The bare truth about one of the world’s hottest clothing-optional destinations.
Since she first joined Caliente Family seventeen years ago, Anastasiia Chyruk’s professional life has been anything but conventional.
After immigrating from Ukraine, she attended the University of South Florida and needed a job to buy her first car. Her first employment in the United States was working part-time in the laundry department at Caliente.
Steven Dorsey, the CEO of Caliente Club & Resorts at that time, and a life-long entrepreneur recognized something unique in Anastasiia and her passion for the private enterprise. He became her lifelong mentor and encouraged her to complete the MBA program while celebrating her individuality. “He said it’s okay if I think differently than everyone else because it’s my biggest asset,” says Anastasiia. “I’m eternally grateful for his wisdom and mentorship.” Over the years, she advanced to the front desk and then to Guest Services Manager, where she’s thrived in applying her creativity in different ways ever since.
Today, Caliente Resorts employs almost two hundred staff and continues to strive for excellence in bringing an unforgettable experience to all those who walk through their gates.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Anastasiia Chyruk, the current Caliente Club & Resorts C.O.O., about resort life, the open-minded lifestyle, and why the time to explore our desires is NOW!
Lexi Sylver (LS): Let me start by saying that I remember MY first time at a clothing-optional resort…
Anastasiia Chyruk (AC): So, you just took off your clothes and said, voila! Here I am!
LS (laughing): Well, at first, I was a little shy about it, but everyone around me was naked… and then after a minute or two, I was more comfortable. We’re socialized to feel so much shame around nudity and sexuality… especially when you grow up looking at Photoshopped models and photo filters, and it’s tough not to compare yourself to them. It took me until the first time I was naked at a resort to feel like myself. I just looked around me and thought, all of this is normal: the stretch marks, the scars, cellulite, everything I’d been self-conscious about. It was a surreal experience. By the end of my stay, I was like, hell yeah! Who needs clothes?!
What was the first time you ever ran around naked, Anastasiia?
AC (laughing): You’re not getting scandalous with me, lady! Nice try!
LS: I’ll save it for when we’re off the record. But of course, we don’t have to be naked all the time at a clothing-optional place if we don’t want to…
AC: The funny thing about the clothing-optional business is that people like the option of having clothes sometimes! (laughs) You can wear whatever you want. What other place can you wear your lingerie or bedroom wear or slutwear or costumes freely on the dance floor? Our themes are fun and appeal to a large demographic, and people love to dress up for them. We have a novelty store downstairs, so if you didn’t pack something, you can shop here together with your partner. By day, if you want to fit in, 97% of the people are nude, and if you want to stand out, you wear something. Go for it. Unleash the inner you!
LS: Is Caliente just for people who are interested in the clothing-optional and / or open lifestyle(s)?
AC: Caliente is different from other destination vacations because we’re also a residential community of over 100 acres with permanent homes on site. The increase of people moving to Florida has been significant. People enjoy living in Land O’ Lakes — it’s like having the Caribbean in their backyard. And the county supports us and sees how our tax dollars are supporting them. It’s a fast-growing area. And even if you don’t live on-site, you can buy a membership to Caliente and come every day.
Having the facility and space and ability to go from mild to wild, Caliente can be anything you want to be. We have something for everyone. If you enjoy a healthy, mindful lifestyle, you can walk the 2-mile trail that covers the entire property. We have a full-size gym, a steam room, sauna, and a spa on the grounds. If you’re looking for workout classes, you can get a day pass. You can do a nude yoga class if you want. We have naked karaoke —
LS: Did you say naked karaoke?!
AC: Yes! We can put your song in the rotation and do karaoke buck naked twice a week. And we just finished our eighth season of the Voice of Caliente, which is a two-month-long karaoke contest. It’s a huge production for our county. Each of the eight rounds, we get 300 to 400 people through the doors. The karaoke finals had 32 singers in the end. It’s a lot of fun for the entire community.
LS: Well, I’m not much of a singer, but I’d watch and enjoy the entertainment!
AC: We also have live shows four days a week. Our musical talent and live entertainment lineup are some of the very best in the Tampa Bay area. We’ve had Markus Schultz play for the third time, and he loves it here. Nathan Bliss plays here all the time now. We redesigned our nightclub in 2021 and put in a new state-of-the-art audiovisual system.
If live music’s not for you, we have EDM DJs and dancing. And if that’s not your style, you can sit and watch the game at the sports bar or shoot some pool. Or just lounge by the pool or sit in the steam room or sauna. You can shape your trip to Caliente into whatever you want it to be.
LS: And for people like me who want to play, too?
AC: We have a seductive play space, Rouge, which brings another dimension of SEXY to Caliente. Rouge is an intimate setting for like-minded couples, single ladies, and single men (on select nights only) to explore their inner desires, to see and be seen. Rouge is an adult playground, or as we say, Rouge is for lovers. The common thought is that play spaces are solely for the lifestylers, but on any given weekend, we have up to 20 couples who traveled to Caliente for their very first time. And people have a little giggle when they get in, so excited to see something that embraces their sexuality. This space is for anyone, from couples trying something new together — whether they’re experimental newbies or just want to rekindle the romance in their long-term relationship — or for people who just want to be excited by the scenery. Any reason you want to play is good enough.
