According to a recent survey by Sandals Resorts’ Institute of Romance, a newly launched trend-house created by the resort company to analyze and spot the latest global news in modern love, relationships and intimacy, more than half of American women (55%) wish their relationships mirrored those of the couples from their most beloved romance novels.
In its first expression, to help couples bring the spice found in their favorite books from “page to reality,” Sandals’ 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% 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 for Sandals Resorts. “With this partnership, we are helping bring to life the sometimes swoon-worthy, but nearly always attainable relationships our guests read about in their favorite books, creating a meaningful and lasting connection on and off vacation.”
Of the more than 1,500 American women surveyed between the ages 18-54, 81% say they read romance novels and 45% say they’ve increased their consumption of the genre over the last two years, citing the comfort of happily ever after (44%), the flirty banter (36%) and steamy scenes (30%) 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%), spontaneous romantic gestures (54%) and more satisfying sex life (34%). “Sometimes it’s as simple as incorporating a 10-minute conversation before bed or a flirty glance across the dinner table,” says Bailey. “It’s not always the large expressions of love that fill the pages—even the smaller, quieter gestures can have a great impact.”
Taking a 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 travelers 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.
While more than a third (36 percent) of respondents shared they fantasize about fictional characters more than their significant others, 55 percent say reading romance novels makes them more likely to want to connect with their partner and 38 percent 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—and to 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% 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 favorite authors or trying a new activity together,” says Donaldson-Brown. “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 and make it meaningful.”
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.
“Books are a place for escapism, of course, but also a destination for discovery,” says Bailey. Nearly half (49%) of women surveyed say they’ve learned something from reading a romance novel that they’ve brought to their real-life relationships, with 53% engaging in more meaningful communication, 48% spicing up their love life and 35% 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.