With families often spread across the U.S. and even beyond, multigenerational reunion vacations are soaring in popularity.
In many cases, they're becoming annual events. A survey taken by AAA last June revealed that 36% of its respondents were considering a multigen jaunt during the next year, a 4% boost compared with 2013.
Especially with Hawaii travel tracking strong for 2015, family reunions are a hot ticket for boosting agents' profit margin. Extended families are targeting paradise for such milestones as graduations, birthdays, vow renewals and anniversaries. Both airlines and wholesalers are chipping in to make access easier.
"Hawaii offers something for everyone and can make anyone of any age happy," said Renata da Rosa, travel adviser with Balboa Travel in San Diego. "There are cultural activities and sightseeing, and each island has its own highlights entertaining kids and adults alike."
She adds that nonstop service from West Coast gateways makes it more attractive than flying to many Caribbean and Mexican destinations.
Hawaii's plethora of accommodations offer a good fit for any family. Resorts appeal with indulgent amenities, while vacation condominiums and villas earn nods for homey conveniences.
Among the latter's selling points are size, separate bedrooms for added privacy, no "additional person" charges, living rooms, fully equipped kitchens for prepping meals and snacks, laundry facilities (often in-suite) and hotel-style services and activities.
A group at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay in Kailua-Kona.
Keys to selling big
To cash in on lucrative family reunion group travel, target your message and specialize itineraries so that every age segment will enjoy experiences tailored to their abilities and interests. Read More
With spacious accommodations on four Hawaiian islands, Aston's Condominium Collection
appeases multigen travelers from all angles. On Maui, Aston Kaanapali Shores' year-round Camp Kaanapali engages youngsters ages 5 to 12. The company also offers "Hawaii 5-0" discount rates of 10% for guests 50 and older at select properties.
Tropical Villa Vacations provides a curated collection of beachfront homes, villas and estates across the islands. The 4,000-square-foot, oceanfront Wailea Sunset Estate is a four-bedroom/5 1/2-bath Maui retreat decked out with a hammock, hot tub, pool and wide grass lawn leading to the beach. With varying minimum night requirements, nightly rates are from $1,150.
On a reef-protected bay coveted for snorkeling, the Napili Kai Beach Hotel extends seasonal Keiki Eat Free programs for those 12 and younger, complimentary kids camp, weekly mai tai party and a Family Reunion Package for those reserving four or more units for a minimum of five nights. The resort team organizes everything from "Family Olympics" to tournaments on its 18-hole putting course.
"Our low-key, low-rise ambience appeals to all generations, and we have varied room types to fit different demographics," said Diane Farnsworth, director of guest operations at Napili Kai Beach Hotel.
The resort welcomes the same families year after year, Farnsworth added, with children she met 25 years ago now returning with their own offspring.
Destination Resorts Hawaii features a roster ranging from one-bedroom condos fringing a golf course to five-bedroom penthouses sleeping 16 at Wailea Beach Villas. The Plan Now, Play Later advanced-purchase promotion provides up to 40% in savings when booked at least 60 days in advance.
The kitchen of a Wailea Beach Villas rental.
"Vacation rentals such as private homes, villas and condominiums provide the ideal environment for family reunions," said Donna Wheeler, director of sales and marketing for Destination Resorts Hawaii. "We've had large families rent several adjacent villas so their kids can freely and safely play within the shared spaces."
She added that families staying at different properties will swap hosting dinners, breakfasts and barbecues.
"It allows them to come together while still having their personal space to begin and end each day," she said.
Destination also teams with Travaasa Hana for the More to Maui plan, which combines three nights in a two-bedroom Makena villa with three nights in a Travaasa Hana bungalow suite. Packed with perks, amenities and car rental, the plan is priced from $3,082 for two adults and two children.
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas adds cribs and souvenir baby blankets to its signature Heavenly sleeping mix. Adjoining one-bedroom villas can be configured into a two-bedroom villa that maintains privacy. The property will also stock kitchens with customized items.
"The Westin Princeville really lends itself to multigenerational travel through our amenities," said Denise Wardlow, general manager. "Families can spend time in our four refreshing pools by day and enjoy a barbecue under the stars in the evenings."
While adults enjoy a Westin workout, children ages 5 to 12 can hang at the Westin Kids Club. Those 3 and younger eat free, while ages 4 to 12 receive a 50% discount for regular menu items with a paying accompanying adult per child.
Resorts and hotels
From megapools to posh spas, many of Hawaii's resorts and hotels also feature suites geared to families. Grandparents can reserve hotel rooms if they prefer to be a bit removed from the wee ones.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa offers a variety of activities for children.
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa offers 351 traditional hotel rooms and 481 two-bedroom villas in two towers.
"Our unique benefit is that there is truly something for everyone in the family," said Danielle Harney, regional sales director for Disney Destinations. "Kids can enjoy complimentary activities at Aunty's Beach House while adults slip away to relax at Laniwai Spa. Then they can join together at our Waikolohe Valley pools."
As expected, reunions at Trump Hotel Waikiki are privy to exemplary customer service. Guests with tots in tow enjoy baby-proofed rooms featuring wooden cribs with plush linens, baby bath tubs with tear-free soaps and wipes, monitors, bottle warmers, diaper genie and swimmer diapers at the pool — all complimentary.
"It starts with each child receiving a personalized welcome letter; not a copy of what their parents receive, but one meant to impart our warmest welcome to the children of our guests," said John Votsis, director of sales and marketing. "The thoughtfulness continues with age-specific welcome amenities for preteens and teens, and child-size robes and slippers."
The recently redesigned Lokelani and Maile suites at the Four Seasons Resort Maui are appointed with more than 5,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor living space. Parents can travel light since complimentary amenities and services include diapers, wipes, baby swings, strollers, cribs and toys. Other touches include a game room for tweens and teens, free meals for ages 5 and younger and a Kids for All Seasons program for ages 5 to 12.
Adjacent to Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, the two-story Grand Wailea Hoolei Villas merges the space and freedom of a private residence with the resort's ample amenities, including the 25,700-square-foot Wailea Canyon Activity Pool.
The Ohana Suite package at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa indulges up to seven with daily minivan rental, breakfast (two adults and two children under 12) and valet parking on a minimum three-night stay.
With 50 connecting rooms and a slew of complimentary cultural activities, the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay includes everything from oceanfront yoga, lei making and ukulele lessons to guided cultural tours.
"Our cultural program is top-notch for families, especially with our location next to sacred Kaukulaelae heiau, an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and King Kamehameha III's birthplace," said Sean McNamara, director of sales for the Sheraton Kona.
A 17-room boutique hotel and spa, the Hawaii Island Retreat is perched on 70 acres along the North Kohala coast overlooking the ocean. Its intimate size is ideal for family reunion buyouts. This summer, the property will offer a 30% discount on all family packages of four nights or more.
With 369 one- and two-bedroom suites in the heart of Waikiki's action, Embassy Suites-Waikiki Beach Walk caters to families with complimentary, made-to-order breakfast and evening poolside receptions. A new Fun, Sun and Trolley Run package offers $200 in savings on activities, a day of beach gear use and two days of unlimited Waikiki Trolley ridership. Nightly rates are from $319 on a four-night minimum stay.
The original version of this article incorrectly included a promotion at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, for a 50% discount on a second booked room. Disney said that no such promotion ever existed.