Going to Desire for the First Time

 

A few years ago, I spent a week staying at both Desire Riviera Maya Resort and Desire Pearl — two clothing optional couples only all inclusive resorts located just outside Cancun, Mexico. 

The plan was simple: meet up with one of my best friends, Mark, and two other friends (a couple) for some much needed R&R under the sun. Bathing suits optional.

I was there as a journalist to write about the properties, but over the course of the week I ended up falling in love with the clothing optional resort experience. 

 

 

Truth be told, inaugural visit to the Desire resorts wasn’t my first “nakation.” Before Covid, I spent 10 months traveling from Mexico to Jamaica and back again, visiting clothing optional resorts — including Desire’s sister property Temptation Cancun — to write about them for my weekly Toronto Sun column. 

People always have questions about what it’s like to visit clothing optional adult resorts and go skinny dipping in the tropics. If you’re reading this, you probably do too! 

So, let’s start with the most frequently asked questions about going to Desire for the first time. 

Are people naked all the time? 

Desire resorts are clothing-optional. This means that you have the option of being naked in most areas of the resort. However, if you’re worried you’ll see errant appendages pressed against the sneeze-guard at the morning omelette station, fear not. Clothing is required in the main dining areas for obvious reasons. 

Should I go to Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl? 

This is probably the most common question I get. My answer: it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for. 

Before I arrived, I was told that Desire Riviera Maya has a more lively party atmosphere, whereas Desire Pearl is quieter and more retreat-like. This generally held true. 

The daily schedule at Desire Riviera Maya

The daily schedule at Desire Riviera Maya. See: Human Dessert

If you’re looking to make new friends (or playmates), Desire Riviera Maya is where it’s at. Designed to feel like a village, the property consists of a cluster of low rises that face tropical gardens and the Caribbean sea. Dreamy daybeds with flowing white curtains flank the beach and pool areas, where you can lounge nude. The rooms are on the smaller side, but we found we spent most of our time poolside (during the day) or enjoying the restaurants & bars (in the evening) anyways, so it wasn’t an issue. 

desire riviera maya pearl resort

Through the palms at Desire Pearl

In comparison, the atmosphere at Pearl is noticeably more mellow and has a quiet, romantic feel. While you can definitely still meet people at Desire Pearl, the resort is larger and more spread out, which means it’s easier to keep to yourself. While Pearl has a nightclub and jacuzzi lounge, it seemed much less busy than at Maya. The vibe was that of a secluded, couples-only romantic retreat (sans clothes). 

I like to break it down like this: 

Desire Maya: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a lively party scene and lots of opportunities to socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only. 

Desire Pearl: couple oriented, sexy and romantic. Has a more relaxed, serene, retreat-like vibe but still with opportunities to meet people/socialize. Clothing optional. Couples only. 

Temptation: Sexy, fun, raucous party vibe with lots of opportunities to socialize. Topless optional. Couples and singles. 

Can I suntan nude on the beach? 

Yes! The beach area directly in front of the Desire properties is perfect for nude sunbathing. However, if you decide to move further down the beach — for example, to the public areas — you’ll need to put on a bathing suit or clothing of some kind. 

the dock at desire riviera maya resort

A scene from the dock at desire riviera maya

Will I feel self-conscious? 

Not going to lie, if you’ve never been to a nude resort, stripping down feels weird at first. However, that feeling quickly goes away when you look around you and see bodies of every shape and size. It almost feels more weird to have clothes on!

Here’s something most people don’t realize about clothing optional resorts: they’re incredibly body positive. You will literally see every kind of body possible. 

And when in doubt, a few margaritas help!

Is it okay to wear a bathing suit if I feel more comfortable in one? 

Definitely. As I mentioned above, it’s clothing optional. This may surprise you, but I can be a bit shy when it comes to showing off my body! The first time I visited Desire, I started off wearing a bathing suit and then slowly shed the layers as I became more comfortable. While the majority of the guests are (at the very least) topless, the crowd is extremely non-judgemental, so no one will fault you for wanting to ease into the experience by wearing a bathing suit. 

lunch outfit at Desire Pearl

Heading out to lunch at Desire Pearl

Are Desire Resorts just for swingers? 

Both Maya and Pearl are “swinger friendly” and you’ll meet a lot of people who are in the lifestyle. However, you’ll also meet couples who are there to try something new and like the idea of potentially playing with other couples (or being in an environment where spicy fun is happening in the midst). There’s also folks who go to the resort for the simple reason that they like lounging around in the sun naked. There’s no “one” kind of guest!

What if I just want to relax and not get hit on? 

