We Sent Our Writer to Summer Camp at W South Beach’s “Camp WSB”
No bug juice, but there are plenty of…other beverages
What’s the best thing about the W South Beach Hotel’s annual adult summer camp weekends? That would be the adult beverages served all day, beginning in the morning and flowing straight through until the late-night after-parties’ curfew at 2 a.m. This ain’t Camp Know Where, that’s for sure.
The Basics of Camp WSB
Camp WSB happens in June, July and August, with different campy themes each month. In 2022, June’s had a music focus and July’s was fashion, particularly the fashion that made Miami famous: the swimsuit. August’s 2022 session is coming up on August 5-9, with more women’s fashion on deck and retailer Love Shack Fancy putting on a summer social.
Plenty of other camp-y stuff happens as the weekends roll from Friday evening to Sunday night (plan to check out on Monday). Expect a camp mixer-cookout on Friday night with a clubby disco after-party, workout classes and tennis lessons on the weekend mornings, cabana crafting and an outdoor movie screening of your favorite summer-camp themed flicks.
Given the fact that July’s camp overlapped with Miami Swim Week (mark your calendars for mid-July 2023), the centerpiece of our July Camp WSB experience was a Sports Illustrated Swim Runway Show taking place over the W South Beach’s swimming pool, with appearances from several models who appeared in the recent SI Swimsuit Issue. That crazy, jammed-up scene came close to dropping some of the wall-to-wall spectators into the pool, which would have been a respite from the scorching, humidity-filled 90-degrees-at-night situation. July in Miami isn’t for the faint of heart.
Unlike at children’s camps, there’s a plethora of booze (and other) sponsors, meaning you’ll find a swag backpack in your hotel room. Inside it, you might find a collapsible plastic drink “canteen” from Sipsmith Gin — a handy vessel for refills of the camp’s signature WSB “Basil Smash” gin cocktail. (You’ll also find goofy “Happy Camper”-branded white tube socks, designed to give your weekend look that Napoleon Dynamite vibe.)
Drinking the signature Courvoisier berry punch devised for the Cabana Crafting segment made that activity more palatable, for the Sunday afternoon pastime is woefully lame — think stringing cheap, plastic, multicolor beads into a cell phone accessory. After the sun went down on Sunday, however, the crowd gathered for more gin drinking and truffle popcorn eating. The Screening on the Green featured everyone’s favorite adult-themed summer camp flicks: Think Wet Hot American Summer, which they showed at the July camp, and hope for Meatballs or Moonrise Kingdom for August.
Joining the W South Beach Adult Camp Experience
Camp WSB begins with a two- or three-night reservation (Friday to Monday gives you the whole camp experience), which starts at $790 per night, depending on the room or suite you choose. That includes all the camp activities, including the welcome mixer with oyster shucking, cocktails and DJ-fueled music, as well as a camp cookout, disco parties, a limited brunch (with the crafting segment) and the movie on the lawn. On your own dime are most drinks and meals you order at the restaurants, bars and on the beach, unless stated as included. And spa treatments will cost extra, too, at the recently renovated Away Spa on the fourth floor. A deep-tissue massage was a spectacular, and happily craft-free, way to while away the Sunday afternoon.
The suites in the hotel are especially luxurious and expansive, with sweeping balconies that look out at the ocean and large bedrooms with beds that suck you into a cocoon of comfort. It’s so good in those beds that you may not want to ever get out, even though camp activities are calling. No cots and tents at Camp WSB! (But bring bug spray for those outdoor parties, and apply liberally if mosquitoes love you.)
The W South Beach sits on Collins Avenue on a beautiful stretch of sand; their beach service is impeccable, with the Atlantic Ocean’s waves just steps from the pool area. The whole hotel has a great vibe, with original Warhols, Basquiats and other cool-forever artists’ work adorning the walls — plus plenty of private nooks where you and your favorite person can hide out from the camp counselors for just as long as you please.
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