Category Archives: Family

Planning a successful group vacation

If you have a core group of friends or family a vacation is a great way to get spend some time together. And if your family is large and spread across the country, meeting at a vacation location can make things easy and stress free (not to mention fun and adventurous). All-inclusive beach resorts and cruises in Mexico or the Caribbean are the most common reunion groups I see. But you can also consider escorted tour-type itineraries with your group. Or maybe for friends with a common interest something along the lines of an Irish Pub Crawl Tour, an Eco-Tour in Costa Rica, or even a chartered yacht in Tahiti.


So, how to get the ball rolling. You’ll definitely want to work with a travel agent since coordinating everyone’s flights and accommodations can be daunting. But first, get together with everyone involved to discuss the basics.

  • What time of the year would you be traveling? It is best to plan your trip 6 to 10 months in advance.
  • Are there any date restrictions to consider?
  • What type of trip would you like? Beach, historical sightseeing, Disney parks, cruise, once-in-a-lifetime dream trip, high energy adventure, etc.
  • Will everyone have passports in time for travel (if applicable)?
  • Are there any special considerations? For example, Aunt Libby has mobility issues and Cousin Maxwell has a sun allergy.

Appoint one person as Group Leader to be the primary point of contact with the travel agent. The Group Leader will want to have a good idea of headcount when talking to the travel agent, along with ages of kids at time of travel.

Your travel agent and Group Leader together will narrow down the best options for the group, and then once the destination and resort are selected the different families can contact your travel agent to provide their details and payment.

After travel arrangements are made, you can decide on any preplanned activities for your group. You’ll want to strike a balance between structured time together and free time. For example, plan a group hike excursion in Kauai (Hawaii). Or pre-book a snorkel catamaran tour in Cozumel while on your group cruise.

If the trip is for a special celebration, such as a milestone birthday or maybe your Grandparent’s 50th anniversary, your travel agent can assist you in arranging an event.

Happy travels! ~Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel.  Contact us at 972-625-6200 to start planning your next group vacation.  Serving the Dallas Texas metro area & clients across the US/Canada.

Spotlight on Hawaii’s Big Island

One of the six major islands in the chain, the island of Hawaii is nicknamed “Big Island” for good reason.  It is formed from five separate shield volcanoes, three of which are still active.   And at twice the size of all other Hawaiian islands combined, there’s no shortage of things to do.  It is here that you’ll find rainforest, snow-capped mountain tops, black and green sand beaches, orchid farms, a world-class telescope atop Mauna Kea, and an enduring Aloha Spirit.

 Most flights arrive in Kona, which is also where most of the resorts and hotels are located.  You’ll definitely want a car rental for the duration of your stay, and exploring on your own is easy and rewarding.  Must-sees include a visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, and a recommended splurge is a tour by helicopter.  In the winter months, you can also whale watch.
Big Island is a great destination for couples as well as families, and for outdoor adventure seekers who are looking for a variety of activities.
Where to Stay
The majority of the resorts and condo properties are located in Kailua-Kona or nearby Kohala Coast.  There are a few accommodations in the Hilo area which is closer to the Volcanoes National Park but also on the side of the island that receives more rainfall.  Here are my two top picks:

 

Hilton Waikoloa Village - this resort is a destination unto itself.  Three unique towers set on beautiful Kohala Coast.  Lots of activities onsite, including golf, a lagoon perfect for kayaking, tennis, and the only interactive dolphin program on the island.  Rated 4 1/2 stars.

The Fairmont Orchid Resort – A luxury oceanfront retreat set on 32 acres along the Kohala Coast. Beautiful private lagoon beach and pampering treatments at the Spa Without Walls.  Hike through the largest petroglyph field in the Pacific.  The perfect setting for a honeymoon.  Rated 5 stars.

NEW!  American offers nonstop service from DFW to Kona for a limited time through summer 2017, so now is a great time to head to the Big Island.

Happy travels! ~Cindy Grant, Expert Family Travel.  Contact us at 972-625-6200 to plan your next vacation.  Serving the Dallas Texas metro area & clients across the US/Canada.

The Family Friendly All-Inclusive

I sell many different destinations and lifestyles, but by far the most popular remains the family friendly all-inclusive resort in a tropical beach location.  And summer is the time when the majority of my family clients head to the beach.  So I thought I’d give a primer on all-inclusives this month.

 


Azul Sensatori, Riviera Maya

 All-inclusives are so-named because your stay includes meals, drinks, snacks, onsite activities and entertainment.  Depending on the resort, it may also include some offsite activities (such as golf or scuba) or tours, a kids’ club, and 24 hour room service.  And in the top-of-the-line resorts and categories you can find butler services.

There are family-friendly resorts where there are kids’ clubs, kiddie pools, and special activities and amenities just for kids.  Some resorts, such as Azul and Club Med even offer baby programs at select locations.
The great thing about a family friendly all-inclusive is that the resort is designed for everyone to enjoy their stay at the property.  That doesn’t mean you can’t go offsite to shop or take a tour (or two or three).  But it is nice to know that you can stay onsite and not be bored.

Beaches Turks & Caicos

 You’ll find family-friendly all-inclusives in some of the top beach destinations:

  • Playa del Carmen/Riviera Maya Mexico
  • Cancun’s Hotel Zone
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Cabo, Mexico
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Turks/Caicos
  • Costa Rica (Pacific Coast)
  • (Limited) Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, Ixtapa, Aruba

​Some of my favorite resort brands for families include Dreams, Beaches, Iberostar, Azul, Now, Palace, Hard Rock, and Paradisus.

Barcelo Bavaro Palace, Punta Cana

Hawaii and Tahiti do not offer any all-inclusive resorts (family friendly or otherwise).  Fiji does offer some resorts that include meals and select activities, but they are not true all-inclusives.  

Family friendly resorts are also great options for group gatherings or destination weddings where you anticipate some families attending. Many of the 4 and 5 star resorts have onsite wedding coordinators and Special Event planners for your party or event needs.

Resort quality can range from a more moderate 3 star to a luxury 5 star, and sizes from small boutique to some of the mega campus styles found in Punta Cana.  Most of my clients tend to want something in the middle:  4 star upscale, and mid to large in size.

~Happy Travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel.  Located in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area (Texas) Near Frisco, Plano, Little Elm, and The Colony.  972-625-6200.