It’s two PM on a Wednesday and I’m wading chest-deep through what Temptation, a luxury topless resort in the heart of Cancun’s hotel district, has appropriately dubbed “The Sexy Pool.” If I were at home, this is around the time I’d switch off the computer, curse myself for not buying more Diet Coke, and settle down for 4-7 episodes of Step by Step on Netflix.
I mean, what else are you going to do in the middle of a weekday, right?
There are no “weekdays” at Temptation. The hours blend into what could only be described as a never-ending Saturday; an endless bacchanal of food, drink, and (mostly respectful) sexual titillation that leaves everyone staying at this hormone-charged summer camp bordering on frenzy.
There are no strangers here, either. If I’ve paddled into the pool’s warm waters not quite sure what to make of the people around me or the slick photo of a bare-chested woman splayed across its bottom — “Oh my god,” I thought the first time I saw it, “She’s drowning!” — the confusion dissipates the second a bikini-clad staff member announces another “sexy” game and shouts a reminder that the drinks (the names of which one cannot share in polite company) are free and unlimited at the swim-up bar.
No one at Temptation is who I expect them to be, and yet, they’re exactly in the right place. There are taut, oiled bodies being flexed, to be sure, but anyone standing on the deck overlooking the water would bear witness to a sea of flesh in every size, age, and shape; a thronging mass united in its pursuit of squeezing every last drop of ecstasy from an idle afternoon.
The games begin: I watch three women simulate orgasms (the winner is a topless middle-aged smoker who cries “Yes, give it to me! Yes! Yes!” in the voice of Aunt Selma from The Simpsons); three young couples race to act out as many sex positions as they can within 60 seconds (one couple’s count is an impressive 15); and, in a rousing finale, several female revelers splash into the water to collect as many pairs of trunks and speedos as they can carry — a brief suspension of the resort’s strict “no public nudity” rule.
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I fiddle with my shorts for a second during the last game, but by the time I finally build up the courage necessary to whip them off and wave them over my head, the moment has passed. That’s okay: If the first rule of Temptation is to do whatever the hell you want with no fear, then the second is that every minute brings another opportunity to toss your inhibitions by the wayside.
“You never knows what comes next,” a bartender told me on my second day at the resort, after suggesting I live a little and order something other than just my standard Bud Light. “You’ll never be fucking bored.”
Ten minutes after the swim trunks have been collected and returned to their rightful, visibly excited owners, I’m presented with another chance to be the type of adventurous person I promised myself I’d be on the plane. Near the swim-up bar, I shake hands with Keyaira*, who’s come to celebrate her 39th birthday with her husband and 10-15 of their closest friends — some they’ve brought with them, some they’ve met only hours ago.
“We’re up for anything,” Keyaira tells me as her husband shouts that it’s time for nipple shots, everyone welcome.
“Even me?” I ask, not quite sure whether the invitation extends to a person the happy couple only happened to meet because I burn easily and prefer to swim in the shade. Asking for permission to do sexy stuff is terrifying. “Am I being too aggressive?” I wonder, silently preparing myself for the polite rejection that will send me to the other side of the pool, where hopefully no one has seen me strike out in my first attempt to live an adventurous lifestyle.
“Hell yes!” Keyaira shouts. “Get yourself a goddamn drink!” But the party is temporarily interrupted. Before my new friend’s husband can pass out a tower of drinks he’s picked up at the bar, he begins flirting with another woman. Seconds later, I’m serving as lookout (public sex is also verboten, though certainly attempted) as he’s given underwater fellatio. It only lasts a second because blowing someone with water flowing up your nose is really, really hard.
The woman comes up sputtering for air. She and Keyaira’s husband hug, like what they’ve just done is exchanged a friendly hello. Seconds later, this same woman is teaching me how to do shots off Keyaira’s chest. None of this seems to be a particularly big deal.
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Recess is in session! Enjoy all of Temptation Cancun Resort's adult-only playgrounds! #LetsPlay . . . #temptationcancun #temptationresort #toplessoptional #toplessresort #adultsonly #adultsonlyresort #adultsonlycancun #cancunresort #cancun #cancunvacations #vacations #karimrashid #beachfont #beachfrontresort #caribbeansea
“You put the nipple in your mouth, spill the drink down the breast, and suck like your life depends on it,” the yet unnamed woman says. I inform her that this is the first time I’ve ever done anything remotely sexual with a woman. I debate whether I should call my husband — who’s granted me permission to “do whatever” when declining to accompany me — to have a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of taking a stranger’s breast into my mouth.
