Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hedonism II New Year’s Eve 2013 – Trip Report



Here in my hometown of New York City, we had a change of ownership of sorts in the sense that we now have a new mayor.  After a dozen years of Mike Bloomberg, I feel that despite the criticisms he has gotten (e.g., the large sugary soda controversy), he has done an overall admirable job.  But mayors in some cities have been something of an embarrassment. 

For San Diego, there was horndog mayor Bob Filner.  Poor Detroit (both literally and figuratively) suffered through Kwame Kilpatrick.  In New York, we almost had Anthony Weiner (AKA Carlos Danger) as our new mayor. 

But there was a mayor in one city who served as something of an inspiration for me – at least in the way I should conduct my annual vacation to Hedonism II for New Year’s.  Oh, sure, he may be seen as a bit of a loser who humiliated his city, but you must admit one thing:  the dude is a party animal.  That’s why I decided to dedicate this year’s trip to him.  In 2013, I would spend a Hedonism vacation with …

My Week As Rob Ford

Day 1:  December 26, 2013 - “The Saga Continues”

EntSked1Checking-in at Hedo around 11:30 AM, I was greeted at the reception desk by a young woman who said, “Wow!  Not only are you early, but also, your room is ready!”.  I have never been told either one of those things before and likely never would again.  While I finished the check-in process, the bellman headed to my room with my luggage and informed me that he would wait for me there. 

Upon arrival at the room, I found the bellman, true to his word; opening the door, he brought in my luggage and checked out the state of the room – apparently, when I was told the room was ready, the word “ready” was a relative term.  I had no beach towels, the safe was locked and the remote control for the flat-screen television didn’t have any batteries.  Oh, and by the way – the telephone was dead. 

The bellman immediately got on his cell phone and informed someone of the situation; an employee came by right away to reset the lock on the safe, but still no beach towels or batteries for the remote control. 

Strolling up to the main dining room for lunch, I happened to run into Lorna Brammer, who is in charge of Guest Relations; she introduced herself to me and I informed her about the outstanding issues with my room.  Lorna confessed that I should not expect the telephone situation to be resolved before the end of my trip.  Without missing a beat, she got on her cell phone and reported my situation.  After lunch, I did some quick shopping at the gift store, then returned to my room to find that all of the other problems (except for the phone, of course) had been rectified.  Thank you, Lorna. 

Following a much-needed nap (had to pull an all-nighter in order to catch my 5:45 AM flight out of JFK that morning), I was startled awake by a knock on the door around 6:30 PM and informed by a Hedo employee that I would not have any cold water due to a water main break.  I checked the bathroom – a bit of water flowed from the sink, the toilet wouldn’t flush and some lukewarm water drizzled from the shower head.  Somehow, I managed a brief rinse-of before dinner.  In the main dining room, I ran into a long-time repeater – another guest who has been a New Year’s regular at Hedo for more years than I; he shared his own story about the sundry plumbing problems with his room, then sighed, shook his head and said, “The saga continues”.  Sadly, yes it does.

Day 2:  December 27, 2013 - “Clouds On The Horizon”

EntSked2Yesterday afternoon, it rained rather extensively, so I didn’t bother sitting outside; today, the weather wasn’t noticeably better – with so many clouds, there was hardly any sun (but at least it didn’t rain).  Slowly, I start to see a few familiar faces among the guests but it continues to be rather low-occupancy at the old resort of mine.  I am becoming resigned to the fact that much of the core group of folks I used to look forward to seeing each year has gradually fallen by the wayside. 

Still feeling a bit sleep deprived following a late night on Day 1, I mostly napped while poolside this afternoon.  Thankfully, I noticed that the water main break plaguing many of us the previous night had been repaired by early this morning.  I’m hearing from other guests about various plumbing issues, including flooding and backed-up toilets.  Aside from the recent paint job in some rooms (including mine – based on the smell when I entered), flat-screen televisions and better food, the improvements I and many other guests looked forward to appeared to be in short supply.  While patience may be a virtue, it is beginning to become somewhat scarce, even among the loyalists. 

Day 3:  December 28, 2013 - “The Exhibitionists”


What would Hedo be without its fair share of exhibitionists?  Furthermore, what would those exhibitionists be without voyeurs like Yours Truly?  Precisely!  Today appeared to be a day when our good friends, The Exhibitionists, were out in full force.  Whether it was poolside BJ’s, orgies outside the disco or random acts of senseless lesbianism in the hot tub, The Exhibitionists were always there to entertain us (and, presumably, entertain themselves in the process). 

On this night, I went outside for a breath of fresh air on the patio outside the disco.  While there, a somewhat intoxicated gentleman approached me; he held a martini glass, which clearly was not his first drink of the evening.  “Hey!”, he said, at first to no one but ultimately directed at me when he realized I was the only warm body in the vicinity.  “Do you know what the most significant moment of my life was?”, he inquired.  Without pausing, I replied, “Getting that last martini?”.  “No!”, he insisted, “It was the birth of my daughter!”.  Nodding to feign interest, I asked, “Wouldn’t the conception of your daughter be more significant?”.  That shut him up.  Grateful for small favors, that’s me.

