Caliente Homeowners Fight Back: De-Swing This Place!
By Chuin-Wei Yap, Times Staff Writer
In print: Saturday, June 21, 2008
LAND O'LAKES — An attorney for 351 property owners at Caliente Resort & Spa has laid down a list of conditions for the nudist resort to repair its reputation or face a lawsuit.
Calling it a way to "open the door for dialogue" between the resort and its homeowners, Anne Hathorn, of the Clearwater firm of Becker & Poliakoff, said the resort must cut off ties with Web sites that promote the swinger lifestyle, tighten control on the use of Caliente's name in event advertisements and where the ads are distributed, and get Caliente reinstated in the American Association for Nude Recreation.
Caliente Resort said it plans to keep on marketing to those it calls "nontraditional nudists."
Caliente was embroiled in controversy last month when the association temporarily suspended its membership and opened an investigation into sexually charged monthly parties at Caliente organized by Aahz Party Lifestyle Group, a "lifestyle," or swingers, group with Caliente's blessing.
The association promotes family-friendly nudism. Its investigation puts at stake Caliente's access to marketing assistance and membership subsidies for tourists, among other advantages.
Caliente is not just a resort. It is also a full-time home for hundreds of people, many of whom objected to the swinger parties, called "Swingfest." They hired Hathorn, who wrote on June 10 to R. Gale Porter, Caliente's attorney, demanding the resort clean up its own image.
"If the reputation of the club changes to something more risque, people will worry about bringing their kids," Hathorn said Friday. "The board wanted to open the door for dialogue and come to a reasonable resolution. So far, we haven't heard back."
Angye Fox, Caliente's spokeswoman, said Friday that the resort is a family-friendly place with rules that create a safe environment, but the resort refused to scale back what it called a brand campaign focused on "nontraditional nudists."
"Caliente has an aggressive marketing plan that targets outside the traditional nudist clientele," she said. "This has created dissatisfaction with a minority of homeowners in the Caliente community. Caliente intends to move forward in expanding our brand to nontraditional nudists and people who want to enjoy occasional skinny-dipping in luxury both here and at our resort in the Dominican Republic."
Hathorn acknowledged in her letter that "the resort has recently taken (actions) to alleviate the members' concerns, including withdrawing the resort's direct participation in Swingfest and continuing to communicate with the (property owners' board) about its concerns."
But she warned of legal consequences.
"The board of directors has a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of the (homeowners) association members, and the board will not hesitate to do so in this regard, to whatever extent is necessary, including legal action for violation" of the declaration of restrictions and covenants for Caliente, Hathorn wrote.
"They will realize they need to work together," Hathorn said Friday. "It's in everyone's best interests for the two entities to work together."
Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 909-4613.