In the spring and summer of 2007, the Hyatt Hotel and Resorts company decided to challenge their family clientele to the “ultimate adventure challenge” — a two week once-in-a-lifetime competition for five lucky families, set against the backdrop of three Hyatt Resorts properties in Nevada, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Each of the families completed their two-week vacation challenge at three great family resorts: The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa (1300 Tuyuna Trail Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico 87004); the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa (1571 Poipu Road Koloa, Hawaii 96756) and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino (111 Country Club Drive Incline Village, Nevada, USA 89451).
Once there, the contest allowed for each family’s adventures in local culture, new cuisine and a variety of outdoor activities to be recorded with video cameras. Hyatt took this “documentary” footage, assembled it, and posted it online as episodic Webisodes. FTF was interested in learning a little bit about each family, where they’re from and how they felt about tackling such an active family vacation in a new environment. Through Hyatt representatives, FTF interviewed the Sonnad Family of Washington; the O’Neill Family of Idaho; the Li Family of Miami, Florida; and the Moore family of Tampa, Florida.
In these interviews, each family shares their experiences, concerns and challenges, with an eye to helping other family travelers learn more about active adventure vacations with kids. In addition to these interviews, FTF readers can view the five finalist videos on www.HyattAdventureChallenge.com.
Meet the Sonnad Family
The Sonnad Family of Everett, Washington are avid fans of the Matt Groening show, “The Simpsons” and they make it a point to travel to tropical locations to fulfill their love of water sports. To fulfill the challenge, they traveled with Emina, age 12, Hanna, age 10, and Hayden, age 8. Rahul Sonnad answered some questions for FTF about their participation as Hyatt’s guest family adventurers.
Q. What did you learn from this travel experience?
A. We learned a lot about the culture in New Mexico and I thought it was very interesting. Throughout the whole trip we were also learning a lot of history about the places we were seeing and I think some activities at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, such as the hiking and the storytelling, were very informative.
Q. What particular challenges or obstacles were most difficult for your family?
A. Some of the obstacles were not getting enough sleep and working for a long time each day, but we overcame them by resting whenever we could and getting plenty to eat. Also, things got a little less hectic after a few days, which was pretty nice.
Q. Tell us some of your favorite family experiences.
A. We got to do all kinds of things we couldn’t do at home. In fact, a lot of the activities we did at the Grand Hyatt Kauai (such as hot air ballooning, 30 foot rope swings, surfing, and riding horses) were things I probably would never get to do in my whole life.
Q. As a parent, what was your personal favorite moment during the two-week Ultimate Adventure Challenge?
A. My favorite moment was when I got up on the surfboard and realized I could stay on it without falling off. It was really fun because I’m not good at a lot of sports and I had found something that I really enjoyed doing. Also, just being in Kauai was absolutely amazing since it’s so beautiful.
Q. If you were given the choice, would this be the type of family vacation you would plan for everyone? What would you do differently?
A. As long as the activities were different we would, because a big part of the fun was the whole element of surprise. I think I would like to sleep in a little later though. I think something that would have been really fun in Hawaii (if we had the time) would be snorkeling in the ocean — or maybe in a lake — because there are so many interesting things to see.
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