As Restrictions Loosen, Families Travel Far and Spend Big

Properties geared towards large gatherings are feeling the gust of wind. At Woodloch, a family resort in Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains, multi-generation travel has always been the be-all and end-all. However, bookings for 2021 have already surpassed 2019 with currently 117 reservations (a total of 162 bookings were made in 2019). “Demand is stronger than ever,” said Rory O’Fee, Woodloch’s director of marketing.

Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which has five hotels in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Jamaica, has already booked 506 family reunions in 2021, which corresponds to a turnover of USD 2.47 million. There were only 368 events valued at around $ 1.31 million for the entire 2019 calendar year. According to Club Med, 16 percent of bookings in 2021 are cross-generational, compared with 3 percent in 2019.

Guided tours are also becoming increasingly popular with families looking to reunite: Guy Young, President of Insight Vacations, has launched several new small private group tours that can be booked for just 12 people and include a private bus and travel director, noting that extended families accounted for 20 percent of his business in March and April, compared to a prepandemic average of 8 percent. “When we came out of Covid and the families were separated for many months, the demand for multi-generation family travel increased significantly,” he said.

Mr Belcher hopes that his family’s reunification trip to Williamsburg, which will require nearly a nine-hour drive from his Livonia, Michigan home, will provide an opportunity to ease some of the tension that has built up over the past year. Mr Belcher and his wife Stephanie, a finance educator, have strictly dealt with the wearing of masks for themselves and their children, who are 9, 5 and nearly 6 months old. Other family members were more relaxed, which is one of the reasons they spent so many months apart. “I hope to make some memories after Covid and hopefully leave some of it behind,” Belcher said, noting that all adults attending the reunion will be vaccinated and as long as there are no more strangers in the room their children can like the adults are exposed at indoor family events. “Before all of this happened, we were a very close family.”

When you travel together, families also have the opportunity to reconnect offline after many months of Skype and screen time.

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