What kind of people come out to Caliente? Are single men allowed?
AC: We have our permanent residents, and we have people who come overnight or just for the day. We take the comfort and safety of everyone at Caliente very seriously. Single men are allowed, but they MUST act like gentlemen. No means no. Everyone must be respectful. Consent is a MUST.
If people don’t know what personal boundaries are and act out of context, they don’t do well here.
LS: What’s it like to work at Caliente, serving naked people all the time?
Despite selling sexy, Caliente is family-like. We embrace our Caliente Family. Our employees are fantastic. I think the fact that we serve naked people, the pretentiousness is gone. We’re a group of authentic people, and that translates to our guests and shows in the quality of our service. The staff is fantastic, accommodating, genuine, and we serve patrons who are remarkable. When you’re nude, there’s not much to hide. You can just showcase your bare soul, and let your personality shine in this fun-loving environment. We can all be our authentic selves and empower others to do the same.
LS: As a woman, I need to feel like I’m in a place where it’s safe and comfortable for me to express myself however I see fit. Just because I’m nude doesn’t mean I’m inviting people to touch me. I want a place where I can strip off my clothes, wander around, talk to people, take some sun, and know I won’t get groped on my way to the bar or locker room. I can just relax and have space to be myself. All women — all people — want to feel safe and have the freedom to express ourselves and not have our guards up.
AC: We have a professionally-trained security staff of forty. We want women to feel safe and relaxed and not worried about, as you said, groped or touched. We don’t tolerate overstepping the boundaries. Security is a huge component for us, and we do it right.
LS: And focusing on women is a huge part of any lifestyle business. We drive this industry. If a male-female couple ends up at a place like Caliente, it’s usually because the female in the couple drove the decision to go there, NOT because they were coerced. This lifestyle cares about women and fosters a sense of feminine community. We look at female sexuality as something to be expressed and celebrated instead of hidden and shameful, which is perfect for someone like me who’s shameless and empowered.
AC: You should join me tonight for Ladies Night! Ladies drink free from 8 to 10. We have ladies coming here in big groups all the time. It’s a chill, non-threatening place where you can have cocktails with your girlfriends, eat dinner, listen to live music, drink some more, and dance the night away in our Night Club. We have new events all the time — please check out our events calendar!
LS: Save me a margarita and a seat next to you! (laughs) So, other than ladies who want to enjoy themselves, what’s the rest of the Caliente community like?
AC: Caliente attracts people from different walks of life. It’s heart-warming to have empty-nesters in their fifties and sixties telling me they’re looking at Caliente to spice things up. Most weekends also draw a younger crowd, which is great because hanging out with younger crowds makes people feel young and good about themselves. When young people do something, others will follow because they want to be cool, too. I tend to gravitate towards younger people at Caliente because I want to know what their mindset is when they come here. They tell me they want to experience something new, and they want to do it with each other.
LS: More young people are joining our open-minded community every day. They realize they don’t have to fit into the neat little box that their parents, and their parents’ parents, did. In what ways has Caliente evolved to cater to these younger singles and couples?
AC: We’ve evolved over the seventeen years I’ve been working here at Caliente. To give you an idea, in 2009, our average patron was between 57 and 60 years old. Our course as a company is to bring that age group down and reach younger crowds. The #1 category for the last six months for people visiting the Caliente site is 25 to 34 years old, which means that we’ve been successful with our marketing efforts!
LS: What have you done differently when it comes to marketing to a younger demographic?
AC: Digital pioneering is important, which is why we do so much testimonial work — you can see the videos on the Caliente site. People like the human aspect of someone being relatable to them, telling them: “Come to this place, it’s different, it’s chill, it’s non-threatening, and we always have a good time.” And so, people see them and think, “Well, that could be me at Caliente, hanging out, enjoying the sunshine, having fun, and whatever else comes with it.”
LS: Absolutely. Word of mouth and being relatable are key in our industry. Because like you said, it’s been SO secretive.
AC: I think it used to be a little more shocking for people 10-15 years ago when it was more stigmatized, more of a secret to be doing something of this nature. But I feel the curtains have been lifted because there are more mainstream conversations about sexuality, the nude lifestyle, and the open lifestyle. You may remember that “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” covered the swinger lifestyle a few years ago. They also reached out to me because they wanted to research the naked lifestyle. And Caliente’s been mentioned in publications like Thrillist¹ and Women’s Health². They wrote some great articles about the best and sexiest nude and clothing-optional destinations, and Caliente was one of them, which was a big deal considering we’re one of the few in the United States.
LS: It’s been so challenging to get positive messages about alternative lifestyles into the mainstream and to reach those who aren’t already in the lifestyle. So many people are too shy or ashamed to talk about it. There’s so much stigma attached to being free, and there are all these rules about what people think their lives and relationships should be like, and there’s so much more out there. We all need more mainstream media coverage that reveals what the lifestyle can be for you, to show people that this is possible for anyone, and you CAN do this, too — if you want.
