Travel Weekly's twentysomething-and-single associate editorNicholas Pavlou checked out SuperClubs' Hedonism III resort inJamaica. His report follows:
RUNAWAY BAY, Jamaica -- This resort has a certain stigmaattached to it. Why not? Playboy Channel's "Night Calls" cast hasvisited here, controversial nude weddings took place on Valentine'sDay and the see-through water slide has generated headlines of itsown.
So it's no surprise that Hedonism's vacation image is that of aplayground for the self-indulgent, a Dionysian feast for the 21stcentury.
What, exactly, does that entail? What are the expectations ofguests who come to party hearty -- naked or clothed -- on aweeklong package?
The answer is simple: Hedonism III is Spring Break foradults.
This atmosphere kicked in as soon as the transfer bus picked us upfor the hour-and-a-half drive to Runaway Bay, 40 miles east ofMontego Bay along Jamaica's north coast. Meeting and greeting tookover.
Two twentysomething single guys from New York and a pair ofover-30 single men from New Jersey compared stories and sharedexpectations about the week ahead. All discussion centered oncarnal activity and inebriation.
The rest of the bus was couples. A Maryland twosome were repeatguests of both Hedonism III and its sister resort, Hedonism II inNegril.
Why did they return?
Hubby singled out the weather and the food -- he ate fish threetimes a day -- as main selling points, but he quipped, "Even ifyou're not somebody who gets crazy, you'll always be entertained bythe people who do."
That was pretty much the theme of my Hedonism stay. The resortdoes a fine job of entertaining. With activities such as nude truthor dare, strip pool volleyball and toga and pajama parties, what'snot to like?
Most of us on the bus stayed in contact with each other duringthe week with updates and progress reports. The anecdotes wereilluminating. Hedonism III has two sides -- Nude and Prude. Eachhas its own beach, common areas, pools, bars and grill.
To gather notes for this story, I passed briefly through theNude area. However, I wasn't in the buff and therefore wasn'twelcome.
The beaches, both Nude and Prude, are disappointing in size andquality. They are manmade because the natural coastline is litteredwith sharp, jagged stones. An expansion is planned but not soon,according to a spokesman.
The resort tries to make up for its lack of beach area withthree large pools: the Nude pool; the main pool with bar seatingand a pool table smack dab in its middle, and the Prude pool with aswim-up bar and sun terrace above. Dining was an important part ofeveryone's schedule.
Hedonism III has four restaurants plus breakfast room servicefrom 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and special Snack Attack packages from 3a.m. to 7 a.m.
Tropical Terrace, the main dining area and venue for nightlyentertainment, served three meals and a midnight buffet. The foodhere does not disappoint, offering something for every palate.
My personal favorite was roasted pig, the centerpiece of aHawaiian-themed night. The beachfront Scotch Bonnet served lunchand dinner.
Although the service was slow at times, the Jamaicanspecialities -- especially the jerk chicken and pork -- were great.I had problems reserving a table at the Pastafari and Munahanarestaurants, both of which require reservations.
The Italian restaurant Pastafari was less difficult to book, andI did eat there twice. Although the mood lighting was too dim andalmost put me to sleep one night, and the portions were small, theshrimp and calamari platter was excellent and the waiters werepatient.
Our solution to the small portions: Sample heavily from theantipasto buffet or order side dishes to fill up the plate.
Reserving a table at the Japanese restaurant was nearlyimpossible. Several guests reported they either had not been ableto obtain a reservation, or it took several lengthy attempts.Munahana's chefs cook in front of the patrons, and the atmosphereis very festive.
Hedonism III boasts six bars along with Tropical Terrace andOctopussy Disco. Entertainment at the Terrace includes magicians,talent shows and concerts.
The Battle of the Sexes pits teams of men against women. Theycompete to see who can change beds the fastest or identify aspouse's rear end by touching it while blindfolded.
The Piano Bar and Octopussy Disco stay open until the lastperson leaves. This strategy seemed a little unnecessary, however.Most singles looking to hook up had already done so and vanishedlong before it got really late.
The Piano Bar is an intimate room serving drinks made withtop-brand liquor while a piano player belts out karaoke tunes. It'stoo bad that the size of the room prohibits more than 30guests.
Octopussy Disco is the best place -- and the only late-nightplace -- to hang, dance, drink and mingle. As one single guy putit, "It's one or the other. There's nothing in between."
Off-site tours at extra cost include Dunns River Falls in OchoRios, catamaran party cruises, all-terrain vehicle safaris and BlueMountain bicycle adventures.
Daytime facilities include a basketball court, two tenniscourts, beach and pool volleyball, a fitness center, spa treatmentsand a games center with table tennis and board games. Guests canwindsurf, water ski, kayak, snorkel and learn trapeze feats at thecircus clinic. Diving requires certification.
Two rooms on the Prude side served as the gift shop,accommodating no more than eight people in each room. Arts andcrafts are for sale around the resort.
Hedonism III provides exactly what its name indicates -- aself-indulgent, worry-free vacation for those who want to gettotally loose -- if only for a week.
Male-pattern boldness: Resort needs 'more singlewomen'
RUNAWAY BAY, Jamaica -- Most of Hedonism's guests are from theU.S. The Midwest sends the couples while singles hail from bothcoasts, although East Coast ZIP codes predominate.
Half the guests are couples who prefer the nude accommodationsand activities. It's this group, too, that comes back for more.
Kevin Levee, general manager, said that Hedonism III may havethe highest percentage of repeat guests in the SuperClubschain.
What's the most frequent complaint? Guys complained to me overand over about the lack of single women in comparison to the numberof couples and single men. A New York male put it this way: "That'snot how they marketed Hedonism."
Resort officials recognize the problem. Hedonism's sister resortin Negril does have more single females, and Hedo III is"definitely trying" to attract more from that market, Levee said.The challenge lies in changing the perception of the resort assolely a haven for nudists, Levee said.
"We want to show that Hedonism is a place where guests can havea lot of fun but keep their clothes on if they want to," hesaid.
Incentives to attract single women include a Threesome Is aFreesome, in which three female guests stay for the price of two,and Fourth Female Free, where four stay for the price of three.
There's no problem getting single men to Hedonism III. I figuredit must be the activities. During my abbreviated, four-night stay,I was treated to a bikini swimsuit competition and a Jamaican modelcontest. That's not too shabby from my perspective.
Too bad I missed the Playboy group that arrived the followingweek. However, without the lovely swimsuit participants, thesingles ratio would have been even more male-dominated.
I also judged Hedonism's middle-of-nowhere location to be aflaw. Unlike Hedo II in Negril, Hedo III offers nooutside-the-resort entertainment, such as bars, dining andattractions, other than a few tours.
Despite what Levee said about the importance of visiting areaattractions, Hedonism III clearly wants its guests to indulgethemselves within the resort's friendly confines.
Although both Hedonism resorts have special features, Hedo IIIhas more "bells and whistles, like a Jacuzzi in each bathroom andfour restaurants," Levee said.
Things to bring for nudes and prudes
If you're single and mingling or accompanied by your partner,here are some items to bring to Hedonism III:
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