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If you're organizing a family reunion, picking the right destination for your event can be a tricky task. You need a travel spot that's accessible and affordable, and can provide fun activities for everyone. For example, if you pick a golf and tennis resort in the Bahamas, that may make your athletic cousins from Florida happy. But your cousins from Wisconsin would rather go hiking and bird-watching in a national park. And more importantly where can you go that Aunt Ruby will feel comfortable enough to bring her world-famous red velvet cakes? No reunion is a reunion without that.
You get the picture. It's a tough call. But here are some options to choose from.
1. The Beach
Renting a beach house is an ideal situation for a family reunion because everyone can either live together under one roof or in the same proximity. And every age group can find something to do. Those who like the outdoors can spend their days sunning or reading on the beach or poolside. Those who aren't sun worshippers can while their time away napping on the couch, watching movies on the DVD player or shopping at local boutiques and markets.
So where do you find these great properties? Consider places that are accustomed to hosting large families like Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina which accommodates 20 to 25 reunions each year. Also try calling rental property agents in places like the white sand beaches in Destin, Fla., the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the Jersey Shore, and Cape May in New Jersey or even Capistrano Beach located 60 miles south of Los Angeles.
2. A Relatives House
Dorothy just might have been on to something when she tapped her heels three times and repeated, "There's no place like home." Hosting the family get-together at a relative's residence can really make other members feel right at home.
So how does it work? Find one person with a house big enough where everyone can stay or use the home as central headquarters. Central headquarters is the place where people meet up between activities, check-in when they first arrive or go to chill out and relax. If the host home isn't big enough for everyone to crash, the host can find a hotel close enough for some of the relatives to commute to.
Daily activities could include a picnic lunch at a local park or in the host's backyard, an outdoor sporting competition or indoor game fest, followed by an evening awards banquet at the hotel. After the meal, get ready to clear the tables while Aunt Gladys kicks off her stilettos and runs to the dance floor for the Electric Slide.
3. Experience a Metropolitan City
No group stands out like a sore thumb more than a family visiting a major metropolitan city wearing bright red shirts with "The Jones Family" printed across the back. But who cares? It's OK to let the whole city know that you've arrived. You've been planning this trip forever. In fact, Aunt Sue gets the chance to become city chic as she has already told her entire spade club that she's headed uptown for the weekend.
Hosting your family reunion in a major city in the United States provides an abundance of activities for everyone to participate in. They can enjoy restaurants, plays, shopping, museums, tours, sporting events, outdoor festivals and too many more expeditions to count.
So open up the U.S. map and pick a city. The family can check out America's history in Washington, D.C. by visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall or the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. Or they can all hop on a double-decker sight-seeing bus in the Big Apple for an average of $76 per adult or $59 per child to ride downtown and uptown.
4. All-Inclusive Resort
What would Dad call his perfect family reunion destination? The one where he doesn't have to take out his wallet ten times a day. That will be the case at many all-inclusive resorts. If your group travels to a place like Sugar Bay Resort & Spa in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one fee will get your group breakfast, lunch and dinner and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, resort taxes, and tip. It also allows family members to battle one another in beach and pool volleyball, basketball and tennis and non-motorized water sports. Of course, you won't feel so guilty about piling your plate with grilled fish and plantains at practically every meal since your fee also includes access to the fitness center.
Other Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, like Beaches and Breezes offer similar packages. Keep in mind, though, that some include alcoholic beverages in the one fee while others charge extra for alcohol. Most charge additionally for Internet access and in-room movies.
Some resorts also provide special activities for children of all ages. For example, Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos offers pre-teens and teens programs where your young cousins will be treated to amenities like a pizza bar, karaoke and disco, group water sports and a talent show.
Personally I love Sandals Resorts (hint…hint) J
5. Disney Resort
It’s hard to go wrong when you pick a familiar, popular vacation destination such as one of the Disney resorts, which enables participants to get good prices on travel and hotels. The resorts also often cater to reunion groups with special amenities. For example, California's Disneyland offers you an opportunity to book its Big Thunder Ranch for a family barbeque including barbecue chicken, ribs and all the fixin's or to arrange an appearance by costumed Disney characters at a reunion dinner at its on-site restaurants.
The resort will even provide personalized Mickey ears, pins and badges, and photographers are on hand to snap pictures that you can then turn into mugs, T-shirts and other memorabilia.
If you decide to head to Disney World in Florida, the family can take advantage of special services just for you. If your reunion includes eight or more people and you're staying at select Walt Disney World resort hotels, you all will be classified as a Disney Grand Gathering. Everyone in the family will have access to receptions, dinners and gatherings that are only available to your family. These include the Illuminations Dinner and Dessert Reception, a Safari Celebration Dinner, Good Morning Character Breakfast, and a Magical Fireworks Voyage.
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