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?

Some Brief Thoughts on Love, Addiction and Dealing with Alcoholism

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was in love with a guy who I now understand was an addict. When we got together he was open about his past struggles with alcoholism and drugs, but he assured me that those days were well behind him and that he “no longer had a problem” because he “knew his limits.” Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Over the next few years, I got a front row seat to his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The all night coke binges. His angry tirades when he was drunk or high. Getting kicked out of places because my boyfriend was drunk and belligerent. I was only nineteen when I met him and thought (like most people on the cusp of adulthood) that I could handle anything — including “fixing” him. I was wrong. I was young, naive and living alone in a new, big city with almost no support system. In the end, I turned to self-medicating as a way of dealing with the things that were happening in my life.

I’ll never forget the day my roommate told me she thought I might need help. Earlier that day she’d come home from an early morning class to find me passed out drunk on the kitchen floor. Although I never sought formal addiction treatment, I did eventually seek out a therapist who helped me better understand and deal with the reasons I was drinking in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t really start to work through a lot of my issues until I was in my 30’s. While my life is good now, I often wonder how different things would have been if I’d gotten help right then and there.

What I’ve learned from both of these experiences is that you should never be ashamed to get the help you need. With that said, there’s a lot of mystery and misconceptions surrounding what drug and alcohol treatment actually looks like. (I mean, I’ve seen the episode of Californication where Hank Moody does a stint in a rehab, but I’m smart enough to know that the process probably involves less hot celebrities and witty quips around the group therapy circle than what’s shown on screen). This is a cause that’s important to me, so today I’m sharing some info about addiction recovery on behalf of Recovery Village Rehab.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, here’s a few things you should know:

What is drug rehab and treatment?

Drug rehabilitation, commonly referred to as “rehab,” is the process of treatment for dependency on drugs. The purpose of drug rehab is to release a person from the grips of substance abuse. These individuals often seek treatment when their substance use has become compulsive and out of control, and the negative side effects aren’t enough to deter their decisions. There are hundreds of drug rehabilitation centers all over the country designed to help men, women and adolescents struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both.

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction for months or years, rehab can be a source of strength for people. Drug rehab centers typically employ a variety of methods to overcome substance use disorder, including programs that range from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient programs. Understanding the process can help you choose the right process for you or the person you love.

The rehab process is typically divided into 4 steps:

  • Assessment: The person seeking treatment meets with a team of counselors and doctors to identify the right treatment plan.
  • Detoxification (detox): In order to begin the rehab process, abused drugs need to be removed from the body. This process can be dangerous, which is why it’s overseen by doctors. Detoxification also involves taking medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: getting drugs and alcohol out of the system is just the beginning. This part of the process involves working with therapists to get at the core reasons the person is using in the first place.
  • Aftercare: The main purpose of aftercare is to ensure the transformation that happened during the rehabilitation process endures. This involves taking steps to ensure that the skills learned during rehabilitation become a part of everyday life.

Kinds of Treatment Programs

Everyone needs something slightly different which is why treatment programs should be tailored to individual needs. Programs for treatment of alcoholism include:

  • Inpatient/residential programs: Residential inpatient treatment is the next step for clients who have completed or are near completion of their detox program. For those in residential inpatient treatment, a medical and non-medical option exists based on the client’s needs.
    Recovery Village Rehab is a type of inpatient rehabilitation center that is designed for specific patient’s needs. It offers various treatment options, wellness programs and support to clients to enhance healing.
  • Partial hospitalization: This is for people who have stable situation but are in need of continuous medical monitoring. The program is conducted between 3 and 5 days a week for up to 6 hours a day. Treatment is done during the day and the client can go home in evening.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: An option for individuals whose addiction is less severe and doesn’t require inpatient treatment. Clients in this phase of rehab drug treatment visit the facility regularly, but do not stay overnight. This approach allows the individual to receive drug treatment while maintaining family and job responsibilities.
  • Individual, group or family therapy. Aftercare is so important. Therapy helps in identifying the root cause of addiction while building relationships and helping patients learn coping skills.