While the guests at Desire tend to be very friendly (there’s something about shedding clothing that just makes conversation flow!), the resorts are governed by a very strict, consent driven “no means no” code of conduct that everyone is asked to sign at check in. Anyone who violates it is removed from the resort. 

This is a huge part of why I love going to resorts like Desire and Temptation — it’s very much an “ask before you touch” kind of scene. We made tons of new friends around the resort and never once felt pressured to do anything. 

So, if you’re not looking to play with other couples, you can rest assured that you and your significant other will be left alone to enjoy your vacation together. However, if you’re looking to fulfill a fantasy with another couple, you have a very good chance of meeting like-minded people at Desire. Even if you’re only there for a few nights, connections tend to form quickly in an open and uninhibited environment like Desire. 

Is there places to relax, tan and read without music blasting? 

Definitely! Both Desire Maya and Desire Pearl have quieter areas. While the pool area at Desire Maya tends to be very lively during the day, the beach is very chill and relaxing. You can also relax on your balcony or in other pockets around the resort. 

As I mentioned above, Desire Pearl is a larger property and it was much quieter when I visited, so if you’re looking for a very laid back experience you might want to consider Pearl — even for a night or two. 

The chill pool scene at Desire Pearl

The chill pool scene at Desire Pearl

Can I go to Desire Resorts if I’m single? 

Both Desire resorts are for adventurous heterosexual couples only. If you’re single and looking for a sexy vacation, you might want to consider Temptation, Cancun which is a topless optional resort

Is it just going to be a bunch of twenty year olds? 

Nope! This is a more mature crowd, with the average guest age being around 35-45. I met plenty of attractive couples in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. However, you’ll also meet folks in their 60’s, 70’s and beyond! If you’re looking for a slightly younger crowd, Temptation, Cancun might be more what you’re looking for. 

Will I see people having sex in public? 

Yes. While public sex is only (officially) allowed in the jacuzzi lounge, there’s a good chance you’ll see couples boning in public — like in the SIN room or on their balconies, terraces etc. 

(FYI, I spent a very memorable afternoon in the pool stealing glances in between sips of Pina Colada of a very hot couple who were having sex on their nearby patio for all to see). 

What’s the food like? 

Whether you’re staying at Desire Riviera Maya or Desire Pearl, the food is what you’d expect from an upscale all inclusive resort. Both properties have a combination of buffet, casual dining and sit-down restaurants.

food at desire riviera maya

I have great memories of my dinner at Sahlo (the Aphrodisiac restaurant at Desire Maya) and the steak fajitas at Aphrodite (Desire Pearl’s casual dining restaurant — my go-to lunch spot!) And don’t forget the endless poolside nachos and guacamole! I know it seems weird to talk about the food at a clothing optional resort, but it’s really good!

Let Desire take you wherever it takes you! 

Whether you are a newbie or experienced nude traveller, Desire resorts gives you the flexibility to make the experience whatever you want it to be. If you want to get frisky and explore your sexuality in a safe environment, you can. However, if all you want to do is lounge around the pool and stuff your face with endless guacamole while wearing minimal clothing, you can do that too. 

While I never would have pegged myself for someone who enjoys a clothing optional vacation, the fact that I can go somewhere and be myself without judgement or the risk of unwanted sexual harassment, is a huge selling point for me.

Even Joe the Intern had a good time in the buff! 

And if you’re not sure whether you’re ready for a full-on clothing optional vacation, there’s always Temptation — Desire’s sister property that’s perfect for dipping your toes (or other body parts) into the world of nude travel. 

If you have any questions, I encourage you to reach out [skinnydipblog AT gmail.com]. I’d be happy to answer them!

My Dreamy Weekend at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. This was my first weekend away from home since the start of the pandemic and while the hotel is only located approximately 50 miles from my home base of Victoria, BC, stepping into the airy lobby hotel felt like I was being whisked away to another universe. 

Located amidst the glass skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver on the edge of the False Creek waterway, this dreamy hotel has a resort-like setting reminiscent of a luxe Vegas hotel but with a distinctly chill and understated vibe that Vancouver’s known for. If you stay at the JW Marriott Parq you technically don’t need to leave the property to have a super fun and relaxing weekend. On property you’ll find a host of amazing restaurants & bars, a spa, a rooftop aqua lounge that offers stunning views of the city and of course, a 72,000 square-foot world class casino (unfortunately, the casino is currently closed because of the pandemic.)

 

 

I also love that the hotel is conveniently located. If you want to leave (which I did), you’re only steps away from the seawall or the hustle & bustle of Gastown, Yaletown and Chinatown. This made it super easy to visit some of my favorite places in Vancouver while staying at the Parq. 

