Last summer our son, daughter-in-law and their two children, ages 7 and 9, along with Norma and I took a one-week cruise to Alaska. We did this principally because we wished to take a “togethering” vacation. This type of travel is increasingly popular. Families and friends getting together in a casual setting to get to know one another better in today’s rushed world. It includes vacation rentals or villas for a better value along with spacious comfort for all under one roof. Different properties include different amenities giving greater flexibility and a relaxed atmosphere to fit diverse travelers in one group. Here are just a few of the places where others have been “togethering”: Hawaiian Islands, Tennessee Smoky Mountains, Colorado Rocky Mountains, beach-front San Diego, Orlando and Central Florida, Central California along the coast, and even Costa Rica. Mexico is also a favorite with many families with its fine resorts and spas.
If you are single, the top “Girlfriend Getaways” include: a spa visit, Napa Valley, Las Vegas, Miami, Palm Springs and Maui in Hawaii.
Guys only vacations can be weekend river fishing, golfing, hunting, beaches along the Pacific Coast, poker parties, sporting events, hiking, camping or even nightlife in Vegas. Some favorite “guy” weekends include: New Orleans, backpacking, a dude ranch and deep sea fishing out of San Diego.
For a ladies only getaways consider a long weekend in New York City to take in a couple Broadway shows and some great shopping on 5th Avenue. Or, how about San Francisco, the City by the Bay? With its great scenery, cool climate, great seafood restaurants and theatre there is plenty to do and see.
Las Vegas is the best show town in America, with entertainment for all tastes. The casinos beckon and you might even win. Hollywood is always interesting. You might see some TV shows being produced and be sure to take a movie star homes tour, that’s fun.
The shopping along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is always exciting and you can come home with new fashions to show off. Los Angeles has theatre, music, clubs, museums and traffic. Air fares are at a low just now so get out there and have some fun.
Thinking about going to an island in the Caribbean this winter to just sit and relax with family? It is one of the favorite areas of the world for good weather (except during late summer and during the fall hurricane season) and offers wonderful hotels and resorts. The rates are not inexpensive, even now, but you pretty well get your money’s worth in fine tropical accommodations, food and great beaches.
Let’s touch on the spa, golf and family resorts. All you have to do is lay back, relax and let your mind go. It’s time to take care of you. What’s your family’s pleasure? A deep massage, yoga or maybe a seaweed wrap. The following resorts are ready to make you feel your best, offering a wide range of spa services to invigorate your body and soul. Antigua: Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa; Aruba: Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino; Bahamas: The Westin Grand Bahamas Island, Sheraton Grand Bahamas Island, Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay
In Barbados, one of my favorites is Sandy Lane. Bermuda has The Fairmont Southampton, Elbow Beach Bermuda; British Virgin Islands: Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Peter Island Resort; St. Lucia: Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort.
Great golf vacations in the Caribbean would include: The Westin Grand Bahamas Island, Sheraton Grand Bahamas Island, Atlantis, Paradise Island and Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma at Emerald Bay; in Barbados: Sandy Lane; Bermuda: The Fairmont Southampton, Elbow Beach Bermuda. In the Dominican Republic consider Casa De Campo; St. Lucia: Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort, Sandals Halcyon Beach St. Lucia, Sandals Regency La Toc Gold Resort & Spa in St. Lucia; and in the U.S. Virgin Islands: The Buccaneer.
The best family vacations can be had in Barbados at Almond Beach Village or Hilton Barbados. In Bermuda try the Fairmont Southampton and in the Dominican Republic: Melia Caribe Tropical Resort, Paradisus Palma Real or Paradisus Punta Cana. If you want a real getaway island, try St. Kitts and St Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino. In the U.S. Virgin Islands try: Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Beach Resort, Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, and the Westin St. John Resort & Villas.
What’s to do in many of these islands beside pure relaxation? Surfing, swimming, sailing, bird watching, Catamaran sailing, snorkeling and in some islands, fishing for some of the big ones. Each island has its own ethnic feel. Some are Dutch, others English, French and some are Latin. This provides for interesting dining under the palms. Most of the resorts offer musical entertainment in the evening. Often, there are small clubs to drop into to sample the locals having fun.
Now, if you think you might go crazy staying in one place for a few days, try a Caribbean cruise, which will give you several of these islands in one or two weeks time. It’s going to be less costly than a stay-put vacation when you consider your cruise fare includes your room, meals and onboard entertainment. The extras are gratuities and shore tours.
Most of us fly in the economy section of aircraft. Today, I call it steerage! Flying coach isn’t what it used to be. There is usually less leg room, narrower seats and thinner cushions and backrests. There are ways to compare seating between airlines and obtaining information about how much leg room is provided. Choose your seat wisely. Some have limited recline. On the Web check out seatguru.com which posts graphic cabin layouts for some 85 airlines, so you can pick the spot you want before booking. Weekend flights tend to be more crowded so instead, travel midweek, preferably at midday to boost the odds of getting an emptier plane.
Happy flying and have a great family and/or friend’s vacation.