In conclusion, I wish I’d known more about these options when I was younger — or at the very least sought counseling to talk through the reasons why I felt I needed to self-medicate. This is all to say that there’s help available and that there’s absolutely no shame in getting it.

Gorgeous photo by Stephanie Dimiskovski and found via Pinterest.

Thanks for tuning in for this very special episode of Skinny Dip! This post was brought to you by Recovery Village Rehab. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip. xx

Five Things I’ve Learned About Sex From Writing About It

I was speaking to an editor I work with recently, and she mentioned the post I wrote announcing my semi-retirement from sex blogging. “It seems like you started your blog to work out stuff about your sexuality and now you’ve kind of done that,” she said. Sometimes all it takes is a simple comment like that from someone else to make you realize that yes, that’s exactly what you’ve been doing all along. I started this blog in 2009 so I’d have a place to share all of my bizarre dating stories and showcase my writing, but it became so much more than that.

Through Skinny Dip I’ve been able to sort through my feelings about dating, relationships, my body and my sexuality. While I’ve mostly retired from reviewing sex toys and no longer feel the need to share so much about my current love life on this blog, I still thought it would be fun to look back and share some of the things I’ve learned about myself over the past nine years (oof) of blogging.

1. Explore and experiment to your heart’s content.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on my body and self-pleasure before I started this blog, but trying a bazillion different sex toys for the purpose of writing about them has definitely expanded that knowledge in positive ways. I can now look at the shape of a toy or feel it’s vibration patterns on my fingers and make a very good educated guess as to whether I’ll enjoy it (and while I’m occasionally still surprised, I’m usually right). The point here: don’t be afraid to experiment with different gadgets or props — even the really weird looking sex toys. Worst case scenario, you’ll learn more about what you do and don’t like.

2. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you’re broken.

There are plenty of stores online that claim they sell the best sex machines but not all toys are created equal or are designed with every human body in mind. What’s mind blowing for one person, is going to be a flop for someone else. For example, I’ve learned through trial and error that wand vibes like the ever popular Hitachi Magic Wand, just don’t work for me AT ALL. I’d much rather use something small and precise like the Crave Duet (a vibe that another blogger hailed as a flop). Long story short: not everything is going to work for everyone and that’s okay. Life would be kind of boring if everyone got off in the exactly same way. Keep trying stuff until you find what works for you.

3. You’re not required to define your sexuality for other people.

When I decided last spring to finally explore my bi-sexuality, I felt pressure to define my sexuality for other people. I thought it would be easier to explain myself and fit in with the queer community if I gave myself a label (queer, bi, hetero-flexible etc) — and I wasn’t totally wrong about the first one. People like clearly defined labels because they’re easier to digest. However, like Justin Bobby from The Hills, “I’m just not into labels” — at least when it comes to my sexuality. It wasn’t until I was on my first really great date with a woman and my date told me, “no one in the gay community is going to force you to define yourself,” that I felt comfortable just letting things be. The truest thing I can say about my sexuality is that I am a woman who mostly dates and loves men, but sometimes has romantic and sexual feelings for women.

4. You know yourself better than anyone else and it’s okay to like what you like, however kinky or vanilla that may be. 

I’ve written about the ridiculous assumptions people have about me because I write about sex. For example, that I must be super kinky and/or sleep with evvvvveryone (I mean, really guys?) Nine years in and I’m really tired of having to explain on a weekly basis that I don’t have my very own sex dungeon (however, I’d kill for some more shoe storage space). While writing about sex has definitely opened my mind to new things and encouraged me to explore my sexuality, it’s also helped reconfirm what I’ve known to be true about myself all along: that I can enjoy different kinds of sexual experiences, but the kind I crave most isn’t necessarily very kinky. I want sex that is super passionate, but also includes a great mind-body/emotional connection. This isn’t always easy to find, which is part of the reason I don’t have as much sex as people probably think I do. Like #3, I also used to feel the need to explain this to people, until I realized that it’s no one’s business but my own.