As someone who suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder — a condition that’s definitely been amplified by the pandemic — I feel like I’m constantly playing “germ math” (this fork is clean, but how clean is the table it’s sitting on? Will it kill me? What about this door knob. Will it kill me?) I was nervous about travelling from Victoria, BC (where we have relatively few COVID cases) to Vancouver, BC (where COVID cases are higher). But the JW Marriott Parq ended up being the perfect destination to dip my anxiety ridden toes back into travel. 

Before I arrived, the hotel team assured me that they follow stringent guidelines set up by the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, a group of experts dedicated to ensuring the comfort and safety of guests. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, they’ve reduced touch-points, increased cleaning practices, and created touchless experiences to ensure the utmost safety of their guests.

I was naturally a little skeptical, but the hotel really went out of its way to make a germ-phobic traveller like me feel safe and looked after. Masks were worn in all public areas, hand sanitizer was readily available (I noticed the staff using it before and after they touched your bags and/or cards) and there were wipes set up everywhere so you could wipe surfaces like elevator buttons and doorknobs before you used them. 

I stayed in one of the One Bedroom Suites. Not only was my room super luxe (the beds were so incredibly comfy) but the staff also made sure to include a note card outlining all of the high touch areas that had been disinfected before my arrival along with a complimentary package of anti-bacterial wipes (I gave everything a once over even though I probably didn’t need to because, anxiety!) 

Knowing that I was safe, I was able to enjoy some of the amenities the hotel has to offer. 

I took advantage of the Spa by JW which features 10,000 square feet of space dedicated to healing, restoration and rejuvenation, and treated myself to a relaxing aromatherapy massage followed by some quiet time in the relaxation lounge which overlooks False Creek. 

I also enjoyed an early morning soak and took in the views at the Parq’s rooftop aqua lounge. 

Last but not least, I ate a few meals at Honey Salt. The eatery offers upscale locally sourced eats in a super cute setting. My favorite: the Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes (pumpkin spice, almond butter, oat crumble, pumpkin seeds). I rarely see gluten free pancakes on brunch menus (even though I make them at home all the time), so these were a real treat. 

 

 

 

 

Did I still feel anxious about the pandemic and germs during my stay? Definitely. But that has more to do with my brain chemistry than the hotel. 

From the bounty of wipes and hand sanitizer readily available near every high-touch surface to the conscientious staff that made every effort possible to make me feel as safe and comfortable as possible during my stay, it’s clear that the JW Marriott Parq takes the health of their guests seriously.

 

When Life, Love & Travel Don’t Go as Planned

At the beginning of 2018, I decided my motto would be “catch flights, not feelings.” I was ready to travel and experience as much as possible, without tying myself down to any one person. I got half of the equation right (I hopped on 20+ flights over the course of last year), but as far as not catching feelings, I kind of failed miserably (if you consider allowing yourself to be vulnerable a failure, which I don’t).

One thing that’s become very apparent over the past year or two, is that I’m very all or nothing when it comes to sex and romance. I don’t meet that many people that I connect with, so if I’m into you, I’m into you. Even if I know a situation is destined to be casual or fleeting (for example, a fling while travelling), I still feel all the feelings. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing (it’s nice to have good feels towards the people you sleep with), it just is what it is.

In May 2018,  I was on a press trip to an adult’s summer camp in Pennsylvania (more on that later) and I met a guy. He was the marketing director for the company sponsoring the camp. We flirted a bit over the weekend, which lead to us making plans to meet up once we were back in New York City (I was in town staying with a friend for the week). This lead to dinner at Miss Lily’s in the East Village, a post dinner kiss at Death & Co, backseat Uber make-outs, a couple of dates & me rushing from his bed on my last morning in NYC to grab my suitcase and head to the airport.

Oh god, did I like this man. He was smart and beautiful and creative. The sex was passionate and connected. I was smitten.

I asked him if he’d like to see me if I came back to visit. He said yes, but in the fall. His son would be staying with him during the summer.

We stayed in touch over the next few months. We sent sexy toe-curling messages back in forth. Sometimes we didn’t speak for a few days. I continued to travel a lot. I went to the Bahamas and Mexico twice. This didn’t feel like other recent flings (there was a guy in Mexico and another in Jamaica). I didn’t date anyone else. I didn’t want to. I kept thinking about our bodies wrapped around each other; his eyes staring into mine the entire time we made love.

It felt special. He felt special.