AC: The more media, the better. And I think it’s a global effort from all of us, a synergy between adult-driven businesses. Accumulating good media coverage benefits all of us overall as a lifestyle. 4–5 years ago, I met Hedo Harry, and I admire him very much. I’ll never forget this. He said that instead of fighting for the same customer, the same dollar, that we can all work together in growing the industry overall, and we can all benefit from bringing more people into the naked lifestyle and the open lifestyle.
LS: So, looking at lifestyle businesses as co-conspirators rather than competitors.
AC: We’re the leaders, the companies that share in the future of selling sexy. I like to call it the “spicy” industry because we’re an industry of spice.
LS: Ooh, muy Caliente!
A (laughs): For some people, signing up for a dating site like SDC or going to a destination like Caliente is like taking on a spicy wing challenge on a bigger scale. Will I be able to handle the heat? Will I like it or not? Some people like it so much that they begin to crave it.
LS: Like anything else, not everyone can take the heat.
AC: People look at spicy travel as a way of enhancing your relationship. It’s not supposed to replace anything. The lifestyle is to enhance couples’ relationships, our relationship with ourselves, our relationships with friends. Caliente or open dating can’t fix your relationship issues if you’re having an issue. We’re not a remedy or a solution for a perfect marriage. We’re a place where someone can reignite their flame and rekindle their romance.
LS: Making time for connection is so important for any relationship. I think it’s something we all crave and need, but don’t take enough time to do.
AC: Most of us live in what I call “digital slavery.” On any given day, we’re surrounded by devices. If you’re going to invest time and money to go on a spicy vacation, you should have an open mind about un-digitizing yourself. Meaningful connections 20, 30 years ago were made in person. Now we’re attached to technology and don’t take — or make — time for connection. That’s what Caliente’s about. Leave your laptop at home, leave your work at home, because this is the time to spend time on you and your partner and really enjoy this freeing atmosphere.
LS: The pandemic made it much harder to connect with each other in person. It’s changed the lifestyle and travel industries in so many ways. What have you noticed at Caliente?
AC: 2021 was the busiest year for Caliente — so far. There was an uptick of something like 45% in domestic travel because of the restrictions of international travel. Here in Florida, we didn’t have as many restrictions as other states, so we had lots of people coming to Caliente.
LS: People want to feel normal again. We’ve been starved for human connection. Many of us have had lots of time to think about what we want our lives to look like, and how we want to experience happiness and pleasure.
AC: People are waving their YOLO flag, their freak flags, more than usual. Because people are understanding the value of face-to-face, social interaction, and craving that connection. We also accept the fact that everything is temporary. The pandemic showed us that time is the most valuable gift we have.
LS: We shouldn’t have to wait fifty years to experience the totality of what life has to offer us. I could never have waited until my 50s to be in the open lifestyle. For some people, it’s too far off an idea, and they don’t feel comfortable about it yet, but maybe in twenty, thirty years from now. It took me until my thirties to realize who I am and what I want, but I don’t know that I would have gotten to that in my thirties if I hadn’t had those lifestyle experiences. They brought out the best in me. And now I have a very different view of relationships, of life, myself, as a person, as a woman, as a partner in my relationship, as part of a community.
AC: Self-acceptance is so fundamental. And the freedom of choice gives you a much deeper need for self-acceptance. Don’t you think that when you can accept yourself for who you are, you can more easily accept others?
LS: By accepting that you and your desires are normal and valid, no one can judge you. The most important person being you. So, if you accept what makes you who you are, that gives you the freedom to experience more pleasure, happiness, excitement, and connections than you would have if you didn’t know about the lifestyle and allowed yourself the freedom to become a part of it.
AC: Your story is very relatable. My thirties have been great for me. I also had an epiphany of self-love and acceptance of who I am. And I hope that more young people make the choice to embrace themselves and live their lives NOW.
LS: Do you think these changes in the way we think about life, love, and pleasure will continue to trend in this direction?
AC: Looking at 2022, 2023, and beyond, my aspiration is that more people will live their lives and understand who we are, and that what we have is NOW. And not say, let’s wait until we’re older to seize the day. Because we don’t know how much we have. I hope people understand that happiness isn’t the destination — it’s the journey.
So, if you’ve never been to a clothing-optional place, come to Caliente, and you’ll meet some of the most giving, accepting, genuine, and kind people you ever have. No strings, no obligations. You’re free to do whatever floats your boat and make your experience whatever you’d like to be. Don’t wait until you’re 50 or 60. Do it now because all we have is now.
- “The Best Clothing-Optional Resorts in the World.” Thrillist, www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/best-clothing-optional-resorts-in-the-world. Accessed 28 Mar. 2022.
- Blumberg, Perri O. “Staying at a Sex Resort Will Turn up the on Your next Vacation.” Women’s Health, 14 Sept. 2021, www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/g37515204/best-sex-resort/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2022.