portrait) but books I actually want to read — like that copy of Ibiza Bohemia that I was so tempted to swipe right off the table but didn’t because I’m an upstanding citizen.

2. Two separate pool options.

While I love a good pool party moment, I’m old and can’t party all day. I loved that the SLS had two separate pool areas: “Privilege” — an upscale, adults only all day pool party with international DJs that played a lot of Drake (I’m pretty sure I heard the entire Scorpion album one afternoon) and “Bungalow” a more chill, “grown folks” pool atmosphere that (much to my delight) played exclusively old-school 90’s R&B and Hip Hop.

3. Taco trucks on the beach.

El Jefe is a Mexican eatery housed in a pink retro Airstream trailer. When I saw it lining the boardwalk, I almost dropped down to my knees on the sand and praised Jesus. While the tacos didn’t quite live up to my overly high standards, the food was tasty and I appreciated the effort to move away from your typical resort nosh.

4. The food & drinks.

I already covered the food in my piece for WBM, but it needs to be said that this is the best food I’ve ever had at a resort. I was a big fan of Cleo Mediterráneo, which serves a delicious brunch spread and an amazing lamb dish that I’m still thinking about. Between Katsuya, Cleo Mediterráneo, the food trucks and a 24 hour Chinese noodle house which is located inside the adjacent casino, every one of my food cravings is covered under one roof.

PS. The drinks are creative, delicious and strong.


5. The guest rooms look like an upgraded version of my bedroom.

Actual conversation that I had with my friend:

Me: I’m in love with the guest rooms at SLS Baha Mar.

Him: That’s because they look like a slightly upgraded version of your actual bedroom.

It’s true. The rooms are airy and bright with some quirky touches. I want to move in, or at the very least use this hotel as major home design inspiration.

6. Stripes! Everywhere!

If you know me, you’re probably aware of my undying love for black and white stripes. I get it from my Mom who is rarely seen without one of her signature Breton striped shirts. Needless to say, the striped cabanas at the Bungalow make me very happy. See: the photo at the top of this post.

7. Monkeys! Everywhere!

Another fun fact: I love monkeys. I was born the year of the monkey and have always felt an affinity towards them. The SLS Baha Mar is sprinkled with playful monkey touches (the logo for SLS hotels is a playful crest that includes two monkeys). From the card holders at Cleo to the aptly named Monkey Bar, which features large scale irreverent portraits of monkeys dressed to the nines, there’s no shortage of cheekiness at the SLS Baha Mar.

However, it was the monkey bust that I nicknamed Paco Banane that really won me over. I was so smitten with Paco that the kind folks at the SLS managed to find me my very own monkey statue and shipped it to my home.

8. The people watching is golden.

The vibe at the Monkey Bar on a Saturday night is laid-back, hip and includes lots of local Bahamians. Along with plenty of attractive, stylish folks from around the island (so. many. good. looking. gentleman), expect to see professional sports players and the odd hip hop star thrown in for good measure. While our group was having pre-dinner drinks at The Monkey Bar, we noticed Killer Mike checking in. Later, someone spotted rapper N.O.R.E (Noreaga) hanging out by the pool. That evening, Nas was rumored to be on property having dinner. Hey, if it’s good enough for the locals and hip-hop royalty, it’s good enough for me!

9. The ocean.

I’ve traveled a lot over the past year, but the ocean here was something else. Perfectly calm and turquoise. It was a sight to behold.

10. It’s a balanced experience.

If I’m ever lucky enough to have a Bachelorette party, the SLS Baha Mar would be the kind of place I’d want to go. There’s nightlife but it’s not in your face and all the pastel colors create a vibe that is feminine without being prissy. Like Vegas, there’s a high concentration of world class restaurants and a casino, but without any of the things that make Vegas terrible. Instead, there’s a gorgeous beach. Oh, and the monkeys. We can’t forget the monkeys.

