Don’t leave grandma home when taking your next family vacation! Multigenerational travel is the hottest trend of 2019! Hotels are catching on and offering more unique experiences than ever before. There is more evidence published than ever recommending families travel together. Multigenerational travel is typically defined as taking a trip with three or more generations. G World Travel has seen an increase in extended families traveling together over the last couple years and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Perks of Family Travel:
A retired, healthier and in some cases, wealthier generation of grandparents, is part of the reason for the growing trend and having them around means more cherished memories and priceless bonding time. Travel enables the whole family to form strong bonds and children also benefit by learning from new experiences, cultures and cuisine while intriguing their curiosity and promoting creativity. Family vacations help promote childhood memories and experiences, rather than possessions. We are all so busy and preoccupied. Children are being escorted between ballet lessons and sports games, teens are attached to their devices and mounds of homework, parents are organizing carpools while working a full time job and grandparents are becoming a primary babysitting service and are sometimes forgotten about. We can all take a break from reality, slow down and appreciate the little things.
Are We There Yet?:
So where is “there”? Where are these multigenerational trips going down? Almost anywhere but we should probably chat about the logistics. Location. Location. Location. The diving excursion in the Great Barrier Reef, the secluded over-water bungalow and the hike through Cinque Terre, might not fly with your oldest and youngest travelers. Time for some real talk. Go with the more obvious places where you’ll be within walking-distance to attractions and on flat land. A beach resort with some indoor and outdoor activities is always a winner. The kids will love playing in the sand while grandma might enjoy some time getting a pedicure. Both The Baha Mar Resort and Atlantis Resort offer direct beach access, on-site casinos, world class dining, shopping and full-service spas. The whole family can participate in the marine live exhibits like swimming with baby sharks or jump in on a cooking class.
For those looking to ditch the sand for some culture, what better way to squeeze in a history lesson than in Rome. The Westin Excelsior is a great choice for families and even has an indoor pool. Good luck keeping the kids out of the water! The hotel is just a block away from sightseeing, offers 24 hour room service and baby-sitting services.
Hawaii is another popular destination, especially Waikiki and offers you beach and history! Splash around in a lazy river one day and tour Pearl Harbor the next. Disney’s first beach resort, Aulani is a hit for families. It’s a Disney property on a chill pill! No lines, no crowds, no crazy planning. The whole family can take part in a hula lesson during the day and watch fire dancers perform in the evening.
The Golden State is another crowd pleaser. California really has it all and that is not easy to admit being a proud New Yorker. You can spend a day at Disneyland without committing to the overwhelming amusement park for your whole stay. I hear more parents complain about needing a vacation after Disney World than anything else. Disneyland is on a much smaller scale. Next stop, head to the zoo, the Hollywood walk of fame, take a trolley ride, visit museums and even aquariums. Rent a car and make your way along the coast or stay put in one city. You have options!
Do Your Homework:
Leave time for spontaneous exploring but make the most of your vacation by looking into where are the hotspots and unique attractions. Some favorites that come to mind: baby’s first haircut experience at Grand Velas Nayarit, cupcake decorating with the chef at the Stafford hotel in London, the baby sea turtle release program at the Marriott Puerto Vallarta and a volcano tour in St Lucia that ends with a fun but of course, messy mud bath. I also recommend thinking of the little details that can help with smooth sailings. For instance, pre book your transportation from the airport to the hotel, consider all your guests room options so not only will you end on an option that will fit into your budget but also fit everyone comfortably. Grandpa might not be fitting on the loveseat and little Lucy and big brother Max may not be good with sharing beds. The family suite with connecting kids’ room at Beaches Turks & Caicos, not only is filled with kid friendly amenities but bunk beds and a trundle bed for the perfect ending after an eventful day.
Plan for Some Un-planning:
This should be a vacation for all, so don’t over plan. The over planner is really a buzz kill. Leave that person home! The grandparents might be itching to try the small cafe down the road or get to bed early, skipping out on the evening show. Ask the proud grandparents if they could handle some alone time with the kids while you do something romantic or heck, take a nice nap. Drop the kids off at a great kids’ program like the one at Palace Resorts that supplies Nextel walkie-talkies so parents have the ability to speak with their children at any time, offering peace of mind knowing that their children are just a “roger that” and “over” away.
