Covid-19 Private Resorts

As Restrictions Loosen, Families Travel Far and Spend Big

SOURCE: New York Times – May 19, 2021
By Debra Kamin

Newly vaccinated families are opting for private jets, luxury resorts and guided tours in elaborate new twists on the old-fashioned family reunion.

Jeff Belcher, 41, wouldn’t necessarily have chosen Williamsburg, Va., as the destination for his family’s first vacation since travel restrictions began to ease. But when his extended family decided to travel to the American Revolution-era town for a reunion this summer, he knew that he, his wife and their three children wouldn’t miss it.

Their group of 18, which will include his parents, his sister, his aunt and uncle, and his mother-in-law and sister-in-law, will gather at the end of July and stay in several adjoining rented condos. There are plans to visit historical battlefields, check out the recreations of Jamestown Settlement ships, and enjoy outdoor meals while the family’s youngest generation — eight kids in total — play together after more than a year apart.

Far-flung families are combining traveling and being together — two of the most longed-for practices during more than a year of pandemic lockdowns — into elaborate new twists on the old-fashioned family reunion. In a recent survey by Wyndham Destinations, the nation’s largest timeshare company, 75 percent of respondents said they were planning to travel for a family reunion in 2021; in a March survey from American Express Travel, 71 percent of respondents said they planned to travel to visit loved ones they hadn’t been able to see during the pandemic, and 60 percent said a 2021 family reunion was in the works.

At ÀNI Private Resorts’s property in the Dominican Republic, 11 of the 16 bookings for this summer, which are all property buyouts, are for family reunions. The resort says that’s a 35 percent increase over 2019’s traffic.