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Resorts offering ‘babymoon’ packages despite Zika threats

Casa Velas Hotel Boutique, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.
Source: Casa Velas Hotel Boutique

The threat posed by the Zika virus to pregnant women is unambiguous: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clearly recommends pregnant women not travel to areas where Zika is spreading actively because of the risk of birth defects like microcephaly.

And the World Health Organization said people living in areas where the virus is circulating should consider delaying pregnancy to avoid having babies with birth defects.

But several resorts in Mexico and Jamaica, where Zika is reported to be spreading actively, appear to have missed the memo.

Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, offers a $310-per-night babymoon package that it calls "the perfect holiday for soon-to-be-parents." Moms- and dads-to-be are treated with massages, facials, a private dinner on the beach — even a book of baby names.

Le Reve Hotel & Spa in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, offers a $1,455 babymoon package with a prenatal massage and maternity photo session. Interested expecting parents just need to use the code "BABY" to get a discount on the package.

The Jamaica Inn, in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, offers a $308 add-on babymoon package, featuring a "Wellbeing Mother's Massage." Among its extra tips for mothers-to-be: trying a private prenatal yoga class.

It might want to mention mosquito repellent. Or perhaps not offering the package at all.

Mexico and Jamaica are on the CDC's list of four dozen countries and territories where Zika is spreading actively, and therefore where pregnant women are advised not to travel. Women in those areas are recommended to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and to use condoms to protect against sexual transmission.

"These 'babymoon' inducements are irresponsible and should be discontinued immediately," said William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

"Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid traveling to areas of the world where the Zika virus is being transmitted. Their partners need to support them in these decisions and help in planning pleasure travel to safer parts of the world," Schaffner said.

Zika has been shown to cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to any areas where the virus is spreading. Savannah Guthrie, anchor of NBC's "Today Show," just announced she is pregnant and won't travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics because of concerns about the Zika virus. (NBC and CNBC are both units of NBCUniversal.)

CNBC contacted the three resorts for comment. Casa Velas' website says its babymoon rate is valid May 1 through Dec. 19, though its book of baby names was only included in the special through April 30. The resorts have not yet responded to requests for comment, and there are likely others in the region with similar offers.

A CDC spokesman said the agency's travel recommendations regarding the Zika virus remain unchanged, and didn't comment specifically on the babymoon offers.