Six Secrets for a Great Family Reunion
9/13/2010

The nuts and bolts of planning a family reunion start after a resort is chosen. Luckily, most resorts have staff members who are happy to help with reunions. Still, there are several things to keep in mind:

1. Start early. Six months may be enough lead time, but a year is better, especially if a reunion is planned for July or August. At YMCA of the Rockies' Estes Park Center, it's best to reserve two years in advance—and one family has already booked for the year 2015.

2. Designate one person to be the family representative. For their Colorado reunion, Jill Faskin was the contact for the resort and Mary Beth Solano was the contact for the family. "It eliminated a lot of confusion," Solano says.

3. Ask questions. Find out what's included in the price (of course, always negotiate for a special group rate). Learn what activities are available and make sure they'll be offered when you're there. See if the resort offers baby-sitting. Ask if there will be construction going on. Is the beach sandy or grassy, and does it have a gradual entry or a steep drop-off? Is the ocean surf too rough for small children? Around the Great Lakes, ask if black flies will be around when you are. In Florida, ask if the insects known as no-see-ums are a problem, and whether hurricanes are a threat.  Don't be shy. Forewarned is forearmed.

4. Visit the resort in advance if possible. There's no substitute for seeing it with your own eyes. "You have no idea what it's like till you get there," says Jack Becker of Minneapolis, Nancy Reynolds' husband. "That's what I like about the Internet—at least there are more visuals than you'd see in a brochure."

5. Have a backup plan. Bad weather is always a possibility. Does your group enjoy board games? If not, make sure family members have access to indoor activities they like.

6. Do a little research. Try Family Reunion by Jennifer Crichton (Workman, $13.95), The Family Reunion Planner by Donna Beasley and Donna Carter (Macmillan, $9.95), Family Reunion Handbook: A Complete Guide for Reunion Planners, by Thomas Ninkovich (Reunion Research, $14.99) and Fun and Games for Family Gatherings by Adrienne Anderson (Reunion Research, $12.99). Reunions magazine's Web site, www.reunionsmag.com, includes a list of reunion-friendly destinations plus archived features.<