Fall rolled around and I booked a ticket to New York City. The plan was to stay with the same friend I’d stayed with after camp (we’d become really close the last time I was in town — another piece of my heart I left in New York City).

I was looking forward to hanging with my friend (co-working! drinking wine! vintage shopping!) and spending time with NYC bae, exploring the city hand-in-hand. I was planning on staying a couple of weeks and  seeing what happened.

Almost nothing went according to plan.

Here’s something you should know about me: I don’t cry very often or very easily anymore (thanks, anti-anxiety meds!) but few days into my New York trip, I found myself having a full out emotional meltdown while walking through Times Square. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who’d burst into tears in front of the M&Ms store, but here we were.

(Note: if you’re going to cry in public, do it in Times Square. It’s already kind of awful and it’s so busy that literally no one will care/notice.)

The source of my tears was a culmination of several factors.

Right before I was set to depart, my friend texted me to let me know that she was going to be out of town when I arrived and wouldn’t be able to let me into her apartment (she was abroad visiting family and an elderly relative had passed; prolonging her stay).

There was no way for me to get her keys. I had to find somewhere else to stay at the last minute. I felt weird asking NYC bae if I could stay with him, so the night before I booked an Airbnb (my booking got confirmed a few hours before my flight).

When I got to New York, I learned that NYC bae was also going through some tough family issues. We still had a connection — he held my hand and kissed me on the street and told me it felt like time hadn’t passed at all — but he seemed sadder, quieter and more reserved than he had before. Distracted. Distant.

The dreamy eye-contact was still there. But lying in his bed as he snored next to me, I couldn’t sleep. My mind raced. Was this going anywhere? Had I made a mistake coming here?

My airbnb situation proved to be bad news (turns out sharing a bathroom with strangers isn’t much fun!); my friend still wasn’t back in the city & didn’t have a timeline for when she would be back, and NYC Bae was busy with work and social commitments. Making plans with him felt like pulling teeth.

After a few nights I ditched my sketchy Airbnb and booked myself a room at the Pod 39 Hotel, which turned out to be perfect (I loved this little hotel!) but NYC prices are no joke and it felt like my bank account was bleeding money.

According to scientists, AI can now predict how long your relationship will last, but I’ve always felt the end of love/lust deep in my gut. It’s like a nagging ache that doesn’t go away. It feels like butterflies — the bad kind.

The bad news butterflies were coming in loud and clear. Yet, I was caught in this weird emotional limbo; part of me hoping that the tide would change, while also mourning the likelihood that it wouldn’t.

Throw in the fact that Fall just isn’t my season AT ALL (my seasonal depression is very real) and all felt unexpectedly lonely; like the city of New York was rejecting me; chewing me and spitting me out (which, according to New York transplants, is a very authentic NYC experience).

Since getting treatment for my anxiety, my moods have been really stable. So, to feel this sad in one of the most amazing cities of the world, was kind of scary.

It’s taken me a year to write about this experience, partly because I wasn’t sure how to frame it. I could have glossed over the whole thing and only mentioned the sexy details, but that wouldn’t have been the truth.

The truth is that part of me still feels embarrassed. I wanted so badly for things to work out with NYC bae and for us to build on that little bit of magic we’d had together in the Spring, that I never even considered that it wouldn’t happen. I mean, that’s pretty naive. Especially for someone like me who writes about relationships for a living. I know better than to plan a trip around someone else (without being 100% crystal clear on their intentions) but I did it anyway.

After about 10 days in NYC solo, I was scheduled to go on a press trip to Puerto Vallarta. My friend still hadn’t come back and I was seriously considering changing my flight so I could fly back to Canada directly from Mexico. But, then at the last minute I decided to keep my original ticket and finish out my time in NYC on my own terms.

I’m so glad I did.

When I got back from Mexico, things got better. My friend Gary offered to let me stay at his apartment on the Upper East Side. I stopped waiting around for NYC bae and instead went to a ton of museums. I crossed a few items off my bucket list. I spent time with another girlfriend in town. I also hung out with Gary a bunch and ate lots of good food. Eventually, my friend came back from abroad and we got to hang out, drink wine and dance around her living room to RuPaul.

If you want to find out exactly how I spent my time, make sure to check to check out my post about how to travel to NYC solo in my new travel blog (yes, you read that right!) Love, Peace & Tacos. 

(In the end, NYC bae went out of town while I was in Mexico. We stayed in touch while he was gone, but he didn’t make it back in time before I had to leave the city. At the end of my time in NYC, I flew to St. Lucia for another press trip and then went back to Canada from there.)