A Cozy Holiday Giveaway From Pure Romance

After writing this post about my impending retirement from sex blogging, I’ve more or less hung up my adult product reviewer hat. So, when Pure Romance contacted me about reviewing their new holiday line, I was hesitant. Would the company that’s known for its at home sex toy parties (I’ve been to a few in my day) have anything suitable for my new blog direction? It turns out that yes, yes, yes they do!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a great pair of pajamas (so much so, that my family had to stage a pajamavention at one point). Well, as it turns out, Pure Romance carries some of the comfiest ones I’ve ever had the pleasure of working sleeping in (freelancer win!) They also have a bunch of body products that they sent me to try….and, because there are all about spreading the wealth, I also have a Pure Romance holiday gift set to giveaway to a reader. Here’s the skinny…

Behold the most comfiest pajamas known to humankind! The Vega V-neck Chemise and Leto Lounge Pants are both made with bamboo fibers to feel as soft as silk while naturally adapting to your body’s temperature and wicking away moisture. I know I’ll definitely be wearing the Leto Pants to work and write lounge around the house. Also, is it just me or does the Vega V-neck Chemise look cute enough to wear outside of the bedroom? I’m kind of tempted to wear it as a beach dress next time I travel somewhere warm.

The folks at Pure Romance also included some Flirt Conditioning Shave Cream and Coco Glow Sunless Tanner, which to be honest I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

They also included some Euforia Shea Butter, which judging by the first application is something I’m going to be using on my chronically dry legs all winter.

If you’d like to win your very own Pure Romance holiday gift, simply leave a comment on this post.

An extra entry will be given if you also follow me on Instagram. If you follow me on the ‘Gram, make sure you mention your handle in the comment so I know who you are.

I’ll choose a winner Wednesday, December 19th, 2018.

Don’t want to wait to see if you win? Enjoy a 10% discount on all purchases, excluding tax and shipping, when you use the exclusive promotion code SkinnyDip10. To redeem, just enter it in the COUPON CODE box and hit “APPLY” and the discount will be shown.

Good luck & happy holidays! xx

A Few Telling Signs That You’re a Freelance Writer


Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Cancun with a handful of awesome writers (you can watch the story highlights here). We’re all freelancers, so once the margaritas start flowing (and boy did they flow…), naturally the conversation turned to all of the highs and lows of freelancing. Most of my friends IRL work regular 9-5 jobs in the public sector and while they think what I do is cool, they don’t always understand or relate to the behind the scenes stuff that goes into writing full time for a living. So, while these press trips  can be a bit logistically crazy (I was literally in Mexico for 3 days), I love that they give me a chance to connect with other awesome women writers and journalists who just get it.

Inspired by conversations I had in Mexico, here’s a few of things that most freelance writers will be able to relate to. I may just turn this into a regular series.

[Note: I realize some of these points are probably specific to sex and relationship writers/bloggers, so keep that in mind]

1. You don’t go to the dentist as much as you should.

A fellow writer friend posted a selfie that other day with the caption, “went to the dentist for the first time in 3 years! #freelancelife.” It was only once I saw her post that I remembered that I haven’t been to the dentist in far too long. I’m not talking about going to a cosmetic dentist, I mean a straight up cleaning and check-up. I have the best dental clinic — it’s in a gorgeous, easy to access area and my dentist is awesome — and yet, I always leave appointments way too long. Part of this is because of a hectic schedule. It’s also because I have to pay out of pocket for treatments (versus before when I worked at a corporate job and everything was covered by my benefits plan).

2. You have a precarious relationship with health care/insurance.

I’ve met a lot of freelance writers from the States that don’t have health insurance. The struggle is real. The only way I’m able to get away with not having insurance is because I live in Canada and the only thing I pay out of pocket for is dentistry and the occasional massage or chiropractic treatment.  Friends living in the States, I don’t know how you guys do it, but know that you’re not alone.