But there’s no time for all that. Sensing my trepidation — it’s like that feeling you get as you wait in line for a roller coaster you don’t know if you want to go on — the woman whose blowjob I’ve guarded decides to return the favor, saying that we can do the shots side by side, each of us taking a nipple in what I can only imagine I’ll remember as an important bonding ritual for the rest of my life. I’m concerned I’ll do something wrong (nipples aren’t really my forte) but halfway through the shot and with three-fourths of my drink accidentally flung into the pool because my hand-eye coordination is a disgrace, I let go.
The experience isn’t explicitly sexual for any of us, I don’t think. It’s just mouth on skin; but it’s exhilarating to be a part of so much human connection. Soon, we’re all hugging and splashing each other. We may never meet again, but, for now, it feels like we’ll be friends forever.
As I swim away, I take in my surroundings one more time: the sun is warm, everyone’s cheering on another “sexy game,” and the resort’s unofficial mantra keeps ringing in my ears: At Temptation, the saying goes, no one knows who you are and no one gives a shit.
Most of us could use more of that in our lives.
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You haven't lived until you've experienced one of our famous Foam Parties! They are held every Thursday at 3pm! #LetsPlay . . . #temptationcancun #temptationresort #toplessoptional #toplessresort #adultsonly #adultsonlyresort #adultsonlycancun #cancunresort #cancun #cancunvacations #vacations #karimrashid #beachfont #beachfrontresort #caribbeansea
I didn’t know what to expect when I was invited to spend five days at the resort as part of its grand re-opening (it’s recently undergone a fifty million dollar renovation). A “Do whatever you want”-card from your spouse may be a call to action for people eager to “embrace the moment,” but for someone who struggles with every kind of anxiety under the sun, it felt like a cruel gift.
When the itinerary for the press trip hit my inbox, boasting that I’d have ample free time to do my own thing in between shows, group dinners, and the resort’s inaugural White Party, I began panicking about the empty slots I’d have to fill. As the trip drew nearer, I kept my outlook cynical. When others would ask about my upcoming adventure, I’d joke that I was just going for the story. “I’m not like these people,” I told everyone.
Sitting in the steakhouse on my first night, I watch the guests around me mingle, judging every one of them for paying to be there. “Those two are here to save their marriage,” I think, watching a young couple in the throes of a heated discussion over potato salad and empanadas. “What the hell is she wearing?” I wonder about a woman who’d donned a pleated denim skirt. “None of them are getting laid here,” I muse about another group, as they giddily throw back margaritas. Slouched in a teal booth, on an easy-to-wipe bench seat, I think about all the wrong decisions that have brought me here — a resort I’ve spent months imagining as packed to the gills with sad people trying to give their lives just a little bit of manufactured excitement.
The truth is, the only sad person I find at Temptation is me. No one else is throwing stones and casting aspersions, they’re too busy having fun. And they have far more pressing concerns to worry about, anyway — like whether they want to splurge on the Boobs Cruise, a nude catamaran adventure to the nearby Isla Mujeres; or whether they’d remembered to pack their leopard-print bustiers and alcohol-infused whipped cream. The alcoholic whipped cream is a divisive topic here. Some claim that it’s the only way to truly enjoy licking dairy product off another’s breasts and genitals; others argue that it’s just too much trouble to keep the damn cans at the right temp.
“Just take a shot of Fireball after every mouthful of regular whipped cream and you’re good.”
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Everywhere, people greet each other like old friends. And some of them are — even if they don’t keep in contact outside their one, two, or even five annual stays at the resort. One couple I meet, who come yearly from Argentina, say that there’s no place like Temptation, although they can’t fully explain why.
A Canadian man named Norm, who acts as Temptation’s unofficial mascot and is lovingly referred to by others guests as Gandalf, Sexy Chewbacca and Naughty Santa — you can’t miss his glorious white beard or the fact that his loungewear consists exclusively of thongs in a dizzying array of retina-scorching prints and colors — recognizes my skepticism and tells me the best thing about Temptation is the box that they keep by the front door.
“You haven’t seen it?” he asks as he’s taking off a pair of slacks by the pool, revealing a pearly white g-string. “Well, they have this big old box at the entrance and what you do is you take all your inhibitions and you put them there before you check in. And then, when you check out, if you want them back, you can have ‘em.”
