It’s not a stretch to say the best reasons to visit Key West’s Island House need to be seen to be believed. The beloved all-male, clothing-optional resort has long been considered the world’s greatest gay resort, offering gay travelers a unique blend of community, relaxation and a surplus of good times.
We personally couldn’t fully understand the magic of Island House until we spent our own wild weekend there last year. But, thanks to the work of Island House’s Director of Marketing Jeffrey Smead, travelers near and far can get a taste of the Island House experience via the resort’s beautifully produced videos.
“There’s so many untold stories that unfold at Island House, and we love to tell those experiences in a way that gay men can really identify with,” Smead said. “We all have one thing in common, which is actually plenty enough to work with when thinking about what the next video will be about.”
There’s certainly no shortage of selling points to highlight. For starters, the Island House’s clothing-optional atmosphere certainly provides ample opportunities to let it all hang out — literally. A premium open bar and charming hosts ensure a lively time at the raucous pool parties Wednesdays and Sundays.
In addition to the eye candy, there are feasts for the stomach as well as the eyes available at the on-site, 24-hour café, serving some of the best cuisine on the island. (We’re big fans of the tuna tataki and conch fritters.)
Of course, lots of resorts can boast delicious cuisine, world-class accommodations and a relaxing atmosphere. However, it’s the people at Island House that really make it special. The resort is a cornerstone of the local gay community, and locals and guests mingle with ease by the pool, at the bar and in the hot tubs.
The welcoming atmosphere makes it easy to not only drop your swim trunks, but to drop your worries, too. More than the events and the amenities, it’s what keeps guests coming back.
That was the inspiration for one of Island House’s most recent videos, titled “50 Shades of Gratitude.”
Smead described the vision for the video:
“This was by far the most emotionally-charged video we’ve produced. We wanted to show how the Island House experience affects us all so differently. Every generation, every background, every relationship status, the list goes on. If you’ve been to Island House before, you know darn well there’s some aspect of that visit that you remain grateful for getting to experience, whether nostalgia driven, or perhaps a major life event. This video really captures that emotion, and reminds us why it’s so good to have a refuge like Island House available to us these days.”
The sentimental video is more than just marketing pathos. The stories featured in the video are representative of the kinds of things you regularly hear from Island House visitors.
“My favorite memories of Island House all have to do with the people I’ve met there,” we were told by an Island House regular, John, from New York City. “My absolute favorite memory was a moment during a pool party when a several of us were just sitting around and chatting. The conversation wasn’t particularly memorable but the group of people was – we were there with old friends that we had made on a past trip, new friends who we had just met on this trip, and some of our best local Judies who we look forward to seeing every time we visit. I just kept looking around in gratitude for the meeting ground that IH is and the way it provides a space to make connections that last well-beyond the last day of vacation.”
We can personally attest. John is just one of many friends we’ve made at Island House from all over the country. Fellow travelers, locals, couples, young, old, bears, twinks, you name it, we’ve struck up unforgettable conversations over too many vodka-sodas poolside wearing sarongs or less. Cruising happens, sure, but it’s the connection that feels truly magical.
Though romance is not off the table; just ask Smead which Island House memory he’s most grateful for:
“I met my (now) husband James here in 2012 after he just moved to the island from Provincetown. During that first week of dating, I remember the Island House management team was having cocktails together during happy hour. James showed up (looking like the quintessential newbie) and immediately the gang took him under their wing. He instantly found his new circle in his new city. I witnessed it happen over shots of Jose Cuervo, and amidst the obligatory ‘Where did you move here from?’ type of interrogation. Our GM, Steve Silva, looked at me at the end of the night when I was leaving with James, and he said, ‘Jeffrey! I like this one! Tell him he’s gotta stay.’ And he did stay. That’s my favorite, most special memory from Island House.
Give yourself something to be grateful for, and book your next trip to Island House now.