3. When you’ll actually get paid is even less reliable than your period.

While I have a general idea of when my anchor clients will pay me based on when I invoice them, I can’t always say that I’ll have the money by a specific date. Sometimes there are delays or a payment takes longer to clear through PayPal. It’s tricky and you always have to think ahead to make sure you have your expenses covered.

4. All of your zip drives and pens are branded.

In my case, most of my office supplies come from sex toy companies, sexy resorts and other places I’ve traveled.

Hi. I like sex and hotels and writing about both.

5. You’ve gotten hooked on an unlikely beverage or snack thanks to a press event.

There was a time in 2010 when it seemed like every PR event in Toronto was sponsored by Vitamin Water. The company even dropped off a free crate of it at my former retail job and a week later I found myself at an open bar fashion week party where all the drinks were infused with the beverage. A year later, it was Pop Chips, and after that, Starbucks Refresher energy drinks (which, I still sometimes get a hankering for — another fashion week addiction). Currently, I have a friend who is hooked on the Aperol Spritz. The last thing I became addicted to was ONE Coconut Water, which I’m not mad about because I’m pretty sure it won’t give me diabetes.

6. You re-use free items in creative ways.

While I don’t really enjoy silicone lubricant, Uberlube makes a great hair styling product. I’ve also heard it works wonders on creaky door hinges. Also, 90% of the candles in my home are actually aphrodisiac scented massage candles. I don’t have anyone to massage currently, but I am prepared for the next blackout or apocalypse!

Sex candles for the apocalypse.

7. Your work wardrobe looks less like this…

…..and a lot more like this.


If you see a photo of me on Instagram dressed up, that’s literally because it was a rare occasion when I actually wore real clothes and therefore, felt it needed documenting. While I do wear my “uniform” (jeans, a striped shirt & black leather jacket) to go to work at a coffee shop or co-working space, most of the time I’m in workout wear and wrapped in multiple long cardigans and/or a Slanket because my desk area is cold AF.

8. You frequently wonder if you should just pack it in and get a desk job.

This is something I think about at least a couple of times a month. I’ve gone through phases where I’ll apply to a bunch of 9-5 jobs, go to interviews and then something will happen — I’ll get offered a cool opportunity or I’ll secure a new client. When this happens, I interpret as the Universe telling me that I need to stay the course. While there’s definitely some downsides to freelancing, the freedom to create my own schedule is pretty amazing.

If you’re a freelancer, what would you add to this list?

How to Pack For a Press Trip in The Caribbean


Since October 2017, I’ve gone on five separate press trips to the Caribbean (Mexico 3x, Jamaica and The Bahamas) and I’d like to think that I’ve got packing for tropical, work-related travel down to a fine science. Well, maybe not a science…but I have learned a few things along the way. Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions about my recent travels. So, before I head out on another trip, I thought I’d share a few of my packing tips for press or FAM trips in the tropics.

[Note: at some point I’ll write a comprehensive post about the ins and outs of press trips, but for now, this is a post about packing and preparation]

Bring a bathing suit, sundress, sunscreen and sandals in your carry-on.

Depending on where you’re flying from (in my case the west coast), if you’re on a red eye flight that arrives in the morning, you’ll probably get to your hotel or resort well before check in time. This means you’ll have a few hours to kill before your room is ready. I usually eat (I’m always starving) and then head to the pool/beach, however sometimes you have to hit the ground running. Literally. On my last trip I arrived from the airport and immediately had to do a 2-hour long (OUTDOOR) site tour of the property after flying all night. To save the hassle of rummaging through your suitcase in the hotel lobby bathroom (which, I’ve also done) I’ve just started packing my a bathing suit, sundress, sunscreen and sandals in my carry-on, along with anything else that I need to freshen up (face wipes, moisturizer, deodorant etc).

Checked baggage versus carry-on.