It’s a story he’s told many times and, I imagine, has emboldened newbies like me to enjoy their time here in all its glory. While I’m too shy to join the foam party that occurs during my stay (all bets are off once the pool is overtaken by thick white bubbles), I resolve to take off my shirt as often as possible (empowerment!) and not cross my arms over my chest to hide the healthy B-cup I’ve been sporting ever since I’ve hit my thirties.
Usually, at the end of a long day of vacationing, I’d retreat to the comfort of my room. But while the remodeled accommodations at Temptation, created by minimalist designer Karim Rashid, are sleek and modern, the pull of the party is far too strong to allow one to quietly wilt in their chambers, watching pay-per-view and ordering room service.
Norm is right: You can’t enjoy yourself at a place like Temptation without putting your fears and self-doubt — mild or severe as they may be — in the imaginary box that sits just outside of its doors. Unless you choose to be a willing participant, you’re going to live with regrets, telling the people who’ll ask about your trip that the food was “okay, but not great” and asserting that you “won’t be going back” without taking personal responsibility for being miserable at a place which can only be compared to the very best episode of MTV’s Spring Break.
I quickly realize that I have to go all in. I take off my shirt, I speak to strangers, I am never alone. At Temptation, people will talk to you wherever you are. Stop by the bar for a drink and you’ll be invited to join two groups in the pool or at a room party later. Admire someone’s top as you walk past them on your way to a meal and they’ll invite you to sit with them for dinner. And if one group of revelers isn’t your taste, if you find you have nothing to talk about, you only need to walk ten feet before you’ll meet someone new. The hardest thing you have to do is say “yes.”
I explore everything: There’s the steakhouse, a buffet, a restaurant devoted to Mexican cuisine. Seaflirt, a restaurant overlooking the ocean serves the best hash browns I’ve ever tasted. If you’re up early enough, you can make reservations at a hibachi or SHE, a couples-only restaurant that delivers culinary aphrodisiacs after culinary aphrodisiac to your curtained booth while you watch an exotic dancer work the pole to a super-sad remix of Adele’s “Hello.”
There are bars every ten feet. In the middle of the newly renovated atrium that serves as the hotel’s lobby, a giant mural of a couple in the throes of pleasure serves as an invite to find your own passion. There’s a sports bar where, depending on the time, one can play bar games, karaoke to the hits of the ‘90s, or stuff dollar bills down a stripper’s underwear. There’s a gym, too, and while I’d promised myself that I’d spend at least a few minutes on the treadmill each day, I only duck in to grab towels to wipe off my face.
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Want to sit in a giant hot tub with a yoni tiled across the bottom? Your wish is granted. Every night, Bash, the resort’s nightclub, turns into a themed extravaganza where you can find people wearing everything from animal onesies to elaborate BDSM couture that emphasizes form over function. There’s a spa with a huge bath-warm jetted pool and experiential showers, one of which is a bucket full of cold water you can overturn on yourself to awaken the senses. No one minds if you scream.
People ready to splurge can buy an erotic couple’s massage where two carnival-masked attendants will tease you with feathers, facilitate sexual contact between you and your partner, massage you as you near climax, and then quietly disappear as you lay in the afterglow. Question: What the hell kind of tip do you leave for that?
Even in all this excess, I discover that the resort’s diehards see the trappings as just a bonus. Lynn, a 40-ish woman who visits Temptation several times a year (and has the deep, enviable tan to prove it) shared her bottle of whiskey with me and told me that she’d come forever, even if the hotel hadn’t been renovated. It’s the camaraderie — more than the sex — that keeps her coming back.
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Temptation's first #FoamParty of many more to come! #LetsPlay (Swipe to see all the photos!). . #temptationcancun #temptationresort #toplessoptional #toplessresort #adultsonly #adultsonlyresort #adultsonlycancun #cancunresort #cancun #cancunvacations #vacations #karimrashid #beachfont #beachfrontresort #caribbeansea
“There’s no shame here,” an attractive couple named Syl and Mike tell me in unison as we wait in line at the gift shop, which boasts both the necessities you’d expect from a hotel gift shop — Advil, t-shirts, cigarettes — as well as fantasy bikinis that resemble LeeLoo’s costumes from The Fifth Element and every manner of sex enhancer and vibrator you’d expect from a well-stocked adult emporium. Syl is buying a gold necklace made to look like the resort’s logo, a sexy, stylized apple; I’m purchasing superglue because my sandals have fallen apart and I’ve learned that walking across concrete in the hot Mexican sun is a joy only to those exploring masochism.
