Caribbean 2013: Resorting to a resort vacation

Taking a break from far flung places this month – I’ll save that for Africa in May. Far flung is pretty hard on the family when you have a two year old and an eighty two year old in tow. Sometimes, you just have to be an all inclusive style of joiner and so, for the greater good, this week, I agreed to captain the ship south and drop anchor at a family beach resort for a week.

In the weeks leading up to vacation, I do smile at the thought of how we’re going to do with this kind of break? My family and I are not what you’d call all inclusive beach resort people – no one plays tennis (anymore, that 82 year old wielded a fierce racket at one time) or golf (nope, never for sure on that one).

Case in point, I remember being in a perfect, beautiful idyllic resort together on Koh Samui, Thailand. Once a backpackers heaven, our resort could only qualify if the backpacker you’re thinking of has a Gucci backpack and likes to experience being misted with Evian by the pool. That eighty two year was turning seventy back then and she demanded to be taken to an island and so an island we found. Being someone who dabbles in a bit of work on the travel side (okay, a lot but please don’t ask me for airfare quotes), there still are some dribbles of the old school perks, mostly found overseas that can take what costs thousands to hundreds. My father had just passed away and well, we were sad and felt we needed a real celebration and decided to try high end living. And so, after a few sweltering, albeit lovely, days in Bangkok, we pulled up at the resort, my poor sister battling the flu and the skies pounding down a tropical rain on our heads.

We were a little off season… the massive bungalow resort was empty and the service level which was already amazing was off the charts. I’d put a glass down and it’d disappear in seconds. We’d order and we’d get extra or 100% customized meals.

But it was still raining and raining and raining more.

After three days of rain and being trapped in the nicest prison one could ever dream of, we broke out. Probably inspired by my sister’s return to health and the fact we’re frankly silly people who cannot be contained in paradise too long. The staff was baffled by us. They offered us a car but we said we’d walk out, even trying to field a stream/river between the resort and the rest of the beach, clearly designed to keep people out, not in. With muddy feet and dripping clothing, off we went for a walk – to a buggy internet hut and a small village. Never were we happier and sadly so pleased with ourselves. We had escaped.

And so you see, being at a beach resort for more than a couple days, makes the family a bit bonkers because we are such amateurs and well, perhaps the Goldilocks family of travelers – too nice makes us itchy, too much eco in our eco resort makes us grumpy and battling the mainstream vacationers from the cities who pour south for school vacation week, well, gets us confused even more. We don’t get up at dawn to horde the best beach chairs, we are late/early to all meals and wander around a lot looking for a nook to set ourselves in and we get our bagels stolen from the toaster machine by more aggressive types.

But, and remember, this is day five I am writing this to you all, we get better at mainstreaming. We chat with others and learn the ropes, we order our wine as soon as we sit down, we let the two year kick just the right amount of sand at the other kids, and most importantly, we (okay, me but don’t judge me for being judgy) figure out there is more than tennis and golf and do yoga looking at the water in the early am.

And what we get in return is magic. My mother dancing with her grandson to the Black Eyed Peas – with an exuberance that only the very young and old have, days and days together in a stress free place (the beach chair hoarding is weird to us but not so stressful in the end). Watching the two year old run into and out of the surf beneath a lovely sunset, letting our cheeks be kissed by trade winds under a cloud free sky.

And okay. I get it. All kinds of lucky families come to places like this to be together, to remember the best of each other and to love one another. If that’s what it means to be a resort person, I’ll take it and be grateful for it. I’ll convert for one week a year and will buckle down to making as many sunshiny memories I can to cherish and warm me up when I fly back to the wintery north.

PS I blame any/all sappiness on an overdose of Vitamin D.