Resorts & Retreats Awards 2023

Best Male-Only Clothing Optional Resort 2023 - Florida Nestled in the Southernmost Point of the United States, the historic Key West, Florida, Equator Resort Key (Equator) West has become a place where time slows down, vibrant colours dazzle the eyes, and the warm tropical breeze caresses the skin. We find out more about the resort and its unique offering from Anthony Sibilly-Juarez as it celebrates a win in the Resort and Retreat Awards 2023. Since originally opening in 1997 as a ‘male only – clothing optional’ safe space in the LGBTQ community, Equator Resort Key West has evolved. Whilst its primary clientele is still gay men, the clothing optional hotel is now a safe space for all males, regardless of how they identify. “We cater to those who are looking not only for privacy and comfort, but those looking to rejuvenate and experience life,” explains Anthony Sibilly-Juarez, the General Manager at Equator. “The resort is your safe space to be yourself while experiencing the history, culture, and heritage of historic Key West.” For its commitment and dedication to its guests and staff, Equator has become the oasis where friends are made, couples are reconnected, and love is kindled. “As with any escape, your vacation is what you make of it,” Anthony enthuses. “The quote ‘We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us’ has always been held at the heart of our resort.” Equator operates a niche market which, of course, can have its own pros and cons as with any market. However there are a few standout features which make Equator the preferred choice for many. To begin with, it is one of only three ‘male only – clothing optional’ resorts remaining in Key West, however all three have different vibes, with Equator occupying a space in-between the other two and covering the middle ground. Anthony is also quick to praise his competitors in a genuine show of companionability. “We each have things that we are better at and we love that about each other,” he explains. “One has a great restaurant, the other is upstairs of one of the most famous bars in Key West, and some of our prides are that we are the only one to have no shared bathrooms (all rooms have their own private bathroom), and we do not sell day passes. The hotel is for guests and guests of guests only.” The resort’s daily operations centre around one main core value that Anthony describes as more of a concept, and that is: ‘do your best, and if you mess up, make it right and learn from it!’ “That’s all you can ask of anyone in life,” he laughs. “We are all human… We do our best, strive for improvement, and take responsibility. Most of the time there has been an unhappy guest in any business I have worked with, it has been post-visit due to lack of communication during the stay. If something is wrong, tell us and give us a chance to make it right!” The resort enjoys a high staff retention, however when the need does arrive for Anthony to recruit he looks for someone with experience in the field, and someone who has a standout personality. He also has an unusual way of ensuring he is hiring the right person as at the end of the interview he will ask himself whether this person would be a good fit at a dinner party with his friends and family! “Anyone can be trained to do anything,” he elaborates. “A personality is not something we can train for. You either have the gift of gab or you don’t! Give someone the opportunity to prove themselves, develop themselves, and be themselves, and you have a true keeper.” There seems to be a growing political climate in Florida that Anthony believes is affecting tourism as a whole, however he is keen to explain that by visiting Key West, people are not necessarily visiting Florida, but rather a domestic tropical island that has always set itself aside from the rest of the country in regard to how it views life. Over the past couple of postpandemic years, the area has seen a whole new flock of west coast visitors discovering Key West for the first time. Recently, for its dedication to connecting with people, immersing itself in different cultures, and gaining a deeper understanding of the world, Equator was recognised in the Resort and Retreat Awards and named Best Male-Only Clothing Optional Resort 2023 – Florida. Now, Anthony tells us that Equator has just experienced its best first quarter ever! And this is despite the unfortunate event last year where there was a small fire, which at the time caused concern that this would be challenging for business. “With Key West having one of the highest bars per capita, we found that it actually helped encourage guests to go out into the town and seek out the local hidden gems of watering holes, and then come back with an even better experience than sitting around the pool lounging by the bar! But repairing and renovating our bar area is still our big project in the works.” Contact Details Contact: Anthony Sibilly-Juarez Company: Equator Resort Key West Web Address: