The Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California is a winner of FTF’s Top 10 (Cheap) Getaways For Family Travelers 2008 award.The Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California is a winner of FTF’s Top 10 (Cheap) Getaways For Family Travelers 2008 award.
According to a national study, more than 200,000 family reunions are organized every year in the United States. Planning a gathering while minding your wallet may not seem possible as thoughts of transportation, multiple hotel rooms, expensive dinners and large scale activities float through your head. But, with FTF’s two very different picks for the Top (Cheap) Reunion Getaway, all can enjoy a multigenerational family beach vacation in either the East at Crystal Coast, North Carolina or out West at Asilomar on the Monterey Peninsula in California — and without going broke. Here’s a look at your next cheap family vacation spot: Asilomar.
Asilomar Conference Grounds, Monterey Peninsula
Since 1913 when it was a YWCA campground, Asilomar Conference Grounds has been living up to its Spanish name as a “refuge by the sea” for families looking for a group getaway. With a varied landscape of sand dunes, coastline and forests of pine, cypress and oak trees, the 103-acre California State Park hosts large scale family reunions with ease and — at a great price — year-round.
Luckily for reunion planners, a group utilizing more than five rooms is considered a “conference” at Asilomar. Accommodations are charming and varied, and historic rooms built between 1913-1928 by the original architect, Julia Morgan, were designated as Historic Landmarks in 1987. Conference rates for 2009 (based on double occupancy and including all meals and activities) begin at just $106 per adult per night in a cozy and idyllic historic room; guests lodging in a more modern (but still rustic) standard rooms have rates starting from $122 per adult. Family members 18 and over sharing a room with adults pay a nightly fee of $82-$92 depending on room; children between the ages of 3 and 17 pay $77.
Various Asilomar suite and cottage options are also available and, depending on your reunion needs and the number of occupants, may even be a better value for families. For example, the Director’s Cottage is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home sleeping six adults (room for more kids) with a private living room and fireplace. It costs $589 per night, only $98 per person, making it advantageous for multigenerational visitors to book this more luxurious option instead of a historic or standard room.
And the best part, conference rates do not just include accommodations in one of the 30 buildings throughout Asilomar’s grounds; these prices are all-inclusive. Three meals a day, even a nightly country-style dinner in the Crocker Dining Hall, are included. Plus, your conference coordinators and event planners are more than happy to arrange special meals for family reunions. A favorite custom-planned menu includes an oceanfront barbeque of St. Louis Style Pork Ribs, Roasted Chicken Quarters and Grilled Salmon Fillet, served up by a warm fire pit.
All activities available on Asilomar’s grounds are also included in the price. Families can rent bikes, go bird watching, swim in the heated pool or the ocean, or play volleyball, ping-pong or billiards. Plus, family reunion guests can also have planned family-bonding group activities such as ranger-guided park tours, sporting events, dances, campfire sing-a-longs and team games like charades and board games.
If the family would like to explore the grounds on their own, Asilomar offers a free self-guided audio tour with map that leads guests through the ground’s history, architecture, natural ecology and wildlife. According to Catherine Boire, Asilomar’s spokesperson, this interactive experience is ideal for families looking to head out on their own as it caters to all different ages and individual interests. It will tell grandpa about his favorite bird, the kids about pirate tales and give mom and dad some historical background.
Last, but certainly not least important: there are no hidden fees or add-ons with Asilomar. The California State Parks system requires the Conference Grounds to include all city and state taxes in the rates package so the rate a family reunion group sees, they get.
Asilomar is accessible by the Monterey Peninsula Airport, only 15 minutes away from the property. However, since it a small airport, families may find it easier to fly into San Jose (an hour and a half drive) or San Francisco (2 hours away).
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