Wouldn’t it be great to have a club holiday; a bunch of friends going off to somewhere sunny and relaxing for a clothes-free week? Well we asked that at the beginning of this year and a few months later, without too much effort, we were there and having a great time. In this article I hope to tell you what we did, how we arranged it, and hopefully inspire readers from other clubs to do the same.
The holiday was in Koversada, Croatia, which is a naturist park with apartments, caravans and tents housing around 5000 over a large area. There is an island, the original Koversada where naturism began in Croatia many decades ago, linked by a footbridge to the long stretch of coast beside it which forms the rest of the naturist park. It is a paradise for naturists with pretty much everybody going around the park without a stitch during the day, and some, particularly the English, staying that way into the night.
There are a few exceptions though, such as the shops not allowing nudity, as we discovered on the first morning when we had to go back up the hill to the apartments to get a modicum of clothing. The hill was even steeper the second time for a couple who hadn’t brought enough Croatian Kuna, but we found out later that towels are fine for ‘clothing’ in the shop, and they take cards as long as you tell them first.
There were 16 of us in total, and one of the best things about the holiday was the group dynamic. Some days people would go their own way, on others they would do things together. No-one was left out, or compelled to join in if they didn’t want to. One thing everyone took part in was the club meal evening, held in the one 4-person apartment that we hired, where everyone cooked something and to emphasize the formality of it everyone wore ties (but nothing else of course). A great time was had, although we were perhaps a little noisy for our neighbours.
Different people in the group had very different interests. One couple fancied snorkeling even though they’d not done it before and he was not an experienced swimmer. By the end of the week they were both floating around thoroughly enjoying the crystal clear water and multitude of fish, although they learnt the hard way that even when in the water, keeping your back pointing towards the sun for a long time results in very red shoulders. Four of us tried the arranged kayaking trip up and down the fjord which was idyllic, with stops for swimming, a coffee break at a fairly cheesy ‘pirate’ cove and lots of wildlife to see, although its 12 km length was a bit hard on the arms and legs. The other arranged trip of note that was thoroughly enjoyed was to Venice, surprisingly close as this part of Croatia was once Italy.
The apartments were nice, seriously nice. A refurbishment 3 years before had seen everything from arctic levels of cooling to sophisticated security fitted. As it turned out we had been lucky – the apartments at the other side were much less luxurious. There were many amenities and restaurants in the park, with the pizzeria being my personal favourite. We visited the closest for a group beer on the evening of our arrival, but were put off a little by the enthusiastic but musically unskilled singer who formed the entertainment – luckily he wasn’t seen or heard again that week.
The weather was good and sunny all week apart from thunderstorms at the end of the first and last days. When the rain started we seemed to be heading in the opposite direction to everyone else, feeling that the very best place to be when it rains is in the sea where you won’t get any wetter. And of course walking back in the rain is when being a naturist is a real benefit – no clothes to get wet! English was well understood, and while the park staff appreciated basic pleasantries in Croatian, when I first tried to order a beer (‘pivo’) in Croatian I found the person serving was actually German.
The idea for the holiday began at one of our project days. In the course of a conversation one of the older members happened to mention a club holiday which had taken place many years ago, which had been very successful, but for some reason we'd not done one since. We are a club where everyone gets on well with each other, and so when we mentioned the idea to a few others we found a lot of enthusiasm. In all about 20 people expressed an interest, so we decided on a target of 16 and set about distributing a questionnaire with questions including the type of holiday, where and when it should be, and the maximum people would like to pay. Few of the members interested in going had school commitments, so the end of June looked good. A beach holiday was by far the most popular idea, in a place where the sun was likely to be shining, although other suggestions included hiring a narrowboat for the week.
The next step was to hit the internet to look for a suitable location. One idea was to hire a villa or two with enough accommodation for all of us, and a place that looked promising for this was Formentera, the small island off Ibiza which is largely naturist, has a hippy history, and had lots of villas available away from the one resort town. The arrangements would however have to be direct to the villa owners and airline.
Koversada was our second option, using an established travel agent for a holiday staying at a large resort for maximum flexibility. On discussing the holiday with the Oxnat committee we decided that the villa holiday would be a great plan for the future, but we should play it safe this time and go with Koversada, using Peng as travel agents as we had had good experiences with them in the past. Peng offered a good deal if we booked 16 meaning the price was only a little over our £500 per person target.
It was time to put the details to all the members and get real commitments. Like most clubs we have many singles, so our plan was that everyone paid the same amount regardless. As it turned out we got exactly the 16 that we'd hoped for, including a pair of singles of each sex who were happy to share. Getting deposits was easy, so we could now get excited that the holiday was going to happen. A few weeks later getting final balances was similarly painless as Peng had agreed to take individual payments.
Meeting up at the airport was effortless – it’s amazing how you can just bump into each other in a place as busy as Gatwick, and with the help of a few mobile phone calls we were all in the queue to the check-in. Our only problem was that one person’s booking form was missing a subtle little number which meant that Croatia Airlines wouldn’t let her on. They referred her to the queue at customer services, who were completely unhelpful, but when we called Peng they were magnificent and had the problem sorted within a few minutes.
The disembarkation chores were quick and easy, the transport Peng arranged was there and waiting so within an hour we were at the naturist park reception. Once the coach had left we discovered that there were two sets of apartments with different receptions at either end of the park, and inevitably we were at the wrong one. No problem though as they employ a man in a van to ferry people between the two ends, so we got to the right reception where we met a very efficient person with good English.
As always the holiday was over far too quickly, and eventually we had to put clothes back on and get in the coach for the airport. The journey home was easy, and after hugs at the airport it was back to normal, clothed life. We still had one holiday evening left though – a Croatian club night back in Oxfordshire where Croatian wine was drunk and we recreated the food we had cooked for the holiday meal, complete with the ties.
Would we do it again? Definitely, and we are already drawing up plans for next year, perhaps a more inclusive event in England with another more distant holiday the following year. If you are interested in holidays or the many other things we get up to at Oxnat, take a look around this web site – we are always looking for new members.