So, plan the vacation and bite the bullet. You can’t buy this time back later in life. You’ll forget about the cost and planning but you will cherish the memories made. And, don’t forget the camera or better yet, book the in house photographer’s family session. Every and any moment together is the perfect photo opportunity, even if you can’t get everyone to look in the same direction. But then again, are family photo’s ever perfect?
The last two hurricane seasons made a mess of the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. Hurricane Irma, Maria and Jose ravished through the popular destinations nearly two years ago. While some of my clients don’t realize it is business as usual on many islands, others don’t know some destinations are not quite there yet. Countless resorts and hotels are still dealing with the aftermath. Some hotels are vacant and others have bounced back better than ever. The future looks bright either way, so make room on your calendar for a dreamy Caribbean vacation.
The Belmond La Samana completed a pricey facelift, $23 million dollars pricey! The funds were well invested and the property is back in action. The Belmond reintroduced the familiar and popular La Cave Wine Cellar, which happens to be the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean. Cheers to that!
I also recommend the re-opened Sonesta Maho and Sonesta Ocean Point resorts, sister properties, also located in St Martin. They were reconstructed to withstand 200 mph winds, Irma had sustained winds of 165mph. Huff and puff all you want, but you’re not blowing these sisters down!
While the Riu St Martin Resort could not be salvaged, I am extremely excited that the chain that operates Secrets Resorts purchased the land and will be bringing a luxury, all-inclusive option to the island soon. I will be one of the first guests to check out this highly anticipated property. Planet Hollywood will also be bringing a new face to the island next year. Big things are happening in St Martin!
A Ferry ride away from St Martin, is possibly one of the most magical islands, Anguilla. Anguilla is what dreams are made of, the softest sand and vibrant blue ocean water. Irma severely damaged the island but the island is making a comeback! Home to some of the more luxurious properties in the Caribbean, Anguilla reopened the Four Seasons, Cuisinart and the Belmond properties.
Along with the re-opening of the Cuisinart Golf & Spa Resort, the sister property, The Reef opened back up. The Reef opened its doors in 2017, only to have to rebuild again in 2018 after the destruction of Irma. Guests of the Reef can enjoy the facilities over at the Cuisinart. Who doesn’t like a two for one deal?
British Virgin Islands
It was a serious tag-team when Irma, Jose, and Maria hit the British Virgin Islands one after another. As of April 2018, the island fully restored power but many of the hotels are sadly, still closed. Probably one of the more popular islands in the BVI’s and the most popular resort, Scrub Island Resort in Virgin Gorda is opened. The hotel came back better than ever, adding two new restaurants and luxury suites with high-end kitchen appliances and fluffy new furniture.
No one could ignore the wrath Hurricane Maria caused in Puerto Rico. The devastation left so many without food, shelter and water. However, you should stop worrying if Puerto Rico is safe to visit, because it is! Many hotels are re-opened and a way you can help the island, is by traveling to it. Sounds like a win-win situation, to me. Popular hotels like the Intercontinental, the El San Juan, Wynham Grand Rio, Dorado Beach, the St Regis and Condado Beach Resort located near or in San Juan are just several properties that are up and running, awaiting your arrival! It’s worth considering, since it’s an affordable destination and doesn’t require a passport.The island of Vieques in Puerto Rico, is making a slower comeback but I have my eyes set on a new project called Zafira St Clair. The $50 million, luxury hotel will surely mark a new beginning for the island!
The island of the rich and famous, St. Barths aka St Barthemely is tiny but mighty. Many restaurants, hotels and shops are open for business. Le Barthelemy Hotel was the newest build on the island celebrating its grand-opening in 2016 but closing in 2017 after Hurricane Irma. As of late 2018, the luxury hotel is now open. Finding a 5-star hotel in St Barth’s is no mission. Some of my favorite high-end properties are now in full swing, such as Hotel Le Toiny and Le Sereno. Other favorites such as the Eden Roc Le and Le Guanahani are set to re-open in the end of 2019, early 2020.
