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Love Motel 2.0

Taiwan's love motels are stepping up their game with outrageous themes, web movie marketing and extra privacy.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Gone are the days of scuzzy "rest" hotels, rented by the hour to furtive lovers.

The latest generation of Taiwan love hotels are over-the-top pleasure dens, kitted out with full karaoke sound systems, massive jacuzzis and high-tech privacy protection.

The basic principle remains the same. As in Japan, many young Taiwanese can't afford their own apartments. Well into their 20s, they may still live with mom and dad — making sex logistically difficult.

"Taipei is too crowded, rooms are too small and many young people live with their parents," said Cheng Po-ren, a manager at Wego Hotel in Taipei. "So they want a place with more space, where they can go for privacy."

Nowadays, Taiwan's romance shacks aren't just for young lovers or older philanderers. They are increasingly aimed at fashionable young women, privacy-conscious playboys, and groups looking for a party room with a difference.

Holy handcuffs, Batman

Eden Motel's 'Batman' room.
(Photo courtesy of Eden Motel)

The Eden Motel in Kaohsiung may have the wildest theme rooms. There's a "jail room" complete with concertina wire and fuzzy handcuffs. A "Japanese comic" room, with murals of erotic manga. And yes, even a "Batman" room.

Eden's 46 rooms go for $40 to $60 for a three-hour stay, said the motel's Ann Shu. Like many of Taiwan's love motels, Eden offers plenty of marketing ploys. During the Christmas and New Year's period, for example, they're giving away lubrication, sexy lingerie and other perks.

Wego Motels launched Taiwan's high-end love motel trend earlier this decade. They've started offering themes targeted at women, such as the "Louis Vuitton" room or "Fantasy Fun Park" room, complete with carousel horses ($50 for two and a half hours, or $215 for a full night).

"Usually it's the woman who decides where to go, and the man who pays," said Cheng, the manager.

Read more about Taiwanese women.

Love motel: the movie

The 'Space Voyage' room at Wego Motels.
(Photo courtesy of Wego Motels)

Wego is also breaking ground in love motel marketing. It hired professional directors and actors and paid nearly $400,000 to produce three artsy, provocative flicks inspired by the Wego experience. The results were screened at a Taipei movie theater, then posted online earlier this year.

"Shower Cap" promotes Wego to young women, said Cheng; "Room Service" is designed to pique teens' curiosity.

The creepy "Scentless Soap" is aimed at young men, to advertise that Wego offers many small touches "to help them avoid difficult situations," said Cheng. (Read: to fool suspicious wives who might pick up a strange soap smell on their man.)

Ethics aren't us

Cheng said Wego has taken flak for catering in part to cheaters. But he says the motel chain operates by the old adage of "any publicity is good publicity."