- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2006

MIAMI (AP) — 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, Mrs. Hughes was very sick — every morning — and expecting her first baby in April.

As Mrs. 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 baby-making 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 may 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,” Dr. James said. “I think the effect of stress on our physiology is truly underestimated.”

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. Martin 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 Mrs. 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 “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 (considered an aphrodisiac) and wine, a pair of heart print boxer shorts and a CD from love crooner Barry White for $810 per couple.

At the Miraval Spa in Tucson, Ariz., sex specialists Lana Holstein and her husband David Taylor help couples with everything from ovulation schedules to remembering to practice intimacy.

“The damage that working for conception does to the sexual relationship, it’s really, really impactful. This business about being so tense about conceiving a child and feeling like the clock is ticking makes people much more scheduled,” said Mrs. Holstein, author of “The Long, Erotic Weekend.” “They lose sight of the sensual.”

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