Lupin Lodge Resort is Reborn in 2016
Lupin Lodge is a 110-acre private club and resort where clothes are optional and having fun is infectious. The club is surrounded by pine- fragrant hills in the Santa Cruz Mountains that separate the beach community of Santa Cruz, California from the high tech corridor known as “Silicon Valley” near San Jose. Lupin is about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco and it has blended nudist enthusiasts from this mix of Bay Area countercultures through many generations.
Next only to the natural beauty that surrounds it, Lupin’s most appealing feature may be its microclimate. While the California coast endures its annual spring and early-summer ritual of daily low clouds and fog, Lupin is located high enough in the mountains to usually avoid what the locals call “The June Gloom” and remains perhaps the sunniest spot in the Bay Area during those months.
Newcomers are often surprised to learn that the resort actually began its life in 1936 as a winery, and that its buildings have been built and rebuilt by many a succession of owners through the years. It has also survived a series of challenges through its histories, from the 1989 Loma Prieta 6.9 magnitude earthquake (whose epicenter was only a few miles away), to a recent dispute over water access rights, to the sudden death of its longtime owner, Glyn Stout, earlier this year. Lori Kay Stout, the present owner and general manager, settled the water issue out of court soon after Glyn’s death and now focuses on the club’s future.
There is a new well on the property and a new water treatment plant. There was also a lot of El Nino rain last winter, so the storage tanks are full. The lawns are once again green and the surrounding flora is blooming. Also back are the families of deer that roam the property after dark, some pesky raccoons, and a couple of tame skunks (just don’t startle them!) romping through the flowerbeds. The swimming pool above the lawn area continues to attract volleyball and water volleyball enthusiasts, especially midday on weekends.
Following Glyn’s death it seems the Lupin members rose with one voice to say, “Yes, we can!” and pitched in to make the guest experience the best ever. There is an almost entirely new staff at the registration desk with new computers to make check-in much easier than in year’s past. The restaurant remains one of the better ones among naturist resorts in California. Lori Kay insists on hiring chefs with culinary school experience, so the dinners are always a great delight. The restaurant also has a new computer so food prices are charged accurately and quickly. One can also use a credit card to make a purchase, a change from years past when only cash was accepted.
We visited the park on its inaugural Travel Club Weekend. Once each month, Lupin assigns one 3-day weekend to attract members from other clubs in the region at discount rates. The theme for our weekend was Summer of Love, and each day there was a nostalgia band performing songs from the Age of Aquarius. A folk trio set the mood on Friday night, followed by a couple of bands rocking under the big oak tree on the clubhouse lawn. A couple of members brought their hula-hoops and put on a spontaneous performance while others blew bubbles across the audience on the lawn. Saturday night, a DJ played all the major hits from that era, bringing back many fond memories.
Unlike what is happening at several other nudist parks around the country, Lupin is successfully attracting a new generation of Millennials (and younger) to the park. They have given them a big tent behind the yurts to camp out together, and they let this younger crowd bring their recorded music to the Redwood Grove grass area behind the pool. The weekend we were there I observed a group of perhaps 20 younger people hanging out together, although most were more interested on texting than interacting with each other. (Note: The entire park is a WiFi “hot zone,” and cellphone access is excellent nearly everywhere on the grounds.)
Overnight guests may rent a furnished Yurt with a queen-sized bed, desk table, heater, and fan, although frankly, not much time is ever spent there. Guests may also camp in a tent, or rent an RV hookup.
I must admit I was a little skeptical about Lupin before I got there, especially because of the continued drought across California. But Lupin has come back, yet again, and seems like all it needs is more visitors to come and enjoy its energetic and effervescent soul.
Lupin Lodge is located at 20600 Aldercroft Heights, Los Gatos, CA 95033. Telephone: (408) 353-9200
Lupin Lodge is hosting the Naturist Society Western Gathering July 28-31, 2016.