This is totally personal and I may change my stance on this, but I’m one of the rare people who prefers to check their baggage — especially for slightly longer trips. I like being hands free in the airport, plus in my experience, you tend to accumulate a lot of swag & souvenirs on press trips that you may want to take home (i.e. bottles of champagne, full size sunscreens, toiletries etc). Once again, this is totally a personal choice.

It’s not a fashion show.

In my experience, most of the journalists you meet on these trips are from large urban hubs like NY, LA, Miami, Atlanta, Toronto etc. I was worried that coming from the west coast of Canada (where we’re on “island time“) I’d look and feel like a country bumpkin in comparison to my peers. Not the case at all. Unless you’re going on fashion themed trips (like the kind described in Cat Marnell’s book How to Murder Your Life), most of the people you meet are going to be other (often underpaid) lifestyle and travel journalists like yourself.

Pack stuff that you feel good in and don’t bring anything too precious, as drinks get spilled and well, shit happens. With the exception of an Alice + Olivia dress, most of my tropical clothes are from the clearance rack of H&M, Forever21 or one of my favorite designer consignment stores in Vancouver (an excellent option for finding unique pieces for a great price — especially off season).

Now onto packing…

1. Sundresses that can easily be dressed up or down.

The key here is versatility. You want to pack things that can be worn with flat sandals to lunch/breakfast but can also work at night with a pair of heels (if that’s your jam). On my trip to Mexico and the Bahamas this summer, I brought two leaf-print dresses similar to the one above and wore them constantly. Tip: if you can wash a dress in the sink & it dries easily — even better.

2. Lightweight LBD.

Every press event is different, but in my experience there’s usually one night that requires you to be a little bit more dressy. A simple black slip dress like the one above has been a wardrobe godsend. Breezy and comfortable, you’ll look polished without being overdressed for the tropics.

3. Nude heels.

When it comes to heels, I try to only pack one pair. Maybe two. A great pair of nude heels is an easy solution here, as they go with everything. I actually own the exact pair of Dolce Vita slides featured above and I love them. They’re comfy and go with almost anything. If you’re looking to buy shoes online you’ll just want to make sure they’re comfortable enough to withstand a lot of walking. Caribbean resorts are deceptively large and you’ll likely clock some serious distances just going back and forth from events to your room.

4. Metallic or neutral colored flat sandals that you can walk in.

It all comes down to versatility and comfort here. While you’re able to find a ton of
women’s shoes online, you’ll want to make sure that your shoes don’t chafe and/or give you blisters.

5. Large clutch.

If the resort you’re visiting is all inclusive you’re probably not going to need to carry around your wallet all day, everyday. Instead, I like to use a large envelope clutch to hold my room key, phone & sunscreen. You can toss it into a beach tote for the day and/or pull it out for evening activities.

6. Fun jewelry.

Just because you’re there for business doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your accessories. While I’m loyal to my go-to large gold hoops, I use trips to the Caribbean as an opportunity to experiment with bold & bright jewelry that I might not wear at home. Same goes for clothing!

7. Bikinis.

While I love a good one-piece, when you’re drinking a lot throughout the day — even if it’s just water — bikinis are just easier to get in and out of. Bring at least two so that you always have something to wear when the other one is drying.

8. A cover up that you’re not embarrassed to wear in public.

I didn’t realize this about resorts, but people wear coverups in public areas — not just by the pool or beach. While I generally don’t put much thought into what I wear to the pool when I’m at home, I’m glad I invested in one or two coverups that I can wear without feeling raggedy.

9. Good quality flip flops.

Instead of buying overpriced flip flops when you get there (that will probably need to be thrown out sooner, rather than later), minimize your waste by investing in a pair of decent quality flip flops. I’m partial to my Havaianas (that are now 10 years old!) because they seem close to indestructible.

10. Sunscreen.

Pack more sunscreen than you think you’ll need. I almost always run out and hotel gift shops love to charge extra for it.

11. All purpose tote.

I have a large Longchamp tote that I use as my travel bag but also does double duty as a beach tote that I can take on day trips.

