Published July 25, 2002
NEW YORK – Hotels have long been the spot for romantic trysts, but don't even think of hitting the sheets at the Whatley House in Marietta, Ga., unless you're both wearing wedding rings ... and married to each other.
The Whatley is just one of the bed-and-breakfasts and hotels that try to keep their rooms free from sin.
"Our home is dedicated to the Lord," said owner Kay Whatley. "We are the display of His splendor; I don't take it lightly. That is what our house is for."
Though it bucks the don't-ask-don't-tell trend of most hotels, travelers who want to make sure the sheets they sleep on are not just freshly laundered but biblically pure have places to rest their heads.
That holds true even if they want to go to the spicy Caribbean, home to countless skimpy thongs and couples resorts.
The Hosanna Hotel, on the island of Trinidad, touts itself as the "Christian hotel of the Caribbean." Not only does it forbid its guests from using tobacco or alcohol, the 19-room hotel has strict rules about its guests' marital status. Couples must present proof of marriage and photo ID at check-in.
"We at Hosanna Hotel desire to ensure that our premises are not utilized by wayward persons in search of extra-marital sensual pleasure," the Hosanna Web site explains.
Hotel spokesman Adrian Alexander went further, saying Hosanna's policy is about trying to make the world a better place.
"It does not contribute to the acts of marital infidelity which have proven to be detrimental to the moral fabric of our society," he wrote in an e-mail interview.
That idea also guides the owners of the three-room Whatley House.
"Biblically, it's wrong and we know that, so we certainly wouldn't want to do anything afoul of the will of God," Whatley said.
In the countryside outside Strasberg, Penn., Ira and Fay Landis' bed and breakfast has similar rules, part of their observance of their Mennonite heritage. If an unmarried couple were to come to their inn, they shouldn't count on spending the night in the same bed, Fay Landis said.
"I would probably offer them two rooms," she said.
"She likes to see that things are kept in order here," Ira Landis added.
Though the policies of sin-free hotels might seem strict, Hosanna Hotel advertises that Christians appreciate the policy.
"Christian married couples know that when they visit Hosanna Hotel the beds are undefiled, which makes their honeymoon, wedding anniversary or romantic getaway even more special," the Web site states.
Most hotels have chosen another path. The Antlers Pointe Inn, in Estes Park, Colo., was founded as a couples-only Christian hotel, but a change of owners overturned the old rules.
"We don't do that anymore," inn marketing director Harry Graham said. "There's no way you can legislate that kind of thing. What are you doing to do? Ask for a marriage license before you check in? I don't think you can delve into people's lives that much."
And even those who favor married-couples-only policies say they're difficult to enforce. Many hoteliers simply trust their guests to be honest about their status.
Dave Johnson, owner of the Frog Pond Bed and Breakfast in Fairbanks, Alaska, said that while he'd prefer couples that visit to be matrimonially kosher, "it is hard to tell."
Whatley says she relies on her perception and her faith to weed out the unworthy.
"Part of it is discernment, the other is trust in God," she said. "If God allows it to happen, I say: 'Lord, use us! Let us be a vessel!'"
At Henson Cove Place, in Hiawassee, Ga., owner Laurie Rhatican said that although she and her husband are devout Christians, part of Christian hospitality is to accept anyone who comes, regardless of creed, sexual orientation or marital status.
"It's our job to love them and minister hospitality to them and welcome them into our homes," she said. "Saying you don't accept unmarried people is like the idiot who wants to take out 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance because his kid doesn't want to say it."
But Henson Cove Place has its limits.
"We'd say something if someone was going to sit in the common room and make out," Rhatican said. "Or being vulgar. This is our home."
Fox News' Samantha Jonas contributed to this report.