5. Stay open.

Not only am I more open-minded when it comes to my own desires, writing about sex has given me a greater appreciation for the diversity of human sexuality. While I know myself a lot better than I did nine years ago and I still have some “hard passes” when it comes to dating and sex, I’m also open to those beliefs and desires changing. Sexuality isn’t static. It’s okay to evolve and change over time. In other words, know yourself but never say never.

 

20 Things You Should Know Before You Go To Hedonism II in Jamaica

 

In January, I spent four days at the notorious clothing-optional sex resort, Hedonism ii in Negril, Jamaica. Having recently visited topless optional resort, Temptation Cancun this past October, I thought I was prepared for my time at a swingers resort in Jamaica. I mean, how different could the two resorts be? Naked bodies? Check. Lots of sun & booze? Check. But really, nothing could have fully prepared me for Hedonism Jamaica.

I wrote about my experiences at the nudist sex resort recently in the Toronto Sun, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a few tips on what it’s like to go this clothing-optional resort.

1. You don’t have to be naked all the time.

You can wear clothes if you want! The resort is clothing optional and is divided into two separate areas — the “nude side” (where no clothes are allowed) and the “prude side” (where clothing is optional). You’re required to wear clothing in the public dining areas, however what counts as clothing at Hedo (as the regulars call it) is vague at best. It’s not uncommon to see people in see-through garments, fetish costumes or lingerie, just casually grabbing something from the dinner buffet. The longer you’re at the resort (and the more rum punch you consume), the less of a big deal this becomes.

2. But you will see a lot of naked people.

Even if you stick to the clothing-optional “prude” areas, you will still see a lot of naked bodies of literally every imaginable age, shape, size and gender. You will see nude dudes. You will see nude girls. JUST. SO. MANY. NAKED. BODIES. As I texted my friend on my first day at Hedonism ii, “it’s only 11am and I’ve already seen way more foreskin than is humanly necessary.” A few days in, you’ll get so used to the nudity that you’ll almost stop noticing it. Almost.

3. It’s swinger friendly.

It’s not officially a swingers resort. It’s also not officially a nudist resort. However, it’s definitely nudist and swinger and/or lifestyle friendly. I visited the adult’s only resort on a press trip in January during “Lifestyle Takeover Month,” so it was mostly couples (350 swingers + 5 female journalists. What could possibly wrong?) and the crowd was mostly aged 40+. Similar to my other adult only resort experience, in general the guests were older. I met lots of people in their 50’s, 60’s and older — and yes, they were naked. In general though, if you’re looking to play with another couple or individual(s), you’ll probably find some like-minded folks there.

4. You will see people having sex in public.

My first full day at the resort I walked out of my room, looked up and noticed my neighbors having sex on their balcony. They were eerily silent and all that could be heard from below was the sound of flesh slapping flesh. Lack of sound aside, public sex is the norm here and don’t have to go far to see it — especially on the nude side of the resort. Which brings me to my next point…

5. You will see things that can’t be unseen.

In the words of SNL’s Stefan, “this resort has everything!” Elderly men in thongs. Multiple women fellating one man in the Jacuzzi. People eating chicken naked. Strippers. Orgies. A stage show that involves melted soft-serve ice cream (I think/hope). Awkward naked crouching. SO. MANY. PENISES. It’s all here folks.

Two babes, a penis float & a beach 🏝 #nobasicbach

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6. There’s a room for that.

Want to have sex in public but don’t want the awkward chafing of the pool deck? Head to the Romping Shop Playroom. It’s basically a room filled with mattresses and writhing bodies. There’s also a bondage and kink area in an adjacent room. File this under: things that can’t be unseen.

7. There’s a culture of consent.

The goal of the resort is to provide a safe place, so there’s a strict ask before you touch policy. Anyone who is caught acting out of line and/or making people feel uncomfortable will be removed from the property by the staff. So, if you see something, say something.

8. The gift shop carries everything you need…and also a few items that you can’t imagine ever wanting or needing.

Like a penis shaped lighter that’s also a vibrator, a very confusing children’s book OR other items.

HedonismGiftShop

9. Going with a partner? Discuss boundaries first.

All the guests I spoke to said the same thing: if you’re coming as a couple, you need to discuss boundaries  before you get on the plane, so when you arrive you’re both on the same page. As Rick and Margaret — the couple I interviewed for my Toronto Sun piece — told me, “in order to have a good time at Hedonism, you need to trust one and other and be secure in your relationship. Come to the resort because you want to enhance your relationship, not because you’re trying to fix it.”

10. The resort isn’t fancy.

If you’re looking for a high-end luxury resort, Hedonism is probably not for you. The resort is a bit older and has a laid-back, lived in vibe. Guests come for the sex-filled, anything-goes atmosphere and the unorthodox “perks” (see above).

11. Bring your own shampoo.

My bathroom had hand-soap and a full-sized tube of ‘hair and body wash’ but no shampoo, conditioner or body lotion. If you need these items, I suggest bringing your own.

 

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#tbt to two weeks ago when I had actual hair volume (hi, I missed you) & was wearing colours.

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12. There’s an all you can eat soft serve ice cream station in the main dining room that’s open all night.

Need I say more? This was literally one of my favorite aspects of my stay.

13. The beach grill is your best bet for lunch.

Although the buffet is open for lunch, I ate at the beach grill which serves Jamaican and American comfort food (grilled cheese, fries, jerk chicken etc). Having lived in Toronto for 12 years, I’m picky when it comes to my Jamaican food. A guest favorite, the jerk chicken didn’t wow me, but I loved the curried goat and ribs — washed down with a Pina Colada of course.

 

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I’m going to miss these lunches at @hedonismjamaica #nobasicbach #oxtailfordays

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14. Eat at Harrysan for dinner.

Sure, you may have to wait for a table but it’s worth it. Harrysan’s Jamaican twist on Japanese Teppenyaki & sushi was my favourite meal at the resort. My advice: if you like fish, try the freshly grilled catch of the day. The fish is so fresh, it melts in your mouth.

15. Don’t wear your best shoes.

Planning to bring your favourite pair of shoes? Just don’t. Between impromptu tropical rainstorms, slippery pool decks and errant spills of all kinds, things have a way of getting messy at all inclusive resorts. I learned this the hard way when I threw up all over my brand new $475 Stuart Weitzman gladiator heels after my first and last Flaming Bob Marley shot.

16. If someone offers you a Bob Marley shot, just say no.

Made with Grenadine, Galliano, Creme de Menthe, Overproof rum and lit on fire, the Bob Marley shot is both fruity and minty, making you feel like you just drank a large glass of Koolaid and mouthwash at the same time. There’s no way drinking this can end well (see above re: shoes).

17. The spa is one of the nicest areas of the hotel.

I don’t know what this says about me as a sex writer, but my favorite part of adult themed resorts is always the spa. The spa at Hedonism is newly renovated with high ceilings and an assortment of natural, locally made products for sale. It’s the perfect space to retreat to for a massage if you need a break from the party.

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18. If you want to eat chicken late at night, you’re going to have to strip down.

There are two beach grills. The one that is open all night is located adjacent to the nude pool. If you want to sit and eat there, you can’t wear clothes. This is either the best thing or the worst thing ever, depending on who you ask.

19. Seems quiet? The party is probably happening at the nude pool.

One of the most disconcerting things about Hedonism is how quiet it seems during the day. On the days I was there, the “prude” areas of the resort felt almost deserted. As I discovered, that’s because the party is mostly happening on the nude side of the resort, with the pool being the nucleus of the debauchery. If you set foot there, be prepared to see more things that can’t be unseen (i.e. public sex).

20. All bodies are beach bodies.

Real talk: Hedonism II is not for everyone. There’s nudity. There’s sex. But there’s also a lot of acceptance. Similar to my experience at Temptation, I left the resort with a greater appreciation for my own body (flaws and all) and one massive hangover.

To sum up, Hedonism ii is either going to be your ultimate fantasy or your worst nightmare. You may end up loving it and becoming a regular (I met a lot of couples that have been coming there for 15+ years!) or you may end up wanting to burn your clothes by the end of your stay (or somewhere in between). It all depends on who you are and what you’re looking for in a vacation. All I can say is that Hedo is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Would you ever go to a clothing optional resort?

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