New ideas for an old tradition
Family reunions are much more than matching T-shirts and getting that third cousin’s name off the tip of your tongue. Meeting up with seldom-seen relatives is a great time to sit with an elder and ask about his/her life as a kid or learn about the ambitions of a great nephew; time together is what it’s all about. This month, in honor of the upcoming summer family reunion season, we wanted to share a few venue options. Did we miss your favorite? Please let us know.
Solage Calistoga, Calistoga
General manager Richard Hill credits the resort's open and relaxed environment for its family-friendly appeal. “Families may spend a leisurely afternoon together at our designated family pool, enjoy a round of friendly competition at our bocce courts or organize a group biking activity using our complimentary cruiser bicycles. There’s something for everyone.” Besides bocce or shuffleboard, Solage Calistoga also offers a range of fitness activities geared to all ages and fitness levels. And if your family includes canine companions, they are welcome too—their own comfy doggie beds and tasty biscuits supplied. Be sure to request the cottages that can be connected to form your own family compound.
Stats: The resort has 89 freestanding studios ranging from 400 to 700 square feet and three swimming pools, including a family and a spa pool. Kids can play hopscotch while the older generations congregate at the shuffleboard and bocce areas.
Family Plan: Hold the reunion during the summer for added family-ready activities like movie nights, kids' swim lessons and group yoga classes. The resort can even arrange for a family picnic complete with touch football and potato sack races. The separate children’s pool and family cabana are a welcome way to enjoy to the wine country’s balmy climate.
Rooms start at $375. 866.942.7442, solagecalistoga.com
St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point
A luxe O.C. location touted for its manicured grounds and uniquely private beach club (complete with beach butlers), the St. Regis Monarch Beach has been earning major travel magazine awards since opening in 2001. “There are many reasons families enjoy the St. Regis Monarch Beach,” explains Michael Mustafa, marketing director of the resort. “From spending a day on the golf course together to lounging by the pool or creating memories on our private beach in a reserved cabana, there is something for everyone.” Marin’s Michael Mina has a restaurant here too: the Stonehill Tavern is ideal for that family celebratory meal.
Stats: 400 guest rooms and suites on a 400-acre (including golf course) property. 18-hole Monarch Beach Golf Links, three heated pools, private poolside cabanas featuring flat-screen televisions, telephones, fax machines, high-speed Internet access, mini-bars, private safes, tennis, private beach and beach club.
Family Plan: "Family Traditions" includes a discounted nightly rate of $425; guests receive $100 daily resort credit, complimentary dinner and drinks for children 5 and under at Motif, an indoor/outdoor restaurant; 50 percent off concessions for children ages 6–12 at Motif; complimentary drinks for children at the pool bar and grill and a complimentary crib or rollaway.
Rooms start at $505. 949.234.3200, stregismonarchbeach.com
Fairmont Orchid, Big Island
When the economy got a bit shaky for Hawai‘i's tourism in 2008, General Manager Ian Pullan of the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island created a win-win situation with family value. He realized that many of the guests who might have come for their corporate incentive program (formerly the resort's main revenue) were coming back with their families. “The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i is perfect for value-seeking families,” says Pullan. “From our family-friendly Hale Kai Restaurant, which offers ‘ohana (family) plates to our family package that includes guaranteed connecting rooms, to our 20th-anniversary package, which offers 20 percent off food and beverage, spa and recreation charges as well as 20 percent off our best available rate in the ocean view category and higher. Since keiki (children) under 5 dine for free and children under 12 dine for half off, the Fairmont Orchid is a natural fit.”
Stats: 540 guest rooms and suites; 10,000-square-foot swimming pool; white sand lagoon fronting the hotel; 10 tennis courts including an exhibition court, seven lit for evening play; award-winning Francis H. I‘i Brown 36-hole championship golf courses; on-site spa.
Family Plan: Book two rooms at the best available rate and receive full breakfast for four and guaranteed connecting rooms (up to two rooms) and two full-day Keiki Aloha programs.
Rooms start at $339. 808.885.2000, fairmont.com/orchid
The Riviera Resort & Spa, Palm Desert
The Riviera Resort & Spa has just completed a $70 million renovation and is ready to provide big family fun. “The intimate gardens, fire pits and other gathering places around the resort, combined with our multiple guest room configurations to meet the needs of a variety of large families, help to make Riviera Resort & Spa an ideal spot for reunions.” says Ty Brassie, a resort director. “In addition, we are located just a mile from downtown Palm Springs—a hub for many family activities—and can provide transportation to and from the resort.” Keep in mind this would be an ideal non-summer destination unless everyone in the family likes it hot.
Stats: 406 newly remodeled luxurious guest rooms including 97 double-bed rooms and 45 spacious suites; SpaTerre, an 11,000-square-foot retreat; two saline swimming pools surrounded by 12 cabanas; a 19,670-square-foot Grand Ballroom for the big dinner.
Family Plan: The Riviera Family Package includes passes for either the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or Knott's Soak City, pizza and movie (large pizza, soft drinks and in-room movie of choice), daily breakfast, children 12 and under eat free.
Rates: Start at $189 per night, psriviera.com
Hyatt Lake Tahoe
Families have been coming in droves to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe ever since the property (formerly the King’s Castle) was purchased from the Western Teamster Fund back in the late '70s. “We sell picnic baskets at our general store with blankets, amd 18 kinds of s’more kits as well as wine and chocolates,” says Nate Hardesty, a director of the resort. “Another option we have during the summer is use of one of our 10 private beach cabanas where families can get food throughout the day as they relax on the beach and take in the lake views.”
The semiprivate Eagle’s Nest in the lakeside Lone Eagle Grill, which holds up to 40 people, is a popular dining room to rent; if videos and slide shows are involved, lakeside banquet rooms are available.
Stats: 422 guest rooms and 61 suites, including 24 Lakeside Cottages, are set on the 24-acre property. The expansive swim in/out pool is popular regardless of the season and is surrounded by a shallow children’s pool and two outdoor hot tubs. Stillwater Spa, 24-hour casino.
Family Plan: Throughout summer, the property is offering a "Third Night Free" package. Book two nights and receive the third night free.
Rates: Start at $249 in summer, 775.832.1234, laketahoe.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels