Last April, my neighbors who invested in the place invited me to the open house for Vitambi Springs, Florida’s newest gay campgrounds, just 90 minutes from Lauderdale and Miami, home of the state’s largest gay community. I wrote a somewhat glowing review of the place then, but have since spent a nudist themed weekend (well sort of, I left Sunday morning after a lackluster Saturday), and found that much needs to be done if this place is going to woo us South Florida faggots.
It’s kinda of sad because terrain and facility wise, Vitambi makes its competitors, Mars and Sawmill, look like shitholes. And again, it’s just minutes away from us vs. Mars which is a three hour hike, and Sawmill, near Tampa/St Pete’s, close to five hours. So what stops me from considering another visit?
- No pool, a complaint I heard from virtually everyone I spoke with. If you’re a resort in Florida, a pool is a given, almost regardless of the time of year. And a pool at a campgrounds is more than just a place to cool off. It’s the place to see and be seen, especially if it’s clothing optional, the magnet where virtually everyone can meet and if the chemistry’s right … I understand Vitambi needs more $$ to build the pool but from the talk I heard around the camp that weekend from varied sources, new money was not forthcoming. Does that mean the place is doomed? Vitambi does have a theoretical advantage over Mars and Sawmill in that it has a nice sized natural lake, complete with a dock for nude sunbathing. But we were cautioned not to go in on a sun drenched, humid, 88 degree day because the lake was populated by snapping turtles. Getting circed in my life once is enough, thank you.
- No much quality or quantity in the clientele, at least on the weekend I was there. I counted at most 35 to 40 guys, and the older guys were, well, old, and the younger guys – I’m talking 40, give or take – were, for the most part, loose, smooth, hopelessly homely, ridiculously nelly – and dickless. Remember, it was a nudist weekend. Not much to keep a hairy, rough and ready gym boy entertained. And I predict if all of these campgrounds, which right now are skewed to the Baby Boom Generation, don’t start attracting some young blood soon, they’re going to end up returning to being cattle farms in ten years.
- Too spread out. There are accommodation-like barracks for the 24/7 pigs, rustic private cabins, and a small inn (where spoiled me stayed) but everything, though walkable, is so spread out you almost feel like your fellow weekend buddies were residing in different states. Again, not conducive to rubbing butts with strangers.
- The misting room, actually the size of two garages, was touted as a place to cool off (more likely fornicate in) in my April tour but was hot, stuffy and dank the Saturday afternoon I was there and was populated by a couple of huge old men reminiscent of the guys I remember seeing in the now gone Everhard Baths in Manhattan 20 years ago. Not exactly erection material.
- I didn’t expect five star cuisine but the restaurant, located in the camp lodge, was more like a cafeteria manned by two well-meaning guys whose chaotic way of handling and filling orders reminded me of Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine. And one thing a restaurant should never do is have its preparation area in full view of customers – even Mac Donald’s hides its burger flippers.
- Saturday night was supposed to feature a nude dance in The Pump House, an empty barn-like building a short walk but a walk nonetheless from the Lodge bar. Instead of setting up a satellite bar with beer, soda and wine, folks had to trot over if they wanted another drink. And though the management paid for a DJ (a hot looking but conceited queen I recognized from Lauderdale), there were never more than 15 guys shaking their naked booties. Seeing the dance was already winding down, I instead chose the Lodge bar to hang loose in, dressed in my basic butch jeans, boots and no shirt where I bullshit with the bodybuilder masseur about work-out routines and juicing up while the bartender, his partner who I had fucked on the QT earlier that afternoon, fed us drinks. But at 11:30, a time when bars in Lauderdale were just getting warmed up, one of the owners waltzed in and announced last call. Party pooper.
- Wondering if there might be a threesome in the offing with the masseur and bartender, I followed them over to the misting room which at this hour should have been a hotbed of fornication but instead was deserted. Seeing a hot tub brimming with naked guys a few yards away and sensing my ménage a trios wasn’t going to happen, I said goodbye to my new found friends, striped and joined the waterboys. But after two hours of discussing world politics and the state of Facebook, two guys who had playing footsy all night in the water drifted off on their own and the four other guys, apparently already coupled off, left me alone in the tub to gather my clothes and wander back in the dark to the Inn. Sure, I understand guys may come up here just to relax with no notions of having sex, but as for me …
So Sunday morning, though I was required to book a two night stay, I had breakfast in the restaurant (where they served cereal, muffins and coffee for free instead of charging for it) and made my way back to Lauderdale.
Vitambi Springs – could be great, but will it have a chance to prove it?