More people than ever are choosing to take group vacations. According to the Wall Street Journal this is "fueled largely by extended families and multi-generational vacations", and now "groups of couples and singles are jumping in". Both The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure have picked up on this trend, offering advice for ensuring a fun time is had by all.
Hotels or Houses
When it comes to larger groups, hotels are all very well, but they certainly have their limitations. Destination clubs, on the other hand, are well equipped to handle large groups of up to 12 or 14 guests at their large spacious homes. I spoke with Julie Beard and Monica Jacobs of Equity Estates to learn more about the benefits they can offer to groups of friends or family. Julie is the Marketing Manager, while Monica works one on one with clients as a personal concierge. Both have worked with numerous groups and they mentioned several overwhelming benefits of a destination club as opposed to other accommodations.
"Staying in a home makes enjoying the group's company so much easier than staying in a hotel," says Jacobs. Frequently groups choose to book a block of rooms in a hotel. However, that can cause problems at the end of the day. Where can everyone congregate? Trying to cram into one person's room is impractical and uncomfortable. There are communal areas in most hotels but these may be in the lobby, the bar, or by the pool, making them potentially unsuitable for some participants, and certainly lacking in privacy. Beard says that many Equity Estates fund properties come with their own media rooms and private pools, while all have communal living areas, just as one would expect in one's own home. These allow everyone to relax together in a comfortable space, without fear of interrupting other guests.
We very much enjoyed the Hilton Head property. It is a perfect home for a beach vacation with the family. While it is close to restaurants and other activities, the real benefit is its location on the beach. We like nothing better than getting the little kids out on the sand and in the water early in the day. Then when it starts to get hot we walk back to the house and enjoy the pool as we fix lunch. Then it is just very easy to venture back to the beach in the late afternoon when the heat of the day has passed. The layout of the house is also perfect for our needs. We really enjoy spending the evening in the second floor family room. It has everything we need up there and allows us to be near the children when they go to bed. Overall, a great experience! – Investor Andrew R.
Another alternative is a vacation home rental (such as through AirBnB or VRBO) which will usually include plenty of communal space. However, The Wall Street Journal highlights "the dreaded bunk bedroom" syndrome, in which someone ends up with a less than ideal sleeping space. Regardless of the number of rooms in a holiday villa, the WSJ notes there will often be that one tiny room and arguments arise over who will sleep there. Again, this is not a problem with destination clubs, which carefully select their residences to ensure everyone has a good night's sleep in a spacious room, and no one feels disappointed.
Accommodation is one aspect of the group vacation, but what about activities? Arranging everything and meeting everyone's needs can sometimes leave you feeling as if you need another vacation as soon as you get home. The Wall Street Journal suggests having a ring leader (even billing them as a "benevolent dictator") to decide for and organize the group and make sure things get decided. If you prefer having a little support for decision making, the destination clubs all offer personal concierges who can really help out with any requests. Equity Estates has four personal concierges on staff. Each investor member is paired with their own concierge, who will be their go-to person for every vacation. Concierge Monica Jacobs says that her role is "to be the stress release. We take the stress out of travelling, from monitoring the weather to coordinating with local experts." Her job includes making reservations, booking tours, and working with local hosts to ensure the group has everything they need. She has planned everything from a 40th birthday party in Costa Rica to a family reunion.
Here again one of the tips from the Wall Street Journal is to hire a cook, since nobody wants to be stuck with cooking and cleaning while on vacation, especially not for a large group. Hiring a private chef is one of the most common things that the destination club concierges will arrange for guests. They can even recommend chefs who have different styles or who are experts in different cuisines.
We so appreciated the housekeeping and the lovely breakfasts they prepared. They were so flexible and even made 2 separate breakfasts when people woke up at different times. The private chef was terrific. We used him 2 nights and his meals were wonderful. Cabo San Jose is so close and was fun shopping. The property was so wonderful we didn't want to leave - so perfect for a large group! - Equity Estates Investor, Barb M.
Jacobs works with guests in the planning stages and a local host is nearby at all times during the vacation to deal with any problems or additional requirements that may arise. Jacobs will learn what people's likes and dislikes are, so that activities can be planned to suit everyone. If grandpa and the kids want to spend the day at the beach, while mom and dad go horse-riding, she can arrange it. Examples of the many services available:
- Airport pickup.
- The homes all come with fully equipped kitchens. If your group wants to cook during your stay, groceries can be pre-bought, saving you a trip to the store upon arrival. Alternatively, a personal chef can be arranged, allowing you to enjoy meals at home without the hassle of what to cook, who is cooking, or whose turn it is to clean up.
- Child-friendly facilities. Local hosts have a list of vetted babysitters, as well as destination guides that detail family friendly restaurants, activities, and so on. Parents and grandparents can enjoy an evening with the kids, and can then enjoy an evening by themselves, safe in the knowledge that their children are in good hands. Homes can also be equipped with such necessities as stroller, pack and play, or cribs.
- For older guests, some homes are equipped with elevators to assist with mobility. Local hosts can also arrange mobility scooters.
The EE experience in Costa Rica is perfect for the entire family (we had age ranges from 3 to 72). Beaching and surf are great, the pool is both adult and child friendly as well as drop dead gorgeous. Those who relish being right on the beach, this place is for you. The EE local host and house caretaker is a Four Seasons trained concierge who was also our river and mountain biking guide. The bike trails there are epic, and he knows them well. His restaurant calls were spot on. Lazy Wave was great for adults – cool vibe, while Dragonfly and Seasons were great family spots. Surf lessons at Captain Suiza are a must (it's a 7-minute walk and very nice set up) – we had our children up in 20 minutes! - Investor Aaron G.
Group travel, whether with family or friends can be stressful as well as rewarding. Trying to cater to everyone's likes and dislikes can inevitably cause tension, and there can be so much planning in finding the right accommodations, activities, and restaurants. By planning your group travel with a destination club, you can benefit from luxury home comforts and personalized concierge planning, ensuring that all of you can focus on spending quality time together.