Clothes off, masks on: America’s nudist resorts reopen

Charlotte Johnstone
·4-min read
Beach
Beach

Stripping off and sharing a hot tub with other naked humans might not seem like the best thing to do in a pandemic. But being around naked people is no different to being around those in clothes when it comes to the spread of coronavirus – if rules are being adhered to.

Across America, state and local governments are easing lockdowns and travel restrictions. Nudist resorts began reopening in mid-May with changes in place such as social distancing, reduced capacities and wearing masks to reduce the risk of spreading the disease, which has killed over 100,000 people in the country.

Before the lockdown, 'nakationing' – clothes-free holidays – in the US was a multibillion dollar-a-year industry, with Florida laying claim to more nudist resorts than any other state, and millennials and Gen Xers driving the experience forward as a travel trend. Even globally, nude recreation and travel accounted for a healthy $400 million slice of the industry's fiscal pie.

As is the case with hotels, theme parks, restaurants and planes, nudist resorts are trying to climb back to some sense of normality, and although not all facilities or services are back in business, those that are are subject to strict health and safety protocols in line with public health guidance and state laws for the guests and staff's protection.

Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, for example, officially reopened on June 4, with the majority of its resort-style amenities including the pools, hot tubs, gym, sports courts, lounges and lake facilities available. Lounge chairs have been spaced in accordance with social distancing guidelines, and extra seating placed elsewhere; a common theme in all resorts. Golf is also back on the agenda.

Cypress Cove’s Cheeks Bar & Grill is open for patio dining and takeaway orders, but the capacity indoors has been reduced to 50 per cent, and bar seating is limited to six people at a time.

It’s a similar story for The Bare Buns Café in Lake Como, another family nudist resort in Florida, which allows limited numbers of guests to sit six feet apart on their own towel (common etiquette dictates that clothes-free guests should carry a towel at all times for hygiene reasons anyway).

But popular live music bar Butt Hutt is off-limits due to crowding, as are three of its biggest events including its Dare to Go Bare 5K Run.

People in the same household at Lake Como, which has 200 year-round residents and 800 regular visitors, are free to walk down the street together or ride in the same golf cart, but there is a temporary requirement to wear a mask in shared spaces – an issue that has caused contention for a few nudists across the world who argue that covering your face contradicts the naturist lifestyle and philosophy.

Only three people can use the outdoor hot tub at any one time, and only for 15 minutes, but six can occupy the indoor hot tub (for 15 minutes). Pool numbers are limited to 10 for 30 minutes per person, and they have to stay six feet apart. According to the World Health Organisation chlorine kills the virus, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there’s “no evidence that Covid-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs". 

Over in Colorado, Orvis Hot Springs has closed the community kitchen, indoor pool, hot tubs and lockers, and all high-touch surfaces are disinfected every hour. The changing rooms are limited to small groups, and face coverings are recommended, but not mandatory. The hot springs outside, however, are open, with a maximum of 50 people in the soaking areas at one time – and no re-entry. 

Sea Mountains in California’s Desert Hot Springs has introduced health checks for staff, increased cleaning and sanitisation of the hotel, and disposable dining utensils, while staff at Cypress Cove will be trained to use an electrostatic sprayer for the disinfection of surfaces, and visitors will have to complete a self-declaration health screening form and temperature checks.

Generally, nudist resorts are allowed limited numbers back into campsites and RV parks, with some opening up hotels and motels with reduced occupancy. Most major resorts have now started to take bookings.