I don’t regret going to New York. I also don’t regret any of the feelings I had (even the uncomfortable ones). However, in hindsight I wish I’d been more upfront and asked NYC bae more questions (like, how do you envision our time together in NYC? What will your schedule be like? Do you see this as a fling or something more?) to get a clearer picture of his intentions — before I hopped on a plane.

With that said, life is short. Sometimes you have to take chances to answer questions about the people in your life. I got answers. They weren’t the ones I expected or hoped for, but they were answers nonetheless.

Even though it was uncomfortable, I’m happy I had this experience. It clarified a few things for me — like, I am not destined to be a New Yorker. The city is amazing, but it’s a lot. A wonderful place to visit, but not somewhere I could live longterm. When I got back to the West Coast, I breathed an audible sigh of relief.

Instead of making me bitter, it softened me. It made me realize that I do want to have a partner and to fall in love again. Most importantly, that I can have feelings for someone, they can go away and I’ll get through it. I’ll come out the other side just fine.

The Best Date Night Spots in Victoria, BC

Although I’ve been known to rail against the (ahem) “aesthetic choices” of single men in Victoria and have questioned whether my hometown really is one of the best cities for dating, when it comes to actual date night spots, it’s actually pretty great thanks to an abundance of gorgeous scenery and a thriving indie food & beverage scene.

If you’re looking to impress your date and/or want somewhere cool to hang out that isn’t a coffee shop or the beach (please, stop asking me if I’d like to “grab a coffee and go for a walk on the beach” for the 500th time) here are some date night spots in Victoria, BC that have been tried and tested by yours truly.

1. Little Jumbo.

If you visit Victoria, there’s a 95% chance I will take you to Little Jumbo — a small tucked away bar and restaurant that has a locals-only vibe. There’s a couple of reasons for this. For starters, it’s cozy and romantic (but still casual enough for a spur of the moment drink or laid back night out with friends), the ever-rotating cocktail menu is phenomenal and the food is delicious. Come for a cocktail or beer, stay for the truffle fries and leg of lamb (incredible).

2. Stage Wine Bar.

This is another of my go-to date spots. Whether its the first date or the 50th, you can’t go wrong with Stage Wine Bar. The high ceilings, exposed brick and candlelit tables give the place an urban, casually romantic feel. Naturally, they have a huge selection of wines, with glasses starting at around $6 (something thats becoming a rarity in Victoria, unfortunately). Plus — acoustics wise, it’s a lot quieter than the Fernwood Inn (the pub located across the street). 

3. Clive’s Classic Lounge.

At first glance, this place looks like your stereotypical, slightly old-school hotel bar. However, inside you’ll find a selection of world-class, award winning cocktails. A local favourite, this is the perfect spot for a cozy drink with a date or a small group of friends. Oh, and they have a happy hour.

4. Ferris’ Oyster Bar.

A local Victorian institution, Ferris’ has a great menu (OYSTERS!) and a cute garden patio that’s perfect for casual (but nice) date night. If you want to get a bit more fancy, upstairs they have their “Upstairs” seafood & oyster bar (which is one of my favourite places to go for a special occasion) and their sister restaurant Pero Negro, which serves delicious tapas.

5. Bodega & Poco

Both of these bars/tapas joints are small, stylish and located in Trounce Alley — separated by another Victoria institution The Tapas Bar. While the Tapas Bar is great, it can get a bit noisy inside if you’re not able to secure a place on the patio. From what I understand, they’re all owned by the same company but each menu offers something slightly unique. Try one or hop between all three.

6. The Drake.

Looking for somewhere a bit more casual? Love craft beer? Head to the Drake. This lively spot features West coast craft beers and casual eats in historic Market Square. Also, compared to some of the other options on this list, it’s super affordable — making it a perfect first date spot, for when you want something nicer than a dive bar but still want to keep things fun and casual. FYI, they also serve cider and a handful of gluten free food options.

7. Chorizo and Co.

This is what happens when two guys who used to manage your favourite bar decide to open their own bar; completely revamping the previous iteration of Chorizo and Co. I love this little spot on Fort street. The cocktails and wine list are awesome, as is the small plates menu (perfect for impromptu date-night nosh). It’s also located a few blocks off the usual beaten path, giving the place a sense of intimacy. Like Stage, it’s stylish and low-key romantic. However, because C & C is still relatively new, you’re less likely to run into everyone you know there.

At some point I’ll put together a full post of my favourite “romantic restaurants” in the city (because people are always asking me for recs!), but in the meantime here are a few that are sure to be hits:

Where are some of your favourite date night spots in your city?

 

 

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.

SLS-Baha-Mar-balcony

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.

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