“We don’t really tell people where we go every year, though,” Syl says.
She might wear the necklace back home, but if someone admires it, she’ll just tell them she got it in Mexico. While some people, like Norm, “couldn’t give less of a shit” if their friends and family knew they spent their vacations in a topless paradise, others are acutely aware of the fact that being labeled “a swinger” could come with stigmas and repercussions. “What would our kids think?” A woman named Jess laughs after telling me how proud she is of her children’s accomplishments as we paddle around the resort’s “Quiet Pool” together. Another man, who’s the postmaster of his small town, says that he personally doesn’t care one way or the other if people knew where he spends the cruel midwestern winters, “But, you know… the people would freak. And it’s all politics. So we just don’t really talk about it.”
The idea that Temptation is a “sex” or “swingers” resort is, I’m told time and again, a slight misconception. Sure, a lot of (mostly heterosexual) sex goes on here — one night, on my way to dinner, I pass a room which has exploded into a full-blown orgy with the curtains wide open — and the resort is famous for its room crawls and after-hours parties, but you don’t have to swap partners if you don’t want to. You don’t even have to bring one.
Sometimes, an Australian woman named Georgia tells me, you don’t have sex at all; the carefree atmosphere is often exciting enough. It’s what some couples need to rediscover each other. And it’s impossible not to make friends. “It’s like this,” she says, “You come here once, you have a good time, you make some friends. You come back, you hang with them some more. A couple of years later, you fuck them.”
This slow approach to hedonism may not be for everyone, but it certainly takes the pressure off, especially for someone like me, who’s here for relaxation, not sex. Despite the fact that toplessness is encouraged, I’m told that many first-time visitors don’t take off their bikinis until their last day. Then, realizing just how addictive the freedom is, they immediately begin planning their trips back, sometimes canceling long-imagined vacations to other far-flung locales.
Most people never leave the resort during the stay. They may come planning to venture off to Tulum or Chichen Itza, but there are so many people to meet, so many parties, and so much to do in between that cultural landmarks are often forgotten in the swell of excitement. “You’d better take a nap before the festivities,” a playmaker (the title given to staff members whose main job is to make you feel like you’re the first fun person that’s ever come to the resort) named Candice tells me on the beach my first day. “Dance till four, wake up at noon, and do it all over again.”
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As the day begins to fade, Temptation Cancun Resort offers spicy nightly entertainment! #LetsPlay . . . #temptationcancun #temptationresort #toplessoptional #toplessresort #adultsonly #adultsonlyresort #adultsonlycancun #cancunresort #cancun #cancunvacations #vacations #karimrashid #beachfont #beachfrontresort #caribbeansea
At the White Party, I find myself surrounded by friends. The resort appears large, but you run into the same people five times a day. There’s the couple from Wisconsin who always offer me a drink in the pool; There’s the woman who makes sure that her bikini always matches the cast on her leg (she broke it a week before check-in); There’s the guy who tells me his name but says “You can call me asshole; that’s what my wife does.” There’s Norm, the center of attention in his thong, taking pictures with cadres of admiring fans. There are all the people I wasn’t quite sure of that first night.
I’m sure of them now. I don’t know their names, I may never see them again, but I feel close to them just the same.
As the hotel’s lights shut off and fireworks overtake the sky, I try my best to control my enthusiasm. Soon, though, I’m jumping and screaming. Someone pours a bottle of water over my head and we’re laughing and dancing and yelling about how we can’t fucking wait to come back. As I pump my fist at the sky — no irony here — two women look over at me. One of them is smiling, the other, I think, is mildly annoyed. If I were anywhere else, I might have stopped. Here, though, where no one knows who I am, where no one gives a shit, I jump higher, dance harder.
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Your Cancun vacation will be more fun when you accompany it with our amazing Playmakers! #LetsPlay . . . #temptationcancun #temptationresort #toplessoptional #toplessresort #adultsonly #adultsonlyresort #adultsonlycancun #cancunresort #cancun #cancunvacations #vacations #karimrashid #beachfont #beachfrontresort #caribbeansea
*Names changed to protect the sexually adventurous. Not Norm’s though. “I don’t give a shit what you post,” he said.