The World Travel Market

August 15, 2007 06:00 ET

Birth rate figures in England and Wales have hit the highest for 26 years - 669,531

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Aug. 15, 2007) - The average age of the new mother is 29. Yet there are still thousands of women desperate to become pregnant...evidenced by the demand for IVF treatments.

But going on holiday is one increasingly popular way to beat the problem, according to World Travel Market research.

PREGNANT PAUSES

CHILDREN eventually welcome.

It's the latest trend in holidays... itineraries that are conceived for two travellers and, hopefully, finish with a baby making it three.

Couples aiming to introduce a pregnant pause in their lives have begun taking 'procreation vacations' or 'seminal breaks.'

The new travel phenomenon is predicted to be the latest hot holiday sensation to hit Europe from the United States.

Research carried out for World Travel Market, the premier international travel business exhibition, held in November at ExCeL London, suggests an increasing number of tour operators and hoteliers are planning to get in on the love act.

"The stresses and strains of a hectic lifestyle, combined with work pressures, means that people are leaving it longer before they begin thinking of starting families and in some cases that means they don't have success straight away," said Fiona Jeffery, World Travel Market Managing Director.

"Couples heading off on holiday to try to improve the chance of conceiving are more settled in their careers and generally in a better financial position. That presents some great opportunities for holiday companies and destinations."

The idea is already big business in USA with the up-market sector benefiting most.

Luxury hotel chain Starwood was one of the first to identify the demand when it launched special packages at Caribbean properties in Puerto Rico, Bahamas and US Virgin Islands.

Traditional Fertility Remedies

Traditional sea moss elixir was on the menu to boost would-be dads' virility and pumpkin soup (rich in vitamin A) to their partners. This came with romantic dinners and special aromatherapy and reflexology sessions.

"The idea was born when housekeepers at The Westin St John Resort and Villas in the US Virgin Islands were extolling the fertility benefits of pumpkin soup," said Bill Thompson, area director of sales and marketing with Starwood.

"We're simply enhancing the baby-making process by offering island remedies that have been passed down for generations."

Starwood are promising free holidays to any more couples who had a baby after taking one of its breaks. And have already claimed its first success!

Thomson Holidays in the UK is doing its bit to bring procreation vacations into the mainstream - while simultaneously catering for existing parents.

The package holiday giant has boosted the scope of kids' clubs in its popular Families Programme, extending the hours that youngsters can spend away from frazzled mums and dads.

"Very often existing parents might want to try for another baby, but having kids already makes it impossible to get precious time alone. Giving them the opportunity to spend quality time together was part of the thinking behind our new Family Clubxtra product," said Thomson sales director Derek Jones.

"These kids clubs are available at selected resorts, and have longer hours. They also offer creches for children under the age of three, which many holiday firms don't cater for.

"This means parents have some prolonged time together to get reacquainted - and without the thought that they have to hurry up and collect the children. Early feedback is that the idea has been very well received."

Oysters, Candles, Aromatherapy and Orchid Petals...

Back in the Maine-stream...a hotel in this New England state includes aphrodisiac champagne and oysters delivered to your room and a luxury bath with candles, aromatherapy and scattered orchid petals.

On Marco Island in Florida, they've linked procreation breaks to the arrival of mating sea turtles plus a couples' massage with aromatherapy and plentiful fertility-boosting clover and raspberry tea.

UK operators and hoteliers have seen the changing age profile of guests as evidence more people are holidaying with babies on their mind.

At Amberley Castle in West Sussex - a past winner of the Room for Romance Hotel of the Year - guests can now dine al fresco in the Mistletoe Treehouse (in British folklore mistletoe has a link to fertility) during their trips away.

Spokeswoman Louisa Fox said the luxurious property now caters for high numbers of younger couples.

Girls Called Amberley!

"They want flowers, champagne and the whole works," said Fox. "We know of plenty of little girls running around called Amberley after their parents stayed here!"

Edinburgh restaurateur and hotelier James Thomson makes a point of attracting childless couples to his seven-suite inn The Witchery by the Castle by highlighting its opulent, hedonistic interior.

"We provide everybody with a free bottle of champagne to get them in the mood," he said. "Certainly most people only come down for dinner; they are here to spend quality time together."

Online giant Lastminute.com admits much of its marketing now revolves around the couples market, with its summer 2007 campaigns specifically mentioning 'making out' and 'skinny dipping'.

Managing director consumer brands John Bevan said: "Recently, we have seen a significant increase in the number of couples booking breaks in traditional romantic destinations."

Annette Briley, consultant midwife for baby charity Tommy's, said: "There is evidence to suggest that stress levels can affect a couple's ability to conceive, as it can impact on ovulation as well as reducing the quality of sperm.

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