Atlantic Shores, the venerable swingers and gay motel on the ocean side of “Old Town”, has finally bit the dust. Many are already mourning the passing of the afordable rooms and the beach bar with it’s nude pool.  I guess all things eventually come to an end?

There were claims that over 2,000 people joined in on the final day of operation. It will be sorely missed by many, but just as many are happy to see the change.  Frankly, I was tired of seeing old out-of-shape men lying by the pool with their balls hanging out.

But what’s the real story?  Some locals are angry that their alternative living motel and nudist pool & bar are gone.  And they blame it on the developers. There has always been development in Key West, as elsewhere in the civilized world.  Who sells the properties to the developers?  The locals, of course. So it’s not the developer’s fault.  It’s the locals greed that urges the development growth.

If you look at the Atlantic Shores from a sensible business point of view, rather than an emotional perspective, the redevelopment makes a great deal of sense.  The ocean front property is worth much more than the current business.  Renting old inexpensive rooms, even at 100% occupancy all year long, isn’t going to make much money.  The expenses, including insurance, are very high.

Along comes Joel Mesiel, who used to own the Casa Marina, The Reach and the Santa Maria, and he buys Atlantic Shores. To square off the property, he then purchases The Sands Beach Club. While developing the Santa Maria into hotelminiums, he runs into some problems getting his plans for Atlantic Shores approved.

Charlie Ramos, Joel’s property neighbor at the Southermost Hotel, files a complaint that the design for the new Atlantic Shores Hotelminiums exceeds the Architectural Review Board limits of 2.5 stories.  Actually the design is for 2.5 stories, but over parking, which was required to meet FEMA’s flood plain guidelines. Joel sits on the property waiting for a resolution and continues operating the Atlantic Shores.

Not too long after this, Joel enters into negotiations to purchase several of the Southernmost hotel properties.  His plans for these properties was never announced, but a temporary plan to demolish the Shores bar & pool area and combine them with the old Sands property to create a new ocean front beach bar materializes and Charlie Ramos finds out about it.  Charlie decides to make an offer to Joel for the Atlantic Shores/Sands properties, rather than sell the Southernmost properties.

Charlie and a band of local investors announce their plan to purchase the property, demolish it and rebuild a new higher class hotel.  The locals object, as they always do about any change, but the deal goes through. Charlie is happy and Joel is probably looking for a new deal to invest some of his profits into.

15 Responses to “Atlantic Shores Bites The Dust”

  1. What the owner of the Southernmost doesn’t understand is that patrons like us (who travel all the way from Washington State), would stay at the Southernmost for at least 10 days during Fantasy Fest and used the pool at the Shores. By doing away with the nude pool you take away a reason for people to go to Key West. Take away the nudity and soon no one will go. The ’06 Fantasy fest was the worst yet with lots of uncostumed voyeurs and very few costumed exhibitionists. We have attended 8 fantasy fests and stayed at the Southernmost 6 times because it was convenient to get to the Shores pool. If we attend another fantasy fest we will stay closer into town the next time. If the next Fantasy fest turns out to be voyeur looking at voyeur we won’t go again, and soon no one else will either.

  2. You got ta be kidding me! People won’t go to Key West because the nude pool’s gone???? Ha, Ha, Ha… Don’t they have nudist colonies in Wash state? I think the Southermmost will do lust fine.

  3. I would have to agree with Mark… One of the MAIN reasons we came to Key West was the atmosphere and fun at Atlantic Shores Pool. We will be coming down for FF this year, but only because we have prepaid our airfare and hotel. Really… we had SOOOO much fun at Atlantic Shores. We love to lay out nude, and don’t mind the Old Man balls… who cares! Is there any place else being thought of where we could find the same or close to same atmosphere during Fantasy Fest this year? I realize we’re just two people, but 2+2+2+2… really adds up.

    We are just so disappointed to hear this.

  4. In general, I would have to agree with Mark as well. My wife and I have made 6 visits to KW since 95 and stayed at The Shores for the last 5. It isn’t 5 star, but so what? The staff more than made up for it and the best part was the pool and bar. You could actually go and spend the day doing nothing but enjoying life, meet friendly folks, staff and guests, and just have a great time. It was the reason we kept slipping away for a week to KW. Sure, there are other attractions there, but the biggest was the experience of the Shores. We will miss the Shores. Rhonda was the best.

