NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Thanks to the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, the rest of the country appears to be catching up with Las Vegas.
Feather ticklers, handcuffs and blindfolds — the toys that used to be considered racy or risque in places other then Sin City — are all becoming standard offerings at hotels from Ohio to Florida.
Even Minnesota, the courteous and reserved Midwestern state that is the basis for the term "Minnesota nice," is getting in on the naughty act.
It seems Fifty Shades of Grey has created an industry of travel and hotel packages broader than what sprang up in Portland and Seattle, the cities featured prominently in the book's storyline.
"In the old days, if someone was in an adult bookstore, they would wear dark sunglasses and a hat to disguise themselves," says Tom Robertson, general manager of The Hotel Zamora in St. Pete Beach, Fla. "The movie has made it so that sex and love are not going to be looked at like you are a pervert. The movie has eased people's inhibitions."
Just steps from the Gulf Ocean, The Hotel Zamora lends itself already to romantic getaways. It has an award-winning Spanish destination restaurant and 360-degree rooftop lounge with panoramic views of downtown and the ocean.
But the hotel decided to up its romance quotient recently by creating a "Wink Wink" travel package, strategically launched in conjunction with the Fifty Shades movie premiere.
The highlight of the package is a couple's "Naughty & Nice" intimacy kit. Delivered discreetly to the guest's room in a heart-shaped box, the kit includes such things as glow-in-the-dark dice that identify different body parts on your partner to focus on, a mini personal massager, flavored body lotions, oils and racy candy.
"It's not like we have whips and chains in the romance kit, but we do have some fun stuff," Robertson says. "It's a little more risque than your typical romance package at hotels where you get your bottle of champagne and a late checkout. We're kind of on the cutting edge."
The hotel operated at a 90% occupancy throughout February after announcing the package, says Robertson, with at least one or two of the Wink Wink packages booked every weekend.
Not to be outdone, the A.G. Thomson House Bed and Breakfast in Duluth, Minn., has created a "Minnesota Nice, or Naughty!" package.
The mischievous package includes a blindfold, feather tickler and sexy wristcuffs as well as decadent chocolates, strawberries and cream and daily breakfast delivery (to ensure that guests can remain in their room for as long as they want).
"We thought the blindfold and feather tickler were innocent and fun. The cuffs we were kind of worried about, but it wouldn't be Fifty Shades without them," says Tim Allen, who owns the property. "We were also a little worried about putting this package on our website, but people come to bed and breakfasts for romance."
As it turns out, Allen's fears were unfounded. The package has been incredibly popular. Since being created the hotel has sold between 30 to 40 "Minnesota Nice, or Naughty!" getaways to guests.
What's more, the offering is appealing to all segments of the population, not merely the young or adventurous.
"We had one couple buy it who were celebrating their 40th anniversary," Allen says. "It's surprising how many people have bought it. It's one of our more popular packages. Right after it went up on the website, someone ordered it within a few days."
Located amid six acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens and lawns, rooms in this historic manor house and adjoining carriage house include such things as bubbling Jacuzzis and crackling fireplaces.
It would seem such a romantic locale would not need anything extra to spice things up for couples.
But property owner Debbie Miller says offering a Fifty Shades of Grey package was a natural fit.
"We thought it fit right in," Miller says. "We were doing just a little bit of this kind of thing before, and we always had people ask us if we would put such things in their room."
Called Fifty Shades of Grey Exquisite, the HideAway Inn package includes such things as Bollinger champagne on ice, chocolate-covered strawberries, bath oil, a grey silk tie and (of course) mask, riding crop, feather tickler and fuzzy, adjustable handcuffs.
If you can't get to Minnesota, Ohio or Florida, not to worry.
There's always the city that seems to have invented the word naughty. Long before anyone heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, Las Vegas was offering opportunities to indulge in all the book describes and more.
Those in search of a steamy night in Vegas may want to check out the Provocateur Suite at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, or the Erotic Suite at The Palms Las Vegas, says Vegas.com's Jennifer Whitehair.
The Provocateur Suite would appeal to Mr. Grey himself, with such things as a massive bed for six, whips, paddles, a suspended cage and a cross complete with shackles.
For those with a more sensual appetite, the Erotic Suite includes a large rotating bed, mirrored ceiling and Show Shower complete with stripper pole.
"Las Vegas was engaging in Fifty Shades of Grey play long before there was a book or movie. This is a city based on fantasy, after all. We've been wondering why it took the rest of you so long to catch up with us," Whitehair says.
— Written by Mia Taylor for MainStreet