Now onto the really fun stuff…

12. Earplugs and anything else you’ll need for a comfortable sleep.

You can never really predict how noisy a resort will be at night or where your room will be situated in relation to said noise. For example, I never would have guessed that at Temptation the party at the outdoor club rages until 3 or 4am, nor could I have anticipated how noisy the birds & bugs were in Jamaica. Moral of this story: ear plugs are your friend. I’ve also started using them for sleeping on planes.

13. All the hand sanitizer.

On my second press trip to Jamaica, I got strep throat. It was awful. This goes without saying, but use hand sanitizer always and liberally.

14. Bikini zone gel.

There’s nothing worse than being en route to your destination and realizing that the bikini wax you just got has turned into a hot mess of bumps and irritation. This cooling, healing gel has saved my life on numerous occasions.

15. Probiotics.

I have a sensitive digestive system, but I find taking probiotics everyday — especially when I’m traveling — really helps.

16. Diarrhea medicine.

As luck would have it, the one time I neglected to pack Immodium was the time I absolutely needed it (and was forced to spend $25 USD at the hotel gift shop to get some). Now I like to keep a package in my suitcase at all time.

17. Pepto Bismal.

Between tons of food and drink, and just being away from my usual food/environment, I’ve yet to go on a trip where I haven’t had to use something for my stomach at least once. To avoid the risk of spilling, I prefer to pack the chewable tablets.

18. Bug bite relief.

If you forget to pack bug spray (in my experience I’ve only needed it 50% of the time), it helps to have some topical bug bite relief and Benadryl on hand.

19. A hat that you’re not particularly attached to.

On recent trips, I’ve had sun hats fall in the pool, get rained on and even fly off a boat into the ocean. You’re going to need a hat, but maybe consider packing one that you’re not super attached to.

20. Lip balm with SPF.

Pack some so you don’t spend the entire trip complaining that your lips hurt real bad. 

To save time, I’ve taken items 13-21 (along with a bottle of bug spray) and put it in a zipper pouch, so I can just grab my “tropical survival kit” whenever I’m preparing for a trip.

What are some of your traveling essentials?

So, Your Favorite Artist Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct. Here’s Who To Listen to Instead


Earlier this year, my friend and I decided on a lark to buy tickets to see Nelly (yes, as in Country Grammar, shimmy-shimmy-cocoa-what Nelly). I liked Nelly’s songs when he came out, but I was never a hardcore fan. Still, we figured the concert would be an amusing way to spend a Sunday night in Victoria. It ended up being one of the more bizarre experiences of my concert going career.

While the chanted along to the lyrics of EI, I decided to google Mr. Nelly. What popped up was a whole list of articles outlining a litany of sexual assault accusations. The lesson here: always do a google search before you buy tickets.

While I’m incredibly grateful for the #MeToo movement and how it’s given people the courage to come forward about sexual assault and misconduct, the bi-product is that media consumption has become more complicated. There are a lot of artists that I used to view as harmless guilty pleasures that I just can’t engage with anymore.

Whether you’ve recently discovered that your favorite artist(s) is a predatory super creep or you’re just looking for new tunes, I’ve prescribed some new listening suggestions to freshen up your daily playlist.

1. Miguel >>> Gallant

This one really pains me, because Miguel is one of my favorite artists from the past few years, but after a woman accused him of sexual assault for forcibly exposing her breast in public (something I’ve had happen to me before at clubs), his music doesn’t quite sound the same. If you’re in the same boat, my suggestion is to check out the music of Maryland born singer Gallant. His debut album Ology hooked me right away (I kept pressing repeat on “Talking to Myself”). With his gorgeous voice and lush production, Gallant feels like the 2018 answer to Maxwell.

