FAMILY TRAVEL OPTIONS CAN RUN THE GAMUT, from camping expeditions to lavish weekends filled with activities for the youngest infant to the most senior grandparent.
We've compiled a series of deals and packages that will make planning for your clan clients as easy as one-two- three.
Designed to accommodate extended travel groups, Walt Disney World's "Magical Gatherings" (disneyworld.com/magicalgatherings) provides perks to those booking the program. Newly added is the International Dinner and IllumiNations Dessert Reception at Epcot, which gives VIP viewing access to the "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" show. Other insider options include the "Good Morning Character Breakfast" at the Magic Kingdom, a "Safari Celebration Dinner" at Disney's Animal Kingdom and the "Magical Fireworks Voyage," which is an evening cruise on Seven Seas Lagoon, complete with Disney characters and fireworks exploding over Cinderella Castle.
Meanwhile, Adventures by Disney (www.disneytravelagents.com), the international touring program was designed to provide activities and itineraries for family members of all ages and sizes. The program has a spring booking deal with savings of up to $650 per adult and $600 per child when they book select itineraries by May 31, 2008. Destinations included are "Grande España" (Madrid, Seville and Barcelona); "Taste of Tuscany" (Rome and Tuscany); "Path to Pura Vida" (Costa Rica, San Jose, Arenal, Manuel Antonio and Quepos); "Spirit of America" (Philadelphia, Williamsburg and Washington D.C.); "Imperial Cities" (Vienna, Prague and Salzburg) and "Backstage Magic" (Hollywood and Disneyland Resort).
We hear that two-thirds of the escorted Tauck Bridges' (www.tauckbridges.com) collection of trips are designed to accommodate grandparents traveling with grandchildren. (One-third is for grandparents traveling alone with grandkids and the other third involves grandparents traveling with both their children and grandchildren. The final one-third is comprised of parents traveling with young children.)
Tauck says it's been surprised to witness the strong demand for far-flung destinations, including Tanzania and the Galapagos. For 2008, Tauck added four programs: "The Sweet Life: Rome & Sorrento"; "Spanish Adventure: Explorers & Conquistadors"; "Canadian Rockies Family Adventure" and "Patriots of America," which visits Philadelphia, Hershey, Gettysburg, Williamsburg and Washington, DC.
On the hotel front
The Mandarin Oriental, Miami decided to focus on the family market late last year when it launched the "Luxurious Family Package." Rates start a cool $1,248 for two nights in a Family Suite and include such goodies as daily breakfast, access to the Mini MO Club (ages 5 to 12), a welcome amenity for the kids and admission to the Miami Children's Museum for up to two children. Parents are well tended to with access to Casa Casuarina—the former Versace Mansion, a personalized mini-bar with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, a welcome cocktail for adults, pressing of two items and unpacking service. Adult family members, including grandparents, can also indulge in spa, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi lessons. At a separate cost, teenagers 14 years and older can book facials and massages in the spa. Deals for Families
Contact reservations directly at 305-913-8383 or visit Mandarin Oriental, Miami's web site at www.mandarinoriental.com.
We think The Tides Inn's (www.tidesinn.com) "Learn to Sail Vacation Package" would be a terrific bonding opportunity for family members of all agents. The program includes daily expert sailing instruction from the hotel's own sailing school, daily breakfast and lunch for two, and four nights in a deluxe suite. The Tides Inn rests on the waterfront in Irvington on Virginia's Northern Neck (an area dubbed as "Nantucket meets the Hamptons"). There are plenty of other activities at and near the property, including championship golf, tennis, croquet and volleyball.
The Big Island's Fairmont Orchid (www.fairmont.com/orchid) has a "Multi-Generational Family Package," which includes accommodations in five guest rooms at any full published or package rate, with the possibility of an upgrade to a suite for the fifth room so that the family has a venue in which to meet. It's available through December 20, 2008.