How to Plan a Family Reunion

First image...
Tuscany's Borgo Finocchieto and (top right) how to bring everyone to the table.

Family Reunions

A Virtuoso traveler and travel advisor share their secrets to success.

Share
Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island.

Originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.

In the summer of 2015, following a two-year planning process, Virtuoso travel advisor Suzanne Bouldoukian helped Virtuoso travelers Lynne and Perry Pelos pull off a wildly successful multi-gen gathering at a private Tuscan village for 42 of the couple’s nearest and dearest. Here, Suzanne and Lynne share their secrets on crafting your own family reunion for the ages.
 
  • Determine the type of gath­ering you want: for example, large versus intimate, active versus relaxed, all-reunion-relat­ed versus private time built in.
  • Give family members plenty of time to clear their calendars. 
  • Work with a travel advisor, who can guide you through the myriad details regarding bud­get, locale, events, etcetera.
  • Elect a single decision maker for the family: someone who’s in tune with their desires and needs. The travel advisor then takes the decision maker’s guidance and turns it into a dream family reunion.
  • Maintain communication be­tween the family contact and travel advisor to ensure you’re on the same page at all times.
  • “Test drive” the property and surrounding area. Get a feel for which local guides and activi­ties will fit your family.
  • Hire a local professional pho­tographer for a day or two, to take the requisite group photo and capture family members in candid shots. These will be your favorite pics.
  • Don’t put off your reunion. Start planning your gathering while older family members are still in good health and able to travel.

Have Family, Will Travel
Where to corral your clan on your next reunion.
 
RENT A VILLA (OR A VILLAGE)
Villas often provide pools, well-equipped kitchens, and plenty of space. Villas of Distinction elevates the experience with drivers, luggage transfers, and private chefs. Among its global offerings: Tuscan estates, Proven├žal farmhouses, and villas in Mexico, Hawaii, the continental U.S., and more.

Another option: Live like locals in Lon­don in a three-bedroom town house or take in L.A. from a five-bedroom estate atop Mulholland Drive. Onefinestay’s “unhotel” city sojourns include iPhones for local calls and easy navigation.
 
CONSIDER A HOTEL STAY
Responding to the growing demand for group lodging, many hotels now offer larger accommodations that include all the amenities of a resort. Opening in 2016 in the Caribbean, for example, at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman: an 11-bedroom suite, the largest in the region. Or consider Four Seasons Resort Nevis, where families have a choice of more than 45 villas – all with kitchens, most with pools.
 
SPLURGE ON A PRIVATE ISLAND
With accommodations that can sleep 34, Necker Island – Virgin Group founder Rich­ard Branson’s family digs in the British Virgin Islands – is ideal for multi-gen gatherings.
 
CHOOSE A CRUISE
Available on six Norwegian Cruise Line ships, three-bedroom Garden Villas sleep up to eight in The Haven, a secluded “ship within a ship” area with 24-hour butler ser­vice, dedicated concierges, and a secluded courtyard – perfect for a close family.

Smaller ships such as Silversea CruisesSilver Explorer and SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I and II allow larger groups to book an entire deck. Or charter French Country Waterways’ 18-passenger Esprit canal barge for a cruise through Burgundy’s renowned wine region.