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Is the end near for dedicated naturist resorts?
A post on Substack recently from the excellent Planet Nude blog highlighted that the naturist club Lupin Lodge was being put up for sale.
Lupin Lodge was established in 1935. It sits on 110 acres (45 Hectares) between San Jose and Santa Cruz in California on the Western coast of the United States and has been a haven for naturists for nearly 90 years.
Owner Lori Kay Stout has announced her retirement and intention to sell Lupin Lodge after over 40 years of involvement with the club. While the news is sad and the future uncertain for the club, no one can begrudge Lori the right to step back and relax. We should all applaud her dedication and commitment.
In response to the Planet Nude post, many people have asked how we can keep events like this from happening.
This is not the only closure of a naturist park in recent months. Desert Sun Resort in Palm Springs recently sold and announcements that Olive Dell Ranch in Riverside County and DeAnza Springs Resort in San Diego County are to be sold or converted into textile-only venues may signal a change in fortunes for naturist clubs and venues.
From a business or commercial point of view, naturism and social nudity are not particularly profitable. It would seem that there is little money to be made from a lifestyle that often eschews material things for a simple and natural existence. Long may that be the case. I am in no hurry to see naturism commercialised or made profitable by corporations and advertisers. The paradox is, however, if there was money to be made from naturism, you can bet that everyone would already be naked.
Perhaps the question of how we stop this from happening is looking at things the wrong way.
Perhaps the closure of traditional naturist places is inevitable. Many naturist clubs are situated on large pieces of land, often gifted by members or benefactors. I understand that the starting price for Lupin Lodge is USD 32,000,000. I have no idea of land values in the US, but if they are anything like land prices here in New Zealand, $290,000 per acre is remarkably cheap. As the population of the world increases, the finite amount of land available will only increase in value. Land is never going to get cheaper.
With recent legislative restrictions and the added costs of compliance for businesses, running a naturist venue must seem like a constant uphill battle.
Many people running these places are enthusiastic volunteers or owner-occupiers who are more concerned with maintaining a positive facility for everyone than drawing a living wage, let alone making a profit. It must often be a thankless and tiring task.
You can understand why people give up the fight, look at what the land is worth to a developer, and think, why do I bother?
Until the rest of the planet, or at least the Western-influenced societies that dominate the way the planet is run, realise that making a profit is not always conducive to healthy living, it is remarkable that businesses such as naturist resorts have survived for long as long as they have. As long as current business models fail to take into account the value of mental and physical well-being, and are only focussed on profit margins, the situation is unlikely to improve.
Some may argue that landed clubs have become less relevant in modern times and are out of touch with what many young naturists are looking for. Some argue that they are too rigid in their rules around membership and too late in adopting changes around technology and social media, considered essential by many younger people.
As more and more people own up to being home naturists and finding other ways to spend time naked, do we still need dedicated naturist venues?
With the increased cost of land, is it appropriate to spend millions of dollars on blocks of land for people to be clothes-free? I know we spend millions on golf courses, but golf courses are commercially profitable and there are whole industries built around them. Even golf courses are sold off as the land becomes increasingly valuable and repurposed for housing, so what hope does recreational naturism have?
There is an argument that the naturists benefiting from these facilities should put their hands in their pockets and stump up with some form of joint ownership model to keep these places going. A sort of user pays solution.
Maybe, naturist venues should be government-owned as part of a broader state health campaign. Unlikely in the US perhaps with the current restrictive attitudes to nudity, but other more progressive countries might look at this model. Germany has public parks in its cities, where nudity is allowed.
Shared public spaces and an attitude that nudity is not shameful or wrong allow the many benefits of naturism to those in the community who participate. Reducing body shame, improved Vitamin D intake, broader social acceptance, better mental health and better physical health are all outcomes that reduce the burden on a country's health systems. On paper, it would seem a no-brainer for a health department to promote naturist spaces within its jurisdiction.
Perhaps rather than trying to keep unprofitable and increasingly high-maintenance naturist venues alive, we concentrate on the wider goal of promoting naturism as a valid lifestyle choice.
I am not suggesting that we live in a world where everyone is naked, but perhaps naively, I would like to live in a world where people are free to wear or not wear, whatever they like.
Rather than sitting in our increasingly isolated walled gardens, maybe we need to find ways to engage with the communities in which we live and help fight the stigmas and misinformation that seem to perpetuate against our philosophy.
It is not uncommon to read articles from people who have recently tried or experienced social nudity, and who marvel at the discovery that nudism is healthy, beneficial and not at all sexual. Despite the numerous instances of such articles proclaiming that they wish they had tried naturism years ago, the prevailing attitude in society is one of rejection and ridicule.
I would be saddened to see all naturist clubs and venues close, but the reality is, if wearing nothing was a valid clothing option in our communities, there would be no need for them. I would argue that the majority of naturists in the world are not members of landed clubs and do not live near or use the facilities that these clubs offer. Most naturists are naked in their homes or at local beaches and other outdoor spots.
If I had a spare $32,000,000, I am not sure I would invest it in a naturist business.
If naturist clubs are increasingly unviable, and we are going to lose them anyway, how do we maintain our naturist communities and bring new people into the practice?
Perhaps the closure of traditional naturist places is a clarion call for naturists everywhere to put on their thinking caps and look to solutions for the future rather than pining for the loss of wonderful but largely unsustainable facilities.
Whatever the future of naturism looks like, after a long involvement in running Lupin Lodge, and doing so on her own since the death of her husband in 2015, Lori deserves our respect, a well-earned rest and our thanks for her work and dedication.
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
Footnote: A reader has kindly pointed out the following.
Fortunately, a group of Lupin lovers have created this website to explore options.
Long hot summer.
Looking forward to a season full of promise.
Are you a regular visitor to landed naturist clubs?