30 GREAT PLACES FOR A FAMILY REUNION
IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE CARIBBEAN
All of these resorts have room for several generations to spread out comfortably, as well as attractions on-site or nearby that appeal to varying age groups. Almost all also have meeting or dining rooms that your clan can take over. Word of advice: If your group is big, try bargaining for a better rate.
Denali National Park Wilderness Centers Denali National Park; 907/683-2290, fax 907/683-1568; www.campdenali.com; minimum three-night stay from $1,125 per person, double occupancy; kids under 12 from $855 (all meals included). THE SETUP A 17-room lodge and 15-cabin encampment nearly 100 miles into a sub-Arctic national park. WHO TO BRING Kinfolk who'll appreciate wildlife dramas such as grizzlies tussling and caribous calving, meals of Arctic grayling and tundra-grown blueberries, and glimpses of Mount McKinley from just about every vantage, including the peepholes cut into the doors of the privies out back.
Enchantment Resort Sedona; 800/826-4180 or 520/282-2900, fax 520/282-9249; www.enchantmentresort.com; rooms from $350. THE SETUP A scattering of casitas and haciendas (with a total capacity of 952 people) modeled after ancient cliff dwellings, in a red-rock canyon where, according to local Native American legend, mankind was first born. GET WITH THE SPIRIT Hear fireside retellings of regional myths, performed on weekend evenings by a member of the Havasupai tribe. By day, send the kids to carve kachina dolls in the Camp Coyote program, while adults forget old squabbles beneath Anasazi Herbal Sweat Wraps at a new adobe spa.
Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort Solvang; 800/425-4725 or 805/688-6411, fax 805/688-2510; www.alisal.com; suites from $450; kids 3—5 $45, 6 and up $75 (breakfast and dinner included). THE SETUP A 10,000-acre working cattle ranch with 73 TV-free cottages. WAYS TO REVEL IN FAMILIAL LOVE Help each other cross over snags on a mountainside ropes course. Take lessons in country line dancing, or adopt a burro at the petting zoo, collaborating on its feeding and grooming. Individualists, meanwhile, can sail solo around a 100-acre lake casting for bluegills, and drinking-age revelers can go for tastings at wineries.
GOOD DEAL: Asilomar Conference Grounds Pacific Grove; 831/372-8016, fax 831/372-7227; www.visitasilomar.com; family of four from $185 (breakfast included). THE SETUP Twenty-eight shingle-and-fieldstone lodges along a mile of white-quartz dunes, built as a YWCA retreat in the 1910's. REENACT CHILDHOOD Assemble your siblings under a single homey roof again—the lodges hold from three to 56 bedrooms apiece. Reminisce about summer camp in the dining hall, and at the beach, reflect on nature's own strong family ties—a monogamous shorebird called the black oystercatcher can often be seen training its offspring in the art of shellfish shucking.
Sorensen's Resort Hope Valley, Calif.; 800/423-9949 or 530/694-2203; www.sorensensresort.com; cabins for four from $105. THE SETUP Once a shepherd's summer grazing outpost, now 31 eclectic cabins (from studios to three-bedroom units), including a log-for-log replica of a 13th-century Norwegian granary. BUILD MUSCLE MASS TOGETHER In the winter, snowshoes, sleds, and cross-country skis are recommended gear at Sorensen's and at the nearby Lake Tahoe resorts. In summer, hike the unpopulated Sierra Nevada (barely a person per square mile lives in this county) and pay homage to brave pioneer families—the trails still bear gouges from Conestoga wheels.
GOOD DEAL: Blue Lake Ranch Hesperus; 888/258-3525 or 970/385-4537, fax 970/385-4088; www.bluelakeranch.com; doubles from $75, casitas and cabins from $105; kids of any age $25 (breakfast included). THE SETUP A 1910 homestead, expanded with casitas, cabins, and a meeting barn for up to 49 guests, with room designs ranging from Victorian to Navajo. LEARN ABOUT LAND STEWARDSHIP Ask the owners how they nurtured the property from a cattle pasture into oak and piñon groves, berry patches, and riotous flowerbeds. Before your morning hike into the Plata Mountains, tuck into Norwegian French toast casserole with the ranch's own blackberry-rhubarb jam.
Vista Verde Ranch Steamboat Springs; 800/526-7433 or 970/879-3858, fax 970/879-6814; in summer, from $2,150 a week per person; kids under 11 from $1,550 (all meals included). THE SETUP A lodge and a dozen log cabins, all with woodstoves and hot tubs, for a ranch-wide capacity of about 45. CHANGE ELEVATIONS OFTEN From this 7,800-foot altitude, "kid wranglers" will whisk your littlest ones downhill to pan for gold while the grown-ups herd cattle to pastureland uphill (summer), telemark down 10,000-foot peaks (winter), or soar over the Continental Divide in hot-air balloons (year-round).
Home Ranch Clark, Colo.; 970/879-1780, fax 970/879-1795; www.homeranch.com; family of four from $8680, summer weekly rate only; (all meals included). No children under six allowed. THE SETUP A Relais & Châteaux lodge that can hold up to 50 in its six rooms, and eight cabins with numerous kid-friendly lofts inside. Welcome to ranching at its most luxurious. COMMUNE ON HORSEBACK In summer, world-renowned horse whisperers come here to give seminars on everything from constructing saddles to gentling foals. In winter, cross-country ski through the ranch's aspen groves or take the ranch's shuttles to the extraordinary downhill slopes at Steamboat Springs.
Casa Ybel Resort Sanibel Island; 800/276-4753 or 941/472-3145, fax 941/472-2109; www.casaybelresort.com; family of four from $225. THE SETUP A copy of a gingerbread Victorian mansion surrounded by new Gulf-front condo complexes containing 117 one- or two-bedroom suites. BE SENTIMENTAL TOGETHER Watching the weddings in progress during your stay will make you feel mushy about your marriage all over again. The resort has remained a popular knot-tying spot since a minister founded it more than a century ago, and couples now regularly take the proverbial plunge by jumping into the Olympic-sized pool. Kids can race crabs by day and gorge on popcorn and movies by night in the Casa Kids Club program.
GOOD DEAL: South Seas Resort Captiva Island; 800/237-3102 or 941/472-5111, fax 941/481-4947; www.south-seas-resort.com; doubles from $240; kids under 16 free. THE SETUP A Key lime plantation turned vacationers' spread, with 330 acres and 600 units of up to three bedrooms apiece. PICK A HUB Scout the resort's six restaurants, 18 swimming pools, and 18 tennis courts, and choose a gathering spot for your relatives. Then allow for occasional family dispersal: rent bikes for rides along mangrove bayous, and charter a pontoon to hunt for rare junonia seashells on deserted islands.