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From Adult Camp to Rousing Retreats, Here’s How People Are Vacationing This Summer

Properties and destinations are making a play for post-Covid travelers by offering up more unexpected programming

switching gears the cape caboswitching gears the cape cabo

Daniela Fernandez

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With travel seemingly back in full swing, millions of Americans are heading out this summer in search of something to do — and places to go. But while things like hotel stays and live concerts continue to be popular, some properties are making a play for guests by offering more unexpected programming.

Related: The Best Hotels for Music Fans

In Miami, the W South Beach is offering an adult summer camp-like experience with everything from tennis clinics to cookouts to movie nights on the property’s grassy lawn. Appropriately dubbed “CAMP W South Beach,” the weekend-long event launched in June with a music camp that featured things like a “crafting cabana” for making festival accessories, a cookout hosted by Nas’ fried chicken joint Sweet Chick, and an outdoor screening of Spice World. Guests were also invited to the single release party for DJ Sinego (Tigre Sounds) and singer Lucy Vives’ new song, Cenizas, which served as the perfect lead-in to a night of dancing and debauchery.

camp w south beach

W South Beach

Buy: CAMP W South Beach at $700+

A “swim camp” in July, meantime, coincided with Miami Swim Week and gave guests a chance to attend the Sports Illustrated Swim Runway Show, while taking part in fitness classes led by celebrity trainers from LA and New York.

The final CAMP event at W South Beach takes place August 5-7, with a three-day “fashion camp” that will include a floral crown making workshop, a “signature sculpt” workout class and special “summer social” with Milk Bar, among other activations. Each evening will also bring guests together for conversation and community over cocktails, music and even a “cowgirl disco” moment.

camp w south beach

W South Beach

For W South Beach, the inspiration for CAMP came from wanting to give hotel guests something beyond just a room to stay in, while also showcasing the property’s newly-renovated spaces.

“We wanted to take the nostalgic elements people know and love from their traditional childhood summer camp days and elevate them to create an adult version with an edgy campy feel,” explains Cristina DeWindt, the hotel’s Director of Marketing. “As the type of vacations people are looking for evolve, travelers are searching for more unique experiences and hotels are becoming more than just an accommodation. Camp W South Beach is a perfect example of this, developing full itineraries that incorporate every aspect the property has to offer, from programming to pool time to culinary experiences.”

camp w south beach

W South Beach

Buy: W South Beach Stay at $600+

Across the continent and down the Baja California coast, guests were invited to step outside their comfort zone recently at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel’s second-annual “Switching Gears” event. The four-day event saw both hotel guests and invited celebrities participating in a series of programs that challenged them to explore new experiences in music, food, surf and art. The theme also extended to the talent on hand, with mixologists tasked with cooking lunch, elite athletes learning to draw, and DJs masquerading as chefs for the night.

the cape switching gears

Daniela Fernandez

Against the sweeping backdrop of the beachfront Cabo San Lucas property, guests dabbled in everything from cocktail making to pottery classes to surf-inspired morning workouts. Afternoons were spent learning to sketch live models and sampling wares from local artisans, while every evening featured a celebrity chef creating “gastronomic experiences” that ranged from local Mexican cuisine to international-inspired fare (think Japanese fusion and a Mexican spin on classic Indian dishes). The nights wound down with live music, dancing and fireworks as the waves from the Sea of Cortez lapped languishingly below.

Among the talent at The Cape’s “Switching Gears” event was the DJ and producer Jillionaire, who pulled double duty, not just as a DJ, but as a private chef for one of the night’s culinary activations. For Jillionaire (real name Christopher Leacock), the idea of “switching” between multiple jobs and mediums is something he’s learned to love — and embrace.

“I think that it is a useful skill for anyone to adopt the ability to pivot,” says Leacock, who ditched the DJ decks one night to man the grill for a dinner inspired by his Trinidadian restaurant, Clyde’s Caribbean. The longtime restaurant entrepreneur cooked up oxtail spring rolls and codfish fritters for the guests, while bringing in a West Indian-inspired take on short rib, coconut curry and jumbo shrimp.

jillionaire cabo

Daniela Fernandez

“I think for a long time, we looked at people who pivoted as sort of being like an outlier,” the artist says, “but now, you might go off and do a little bit of cooking, a little bit of filmmaking, a little bit of farming and a little bit of interior design. We all have a creative mind and there are always going to be new ideas and opportunities that you want to explore. So why not go ahead and explore those things?”

For Leacock, “switching” from music to cooking and back again isn’t as difficult — or different — as people think. “I’ve always had a very close connection to food because food is a big part of hospitality and entertaining people,” he says. “I love to entertain and I love to see people having a good time,” he continues. “When you think about food, you usually think about the smells and the taste and the conversations you had and how it put you in a really good mood. Music has so many elements of that too.”

switching gears

Daniela Fernandez

Buy: The Cape, A Thompson Hotel Stay at $700+

The Cape first launched its “Switching Gears” event in 2021, inspired by the way people had to adjust and do things differently during the pandemic. Whether it was creating new workspaces or learning to cook, the months we spent under quarantine may have left some people exhausted, but it also left others feeling newly inspired. It’s the latter feeling that the hotel hopes to re-create as it rolls out its slate of programming through the year.

“Switching Gears is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone, trying new things, and looking at the world from a different perspective,” the hotel says, in a release. “The weekend offers an interactive experience for hotel guests, with professional athletes, chart-topping musicians, decorated chefs and celebrities coming together in celebration of their craft, while also ‘switching gears’ to explore new disciplines.”

Of course, not everyone who stayed at The Cape participated in the programming, but the luxury resort says it hopes to continue “Switching Gears” as an annual event, to give its guests the option of doing something more interactive and immersive. And if you choose to just relax in the property’s intimate saltwater pool or take in the view from the open-air rooftop lounge, that’s perfectly okay too. Because while the way people are vacationing may be changing, the way you choose to relax is entirely up to you.

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