  5. Well no matter what everyone thinks, it’s too late now. When visiting KW last week the whole Shores property has been bulldozed and new hotel rooms are under construction. A local bartender said the rooms would rent for $350 a night and up!!! I still love KW but it’s getting expensive.

  6. Ultimately, Key West (in my opinion) is the only vacation spot in the world! My friend and I always stay at a local guest house, however we would spend most of our days at Atlantic Shores pool and bar. We can only hope that a similar establishment will be constructed for our enjoyment in the near future. Virginia Sun Bums!

  7. Well Atlantic Shores was the last funk in KW. The funk is gone. Have cancelled this year’s reservations, more diversity, great disco, good beach in Fort Lauderdale …even some laid back funk. Has been too sad watching the fisherman, then the house boats disappear. KW is just a tee shirt stop over for tour boats.

  8. I agree with Mark about the “Nude Pool.” Not that I cared about nudity, but the fact I enjoyed sun tanning on a dock, on the ocean, in a safe place with other gay and gay friendly people. Not that the Guest Houses are not a good place to do that. I enjoy sunning there too. However, sunning on the ocean was a great enjoyment for me. This was a great place to meet people from other hotels and possibly meet friends to hangout with for the remainder of the vacation.Now if I go to key west, the Sunday Tea Dance and the Daytime pool at Atlantic Shores on the ocean are gone. Key West does not appeal to me anymore for that reason.

  9. I traveled from Maine to go to the clothing-optional deck and pool at the Atlantic Shores. I had a great time, went there a few times. Personally I didn’t notice any “Old Man Balls” nor would it bother me if there were. That’s how we were created and our government has turned it from a great creation to a shameful thing to be nude. When given the chance I’d much rather go to the Nude Beach instead of the Prude Beach.

  10. We’re with Mark, Bruce, and several of the others here. From New England, we visited Key West once or twice per year for a decade up until Atlantic Shores closed. We’ve never been to Fantasy Fest, and we’re not inclined to go to a nudist resort. Atlantic Shores had an openness, energy, and social structure that we’ve never seen anywhere else, and we miss it. It was tremendous fun, and fascinating to participate in.

    The town and area B&B’s failed to understand the drawing power of Atlantic Shores, and Atlantic Shores itself really didn’t profit much from that draw since the rooms weren’t nice enough to stay in and wound up being rented to students or other budget travelers. Key West became just any other Florida beach town the day ASR closed up. For a quick winter warm-up we now go to Fort Lauderdale or Palm Springs CA.

  11. This “article” is really an editorial that sounds like it was written by the developer himself. Please try to understand the way human beings feel when one of their icons is demolished to make way for high-priced real estate. I question the “greed” of the locals, as opposed to that of the developer. Key West used to have a heart and soul; now it’s just shiny new buildings and high prices. Progress. Sad.

  12. My wife and I loved Atlantic Shores when we went in 2004 and am sorry to see it is gone. I hear a 99%er in John. You cannot have the sale of of a property w/o the consent of the seller, true? We still live in a free society and one can do what ever they wish with their own property. Blaming the developer is easy, but it is not the whole story. ASR was not Granny’s house being taken away by the bank. Lets not bash development with a broad brush. I am sorry to see ASR gone too.

  13. Travis and Janet here. Check our personal profile. We truly enjoyed our time at A.S. Key West really lost some of it’s specialness with that place disappearing. Amazing that no place has stepped up to take it’s place It really had a cool vibe. It was the place for us The only other place that we have discovered that has just as much “cool vibe” going on is a placed called Ocean Annies in Myrtle Beach. More of a swingers /fun vanilla party place. Great live band and the party starts at 1:00 and goes to 11. .

  14. The Key West flavor is disapearing. If you take away the uniqueness ther eis no reason to spend the extra effort to get down there if it is the same as the mainland. You can find a high end $500. a night hotel room anywhere. Why go to Key West? The Ocean Palm in Sunny Isles disapeared this year also. The last hotel in walking distance to Haulover nude beach. Seems the tea party christians agenda has taken over.

  15. Still miss Atlantic Shores! (after all this time) usually stay in Ft Lauderdale now; I wonder if Key West knows what it lost? Maybe it didn’t make any difference; and business’ and the City are still making money. Still. Somthing’s missing now.