Newbie Trip Report - March 2023

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Newbie Trip Report - March 2023

Postby tempanon2 » Mon Nov 20, 2023 8:24 pm

Very late in posting this, but better late than never to repay some karma!

Context: My wife and I are in our early 50’s and first considered going to Pearl a few years ago, but between Covid, getting busy, schedules, etc., never got around to going until March 2023. This may be an unusual trip report in that it’s going to be very positive, but I don’t think we’ll be going back. However unusual we may be on that, it may be helpful for other newbies when they are taking a look around and considering taking the dive. We’d been to a clothing optional beach before but never a resort like this (in as much as there are other non-Desire resorts like this!). We’re not in the lifestyle and while I like taking full advantage of the “optional” part of clothing optional, a big draw for Desire is that my wife wanted to make sure it was a place where there was no pressure to drop the swimsuit. I was the one who suggested going and she was game for a new experience.

Arrival: From reading the reports here, this is the first place our experience is different than most. We went down to Mexico for 2 weeks for a working vacation and spent most of our time in a condo in Playa del Carmen. Also, we rented a car for trips out to various archeological sites, so we didn’t have the typical transfers experiences since we like being under our own steam and having the flexibility. For the most part, we worked 9-5 there with some half days to go driving and exploring. We capped off the trip with 4 days at Pearl, so for us the transfer process consisted of pulling up to the front door, being welcomed, and unloading our luggage like most guests. However, I then pulled the car down to the small lot (to the left of the entrance when looking at the building). For those that opt for it, parking is very easy and convenient. I get that most people don’t have a car, but for those that do, it was very easy.

First impression of the resort: LIke everyone says, the staff was great and guided us through the check-in process. We declined a room upgrade and the sales pitch for membership. Both were very easy and got no pushback at all. One thing that was unexpected (though we may have missed it in the other trip reports), was all the form signing. They really make an effort to emphasize that you will be encountering naked people and sexuality - and you have to sign to confirm that you’re fine with it. We knew the environment we were going into and after reading it the process totally made sense, but figured I’d mention it since we didn’t realize there would be consent forms. (Sort of felt like the “not our fault if you die on the ski slopes” forms, etc.) Good to get all the rules in writing, but just expect more paperwork than a regular hotel or resort!

Room: We arrived around 2pm and luckily our room was ready when we arrived, so we could go straight up. The room was nice enough - we got a basic ocean view room on an upper floor. Compared to the rooms at a comparably priced hotel or resort, it was not nearly as luxurious but it was still nice and people don’t go to Desire for the basic rooms. The balcony had a lovely breeze and view, plus made for a nice table to get work and email done. (Our “working vacation” bled into our time at Desire as well.)

Resort: The resort and grouds are all beautiful. They clearly take great care of it since groundskeepers and maintenance were discreet but visibly working the whole time we were there. The great pool assistants set us up with a pool bed on the quiet side and we set up camp in the same bed the whole time we were there. Huge kudos to the staff for immediately remembering us by sight every day afterward and immediately having the same bed ready for us each day. As non-members, it may have been easier for us to get a bed on the quiet side. I’m not sure about that since we wanted to be over there no matter what, but the active side was, not surprisingly, much more crowded and active the whole time we were there. We really appreciated having both options since it was easy enough to wander between the two and get the vibe you wanted at any given time.

Clothing optionality: There’s been a lot of discussion on the boards about nudity, non-nudity, etc. I can’t comment on what it’s like at other times, but while we were by the pool, I’d estimate it was around 80% of men nude and 60% of women. Maybe another 20-30% of women were topless - leaving around 20% of both men and women wearing suits. (roughly) So, expect to see a lot of nudity, but as people so often comment - no one cares. Nude, topless, suit, whatever - we never got a sense that it mattered in the least. For our parts, I was nude about 2 minutes after getting to the pool the first time and never wore a suit again until we left. My wife was in a two piece the whole time and everyone was totally fine with that. Also, every body type was there and represented in every stage of undress, so if that’s a concern, there’s no reason to be worried that you won’t fit in at all.

