With its recent survey showing that more than half of American women (55 per cent) wish their relationships mirrored those of the couples from their most beloved romance novels, Sandals® Resorts’ Institute of Romance — a newly launched trend-house created by the resort company to analyse and spot the latest global news in modern love, relationships, and intimacy — has found a way to help couples bring the sugar and spice found in their favourite books from ‘page to reality”.
The Luxury Included® romantic vacation experts have partnered with Avon Books, the romance imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, and best-selling author, Tessa Bailey, to offer tips, on-resort programming and a giveaway to turn partners into #BookBaes.
“With 49 per cent of women preferring to read on vacation — from the initial plane ride to beachside — and romance novel sales skyrocketing over the last two years, this felt like a natural place for us to lend our 40 years of expertise in the romance space,” said Marsha-Ann Donaldson-Brown, Director of Romance, Sandals Resorts. “With this partnership, we are helping bring to life the sometimes swoonworthy, but nearly always attainable relationships our guests read about in their favourite books, creating a meaningful and lasting connection on and off vacation.”
Seek a Happily Ever After on the Page and Beyond
Of the more than 1,500 American women surveyed between the ages 18-54, 81 percent say they read romance novels and 45 per cent say they’ve increased their consumption of the genre over the last two years, citing the comfort of happily ever after (44 per cent), the flirty banter (36 per cent) and steamy scenes (30 per cent) as the primary reasons.
Bailey, whose new book Hook, Line and Sinker debuted March 1, points to the data to explain what women most often find lacking from their real-life relationships in comparison with romance novels — better communication (55 per cent), spontaneous romantic gestures (54 per cent), and more satisfying sex life (34 per cent).
“Sometimes it’s as simple as incorporating a 10-minute conversation before bed or a flirty glance across the dinner table. It’s not always the large expressions of love that fill the pages — even the smaller, quieter gestures can have a great impact,” says Bailey.
Taking its cue from the Sandals Institute of Romance’s newly collected data, Sandals Resorts will be developing ways to prompt spontaneous romantic moments of connection throughout guests’ stays — such as reminders to hold hands, ask a meaningful question or share a compliment. Surveying past guests, as well as travellers in committed relationships, the Sandals Institute of Romance will collect data on an ongoing basis via biannual global surveys, with results inspiring new integrated on-resort programming and innovative partnerships geared towards enhancing the guest experience before, during, and after their vacation.
Share the Pages to Turn Up the Attraction
While more than a third (36 per cent) of respondents shared that they fantasise about fictional characters more than their significant others, 55 per cent say reading romance novels makes them more likely to want to connect with their partner and 38 per cent say reading romance novels have made them feel more fulfilled in their relationships.
“There’s nothing wrong with the fantasy and sharing it with your significant other can often be even more fulfilling,” says Bailey.
In fact, a quarter of women say they’ve gotten their partners to join them in reading romance novels —with impressive results. Two-thirds of women whose partners have dabbled in the romance genre believe their partners look sexy or handsome while reading and 34 per cent say it made them appear intellectual.
“There’s something inherently attractive when a partner takes an interest in something you’re excited about — whether it be reading a new book from one of your favourite authors or trying a new activity together. It’s why we encourage couples to experience adventures together on vacation — from learning to scuba dive to taking in a round of golf. We always tell couples to be intentional about the time they share with each other; make it meaningful,” says Donaldson-Brown.
Creating opportunities for connection and for couples to quite literally share the pages, Sandals Resorts is creating a ‘romance library’ of titles curated by the experts at Avon Books for guests to borrow while on vacation. Beginning at Sandals all-inclusive resort in Grenada, the initial library will include a selection from Bailey, as well as popular titles from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series and authors Talia Hibbert, Olivia Dade and more.
Bring the Pages to Life
“Books are a place for escapism, of course, but also a destination for discovery,” says Bailey. Nearly half (49 per cent) of women surveyed say they’ve learned something from reading a romance novel that they’ve brought to their real-life relationships, with 53 per cent engaging in more meaningful communication, 48 per cent spicing up their love life and 35 per cent setting time aside for romantic getaways.
To continue the learning experience and help women transform their partners into the ultimate #BookBae, one lucky couple will be selected to win a four-day/three-night stay in a Love Nest Butler Suite® at any of 15 Sandals Resorts and a 30-minute virtual experience with Bailey to learn first-hand how to bring the romance from ‘page to reality’ before their trip.