Fifty Shades of Grey fans wanting to, ahem, whip their inner goddess into shape need only seek out one of the growing number of hotels taking inspiration from the bestselling E.L. James erotic trilogy.
For about $300 a night, three Brisbane-based Accor hotels are offering a “50 Shades of Stay” package, which includes erotic accoutrements such as a satin blindfold, strawberries with chocolate dipping sauce, lip balm (a reference to the main character Anastasia's habit of biting her lip), sparkling wine, and room service breakfast for two. ("A girl's gotta keep up her energy," says the Accor site.)
We certainly haven't picked up some of the book's harder-core themes, which wouldn't be to everybody's taste.
"It's an escape and a bit of a titillation," says Kerry Reynolds, Accor's Queensland Marketing Manager, who got the idea for the package after finishing the book in July. "We certainly haven't picked up some of the book's harder-core themes, which wouldn't be to everybody's taste. But certainly a blindfold adds a bit of role-play and fun. A bit of fantasy goes a long way."
She adds: "I think men have changed over the last generation, and they've been taught to be very sensitive and new-age, so here's an opportunity to revert to the archetypal man who's taking control – even if it's just for one night."
While there's no Red Room of Pain (well, not that we're aware of) at Sydney's new QT hotel, titillation is definitely a big calling card there too.
The red-wigged "Directors of Chaos" are kitted out in black bondage-inspired outfits, complete with leather caps and harnesses (the keys to which are stowed away in the male porters' pockets); there's a gown created entirely out of pink panties on the ground floor, and sitting on the mini-bar in the bedrooms are "intimacy kits" that include two condoms, an "obstetrical" towelette and lubricating jelly.
The Fifty Shades-inspired tourism trend started in the United States in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, where many of the novel's sauciest scenes are set.
Seattle's Hotel Max offered a $US1669 ($1601) two-night "Sexy Shades of Seattle" package that includes a skippered sunset sail and helicopter tour of the city (emulating dates on which billionaire Christian Grey takes Anastasia) and a bottle of Anastasia's bubbly of choice, Bollinger Rosé.
And the Heathman Hotel in Portland (where Christian and Anastasia have a handful of steamy encounters) ran a "Charlie Tango No Limits" package, which includes wine, dinner and a helicopter ride over Portland for six people, roses and limo transfers. All at a Christian Grey-worthy price of $US2750 ($2638).
And, while we're talking titillating tourism, it has been hard to ignore Tasmania's cheeky "Get the Tassie Afterglow" spring advertising campaign, with its '70s Mills and Boon-esque illustrations that rather strongly suggest we should all go to the Apple Isle to, well, shag.
The campaign, which zeroes-in on couples, includes an image of a young couple embracing at Cradle Mountain with the caption, "Brett felt safe in the warmth of the Cradle Mountain afterglow", and another which depicts a couple playing golf with the caption: "After scoring another 'birdie', Brett couldn't hide his afterglow."