stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
The easy way to travel as a single-parent family
space
Planning a vacation as a solo parent is tough, but all-inclusive resorts are one route to a hassle-free vacation
space
By CORI HOWARD
Special to The Globe and Mail
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – Page A14

As any parent will tell you, it's not easy to find and plan trips that satisfy the desires of both adults and kids. As a single parent, it gets that much harder.

For starters, you're the only adult around to deal with planning and on-the-ground logistics, and you're the only one responsible if things go awry.

So after an adventure to Costa Rica last year, where I had organized everything and ended up exhausted, I craved a vacation where I could relax and have someone else take care of all the details. And, I wanted a deal. My kids, 17 and 14, wanted, in order of importance: other teenagers, WiFi, cool things to do with other teenagers.

An all-inclusive trip seemed like an obvious answer, but one I'd never seriously considered - until I discovered that a growing number of resorts and tour operators have begun catering to single parents such as me. According to 2016 census data, more than a million Canadian children live in a single-parent household. That's a lot of families, and a big market to tap. Sunwing, Transat and Air Canada Vacations now offer single-parent packages at all-inclusive resorts across the Caribbean and Mexico. Besides waiving the usual double-occupancy fee, which previously meant single parents would be forced to pay more whether they shared a room with their kids or not, these packages also include a variety of deals on excursions and activities.

Sometimes, this could mean savings of up to $1,000 on a weeklong vacation.

Outside of all-inclusives, tour operators such as Intrepid Travel and Explore market more adventurous group escapes in far-flung destinations such as Morocco, India or Costa Rica, specifically for parents travelling solo with kids.

At no additional cost, their cultural immersion tours offer travellers a small-group experience with other solo parents and children to hang out with. About 16 per cent of Intrepid's family bookings are from single-parent households, and the company is getting an increasing number of requests and inquiries about the trips.

"You only need to look at family holiday packages widely advertised by the travel industry to see they cater to two parents and two children," said Dyan McKie, brand manager for family adventures at Intrepid Travel, and a single mom herself. "In many ways, this assumption is archaic and doesn't reflect today's families.

The travel industry caters to so many niche groups, but solo parents have been ignored for too long."

David Gallie, a Flight Centre destination manager in Canada, is also seeing this growing trend as the market catches up with the shifting concept of the family unit. "In the last few years, we have seen our suppliers and partners changing their perceptions and programs to accommodate single parent, multigenerational and larger-than-average families," Gallie said.

Velas Resorts is one operator that has been at the forefront of the trend. The collection of luxury all-inclusive resorts in Mexico launched its first single parent promotion in 2010. "The idea is, on the one hand, to offer activities that foster quality time together and on the other hand, to have services and facilities that make it easy for single parents to have time to themselves while the kids are having fun," said Juan Vela Ruiz, vice-president of Velas Resorts.

For my vacation, I chose the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, just outside of Playa del Carmen, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and another resort close by called Barcelo Maya Caribe; both cater to single parents, but I worried about a lot of things: my kids' safety, whether I would ever see them given the plethora of things to do with other teens, whether there would be other single parents there to connect with and whether there would be places to be out at night alone, without it being awkward and without having to talk to other adults if I didn't want to.

Of course, like most fears, all were unfounded. Grand Velas is located off the Cancun highway, about a kilometre down a jungle road and past a tightly controlled security gate. Safety quickly dropped off the list of concerns. While the property itself is massive, the hotel area - including the walkways, pool area and teen club - is small enough that my kids could easily roam freely and yet find me easily when they wanted to.

Within half an hour of arriving, we were in the oceanfront pool, sipping margaritas (me) and virgin cocktails (my kids). My teens were both happy to sit at the pool all day, with a break for some jet skiing and kayaking. They were tended to constantly by servers bringing over a variety of food and drink. To be honest, my daughter spent most of her time taking photos for her Instagram feed, and my son was reading, napping and FaceTiming with friends back home. But still, we were together.

When they needed a break from me, they went to the new teen lounge: a large, beautifully appointed, air-conditioned room with a pool table, Ping-Pong, air hockey, video-game consoles, a drinks bar, food service, karaoke and TVs with sports programs and music videos. Nights involved getting dressed up for delicious dinners and then engaging in those long conversations - at times difficult, but also funny and entertaining - that only seem to happen when you're away from home. We were astonished by the quality of the food - in particular at Cocina de Autor, the first restaurant at an all-inclusive in the world to be given the prestigious Five Diamond rating by the American Automobile Association (AAA) - and the novelty of not having a tab at the end of a highend meal never got old.

Down the highway at Barcelo Maya Caribe, things felt decidedly different. The property boasts five hotels connected by a seaside boardwalk. It has its own mall, double-decker shuttle buses and a dozen restaurants. But it, too, felt completely safe for my kids to wander day and night. The suite came with 24-hour room service, a hot tub on the deck and a separate bedroom. My kids loved it: They spent their days swimming at one of the 10 pools, playing Ping-Pong and basketball or sailing, snorkelling and banana-boating. The activities were endless, and yet, I was surprised at how much time I got to spend with them. I anchored myself on the beach and they circled around me like the pelicans flying overhead.

As with Grand Velas, we were together for dinner every night.

There was nighttime entertainment as well (shows, a teen club, karaoke), but my kids were usually too tired and came back to the room with me. Shocking - and not something I would have done at their age.

Their exhaustion did mean I didn't have to go to the bar alone in a place that seemed full of extended families and couples. Instead, I was happy to sit on the deck of my room, with the warm evening air and the view of palm trees and ocean. Turns out, going on a single-parent vacation package doesn't prevent you from facing the fact that you are an anomaly in a world of seemingly intact families and happy couples.

But what it does offer is a resort that acts almost as spouse - taking care of you, offering endless drinks, meals and entertainment.

Hard to imagine a better husband.

The writer travelled as a guest of Sunwing Vacations. It did not review or approve this article.

Associated Graphic

Teens prepare to go parasailing at the Barcelo Maya Caribe resort, near Cancun, Mexico. Travel companies and resorts are increasingly offering packages for single-parent families that cater to their unique needs, including waiving certain fees and providing activities and entertainment for both parents and kids.

CORI HOWARD


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Eric_Duhatschek Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page