Traveling as a group of friends is wonderful fun. Spending time at an all inclusive where you can spend the days not worrying about who is doing the cooking, the cleaning, the picking up of the check, that is pure paradise.
Of course, you will want to gather at the end of every fun filled day and dine together and share the stories of each of your adventures.
If there are more than 6 or 8 of you together that may be harder than it sounds.
All inclusive resorts usually have several specialty alacarte restaurants. Some resorts require reservations to dine in those restaurants, some allow you to just walk up and take an available table. Usually they will only seat up to 6 people at a time at a single table.
If you and your 25 friends want to eat together, it’s going to take some work and planning.
Many resorts will work with you in advance to have one dinner together without additional charge. Another idea would be to break up into smaller groups and make reservations together that way. The sure fire way to dine together is to arrange and pay for a private event. Why would this cost extra at an all inclusive? Because of the staffing. When you have a private event, the resort has to have extra staff on duty to see to the needs of the group. The cost won’t be as much as if you were at a normal hotel, but it won’t be free either.
The time of year you’re traveling makes a difference too. The resort is able to be much more flexible if you’re traveling during a time of year when they’re only expecting to be half full. If you’re traveling during high season, though, they won’t have quite so many options open to them.
If the resort will do one group dinner for you free of charge, perhaps have blocks of reservations for small groups within your group, then have your group dinner on the last night.
Have you traveled as part of a big group? What did you do about the dining reservations?
I am writing this post from the balcony of my oceanfront room at Iberostar Grand Paraiso in the beautiful Riviera Maya, Mexico. I have stayed at this resort two other times but this is the only time I’ve had an oceanfront room. (When traveling as an agent as a guest of the resort, one happily accepts the room one is assigned.)
I have spent many hours on this trip parked out under a palapa on a lounge chair having my hours of leisure reading interrupted by an occasional dip in the Caribbean Sea. The beach butler also intruded from time to time.
As I walk through the resort to find wireless signal to check on the office I have to walk past the main pool. There are many more people at the pool than at the beach. There are also countless more people actually in the pool than there are actually in the ocean. I would wager, however, that almost every person in and around the pool asked about the beach quality when choosing this resort.
Almost 100% of people we talk to ask about the beach itself when choosing a resort. Many of those same people barely spend any time there.
What makes so many more people spend their time at the pool when they’re in a beach destination? I would guess it has to do with proximity to the pool bar, lack of wildlife in the pool, and the fact that walking to and from the pool doesn’t involve getting all sandy. (Which is also ironic because getting ones toes in the sand is one of the thing people fantasize about when anticipating a vacation.)
Part of choosing the right vacation is knowing what kind of vacation you actually want. Are you pool centric or are you beach centric? Which is actually more important to you? Do you know?
If you’re one of the many many people who spend their vacation days at the pool rather than the beach, then stop agonizing over how long the beach is and how soft the sand it. Concentrate on the pool.
Where do you stand on the pool / beach issue? Tell me in the comments.
You’re visiting over drinks or gathered around a backyard barbecue. Someone starts talking about a vacation they took, or one they want to take. Someone else takes an interest in the same trip. Before you know it, the whole group has decided to take a trip together.
The biggest challenge with a group trip is finding common ground. You have to somehow find common ground with schedules, finances, destination, resort and activities. Where do you start?
One Leader: As quickly as possible, designate one person to spearhead this project. Every project needs a leader. If everyone moves in different directions, the trip will never happen. Be sure to identify a leader who is enthusiastic about the trip and who communicates well and is well organized. If you don’t, the plans for a trip will quickly become a multi-headed beast out of control. The designated leader will be responsible for finding consensus among the group members (as much as possible). The leader will also gather information about trip options and disseminate that information to trip members. Basically, this person will be the point person spearheading the trip.
Schedules: Everyone’s lives are crazy. Between kid activities, work commitments and just life in general, it is hard to carve out time for fun and adventure. One of the first orders of business will be to pull out calendars and figure out the best time to go. Be prepared that some people that really want to go may be unable to find time to go. That’s life.
Finances: This is probably the biggest stumbling block in the way of a trip coming to fruition. For one thing, different people and families have different finances. People are able to afford different things, and willing to settle for different things. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but there needs to be consensus about a budget guideline for the trip. This will prevent the frustration of the group leader suggesting trips to the group that would be impossible to take. It’s much better to find out at the beginning of the process.
Another financial consideration has to do with if different parties will room rogether. Let’s say there are two singles and they decide to be roommates. Or, for instance, one family has 3 kids and the resort will only allow 2 adults and 2 kids in one room so, at least on paper, they put their third kid in with a familiy who only has one kid. If you’re in the same booking, your finances are going to mingle and the actions of the others in the booking can impact you financially. If the other party cancels, it’s going to affect your price. If the other party wants to change dates, it’s going to affect your price. If the other party can’t make their final payment when it is due, it could affect you.
To book as a group..or to not book as a group..that is the question: This relates to the finance issue above. Booking as a group in the traditional way means that everyone is in the same booking and (hopefully) everyone pays their part of the booking. Everyone books at the same time, everyone goes the same dates and everyone pays the same price.
What we’ve found out is that booking as a group in the traditional sense doesn’t really work out very well for many groups. For one thing, the actions of one person can affect everyone else financially and that isn’t fair. For another thing, it is a very rare group that is all ready to book at the same time.
Fortunately we work with suppliers who understand this. We have the ability to give everyone the advantages of booking as a group without the hassles. We do this through the use of a code for each booking. This code pulls the bookings together and usually provides a group discount as well.
Budgeting: Different families can afford different things. Be prepared for the possibility that some won’t be able to go because they will need a lower priced trip. Either the whole group can stay at a lesser resort or perhaps those with the lower budget could stay a shorter duration.
Consensus: Be prepared that you may not achieve 100% consensus. Your group may not all agree on where to go, when to go, or what to spend. There may come a point where you have to say “We’re doing this. We’d love you to join us if you can.” You’ll be suprised at how well that works.