Ann St. Hilaire
New York, New York Travel Agent
Planning a family reunion is about far more than picking a family-friendly resort and making the hotel and flight reservations. To pick a place that will make everyone happy and promotes family bonding, it is important to know what everyone in the family likes to do, what they are thinking of in terms of a family trip, and any special needs.
Some extended families like to do everything together. Others prefer to go their separate ways and meet up for dinner. Some family members have differing tastes and budgets. Will people share rooms? Are there smaller groups within the family that have shared interests? Knowing all that I can put together a trip that works for everyone. For large groups, I’ve even set up a group website with sign-up sheets for special activities and meals.
Sometimes a resort or a cruise is the right choice. Depending on the property or ship, family members can choose different levels of accommodations. Many have kid’s programs so adults can have private time together, and some have separate adult-only sections for quiet conversation. Sometimes I ask resorts to cordon off a section of beach for a day and serve a private family barbecue, or provide a private room for breakfast every morning.
For many families, a large villa with a pool, a chef and a chauffeur provides the best experience. There is a shared space for the family and an easy way to have meals together. I usually plan some adventures in the area for the family to enjoy together. The cost is usually far less than a comparable number of hotel rooms with far more space.
Coming from a big family myself—I’m the oldest of six and used to big gatherings—I understand the value of getting everyone together and I’ve learned to help people think ahead so to prevent the dramas that sometimes happen because someone’s needs weren’t considered.
To me, planning a successful family reunion is based on good communication. I love getting to know families and put a trip together that is tailored for them. I’ve been doing this for 35 years and it’s been fun to watch the families grow and change. Some were kids when I began working with their parents and now they have own children!
It’s a joy to play a role in keeping family ties strong, and nothing does that better than getting away and spending quality time together.