US Virgin Islands
Although cruise lines have returned to the ports, many businesses and hotels are still closed on the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Frenchmann’s Reef & Morning Star has been a long time favorite of travelers and the largest hotel in St Thomas. The hotel has yet to re-open, however, it’s been revealed that there is a chance it might re-open in 2020. It will receive a significant upgrade with new hurricane proofing and an expansion of the pools, facilities and rooms. As for St John, the Westin St. John Resort is open! It is really exciting news for the island while hotels like Caneel Bay continue to work toward the same outcome. And, in some of the more exciting news, the oldest family-run resort in the Caribbean is also back open. In St Croix, The Buccaneer Hotel took the opportunity to make some enhancements and added a new restaurant, while sustaining some of its historic sites like a sugar mill from the early 1700s, the Cotton House that was used in the early 1900s and the Hamilton Wing, rumored to have been Alexander Hamilton’s home during his time on St. Croix. Sounds like a history lesson and a vacation, all-in-one!
There are several islands that had some minor landscaping and water damage. Luckily, without skipping a beat, it’s like the hurricanes never hit. Contact me and let’s chat about which island is best fit for you!
There are 244 years of traditions and celebrations in honor of our independence from England on the Fourth of July. We all come together to rock our cheesy red, white and blue ensembles, light sparklers, over endulge on American barbeque and head to the beach for the holiday weekend. America has its share of picturesque beaches so get your best swimwear ready and leave the passport at home. A major bonus of staying in the states is not requiring a passport. There are a few people, a rare breed, that do not have passports. This is particularly great for you, if you’re one of them. So whether you’re limited to a destination or just wanting to enjoy the land of the stars and stripes, I am sharing some popular beach resorts where G World Travel clients and myself have enjoyed ourselves.
The Sunshine State holds almost half of the country’s best beaches but that isn’t really a surprise to any of us. Filled with culture, world class shopping, fine dining and obviously, gorgeous beaches, Florida is the perfect spot for a quick getaway. Only 2.5 hours from New York and with so many airlines offering direct flights, Florida is a no brainer. With so many great beach towns, it was only fitting to break down the destination by coast.
Miami aka Little Cuba, puts the pulse into Florida. The W South Beach has everything one could want for a weekend of partying. The location is ideal and it’s one of the only hotels on the beach in South Beach. Pack your best bikini because there is quite the pool scene, complete with DJ’s and a packed crowd. The Miami Beach Edition is a short drive north to Miami Beach, set on 3.5-acres of beachfront. The hotel is more like a resort with an on-site nightclub, indoor ice skating rink and bowling alley. You can also relax at one of the pools, treat yourself to a spa day or find your zen moment in the “relaxation lounge”. The Fontainebleau has been around for some time and yet is still one of the hottest beach hotels in Miami. Home to the infamous Liv nightclub and some of the best pool scenes in the area. Take my advice and head to Scarpetta, the hotel’s award winning Italian restaurant. Every time I’m in Miami, I make a stop here! The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne manages to dodge the crowds with its private beach that seems a world away. This resort is super-kid friendly and offers a fabulous kids’ program.
Take a step into a European Palace, right in Palm Beach. The Breakers Palm Beach Hotel is one of my favorite properties in Florida. The architecture, the grounds, the acclaimed restaurants and the private beach, make this property noteworthy. Relax at one of the four pools, one being dedicated to adults only. And, if you feel like splurging, the pool cabanas are worth every penny. Each cabana is equipped with a flat screen TV, bathroom, shower, refrigerator, personal food & beverage service, complimentary wifi and more. Not far from The Breakers is another luxury property, the Eau Palm, set on a pristine beach with a world-class spa and fine-dining. Every amenity is top-notch, even the rooms were designed by Jonathan Adler. The kids’ club house is a parents’ dream… I mean kids’ dream! From toddler to teen, the kids will be super busy at the art studio, teddy bear stuffing station, beauty salon, fashion runway, DJ booth, TV area, and there is also a real stage!
