When Lucinda Hughes heard she would have to down sea moss elixirs while vacationing in the Bahamas, she was sure it would make her sick. Three months later, Hughes is very sick - every morning - and expecting her first baby in April.
As Hughes and her husband Kemry lounged on lush beaches and swam in their hotel's infinity pool, they sipped pumpkin soup and enjoyed couple's massages and reflexology. It was all aimed at enhancing the odds of babymaking during their three-day Procreation Vacation at The Westin at Our Lucaya Grand Bahama Island.
It's part of the latest trend that has hotels around the world luring conception-minded couples by providing everything from onsite sex doctors to age-old fertility boosters promised to hasten the pitter-patter of little feet.
Hotels like The Westin might be on to something. Research shows 61.8 million U.S. couples took a romantic vacation in the past year, said Ty Brassie, director of sales and marketing for The Westin Grand Bahama Island. Even some obstetricians are promoting the trend. Dr. Jason James of Miami said he often encourages fertility-challenged couples to sneak away for a few days, and he often sees it work.
"One of the most easy, therapeutic interventions is to recommend a vacation," James said. "I think the effect of stress on our physiology is truly underestimated."
Gen Xers birthed the trend with increasingly elaborate honeymoons, followed by the so-called "babymoon," which is a last getaway before the baby arrives. The Procreation Vacation is a trip designed to help fertility-challenged couples relax.
It's about "getting pregnant in style," said Judy Randall, president of Randall Travel Marketing in North Carolina. "It's Gen Xers making a big moment out of creating their offspring and doing it in a way that will be memorable." The Westin Grand Bahama's version, which starts at $1,893 for a three-night stay, incorporates age-old Caribbean fertility concoctions. Sea moss, the Caribbean's version of Viagra, is mixed with evaporated milk, sugar and spices and sipped three times a day. The chain also offers the package at their resorts in St. John and Vieques, off Puerto Rico.
"My husband and I thought that we would go on the vacation and learn all these nice fertility secrets and we'd be practicing them for a number of months for them to work," said Hughes, 35, who conceived the day she got back from the trip. "We were stunned. There's definitely some truths to the foods and the elixirs."
The Hughes had only been trying for two months, since their wedding in May. But like most couples they have hectic schedules in Washington, where she is a freelance writer and he's a specialist for the Department of Employment Services. Cell phones are always ringing, day planners are jammed. "We're all over-scheduled," Hughes said.
But the couple let go in the tranquil Bahamas and made time for luxuries often skipped at home, like romantic dinners and cuddling, she said.
The "Birds and the Bees" package at the Five Gables Inn & Spa, located on Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, includes a two-night stay with a couple's massage, oysters (an aphrodisiac) and wine, a pair of heart print boxer shorts and a CD from love crooner Barry White for about $810 per couple.
There's even a Procreation Ski Vacation in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where couples can snuggle by a toasty fire, enjoy a candlelit dinner for two in their room and a dogsled trip to a nearby hot springs at the Teton Mountain Lodge.
For about $1,800, couples can book a conception cruise on the "Love Boat," where they're ferried to a romantic island on the luxury liner of Singapore sex guru Dr. Wei Siang Yu.
At the Miraval Resort in Tucson, Ariz., sex experts Dr. Lana Holstein and her husband Dr. David Taylor help couples with everything from ovulation schedules to remembering to practice intimacy.
"This business about being so tense about conceiving a child and feeling like the clock is ticking makes people much more scheduled," said Holstein, author of "Your Long, Erotic Weekend." "They lose sight of the sensual."
Getting away from the household routine, at a spa or a hotel, can actually aid conception, she said.
"It's the relaxation factor. It's that all the other stressors in life are gone," she said.
Now three months into the pregnancy, Lucinda and Kemry Hughes are busy planning their babymoon and picking out baby names. Kemry if it's a boy, Lucaya if it's a girl.
"After the Lucaya resort," said Lucinda.