Book Club in Paradise
Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort
"The problem of leisure: What to do for pleasure?"

This line from new-wave band Gang of Four was the perfect opener for trendy film Marie Antoinette, which captured the jaded lifestyle of a decadent queen.

Luxury resorts of the 21st century still haven't escaped the question: What more can we offer guests who have everything money can buy and, much like the courtesans of Versailles, have seen it all?

The answer for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts lies in an ironically free service for its guests that lets them experience something before virtually anyone else in the world.

With Rosewood's Hot Type program, patrons can get their hands on books from the biggest authors before they hit the shelves, thanks to an exclusive partnership with top publishing houses Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Mirimax, Doubleday, Simon & Schuster and Knopf.

It is quite possibly the world's most exclusive book club.

Enlightened Lounging

Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort in St. John, Virgin Islands, remains faithful to founder Laurance S. Rockefeller, who emphasized the island's natural beauty.

Fifty years after its inception, the property still has no television, telephones, fax or radio. Wake-up calls are a polite knock on the door.

But who would want to be text-messaging co-workers when surrounded by seven stunning, white-sand beaches?

When Rosewood built a pool at its Little Dix Bay resort in the British Virgin Islands in 2004, the company began thinking about sunbathers lounging around the water all day.

"In our traditional Rosewood way, we thought about what we could do to make the guests' experience unique and different," says Bob Boulogne, chief operating officer of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

"Reading is very much a part of the culture at Caneel Bay," says Boulogne, adding that guests of upscale resorts often look to the intellectual realm for entertainment.

In sync with Rosewood's exclusive standards, Hot Type was born. Now guests don't have to wait for bookstores to stock the most recent works of popular authors: They can simply request the books at the resort, free of charge.

"We're a very upscale hotel chain and try to provide customers with an experience they won't have anywhere else," says Boulogne. "To read Stephen King's novel a month before it comes out gives them bragging rights."

If any other resorts offer a service comparable to Hot Type, Boulogne says he has certainly not heard of it.

Rosewood is starting a trend, Boulogne believes, for guest-exclusive amenities that no amount of money will buy. " That quality just makes it stand out," he says.

He believes enthusiasm for Hot Type will continue to grow as it gains renown from glowing guest reviews, and added that about 20% of guests now use the service.

The Next Chapter

Now Rosewood is taking the Hot Type amenity to an even more personal level by bringing authors to the resorts to interact with guests directly.

Boulogne and his staff look for authors that are, well, hot -- like their latest pick, Adam Gopnik.

Gopnik is known for his Paris-inspired novels and his wildly popular pieces in The New Yorker, which are included in his latest work, a series of essays titled Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York, about moving his family back to New York from Paris shortly before Sept. 11.

He looks forward to his first resort event Jan. 27-30, where he will be talking to guests about his books and their origins and meanings.

"Anything that connects readers to writers is, in our increasinglybook-neglecting world, to be valued," says Gopnik. "And of course anything that allows writers a bit of sun and pleasure while they get connected to readers is to be valued, too."

"Shadows are all we have to show us the shapes that light can make," reads the last line of the first chapter of Through the Children's Gate, the theme of which is hope.

Gopnik describes his style as a hybrid of writer Calvin Trillin and psychologist Jean Piaget: "comic essays about family life that also attempt to offer ideas about how minds get made ... how we try to get our kids off the screens and onto the pages of books and stories, and why we think that matters."

Gopnik arrived in New York City with his wife when he was 21, and aside from a six-year sojourn in Paris, most of his life since has taken place there.

"The thing that I am proudest of is that I've been involved with the same woman for thirty years," he says and adds, quoting comedian and violinist Henny Youngman, "If my wife ever found out, she'd kill me."

Joking aside, Gopnik says his wife, Martha Parker, who will be joining him in Caneel Bay, is the inspiration for everything he does. "Even though she insists, at all moments ... that she does not share, nor will ever take, my last name," he says.

Legacy of Luxury

Rosewood's ultra-luxury collection of hotels consists of 15 properties in seven countries and includes such iconic brands as Carlyle and Las Ventanas.

Author Adam Gopnik

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts properties have won a stunning number of awards over the years, including Conde Nast Traveler's 2007 Gold List: World's Best 700 award and Conde Nast Traveler's 2006 Top 25 Caribbean Resorts award.

Caneel Bay, which Boulogne describes as the ultimate Caribbean experience, is unique in that it "separates romance from children" with its sprawling setup and amenities such as a children's activity center.

Other popular activities at Caneel Bay include sailing, scuba diving, garden tours and mind/body therapy at the resort's innovative Self Centre.

The cost of this getaway to paradise? From $375-$1400 a night, which includes an airport greeting, cocktail reception, continental breakfast, access to the fitness center and pool and use of sailboats and kayaks.

In case current Caneel Bay guests are behind in their New Yorker reading, all will receive a copy of Gopnik's book so they can read it before the events. And don't worry if you miss Gopnik's event -- New York socialite and novelist Plum Sykes will be at San Ysidro Ranch, A Rosewood Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif., in the late spring.

Enjoy the Good Life? Email us with what you'd like to see in future articles.

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