North American Bathhouse Association to hold its annual convention in Orlando

By : Lora Korpar
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ABOVE: Club Orlando. (Photo from Club-Orlando.com)

ORLANDO | The world of men’s saunas will make its way to Orlando this fall when the North American Bathhouse Association (NABA) holds its annual convention at the Embassy Suites by Hilton on International Drive Sept. 23-25.

Equipped with pools, steam rooms, hot tubs, video rooms and more, men’s saunas are a place for gay and bisexual men to meet other men.

This year’s convention theme is “Building Magic,” as NABA begins to place focus on remodeling and rebuilding their member’s saunas.

Club Orlando, a men’s sauna located in downtown Orlando and NABA member, recently finished a multi-million-dollar renovation and will serve as a model for other men’s saunas around the world.

Convention attendees will be touring the newly remodeled Club Orlando, something NABA Executive Director Tom Gatz-Nibbio says he is excited for everyone to see.

“It’s another way to share ideas about building them and we encourage all of our members to be constantly remodeling and cleaning their establishments and make them very attractive to every age group,” Gatz-Nibbio says. “The attendees are going to be coming in and checking out all of the great things that Club Orlando did to remodel and make it one of the premier clubs in the U.S.”

The NABA convention will be celebrating its seventh annual convention.

“The association started because some of the owners said it seemed like we were treating each other like competitors even though one could be in New York and one in L.A.,” Gatz-Nibbio says. “We’re not competitors, so we need to feed off of each other and create support amongst ourselves.”

That need for support led to the creation of NABA and the annual convention. The convention has been hosted in cities across the U.S. — from Washington, D.C. to Dallas to last year’s location in Denver, which had the highest attendance of any of its previous conventions.

With attendance growing, Gatz-Nibbio and other NABA members are ready to shed the name. NABA is rebranding to “Men’s Sauna Association.” This is both because the association recently admitted members from Amsterdam and Budapest— marking its first European members —and to distance themselves from the term “bathhouse” which carries a negative stigma associated with it.

“One of the old thoughts that the younger generation thinks of when they hear ‘bathhouse’ is an old, dark, seedy place and it’s not,” Gatz-Nibbio says. “It’s a men’s resort.”

The three-day convention will consist of several seminars and panels discussing an array of topics including remodel construction, transgender inclusiveness, marketing, media and more.

The event will also feature nightly cocktail networking receptions, business luncheons and the Bathhouse Advertising & Marketing (BAM) awards presentation.

Gatz-Nibbio says that NABA will also discuss its new safety initiative #WeCanHost, a hashtag meant to assist men in finding the nearest men’s sauna with the knowledge that it is a safe place to meet up.

“You’re protected there,” Gatz-Nibbio says. “It’s better than meeting somewhere not safe. That’s a large part of everyone’s business and duty—to promote safe sex.”

NABA’s 2019 annual convention will be hosted at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando from Sept. 23-25. For more information, visit GayBathhouseSauna.com.

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