How indie resorts make the most of family vacations
How indie resorts make the most of family vacations
21 MARCH 2018 12:39 PM

By providing a variety of amenities and activities, independent hotels are able to increase on-property spending from multigenerational family vacations.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—When multiple generations travel together for family vacations, it can be a challenge to meet all of their wants and needs at the same time. But some independent resorts have had success attracting and catering to those guests so that they come back for repeat stays.

The secret, hoteliers at these properties said, is variety.

The Resort at Paws Up in the mountains of Greenough, Montana, offers family activities ranging from glamping to horseback riding, as well as workshops and spa offerings.

Larry Lipson, owner of The Resort at Paws Up, said family-focused trips make up 75% of business at the property, with 25% coming from multigenerational trips and 50% coming from family vacations. 

“We offer a variety of accommodations, including luxury tented accommodations seasonally, which are subject to full camp buy-outs, or year-round luxury home accommodations, which can house up to eight guests at a time,” he said. “If families are looking to stay in our home accommodation and have more than eight guests in their group, we can place them in two-plus accommodations that are right next to each other … some that are a stone’s throw away or some that even share the same driveway.”

The resort also creates memorable experiences that bring families back for repeat stays, Lipson said.

“It’s all about delivering those ‘wow’ moments throughout a guest’s stay and creating lifelong memories,” he said. “Our team is always looking for ways that we can go the extra mile for our guests.”

The Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Florida, will reopen 30 March after a six-month closure due to damage from Hurricane Irma. Shown here is a rendering of a new pool in the works. (Rendering: Cheeca Lodge & Spa)

Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Florida, normally hosts multigenerational family vacations year-round, but this year was a bit different since the hotel has been closed for six months because of Hurricane Irma, said Rhonda Whitfield, director of sales and marketing.

The hotel will reopen on 30 March following a $25-million renovation and will have a beachside pool for families to enjoy opening in May.

Whitfield said the property has become a “home away from home” for a lot of families booking repeat stays.

“We recognize our repeat guests by name and always greet them with ‘welcome home,’” she said. “By providing engaging programming … and an appealing variety of culinary offerings to please nearly every palate, Cheeca makes family vacations easy.”

Programming at the resort includes Camp Cheeca for children and Guest Adventures, which features game rooms, bicycles, watersports options and more.

Increased spending
In addition to repeat bookings, Cheeca Lodge benefits from increased on-property spending by these larger groups because of its range of activities and amenities, Whitfield said.

“With the addition of a resort scuba program and scooter rentals after our reopening, we are expanding our selection even more,” she said.

The Resort at Paws Up has also found ways to encourage more on-property spending from its family groups by adding fees for guided activities, which appeal the most to groups, and through fees for private activities, such as cattle drives and rafting on the Blackfoot River, Lipson said. He added that private dining areas also are big selling points for large families.

The Mohonk Mountain House located in New Paltz, New York. (Photo: Mohonk Mountain House)

At the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, some families have made an annual vacation out of staying at the resort, GM Eric Gullickson said.

Many multigenerational family groups spend time at the spa at Mohonk, he said, which brings in additional business for the hotel and has other special activities for families to participate in. 

“Families can choose to enhance their visit with tailored private events such as custom scavenger hunts, campfires with s’mores and guided hikes,” he said. “Additionally, they can reserve private gathering rooms for birthdays and other celebrations with a private bar or food-and-beverage offerings.”

Mohonk’s variety of activities keep most families onsite for the duration of their trip, Gullickson said.

“Since our overnight stays include daily meals, there’s no reason to leave the resort unless you wish to explore the nearby towns,” he said.

The Cloister at Sea Island has been around for about 90 years and has been a tradition for many families for decades, said Merry Tipton, director of marketing communication at The Cloister at Sea Island.

“Family gatherings tend to repeat, so we experience high repeat rates, with families returning year after year,” she said. “This is due in part to the exceptional level and variety of experiences, service and our natural setting.”

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