Seconds into the most soothing hour of my life, Novlett began working geranium and lavender oil over my back with firm strokes. Before I could drift into my happy place, she gasped, "That's a lot of tension!" as her fingers manipulated the lump that was once my trapezius. No shocker there. Nonstop deadlines had chemically altered muscle mass into tight knots of stress, stored away for a sunny day. Karolinka and I were on the run. Work had been inhaling free time like a fat kid eating cake. A weekend getaway at Grand Lido Negril would give us maximum together time with minimal effort, and a glance at her limp, utterly relaxed form confirmed that the extra cost of a couples' massage was money well spent. No sanctuary back home could match Blue Maho Spa's breezy gazebo dangling over shimmering waters, and that blissful hour set the tone for our stay.
We'd opted for Lido knowing that children would be relegated to one of SuperClub's more family-friendly properties. Since the hotel had been hosting honeymooners, anniversarians and overworked vacationers for more than 18 years, we felt like we were putting ourselves into the hands of experts. We were delighted to find pan-seared snapper and oven roasted quail at Piacere, the flagship of Lido's six restaurants. Our favorite, however, was Reggae Café, where jerk chicken, curry goat and oxtail were served in a setting that was quintessentially Jamaican, from the carved wooden support poles to woven lampshades in Rasta colors.
When we were ready for a little excitement, it was ably provided by Lido's social director, Tanya Maria.
"Drink!" she snapped at me from behind the bar. I'd diverted my attention from our mixology class for only a moment, missing my cue to sample her first concoction. "Lean over the bar for your punishment," she ordered, clutching a bottle of Appleton like a riot stick. "No, no, no," I begged. "I just got distracted. It won't happen again."
"Lean over and take the shot, now."
With that, she poured a stream of rum into my mouth. Our class, one of a series of activities scheduled almost hourly, was small. We figured everyone else was out on the water or terminating their tan lines on the nude side of the resort. Afterward, we were in no state to do anything but park ourselves on mile-long Bloody Bay, abandoning our lounge chairs only to float on gentle lapping waves and warm rays of sun.
Our tropical transformation was complete: Karolinka, my trapezius and I were at one with the universe, and each other.
Rates start at $220 per person per night, based on double occupancy.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Remember, the terms "adults only" and "couples only" aren't interchangeable. If you want to avoid all those "swinging singles," make sure you book a couples-only hotel. Nude or prude? Timid types should be aware that many adult resorts have nude beaches and, in some cases, entire sections of the hotel. Age policies vary. At some resorts, the minimum age may be 16, at others 18 and some accept children 10 and older.