Being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and relaxing with the people who are most important to you is the stuff that makes lasting memories. While many families like cruises, glitzy hotels or all-inclusive resorts with "kids clubs," we prefer something more low key: basically, just a house and a beach. We just want to spend quality time together.
family, eight people total, including our two adult kids, their husbands
and two grandchildren, goes to the Caribbean for two days in French St.
Martin and five in the neighboring
Traveling day is grueling — an early morning flight, laboring through a small airport where three large flights land almost simultaneously, and stacking 15 pieces of luggage, homemade cookies, homemade snack mix, diapers, toys and eight exhausted people into two small cars. Whew!
"Oh, you can't get lost on the island," says the Avis rep as we pull away.
Of course, we do get lost, and when we finally arrive, all everyone wants to do is sleep (or, in the case of the grandchildren, jump on the bed). We manage a pleasant dinner alongside the pool. Everyone cannot help but smile as the kids enjoy the resident cat.
night of much-needed sleep, we eat breakfast together and then break up
into two groups. Newlyweds Caryn and David opt for sun and sand on
else visits the Butterfly Farm. Little eyes get as big as saucers as
19-month-old JJ and 3-year-old Annie are surrounded by hundreds of
fluttering creatures. Annie could not stop giggling about the caterpillar
with a camouflage cocoon that resembles guano. As we head for nearby
The family dinner reunites us at a favorite eatery, Los Gauchos Argentine, where the steaks and sunset are always delicious. The day is topped off with the family gathering in Mom and Dad's room where we do silly things like passing straws with our feet and making bad jokes.
morning, the clan packs its 15 bags and departs for
Except for a splash in its crystalline waters or a stroll on the sand — so white and soft that it feels like you are walking on powder — there isn't a lot to do. That is the charm of this tony playground. Brad Pitt found it to be the perfect setting to tell Jennifer Aniston that he had decided to go traipsing around the world with Angelina Jolie instead of being married to her.
Sheriva at Sheriton Estates. The villa is equipped with all the necessities
that Brad, Jennifer or anyone else would require, including a staff of five
life this is. Breakfast is a buffet with fresh fruit, juice, cereal and
pancakes. One day the pineapple is carved to look like a bird.
Climbing into our chariot — an eight-passenger golf cart — we head for the beach at Cap Juluca, the posh Moroccan-looking hotel down the road. Sand-castle building, a dip in the water and shelling are on the program. David did some waterskiing at no charge — a perk of Sheriva. The water is warm and so transparent; you can see lots of fish just by wading into the water. Not far away, in a little cove, there is good snorkeling.
Back at the villa, it is difficult to get anyone to move off the lounges. Some adults laze around the pool reading books, while a few join the kids in the water and goof off together. They make pretend ice cream. JJ's little body jams to some tunes playing on the sound system. Tough life.
Daughter Jamie, who declared herself social director, fills our evenings with activities, including poker, silly games and movie night. One night she leads a book discussion on the book she assigned before the trip. Usually, these evening activities end up being a laugh fest.
become routine. The smell of
day, I decide I need a bubble bath. The bath foam is flat. I pour in some
more then turn on the jets. The suds start to build — and build. They are
almost 3 feet above the tub. There is so much white I feel like I am lost
in the snows of the
Finally the sun comes out and we head for Scilly Cay. The little island — a three-minute ride from shore — is nothing more than a grass shack protected by conch shell retaining walls. Food is cooked from scratch, so the average wait time for sumptuous lobster, chicken or crayfish is about 11/2 hours, Guests order their food, then swim, snorkel or chat with owner Eudoxie Wallace. He will tell you his nickname is Gorgeous because he looked in the mirror and decided he was.
Our last dinner is a gala. I hear the sound of steel drums and realize that we will have local musician Dumpa's steel drums and keyboards to entertain us. Everyone sings and jives to the beat. Dumpa even tries to teach me to play his steel drums. A waste! I am musically challenged.