People: Echoing the reports - everyone was extremely friendly. When we go to another resort, it’s unlikely that we’d speak two words to another guest. Here, we had several wonderful friendly conversations. But on the flip side, since we were on the quiet side, there was also no expectation of anything other than reading and relaxing (and work emails). But I’ve never been anywhere else where strangers would just give a happy hello as readily or, in one case, come up at breakfast and compliment our dancing from the night before when they saw us on the dance floor. (More evidence of their friendliness than our talent!) Also, for those that may be worried about the lifestyle attendees, we did get asked a couple times if we were "in the lifestyle" and a simple, friendly "nope, are you?" was all that was needed to keep the conversation going and happy. There was zero pressure or expectation on that. Again, people were interested, but didn't care.

Tipping: I believe it’s not technically required, but it is the culture and we did tip everyone. I don’t begrudge the staff for it in the least since they work hard and go above and beyond in everything. That said, I’ll admit I hate the logistics of it. I would very happily drop the total amount of the tips into a bulk amount at the beginning or end of the stay and not have to think about or deal with any cash at all the entire time. A small thing, but if I’m going to completely relax, I’d prefer to not have to think about it at all. (especially when naked an you have no pockets!) Just a pet peeve of mine to deal with remembering it, bringing bills, etc., but definitely encourage people to tip given the culture.

Restaurants: Compared to other resorts, we’d put the restaurants as better than the vast majority of all-inclusives and not as good as searching out well reviewed restaurants. That’s not to say the meals were in any way bad - we enjoyed them immensely, but don’t expect Michelin Star level experiences. Aphrodite was great for breakfast and a decent lunch. All three restaurants did nice dinners with Suki being our strong favorite of the three.

Activities: We didn’t do any of the daytime activities since we were either relaxing or off the resort grounds, but we did go to the disco for the dancing and then to the performance for each night. We made a minimal nod towards the theme nights and - in retrospect - wish we’d done more. For anyone going for the first time and wondering about bringing an outfit for the theme nights - bring them! If you’re nervous about it, just wear something casual (no one will care about that either) and poke your head in early and look around the first night. You’ll be glad you had the option of dressing up if nothing else!

Surrounding area: We’re probably outliers on this, but we left the resort most days. We drove around to some of the nearby ruins one day, we walked into Puerto Morelos twice - once to go on a snorkeling trip and another to just wander around town. That’s all personal preference, but for those that want to get out and about vs. staying on premises the entire time, it’s easy to walk to Puerto Morelos or to get around with a rental car. (or taxi or transfer - but we like the freedom of being on our own)

Departure: I’ll touch on the two things we did that were a little different from most. I noted we had a rental car, though we returned it in Puerto Morelos the day before we left Pearl If anyone has rented or returned a car at the Cancun airport, you’ll know why. It’s always a clogged nightmare. Picking up and dropping off at the little office in town was much quicker and easier. (we rented in Playa del Carmen and returned in Puerto Morelos) We also heard all the reports about the construction causing delays (and experienced it first hand ourselves when we got caught in it a bit when driving), so we booked our last night in Mexico at the hotel in the airport. This worked really well for us since our fight was mid-morning. We asked to just stow our bags at the spa at Pearl our last day there and requested a pick-up from USA Transfers just after dinner. That gave us almost the entire day at Pearl and an easy morning the next day to catch our flight with zero worries about traffic or delays.

Bottom line: Pearl is fantastic and if you are on the fence you should just go. Even if you go and decide it’s not for you to go again, you’ll still have a great time, have had a bit of an adventure, and have some great memories. That’s probably where we come out. Personally, I loved it, but my wife never quite felt at home and vacations should be about making everyone have a great time. For her, it wasn’t because of any concrete reason since the people, staff, resort, etc. were all great. Instead, in the end she decided that going topless or nude wasn’t her thing and so the price premium for the nudity and sexually charged atmosphere wasn’t worth it for her. As she described it, for her it was a little like going to a motorcycle rally if you’re not that into motorcycles. No matter how wonderful the people are and how great a time you had in checking it out once, you’re probably not super interested in going back.

In short, even though we’re not that likely to return, we’d encourage anyone on the fence to settle those nerves and go at least once!
Desire Convert
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We are from: USA
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