The Gulf of Mexico
In St. Pete, the Don Cesar hotel aka The Pink Palace is set on a beautiful beach and is a great choice for families. There is even an adorable 50’s style ice cream parlor with creative flavors to satisfy your sweet tooth. Another beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico worth noting is the JW Marriott. The beachfront hotel is set on a sugary white sand beach, that could fool into believing you’re in The Caribbean. The hotel is great for children with a sprawling pool area and dedicated kids’ club but for those seeking a more low-key stay, take advantage of the new adults-only section. The Serene Tower is just what the doctor ordered for some well needed R&R. The Resort at Longboat Key Club has 13-mile sandy beach with a never ending list of available water-sports. There’s even a full-service marina offering jet-ski and boat rentals. For those seeking a real luxury stay, check out the Ritz Carlton Naples. The hotel is set on one of the nicer beaches in the area and if you prefer the pool, lounge at one of two salt-water pools. Top-notch services include 7 restaurants, a massive spa, gaming room for the kids and a nature-lovers sea creature program which is a bonus for those who are traveling with kids.
The Golden State is easily one of the most diverse states in the country, it has it all! From deserts to forests, mountains and vineyards, the Hollywood walk of fame and Mickey Mouse, oh and of course the beaches. Paradise Point is located on a tropical private island, OK, so not exactly. The resort is located in San Diego BUT you’ll feel as though you traveled to a private island. The hotel is on a man-made aquatic park surrounded by palm trees, lagoons, and waterfalls. It features bungalow-style cottages along a mile-long stretch of beach. While Paradise Point gives us a tropical vibe, Pelican Hill is a bit more refined, upscale and grand. You’ll pinch yourself when you get there, it’s a dream! Located on the Newport Coast, between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, perched up on lush hilltop, Pelican Hill is a place you travel to for an epic trip, not to just hang your coat for a night. I mean, if you’re into the whole, being chauffeured around in a black Cadillac, spending your days in a private cabana equipped with personalized beverages, flat screen tv’s and minibars, and taking private helicopter tours to the vineyards, than yes, this is for you. For something a bit more relaxed, Shutters on The Beach in Santa Monica is a cozy spot with direct access to the pier, beach and boardwalk. Shutters on The Beach and the luxurious Hotel Casa Del Mar are the only two hotels with spectacular stretch of sandy beach in Santa Monica. Hotel Casa Del Mar is home to the award-winning Catch restaurant and offers guests surfing lessons and yoga on the beach.
The only state made up of only islands, Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful, scenic beaches in the USA. ALOHA! Waiki’s first hotel, the oceanfront Moana Surfrider combines historic charm with the best stretch of sand on Waikiki Beach. Travel to the North Shore of Waikiki, the Turtle Bay hotel is isolated on five miles of shoreline, great restaurants, horseback riding, a heliport and more. Travel tip: This is the only island with non-stop flights from the tri-state area. However, it is totally worth it to suck it up and hop over to Maui and Kauai. Maui has a lot going for it. It’s the prom queen of Hawaiian islands and two of my favorite hotels are here, The Andaz, the newest hotel on the Wailea coastline and The Four Seasons, because, well, its the Four Seasons. Enough said. The Andaz is sleek and sexy without being obnoxious, a new look for the island, and the beach is superior to most other beachfronts on the island. The Four Seasons is also set on famed WaIlea beach. Go big or go home are my thoughts on this property. The creme brûlée French toast is a must for breakfast! For a more slower pace, Kauai is your place. The island is super lush, exotic and mountainous, so there is no surprise it has some of the best views and The St Regis Princeville delivers a dramatic view on the north shore. The Big Island has a generally rocky coastline but the Fairmont is one of the few with soft white sand. Make sure to sneak off for a spa treatment here! The outdoor bungalows are the perfect spot for self-care.
Back in full bloom after the ugly Hurricane Maria peered her nasty self to the island in 2017, Puerto Rico has some great beaches. While many are off the beaten path, the El Conquistador Resort offers guests access to a private island, Palomino Island. The island can only be accessed via a quick ferry ride and is only to guests staying at the hotel. The secluded island feels like it’s a world away. Hence, why this hidden gem is my favorite beach spot in PR. The El Conquistador is finishing up its final stages of rehab but it will be back better than ever. A big draw for families, the hotel will still offer the kid-friendly pools with water park, waterslides, lazy river, kids’ pool and more. As for my pick for a beachfront hotel, The Ritz Carlton is a cut above the rest with a price-tag that reflects it. However, you get what you pay for and between the service, the grounds, the restaurants and being it is set on one of the better beaches in the area, it is understandable. Vieques, an island off the mainland, is in my opinion Puerto Rico’s best kept secret. The little island can be reached by ferry or a hopper plane. Hotels here are making a slow comeback but until their reopening, it is worth a day trip to!