Just then, I noticed a pair of couples enjoying their own party near the waterslide landing.  One woman was bent over accepting the gentleman it turned out she was traveling with while she was simultaneously swallowing another fellow whom they apparently recently acquainted themselves with; this other guy’s lady friend sat next to him looking on.  The previous night, that same couple had been applauded by appreciative bystanders when they were discovered screwing along the walkway above that waterslide. 

Day 4:  December 29, 2013 - “The Lifestyle Of The Lifestyle”

When is an open relationship not an open relationship?  When a couple declares they have an “open relationship”, what does that mean exactly?  Based on my experience with a variety of Hedo couples, it can mean some very different things to different people.  In many cases, however, it has been my observation that the relationship may be more open for one of the individuals than it is for the other – which may or may not be by choice.  One partner may have more control in the relationship and that is usually the one who has more options in these supposedly open relationships. 

Who is in control?  It may be the one who’s the primary breadwinner, either husband or wife.  Sometimes, it’s the young and pretty trophy wife; even though it’s her husband who has the money, she’s the one with the youth and beauty and therefore is in charge because her older, less attractive husband lives in fear that if he doesn’t go along with her desires, she’ll leave him.  Sure, there may be occasions where both partners are on equal footing and share in their desires – but my observation is that this is the exception that proves the rule. 

One couple I’ve very casually known over the years seem to be close in age, but she brazenly pursues every well-endowed male while he’s forced to wear a bracelet or a t-shirt or a baseball cap that has the word CUCKOLD emblazoned across its front for all to see.  Or is he being forced?  Could this really be his fantasy?  Being only casual acquaintances, it wasn’t a question I felt comfortable pursuing.  But when it’s a couple that you know well, and basically like both of them equally, it can be frustrating to stand by watching one of them in pain while the other flaunts his/her conquests in the face of the other.  Does that person begin to lose their sense of identity, intimacy or specialness with their partner?  Under a microscope, the swinger lifestyle may seem less glamorous than it can otherwise appear. 

Day 5:  December 30, 2013 - “The Martini Snob”


If you were to accuse me of being a martini snob, I would plead guilty with an explanation.  I don’t want to sound like an ingrate.  While I do enjoy those evenings when Hedo chooses to set up their special martini bar, I have found, to my dismay, that there is inconsistency in bartenders’ martini preparation:  If you ask three different bartenders to make you the exact same martini, you wind up getting three different cocktails.  This makes an unreliable experience for what should be a fairly simple drink.

I order an extra dry martini with Gordon’s gin and – but only if I feel daring – a twist of lemon; when in Jamaica, I specify Gordon’s because of two reasons:  For one thing, the version of Gordon’s gin sold in Jamaica is different from the one sold here in the United States; the one there is 47.3% alcohol while the product sold here is only 40%.  The other reason is that this higher-proof version of Gordon’s is what Ernest Hemingway, one of my literary heroes, used to drink before the company stopped selling it in America.  Also, there is the fact that I find the botanicals of the gin refreshing in that warm climate (especially when the citrus garnish is added). 

Instead, what I have gotten are martinis with a reservoir of vermouth at the bottom of the glass (hardly extra dry); a martini with olives on a toothpick (save that for the folks who prefer vodka over gin); a martini with a squeezed-in wedge of lime.  In all cases, the martinis were shaken instead of stirred (rule of thumb:  if the cocktail’s ingredients contain at least one non-spirit in its recipe, then shake; otherwise, stir).  Bless the Hedo bartenders – they are friendly and service-oriented, but I doubt one of them is a real student of the spirit-mixing arts.

Day 6:  December 31, 2013 - “Party Night”


Although I was told that the hotel has been at full occupancy for the past couple of days, the atmosphere nevertheless seems considerably more sedate than it has in New Year’s Eves past.  One sign of this has been more nudists and fewer swingers.  I’m also noticing a surprising number of relatively young single males, despite the fact that the place is charging premium prices for this time of year; while some are pretty friendly and respectful, others are downright obnoxious (e.g., one night after dinner, I saw one of them spit into the main pool by the dining room bar; another guy apparently had developed quite a reputation of his own because nearly every woman he tried to chat up was almost immediately walking away from him). 


While New Year’s Eve is the big draw that brought all of us together, even we loyalists would have to admit it’s a long night.  Both dinner and the evening’s entertainment begins at 7PM; while dinner ends at 10, the entertainment continues well beyond midnight.  When you consider how dressed-up so many people are and how many of them have started celebrating early (if you know what I mean), actually making it to the big countdown at midnight can tend to be a huge challenge. 


Despite the fact that the hotel was at 100% occupancy and they sold tickets to the evening’s festivities to folks who weren’t guests, the place didn’t really seem as packed as it had in prior trips.  As they do every year, the hotel set up a table where they sold bottles of champagne; to give you an idea how quiet things appeared to be, I didn’t see a single person purchasing any champagne.  Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that the champagne was expensive or maybe there were other issues at play that weren’t immediately obvious to me.  Whatever the reason, it qualified as one of the more low-key parties I can recall in all my years of attendance. 

