4 group-friendly travel destinations for when you’re getting away with all of your friends
Traveling in groups is a great idea because you’re guaranteed to have someone to rub sunscreen on your back or take candid shots of you wistfully gazing out a train window. But to get there, you need to actually choose a destination that is particularly receptive to large groups. Given that hotels across the globe are taking cues from the tiny house trend and cropping up with only a handful of rooms each, that can pose a challenge. But it doesn’t have to.
Dr. Michael Brein, travel psychologist and author of Travel Tales Women Alone: The #MeToo of Travel, notes that destinations popular with large groups will naturally fill up quickly, so you’ll want to book well in advance. This means your ideal group travel spot is under the radar enough that it’s not swarming with other groups, and popular enough that it’s developed a positive track record.
These four destinations are sure to please every member of your group, whether you’re traveling domestically or splurging on an international getaway.
If you took a trip with all your friends and didn’t document it, did you really go? Arizona makes the case for traveling to a destination solely for its jaw-dropping views that translate into all the Likes. Emily Slade, an award-winning travel photographer, arranges bespoke travel experiences for her clients, and singled out Arizona for its top national parks and natural wonders including Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon, “all of which are high on a photographers dream list of places to shoot,” she said.
For a dream-worthy stay, Slade said Miraval Arizona Resort and Spa offers dramatic mountain backdrop and perfect pastel desert sunsets. If you’re not yet ready for your close-up, their on-site beekeeping program and chance to zip line 45 feet above the desert floor are just two of their 120 activities on offer, perfect for all those moments your group is unable to decide on one activity for the day. “The Miraval staff always go above and beyond for their group guests so I trust them,” said Slade.
Many northeasterners have a tradition of migrating down south to Florida with our families during the winter, so carrying on the tradition well into adulthood with inevitably make for a smooth travel transition. According to Kelly Cavers, senior vice president of group sales at Discover The Palm Beaches, The Palm Beaches are a collection of 39 diverse cities and towns spanning 47 miles that blend nature and luxury, complete with countless options for groups.
To travel from city to city, the high-speed rail Brightline seamlessly connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Think of it as the travel version of bar hopping, giving you a taste of each sunny destination.
From historic hotels like The Breakers for more intimate gatherings, to family- and group-friendly oceanfront properties like Tideline Resort and Spa, where you stay is just the beginning. Cavers recommended a group hiking or biking trip along the scenic Palm Beach Lake Trail. Dining options suit every craving and budget, from the Grandview Public Market, a multi-vendor food hall, to fine-dining at Michelin star-rated Mauro Colagreco’s Florie’s restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach. A freshly baked loaf of bread resembling a starfish for the table, anyone?
Since group travel isn’t all fun and games, The Palm Beach County Convention Center caters to large groups within the heart of the city, so you can work hard and play hard later in the city’s Arts and Entertainment District, grabbing a trolley to the iconic waterfront Clematis Street.
For Gregory Fox, founder of Mahlatini Travel, Kenya is a must-visit destination since it’s rife with camps and lodges well-equipped to host groups of all sizes without losing their authenticity.
In particular, he suggested the famed Angama Mara Camp situated high on the Oloololo Escarpment overlooking the endless plains of the Maasai Mara (one of its claim to fames is that it’s where Out of Africa was filmed). While the camp is quite vast, it’s split into a north and south side, allowing you to maintain an intimate vibe even within a large group.
“The trick though is avoiding the throngs of safari vehicles and very large lodges. You want to find an authentic experience, somewhere that can facilitate groups without losing its intimate feel, personalized service and exclusive game-viewing. You can find these camps and lodges in private reserves bordering the famous Maasai Mara and in more northern parks such as the Samburu and Laikipia regions,” Fox said.
According to Fox, South Africa is the most accommodating of large groups out of any country in Africa. “If you’re traveling with friends or on a multi-generational family holiday, we would still recommend going small. By this we mean choosing sole-use camps or lodges or private villas or houses,” he said. This offers the advantage of private chefs and butlers to cater to the unique needs of each member of your group. Properties he recommended include Phinda Homestead, Ellerman Private Villas, Singita Castleton Lodge, Madikwe Safari Lodge and Thornybush Serondella Lodge.
“These properties range in size but in most cases they include a private swimming pool, lounge, fully-equipped kitchen and indoor and outdoor dining areas,” said Fox. “In the case of private homes or villas on safari, the staff will extend to a private safari guide with private vehicle. This allows your family or group to set your own activity schedule providing a flexible program based on your individual wishes.”