The month of June has been a celebratory one for the LGBTQ community as it is the official month of pride! Many LGBTQ travelers assume incorrectly when picking a vacation spot. While many think some destinations are off limits, others forget which islands frown upon gay travelers. It’s amazing how much progress has been made but there is still some work ahead. Jamaica in particular is regarded as unwelcoming to gay travelers. Barbados and The Cayman Islands also deserve to be shamed! However, there are many beautiful islands that share the Caribbean hospitality with all travelers regardless of who you love.
ZOËTRY VILLA ROLANDI (ISLA MUJERES/CANCUN)
Your trip starts before you even arrive to the resort as hotel guests are transported to the private island via private yacht. Sounds like a Kardashian styled vacation already, no? The hotel offers a secluded, luxurious, low-key retreat while focusing on holistic wellness.
FLORIS SUITE HOTEL (CURACAO)
Curacao has a reputation for being particularly welcoming to LGBTQ travelers. The island is even the first to host the annual Caribbean Gay Spring Break Festival. The Floris hotel offers a fun atmosphere for guests. Another plus is the concierge’s “Out and About” guide, which will help LGBTQ couples find gay-friendly activities throughout the island.
HYATT ZIVA (PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO)
Puerto Vallarta is a hot LGBTQ travel destination and the Hyatt Ziva chain has a wonderful reputation with the community, being honored 14 years in a row as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ equality. BRAVO, HYATT! Helpful tip: For some extra privacy and luxury, reserve a one-bedroom with a private plunge pool or splurge with a two-story presidential suite. And, when you’re not looking to relax, the hotel is just a quick ride away from fabulous nightlife, restaurants, shops and bars.
VALENTIN IMPERIAL (RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO)
Regardless of who you love, the Valentin Imperial is a good choice for all. The all-inclusive, adult-only property is a popular choice amongst all travelers, except the kids! Leave them home! looking somewhere to tie the knot? This is a great spot to consider.
ROYAL HAWAIIAN (HAWAII)
Since the 2013 passing of the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act, Maui has been a popular pick for same-sex travelers, destination weddings and honeymoons. The most recognizable hotel on Waikiki Beach, the Royal Hawaiian, is one of the best on the island and within walking distance to the best dining, shopping, swimming, and beach activities. The bright pink palace, is the creme of la creme of hotels in Honolulu.
BELMOND LA SAMANNA (ST. MARTIN)
Whether staying on the Dutch or French side of the island, St Martin aka St Maarteen is proud to accept all types of travelers. The French side has the clothing optional Cupecopy Beach and the famous drag show at L’Escargot, while the Dutch side has the Orient nude beach. Sounds like a good time! Stop blushing! The Belmond La Samanna is certified by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.
ARUBA MARRIOTT RESORT (ARUBA)
Aruba is known for being “one happy island”, and that happiness should go for all its travelers, and it does! The Aruba Marriott is popular with he LGBTQ traveler, with its H2Oasis adult pool, great restaurants and casino action at the Stellaris Casino. The spacious guest rooms have upscale bedding, high-tech amenities and some of the largest balconies in Aruba. The island is outside the hurricane belt making it a safe destination to travel to year round.
EDEN ROC CAP CANA (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
Enjoy the “suite life” at this hidden gem! Punta Cana, DR and surrounding areas are ideal for kicking up your feet and relaxing. The Eden Roc is no exception. The hotel welcomes all guests! The service is impeccable, known for pampering their guests. The design of the hotel is gorgeous – think the Italian and French Rivieras, and well, let’s face it, if only we all had an eye for the finer things in life like the gay community. The design, food, amenities, service and all, easily makes this one of the best properties on the island.