2. R Kelly >>> Ari Lennox

I’m the first to admit that I used to like R Kelly’s music (I even mentioned it here!) My formative years were full of his songs — a fact that now seems especially creepy given what we know now about well documented his track record of alleged sexual assault and relationships with underage women. Vox put together a timeline of allegations directed at  R Kelly which spans 24 years (24 years!!) Needless to say, it’s impossible to ignore this any longer (no matter how much fun it is to sing along to Ignition). If you’re looking for a 90’s R&B fix, I’d suggest checking out Joe. An underrated contemporary of Kelly, Joe’s song Love Scene is still one of my favorite slow jams ever. If you’re looking for something completely new, tune into DC’s Ari Lennox. Not only is her voice gorgeous, but her debut PHO is ridiculously sexy.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers >>> Fishbone

Like every kid who was a teen in the early 90’s, RCHP was part of my life. They weren’t my favorite band (I was obsessed with Madonna and every R&B/hip hop group under the sun), but I’ve been known to hum Under the Bridge on occasion. While doing research for this article, I discovered sexual misconduct allegations against the band and that lead singer Anthony Kiedis has admitted to knowingly having sex with a fourteen year old girl (SHUDDER) If you also find this hella creepy and wrong but are craving a funk/rock fix, I suggest checking out the band Fishbone (which, is noted as an influence of RHCP).

Founded in 1979 in South Central Los Angeles, Fishbone is known for blending funk, rock, ska and soul and lyrics that combine goofy humor with biting social commentary about topics like racism, fascism and oppression. As a “disparate, all-black oddball crew” the band has been instrumental in paving the way for other artists of color and events like Afropunk. Oh, and did I mention they can rock?

Hey dudes, Joe the Intern here. I wanted to take a moment to remind you that sexual harassment and assault is danger. AND DANGER IS WRONG. Thankfully, with the advent of #MeToo, people are feeling more empowered to speak up and deal with it head-on.

If you feel like you’ve been victim of sexual assault or misconduct, look into hiring a Toronto criminal lawyer (or lawyer in your town/city). Sexual assault lawyers can provide you with support, guidance and advice on how to proceed.

You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Take care of yourselves, love, me (Joe).

Okay, back to regular scheduled programming…

4. Hedley >>> The Preatures

Canadian band Hedley found themselves in the headlines this past February when an Ottawa woman accused lead singer, Jacob Hoggard, of sexually assaulting her in a Toronto hotel room. I remember reading her account of the incident and immediately having flashbacks to my own assault years ago (ugh). I never listened to their music before and certainly won’t be now. However, if you want a Canadian rock band to get into (that isn’t terrible), check out The Arkells. As you’ve probably surmised, I’m not the biggest indie rock fan, but I’ve seen these guys live before and they were really great. Alternatively, why not check out a bad-ass female band like Australia’s The Preatures? Their song Is This How You Feel is a personal fave & has echoes of vintage Prince (which, naturally, works for me) and makes it perfect for a good bedroom dancing sesh.

5. Nelly >>> Oddisee

Craving some catchy hooks but appalled by Nelly’s creepy track record? I prescribe some Oddisee, stat. Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, aka Oddisee is one of my favorite hip hop artists at the moment. Think gorgeous, addictive hooks and thoughtful, politically conscious lyrics that will leave you feeling uplifted, not depressed. His albums The Goodfight (2015) and The Iceberg (2017) have been on regular rotation for a good part of the past two years.

6. PWR BTTM >>> Shamir, Janelle Monae, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Internet. 


PWR BTTM (power bottom),  the gender-nonconforming punk duo of singer-guitarist Ben Hopkins and drummer-singer Liv Bruce received intense backlash after Hopkins was accused of having a history of sexual assault and making advances on minors. The fact that the band embraced queer culture and championed for inclusivity made these accusations that much worse. I never listened to their music, but I know it was meaningful a lot to a lot of people. While I’m not well versed on the punk or queercore scene, if you’re looking to add some new amazing openly queer artists to your daily playlist, I recommend checking out Shamir, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Internet or (the queen) Janelle Monae.

What are you listening to these days?

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