Day 7:  January 1, 2014 - “The Aftermath”


A day of triage – count the bodies on the field of battle and sort the dead from the merely wounded.  Not a pretty sight, by any means.  Amazingly, there seemed to be a horde of people leaving that morning.  How they made it through the lateness of the previous night’s party to rise early (and seemingly unscathed) to be able to check-out, I have no idea.  It is a lull before the storm.  The quiet will be brief as we await various swinger groups to check-in over the course of the next couple of days for their annual January takeover.  So be it.  This also triggers the beginning of the end of my own vacation.

Despite a light mid-afternoon rain, the weather cleared up enough so that we could have one of the few visible sunsets guests could enjoy this week – a welcome sight, to be sure.  Ironically, the only good sunsets we had this week were on the last day of 2013 and the first day of 2014.  Although a number of people left, The Repeater Party was well attended.  Harry, Hedo’s new boss, was there and spoke to the group; he said that this was his first New Year’s at Hedo and seemed genuinely surprised to see so many repeaters there at the New Year’s Eve time period.  He implored everyone for patience as they continued to make changes (improvements?) at the old place.

Dinner is always good on New Year’s Eve – if you’re familiar with Hedo’s Friday Night Gala Buffet, then the dinner on New Year’s Eve would basically be The Gala Buffet on steroids.  New Year’s Day, however, has traditionally been something of a mixed bag – comparable to New Year’s Eve some years, a major letdown on others.  This year, it was spectacular, to me at least.  They served roast suckling pig and duck.  Now, if they had served either one or the other, that alone would be sufficient to put a big smile on my face; to have both on the same night caused my brain to short circuit.  On this evening, my taste buds performed The Happy Dance all night.  Nicely played, Chef.

Day 8:  January 2, 2014 - “The Big Break-In”


My last full day at Hedo.  The Bare Bottom Bunch, who have been in attendance all week (as they have been for New Year’s the past several years), held a great Sunset Champagne Party on the nude beach.  It had been announced that Tom’s Trips would sponsor a Playroom in the Spa late that night, but since I typically vacation unencumbered by accompaniment, this was something I skipped.  Instead, there was another event conducted by The Bare Bottom Bunch for that evening that sounded a bit more interesting:  a Foam Party in the disco. 

They do this every year and it tends to have a high turnout, with people seeming to have a good deal of fun.  I ventured into the disco to check it out, but didn’t actually join the festivities.  People were walking between the disco’s dance floor (where the foam was) and the bar; they were covered in soapsuds and left a slippery mess on the floor – so much so that hotel employees spread beach towels across the floor in an effort to prevent guests and fellow employees from slipping and falling.  At the risk of sounding like a party pooper, I must say that I couldn’t help but look at that tableau and envision a stack of lawsuits high enough to reach the ceiling. 

Unfortunately, my final evening at the resort would be marred.  Upon returning to my room, I was aghast to discover the door to my room had been flung wide open.  Entering the room, I thankfully found no one, but some of my belongings had clearly been gone through as a couple of items had been displaced.  I immediately went to the front desk and reported the incident to the night manager, who had the head of security meet us at his office.  The three of us returned to my room so I could show them the way in which the room had been disrupted; we checked the contents of the room safe and verified that nothing was missing.  A quick look at the door and window showed no signs of forced entry.  While it pains me to point fingers, this had all the indications of being an inside job.  In a quarter century of vacationing here, this was the first time something such as this had ever occurred to me.

Day 9: January 3, 2014 - “Bracing For The Storm”

Having heard about a major snowstorm hitting the northeast the night before, I spent this morning dutifully watching the television as I packed for my trip home.  Switching between CNN and WPIX (a local New York City television station I happened to stumble upon while channel-surfing for porn), my prospects for a timely return appeared gloomy.  Mentally, I tried to prepare myself for the prospect of having to spend a late night at the Montego Bay airport, possibly having to sleep there.  With JFK airport having closed the previous night and not reopening until the middle of this morning, things were not looking good after about an eight-inch snowfall in NYC. 

Once at the airport, I was able to settle-in and relax for a bit at Club Mobay; much to my surprise, the screens kept showing my 7:45PM flight as on time – the only alteration being a minor gate change.  As it turned out, the plane was about an hour late in taking off due to a delay at Kingston, from where it had just arrived.  We made up some time in the air, landing around midnight, but wound up having to sit on the tarmac for approximately an hour and a half because we had to wait for an available gate (apparently when JFK eventually reopened, it hadn’t completely reopened). 

During my return flight, I had plenty of time to reflect.  Did I really fulfill my mission of spending a week as Rob Ford?  In all honesty, probably not.  As a matter of fact, especially when compared to the behavior of some others, I may have been closer to resembling Pope Francis than Mayor Ford.  Given how much time I spent pigging-out at dinner, maybe I bore a striking resemblance to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  But would the disappointment on my final night be enough to keep me from returning next New Year’s?  Probably not.  There are still a few regulars I look forward to seeing each visit, regardless of how much that number dwindles almost annually – and besides, I’m curious as to how this ongoing soap opera plays itself out.





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