Family reunion travel is growing up fast

Family reunion travel is a fast-growing segment of the travel industry with nearly 72 million adults in the U.S. having traveled to a family reunion in the past three years according to the Travel Industry Association of America.  And a 2005 survey by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell indicates that 35% of grandparents have taken at least one vacation with grandchildren during the previous 12 months demonstrating that multi-generational travel is here to stay.

With more and more families spread out across the country and aging Baby Boomers heading for grandparenthood and retirement, the desire to see the world and spend quality time together is translating into an opportunity for deluxe hotels, cruises, and other travel companies to facilitate bonding among junior, middle-aged, and senior generations.  A recent survey by Meredith Corporation revealed that 19% of all adults have been on a vacation with more than one generation of their family at a time in the past year, and 4 in 10 family members have traveled with three generations on the same trip in the past year.

Many upscale hotels and cruise lines are offering a wide variety of services and amenities that appeal to this audience—enabling each generation to enjoy individual as well as group experiences.  Here is a roundup of some luxury travel experiences available for multi-generational and family reunion travel:

Ashford Castle - located in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland, Ashford Castle is renowned for its picturesque location that is the perfect spot for a family reunion or multi-generational retreat.  With a wonderful selection of country sports, Ashford’s environs offer some of the best salmon and trout fishing in the world.  Unique to this area is Ashford’s fly-fishing program in partnership with Orvis fly-fishing company.  Ashford is also home to Ireland’s first school of falconry.  The school offers a rare opportunity to handle and fly a bird of prey with lessons on handling and training, as well as simulated hunts.  Ashford offers an equestrian center, sport clay shooting, archery and tennis, as well.

Beau Rivage Palace - This Belle Epoque palace in Lausanne, Switzerland embraces guests of all ages.  Special programs for children include:  a discover the Beau-Rivage treasure hunt, cookie baking lessons, flower-arranging classes and special menus and gifts.  Kids are given a treasure hunt challenge at check-in.  The board game, suitable for children ages 3 to 11, consists of exploring different parts of the hotel by following a series of sketches and obtaining stickers for each area discovered.  Once the board is completed, a surprise awaits at the reception desk.  There is no additional charge for one child (under 11) staying in a parent’s room.  Amenities include children’s bathrobes and slippers.  There are special menus for children under 14 at Le CafĂ©, as well as from room service.  Breakfast in the main breakfast dining room, Salon Grammont, is complimentary for children under 11.  Additionally, special group functions and dinners can be arranged.


Hotel de Crillon - More and more families want to experience a cultural vacation and Paris is definitely high on the list.  This Paris palace may be centuries old, but its modern services are definitely a la minute.  The Crillon is intent on putting the wow factor into the heart of the guest experience—especially when it comes to the younger generation.  Children receive special bath products from Bonpoint, gifts such as a Paris Guide and a coloring book, and a plate of cookies on arrival.  A special treat to take home is the tiny terry bathrobe with the Crillon logo.  On request the Crillon provides at no extra charge an extra bed, crib or high chair.  For those less tiny, the hotel provides an X-box and VHS/DVD player.  The Crillon arranges special on-site and citywide activities for guests both young and old.

Ocean Adventures - owner and operator of The Eclipse, the Galapagos Islands’ finest luxury expedition vessel, offers a series of “Family Cruises” scheduled throughout 2006.  Taking children to the Galapagos Islands is an immensely rewarding experience.  The Eclipse has developed selected family departures, many timed to take advantage of spring break and summer holidays.  While specialist guides entertain children all day, parents and grandparents enjoy the cruise at their own pace, comforted by the knowledge that the children are in safe hands and making their own discoveries about the history of evolution and the wonders of the islands.

Dukes Hotel - This classic stylish hotel on St James’s Place, occupying its own courtyard in an ultra quiet street between Mayfair and Green Park, makes it ideally situated for a family reunion or multi-generational vacation that features the sights, sounds, and tastes of London.  And with quite a number of activities geared for children—including children’s open-air theatre productions in Regent’s Park, Legoland, the Chessington World of Adventures theme park, and the Livesey Museum for Children, not to mention the myriad historic sites—Dukes is the perfect home base for families.

Palais de la Mediterranee - Beach vacations are very popular reunion and multi-generational locations, but why not kick it up a notch with a beach vacation on the French Riviera?  The Palais de la Mediterranee is the perfect spot with an indoor/outdoor year-round heated pool, easy access to watersports, as well as a great variety of fun family activities including Aqua Splash, the Riviera’s largest aquatic park, and Koaland which features mini-golf, mini-karting, and a mini-jungle.  And for family members who just can’t take a break from the Internet, the hotel has direct Internet access and WiFi as well.

The Merrion - Dublin’s most luxurious 5-star hotel makes a great getaway for families who want to experience gracious Irish living at its best.  Ireland is a fascinating destination for multiple generations with The National Museum of Archaeology in Kildare Street, The National Museum of Decorative Arts in Collins Barracks, Dublin: and the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street which offer family tours throughout the summer.