SAN JUAN MARRIOTT & CASINO (PUERTO RICO)
The U.S.A. territory host an annual gay pride celebration in San Juan. Condado Beach is a popular tourist spot and in the middle of the gay-friendly zone. Right in the heart of it, is the San Juan Marriott Resort. When you’re not relaxing at the pool, take advantage of the exciting nightlife scene. Puerto Rico is always a good idea!
If you were to ask me for a trip that is packed with big value, the Dominican Republicwill be top of my list. The destination offers big bang for the buck. This is largely whythe island has seen a steadily increase in travelers and tourists each year. Known forits sandy beaches, clear blue ocean and the luxury of an all-inclusive hotel option, itcan be a vacationer’s paradise. But, is it safe? This seems to be a hot topic lately.
While it was an exciting week with The New York Post, ABC News, NY Daily News and CBS News all reaching out to me for an expert’s opinion on the recent developments in the Dominican Republic, it was for unfortunate events and not an easy topic to discuss.
More than 6 million tourists were welcomed to the Dominican Republic last year, and the number is still climbing. That is a lot of travelers, like a lot a lot, and the growing majority returned home safely and with fond memories. Unfortunately, we were reminded more recently that this is not always the case. Just because the Dominican Republic is one of the most dreamiest vacation spots, doesn’t mean it’s also one of the safest. Like anywhere, natural disasters, crime and violence could be an issue even in the very magical spots we dream of.
The recent publicity of the island is not indicative of the country falling to ruins. It also should not take away from the successful resorts, the Dominican people and the businesses that are doing an incredible job to keep their guests safe. As a matter of fact, the crime rate in the Dominican Republic in the last several years has decreased. Also worth noting, the State Department has not published any new travel advisories and only has the country at a level 2. FYI: level 2 is low! This is the same level as many other islands and European cities. And to be fair, you can get robbed, harassed, and assaulted pretty much anywhere. Numbers aren’t always a decent indication.
The news and social media tend to highlight negative press. Because let’s face it, negative news is almost always more worthy to cover because it attracts more interest. However, I get it, in this situation especially! It is a bit overwhelming and alarming, so making sure my clients are comfortable in their choice of hotel and destination is a top priority. I have had a number of clients concerned about their future trips to the Dominican Republic. From small families to large groups and even a couple of destination weddings, many are reaching out for advice. While some chose to move hotels, others moved to a completely different island. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax, be stress-free and worry-free, and that’s the type of experience I pride G World Travel on offering. If clients are expressing concerns, it defeats the purpose of travel. I got your back (almost literally), so if you need extra information or want to re-evaluate your vacation choices, then let’s do it!
The recent news has shed some light on the situation and eventually even made me aware that not all travel agencies and online booking engines will help. Is it surprising? Not really, money is still money to some, bad news or no news. I received countless calls and emails from travelers that were not given the support or the opportunity to move or change their plans to suit their needs best. Ridiculous, outrageous even! This brings me to “smart travel”. What would your mother tell you to do? Here are a number of things I could agree with her on: Don’t leave the hotel grounds especially at night. Don’t go off anywhere alone. Book your trip through someone who isn’t afraid to go up to bat for you. Stay hydrated and take care of your body. Remember, you’re more likely eating new foods, consuming more liquor and sugary beverages than you would in your normal day to day, being more or less active than usual and getting a lot of sun. In a destination like D.R., don’t rent a car and go on an adventure. There are reputable companies set up to help from the airport, right into a marked car and directly to your hotel. Hotels too will offer a transfer company. Book travel insurance and consider the cancel-for-any-reason option. Yes, it is more expensive but it gives you more coverage. Avoid the urban cities like Santo Domingo. Check out the State Department’s website and the news. You’ll be able to review which places and hotels to avoid.
I am very saddened by the series of events and my heart breaks for the families that were greatly affected. It is tragic. There is no getting around it. While I am happy to reroute my clients that don’t want to travel to the destination, I am also happy to point others in the right direction when planning their trip to D.R. I once heard, “Accidents hide in a little corner”, and they do. A tragedy can hit us at anytime, anywhere. Taking the right travel precautions, educating yourself on your destination (beyond your interest in searching for the best steakhouse, or if the hotel offers free WiFi) is you doing your part. This will get you far, hopefully far enough like the Dominican Republic.