Planning your family reunion at a Minnesota resort

Anyone who has ever planned a large group vacation will tell you there are some pitfalls to being the planner. The family reunion planner has an even greater degree of difficulty because it involves family! Jay and I are starting our 26th season at Wildwood Resort and over the years we have developed some thoughts about what works and what doesn’t work when planning a group MN resort vacation. So here are some suggestions to consider when planning your family reunion at a beautiful, family resort in Minnesota.

family reunions make happy families

Family reunions are a wonderful way for the generations to mix!

Start planning early…

Most Minnesota resorts book their prime summer weeks a year in advance. It’s a good idea to contact the properties in which you have an interest to see what their booking policy is so you know how far in advance to plan. It’s also a good idea to speak with those properties about what time of year they usually have multiple cabin openings. For example, at Wildwood we have a very regular clientele so we do not often have multiple cabin openings in July. As you begin planning ask the properties if there is a time of year that you should target if you are looking to book multiple cabins.

Do your research so you know how early you need to start planning your next family reunion!

Choose the right property for your family reunion

Prior to making a resort choice, have a disussion the groups’ lodging needs. Not all family members want to share cabins and/or bedrooms. Who wants their own unit? Those with campers may want a resort that has both campsites and cabins. If members of the family will be sharing accommodations, consider the needs of different age groups. For instance, a couple with young kids probably will not be happy sharing a cabin with young adults who stay up late. Does anyone need a handicapped accessible unit? Or are there group members who require a pet-friendly resort?

Consider the wants of the group when choosing a property for your family reunion. Kid-friendly? Kid-free? Close to town? Pet-friendly?

We like to say that there is a resort in Minnesota for everyone! Each resort in Minnesota has a different emphasis and feel so consider the “type” of resort vacation you’re after. For example, do not choose a resort on Lake of the Woods that caters to serious anglers if you are going to have families with kids who will want playgrounds, a beach and kids’ activities. Similarly, do not book a MN resort that caters to families if your group is looking for a quiet, kid-free get-away. Also consider the group’s need for proximity to shopping, restaurants, entertainment or medical care before booking a resort.

Know your target dates

I always feel badly for the person planning for a family reunion. Family schedules today are HECTIC so if there are multiple families with kids involved then things get dicey! Decide as a group what length of vacation you are seeking. For example, many Minnesota resorts book by the week in the summer so if you are looking for a long weekend in July just know that it might be a harder order to fill. Ask each of the families involved in your group vacation to give you multiple dates that will work for them so you have the most options possible. Keep in mind that if the intended group is large then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to find dates that work for every family you’d like included. Know that at some point you may have to choose dates that exclude people just to keep the plan for your family reunion moving forward. It is also a good idea to have a few properties picked out as possible MN vacation destinations rather than zeroing in on just one. It’s hard enough to sync up schedules and if you are fixed on one specific resort for your family reunion your options are further limited. Online availability is a helpful tool in pre-planning!

Keeping your dates as flexible as possible makes booking a group vacation at a Minnesota resort much easier!

Group of people spending time together

Know your budget

(5) Know your budget – There are many things that impact the price of a resort vacation including location, time of year, type of accommodations, and length of stay. For most resorts in Minnesota the end of June through the first or second week of August are prime rate weeks. That’s because demand for MN summer vacations are the highest at that time of year. If you’re planning a group fishing trip to a lake that’s well-known for great Minnesota fishing then rates might be higher on Fishing Opener weekend than they would be in mid-July. Most importantly, know what price range your group wants to be in and try to keep that in mind as you plan. Savings can often be found by families sharing a cabin and preparing meals rather than eating out or choosing off-peak timeframes.

Grandpa and grandson headed at family reunion

Time of Year Matters

(6) Time of year matters – Think about what is most important to the vacationers in your group and pick your vacation time accordingly. For example, if your group is mostly adults who want to catch fish then target spring or fall to get great fishing and more affordable rates. If your group is looking for traditional family summer vacation then target end-of-June through the beginning of August and know that you likely will pay top dollar for peak vacation time.

Align the timeframe of your trip with the group goals for a successful family reunion week. If catching fish is the goal, target spring and fall for more favorable weather and affordable rates.

Plan for personal space in your family reunion

I love my family completely with my whole heart. We often spend family vacations together and that means tat we are usually together for many days at a time including travel time. Because we aren’t together regularly, negotiating through vacation weeks spent in close quarters can get interesting! We see the same thing in our families who vacation at Wildwood. Sometimes the group is made up of “Friday night friends” who usually do something together on the weekend but have never spent a lot of time together. Other groups are made up of families who don’t generally live in each other’s pockets. Both situations can create tension. Encourage your group to be honest about expectations and the need for space. Sometimes enjoyment of the week can be enhanced with an opportunity to escape the group dynamic through personal space or private family time. While it’s tempting to share a cabin to save money it can cost you on the personal side in terms of lack of privacy.

relaxing on a minnesota family reunion vacation

Allowing for personal space or private family time is crucial to successful group vacations!

Hopefully you picked up a tip or two that will help you plan your next family or group vacation! We love our life at Wildwood because we get a lot of joy providing the place where Minnesota family vacations happen. If you are still hoping to get your family or friends together this summer we do still have some 2024 openings that might fit the bill. We’d love for you to check us out if you haven’t already!

Bring on summer!!
Kim & Jay

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