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Expectant parents often find themselves running an emotional marathon. Excitement and joy push many of us through the start of the race, but the average mother- or father-to-be is sure to bump into anxiety, doubt and worry as they close in on the finish line.
Given this inevitability, it’s little wonder that many pencil in a babymoon — a relaxing, romantic trip that takes place prior to a baby’s arrival. For some, the vacation is a chance to escape the nursery prep, housecleaning and baby-centric conversations that seem to take over life during pregnancy. Others want to get in one last hurrah as a duo, since it’s more complicated to travel as a family of three or more.
While the babymoon trend isn’t new, it’s certainly become a more prominent niche in recent years. Travel agent Kara Slater, an affiliate of Smart Flyer, says that babymoons have managed to become as expected as bachelor parties, weddings and honeymoons.
“Nine out of 10 clients will take a babymoon,” Slater said. “What the trip looks like will vary from couple to couple, but no one is missing this event. That just doesn’t happen.”
Celebrity babymoons have surely brought attention to such trips. In 2011, a pregnant Kate Hudson relaxed at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita in Mexico; Jessica Simpson celebrated her first pregnancy with a stay at the beloved Parker Palm Springs that same year; and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West escaped to Paris after announcing their pregnancy in 2013. This winter, Prince William and Kate Middleton rustled up a media frenzy when they took a family babymoon to the private island of Mustique in the West Indies.
Travelers can gather countless destination and resort suggestions from the stars, but a knowledgeable travel advisor will help parents land at a just-right property and be treated like A-listers themselves. Following are critical touch points in selling to the rising babymoon market.
Timing Is EverythingNo two pregnancies are the same, but moms tend to talk a lot about one commonality: a rough first trimester. Morning sickness and general discomfort cast a shadow on many women during their first 12 weeks of pregnancy, so heading off to a foreign country isn’t usually recommended. Many doctors advise against traveling after week 35 of a pregnancy, and some mothers prefer to stay near home during their entire third trimester (week 28 to birth). That leaves the second trimester (weeks 13 to 27) as the ideal time for pregnant travel.
“Vacationing during your last trimester can be tricky on many levels,” said Darcy Allen, founder of Travel by Darcy and mother of three. “You’re going to doctor appointments more often and maybe feeling heavier or more swollen. That’s why the second trimester is most recommended.”
How long and how far couples travel for the occasion ranges. Couples might opt for a long weekend at a property that’s an easy to moderate drive away from home. Others will fly to farther-flung destinations; among Allen’s East and West Coast-based clients, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean are popular.
Carrie Wallace, president of Andavo Travel-affiliate agency MoonRings, pointed out another significant trend: Her clients will go on a babymoon for every child they have.
“Clients who have already had their first child — and gone on their first babymoon — are now leaving baby No. 1 with grandma or grandpa when they’re pregnant with their second child,” Wallace said. “Some families will even take their first child along, rather than go without a babymoon.”
Allen has seen the same pattern, though she says there are clear differences between successive babymoons.
“For their first babymoon, my clients tend to spend more, stay longer — four or five nights or more — and go farther,” she said. “Then, a second babymoon — for a California-based client, for example — might consist of a Napa Valley getaway, an easy [in-state] beach destination or a mountain retreat. They’re still doing something nice, but they’re closer to home.”
Easy Does ItNo surprise here: Babymoons are all about taking it slow and easy. That often means a quiet beach or pool scene, delicious meals and perhaps an adults-only property.
“Having a beautiful room, a gorgeous pool and great food together is the standard,” said Slater of Smart Flyer. “But couples want to have an experience that they’re not going to have once the kids are here.”
Prenatal massages and other pregnancy-related treatments are par for the course at many resorts catering to the niche. However, if Wallace is to recommend a property, it is likely going beyond spa treatments, offering creative perks that pamper the couple in surprising ways.
“The spa is important, but having other amenities is a plus,” Wallace said. “We love some of the things Four Seasons’ properties in Hawaii do for us. They might get the mom a body pillow and wrap a gift for the baby, for instance. At Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, a babymoon package might include a book of baby names for the couple to peruse — I thought that was clever, as who knows if they’ve decided yet?”
Wallace has also seen prenatal yoga and henna treatments on offer. A cravings menu — a special list of food items that range from traditional (such as ice cream) to random (pickles) that the couple can have delivered to their room — also makes a couple’s stay feel special. And if there’s a certain treat for a dad in the mix, even better.
“Most of these items are designed around the comfort of the mother, but having a baby impacts the dad, too,” Wallace said. “It’s important for him to have release and that getaway. After all, he’ll be pretty busy in the coming months as well.”
The Cream of the CropWhen Southern California clients are looking to celebrate their pregnancy locally, Slater has a solid list of go-to babymoon properties for them to consider. Top choices include Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch and Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa near San Diego, Calif. For those willing to take a short or moderate-length flight, Slater recommends select properties in Hawaii and Mexico, including Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita and The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort.
“Like most travel agents, I do not lean toward babymoon packages,” Slater said. “I go to what property I think will be a good match for the client.”
Allen of Travel by Darcy is particularly fond of adults-only all-inclusive properties, including Zoetry Wellness Spa & Resorts and Secrets Resorts & Spas properties in Mexico and Sandals Resorts properties in the Caribbean.
“I often recommend adult-only properties because these clients are going to have kids in their life soon enough,” Allen said. “The whole point is to be at peace while traveling with your significant other. I have three boys, and I took a babymoon with each one. I know how critical it is to get those few days of quiet to yourselves. It helps to center your mind and body before the joy and the chaos of kids.”
Kara Slater of SmartFlyerwww.smartflyer.comTwitter: @TravelKara
Travel by Darcywww.travelbydarcy.com