July 23, 2014

Development

Buck Naked

Pasco County's robust growth includes a healthy smattering of upscale subdivisions and resorts where nobody wears any clothes.

Amy Keller | 6/1/2006
Under the warmth of the afternoon sun, a white-haired couple rollerblade casually down a quiet street in their gated community in Land O' Lakes. Gliding past 4,000-sq.-ft. homes and parked Porsches, the sun-glazed seniors could easily be tagged as prototypical active retirees -- if not for the fact that, aside from their wheeled shoes, the two are stark naked.


MAKING A SPLASH: While most of the Caliente Resort & Spa is clothing-ooptional, the pool area is a nude-only zone. Caliente is home to about 600 permanent residents but draws 200 to 300 visitors every weekday, and about 1,000 guests on weekends. It's one of seven nudist communities/resorts in Pasco.
So is everyone else at the Caliente Resort & Spa, a playground for thousands of nudists from around the world and full-time home to hundreds more. The development, on 100 acres in Pasco County about 20 miles north of Tampa off Highway 41, is the brainchild of Chuck Foster, 71, a veteran of Florida's nudist industry who vowed more than a decade ago that he would build "the hottest nudist resort in the world."

Caliente -- hot in Spanish -- draws between 200 and 300 visitors every weekday and upward of 1,000 guests each weekend. Around 600 people live there in condos, two-story villas, spruced-up manufactured homes called "casitas" or traditional single-family houses.

The resort's expansion has made it the crown jewel of a well-established nudist industry that has boomed along with the rest of the economy in Pasco, the state's 11th fastest-growing county. Some 100,000 nudists visit the county's nudist resorts each year. Meanwhile, developers have been quick to recognize that there's a good market in well-heeled nudists willing to pay a hefty premium for gated havens where they can live and roam unclad. Homestead exemption data and figures from the communities indicate that more than 2,000 full-time nudists live in the county.

Pasco's nudist roots date back to 1947, when Tampa tax lawyer Arthur Brubaker founded the Lake Como nudist resort on 200 acres in Land O' Lakes. Nestled among cypress trees, the rustic retreat caters to a trailer-and-camper crowd looking to get back to nature, lie around the pool, play volleyball and lollygag in a shack called the "Butt Hutt."

? Four-year-old Caliente raised the nude-living standard in Pasco. Many of Caliente's residents are wealthy empty-nesters. The community includes a 33,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse and European spa.

In 1979, Lake Como resident Fred Bischoff decided Florida's nudists needed a more sophisticated setting, like the luxury nudist resorts that were cropping up in the Caribbean. He purchased 72 acres adjacent to Lake Como and launched Paradise Lakes, a "clothing-optional" resort that included a lakeside pool, restaurant and nightclub. The "clothing-optional" appellation was meant to appeal to those who dabbled in nudism but hadn't adopted it as a lifestyle.

The concept caught on. Paradise's membership and national reputation grew, and the resort reigned as Pasco's top nudist destination into the 1990s, when Foster, who had been a manager at Paradise, architect Bill Baldwin and several associates decided to build Caliente.

Tags: Tampa Bay

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