Naturist vacations, while once seen as a narrow travel niche for the over 50’s, has now grown into a $400 million dollar industry with a new trend of young professionals now taking part and enjoying this ever growing market.
Naturist options run from rustic camping retreats to upscale resorts offering the very best in fine dining, spa services and guest accommodation. Most resorts are family friendly, some offering specialised kids programs. You’ll also find naturist cruises, spas, and special events.
The International Naturist Federation, which represents millions of naturists around the world, describes naturism (or nudism) as: "A way of life in harmony with nature characterised by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment."
Naturism as a pastime is thought to be both beneficial for health and wellbeing. Naturism is recreating in the nude, i.e. swimming, sunbathing, exercising or whatever people wish to do. Naturism does not include sexual activities; this is then labelled hedonism and is not part of a standard naturist lifestyle.
Naturist resorts have been in existence as far back as 1891 and were started in British India. Now there are resorts and clubs all over the world with the largest numbers distributed throughout France, Spain and Croatia.
France has innumerable naturist camping resorts, the largest being the ‘city’ of Cap D’Agde in the south of France thought to hold over 3000 visitors staying in a wide range of accommodation from camping and static homes to hotels rooms and bungalows. France is a favourite for family naturists with a range of large well equipped resorts offering activities for the whole family. Euronat and La Jenny being two popular choices with families.
Spain is also prevalent with naturist resorts along its southern coast, but it’s the Spanish Canary Islands that are often the most popular tourist destination due to their yearlong seasons and miles of sand dune beaches. Magnolias Natura was instantly popular because it was challenging the norm of very large resorts in France and Spain by offering a smaller more friendly location. This resort has a large number of returning guests year on year and is difficult to book at certain times of the year. This show a lack of options for the naturists and when they find a good resort they tend to return.
Greece with its wide range of beautiful islands is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, yet the Greeks are somewhat behind when it comes to offering this growing tourist market the opportunity to participate in naturist holidays.
Vritromartis on the Greek island of Crete was opened in 1985 by a very forward thinking Greek. It is a beautiful resort with 85 rooms and apartments which are operated on a half board basis and is the key to offering naturists another country to holiday in.
One of the newest resorts is Vassaliki Naturist Club which was opened by a young British couple on the Greek island of Kefalonia in 2007. With only 12 apartments, this allows the focus to be on quality and service. By also offering a number of activities such as boat trips and group meals, they have found that by their third year, one third of their bookings are by repeat guests.
Opening of this resort and the countless number of stunning and unoccupied beaches that can be found on any Greek island, have helped to make Greece the fourth best naturist destination in Europe, below France, Spain and Croatia. Plus Greece is believed to be one of the countries to have the most potential for growing its naturist market in the future. With this in mind both Vritromartis and Vassaliki have plans to open new resorts in the near future.
The luxury market for naturism has to be in the Caribbean and Mexico. Club Orient on the Caribbean island of St Martin offers guests some of the best quality accommodation and luxury service. A room can cost from €135 to €800 per night and vary from wooden studios sleeping 3 near the beach to a 3 bedroom luxury garden villa which sleeps seven. Mexico has one of the best adult only all inclusive resorts. 18 of the 42 rooms offer oceanfront swim up suites and food is available from 6am to 10pm from the restaurant with drinks on offer at the swim up bar.
With society becoming more open to nudity and the naked body, Naturism is on the up. From the old nudist colonies we now have a new and exciting future with the standard of resorts improving all the time and new resorts on the horizon. It won’t be long before this once niche holiday will be on sale at all good travel agents!
By Mark and Samantha Taylor (Vigla Natura Ltd @ Vassaliki Naturist Club)