I gotta say Vitambi Springs Campgrounds, opening officially this week, is just 90 minutes or less from us Lauderdale/Miami boys, and hours closer than central Florida’s Sawmill and Mars. And it’s a pretty easy ride through Alligator Alley and Seminole Indian territory with endless miles of the Everglades and grazing land dotted with cattle, bisons and horses.
With 80 acres, mostly still undeveloped, Vitambi is ten times the size of Florida’s current number one gay campground destination, Sawmill, just outside Tampa. A former boy’s detention center for the toughest bad teens up to just a few years ago, – getting turned on already ain’t ya? – the camp still sports many of the primitive cabins the boys themselves built. But the staff that served as tour guides for my partner G and I on a pre-opening open house this past weekend, many of whom are investors in the place, told us the grounds and structures were an overgrown muck that took a lot of sweat and bucks to make it the rustic wonderland that awaited us.
There are actually half a dozen different camping areas with cabins or tent sites, each with its own theme. Sure to be an instant, hard on favorite will be Fort Orion military bivouac camp, slated for completion in Phase II, that will feature a bunk style barracks for you guys into men in and out of uniform.
There’s also the Scrub Palm Spa Complex, already done, with its “Myst” room featuring teak benches, open stalls, misting system, and piped in music apparently to muffle all the groans and moans from the guys “cooling off.”
Besides the individual lodging, there’s Pine Tree Inn, and cavernous Big Oak Lodge with bar and restaurant. Next on the agenda are RV parks, more cabins, and two pools, much of this slated for summer 2012.
All of this is surrounded by glorious country landscape that were it not utterly flat you would mistake for backwoods Georgia or PA. The only negative I found when it came to my pampered butt is the fact that none of the accommodations, including those in Pine Tree Inn, offer private baths.
But what most impressed my partner who likes ’em younger and younger was the story about the hanging boots ritual. Apparently these tough boys, when they had completed their rehab and were ready for release, threw their laced-together boots high up into the trees where many of them still remain.
Ah, what G would have given to take home a pair as a souvenir.
For more info, check out vitambi.com