7th March 2018
Over 60% of UK families have taken a multi-gen holiday in the past five years. You might be more surprised to find the majority had a great time, and would do it all over again, in a heartbeat. In fact, three generations of the same family holidaying together has become so normal that travel companies, resorts and even countries now have a ‘multi-gen’ filter, right up there with, ‘family’ and ‘couples’.
Just don’t expect Dominican Republic Tourist Board to be astonished by any of that. The Caribbean is one of the most popular long-haul choices for multi-gen holidays, and DR sits high on the wish list for several common-sense reasons, and many more very appealing intangibles. It’s one of the largest Caribbean countries: second only in size to Cuba.
So the big box marked, ‘choice’, is well and truly ticked right from the start. Direct UK flights to both Punta Cana and Puerto Plata, are another enormous plus point as far as travelling with a combo of kids and grandparents go. A coastline with over 250 miles of beaches doesn’t hurt either. Then there’s the weather, of course. DR sits almost right in the middle of the Caribbean chain, and keeps similar seasons to the UK: coldest from November to April, warm from May to October.
Although, DR’s version of cold means temperatures seldom below 24˚, and warm’s 30˚, and rising. Which fits well with a growing trend for multi-gen holidays throughout the year: both Easter and February half-term are now almost as popular as summer, for long-haul.
No matter the size or character of their clan, seasoned multi-gen travellers all agree that finding a good balance of activities is priority. The Dominican Republic’s size and diverse ecology gives you an enormous advantage on that score. Few regions don’t bring beaches into the equation (even urban adventures in Santo Domingo come with seaside).
Coast and countryside are such an easy mix here, even national parks usually have both. History’s as accessible as golf, and both fit comfortably with the plans of sporty kids, eco-explorers, amateur zoologists, botanists, ornithologists, and dedicated sunbathers. But even in the multi-faceted Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is hard to equal for sheer diversity, range of accommodation, activities, and fabulous beaches.
Direct flights from the UK arrive here rather than the capital, and the area’s as easy to travel around as it is to reach. Two enormous eco-adventure parks, within an hour’s drive of most Punta Cana resorts, bring untouched nature into play alongside incredible outdoor fun, and do both so seamlessly, it’s impossible to believe they weren’t designed with multi-gen holidays in mind. Punta Cana’s also a Caribbean leader for golf holidays.
Although golf resorts here are dedicated to keeping everyone happy, matching championship courses with great kids’ clubs, adding spectacular beaches into the equation, and more often than not, offering a raft of alternative land and water sports, so non-golfers are too busy to complain, no matter how many long hours enthusiasts want to spend hitting small, balls with sticks.
Punta Cana’s connections are another reason to like the area for multi-gen holidays. Remarkable Del Este National Park is an easy drive south, islands like Catalina and Saona are well within reach, and even Santo Domingo is a very doable day out.
And, considering it’s the oldest city in the New World, with a breathtakingly beautiful historic quarter, and just as fascinating for kids as grandparents, should almost certainly make it on to the multi-gen to-do list. Most of the country’s larger resorts are centred around Punta Cana.
It’s undoubtedly the best choice for all-inclusive holidays. And nowhere else comes close for the type of major international brand resorts with so much happening on-site, venturing into the wider world seems almost unnecessary – word to the wise: no resort anywhere compares to the Dominican Republic itself, no matter what they claim.
But travel companies aren’t slow to catch on to new potential, so multi-gen options are far from limited to Punta Cana these days. Several UK operators fly with connections to Puerto Plata on the north coast now, with a flying time of nine hours coming in on the shorter side of long-haul. Naturally the north is a different experience altogether, but no less appealing.
Region’s round Puerto Plata tend to be less developed than Punta Cana, there’s more scope for exploring the country’s untamed environment, outdoor activities err on the wildly adventurous side, and it’s no coincidence that a fair number of DR’s most spectacular national parks, and eco-icons are in the northern reaches too.
Cabarete, just east of Puerto Plata, is known as the ‘Kitesurfing Capital of the World’. Serious windsurfers admire the bold breezes just as much, and the resort town is relaxed, friendly, and good for family holiday villas and apartments: an easy alternative to all-inclusive, especially for larger multi-gen groups.
Sporty older kids and teens are in heaven here, there isn’t a single local beach you wouldn’t choose as a ‘happy place’, and days out to suit everyone couldn’t be easier – Puerto Plata itself is another fine colonial city, dating back to the 16th century, with the added attraction of fabulous Ocean World adventure park on the outskirts.
Wildlife enthusiasts won’t need much persuading to opt for the Samaná Peninsula. Not only is it the most peaceful and untouched region in the country, it’s home to Los Haitises: the national park where you can see thousands of Humpback Whales overwintering in Semaná Bay. You can also explore vast mangrove forests, and trek through the fascinating jungle.
Some of the Caribbean’s most innovative eco-accommodation is found in this protected area too. So if you were tempted to weave a little tree-house magic into the multi-gen mix, Samaná is where to look.
From a purely practical perspective, taking into account that most holidays end up the responsibility of one person; the Dominican Republic is one of the easiest destinations to plan. Apart from direct UK flights to Punta Cana taking just a little over nine hours and connections to Puerto Plata, multi-gen is reassuringly normal here. Most resorts are more than prepared for larger family groups. Adventure parks gear activities to broad age ranges.
And even Dominican Republic excursions aren’t locked on to the standard two-by-two family model: taking the fuss out of days out and leaving everyone with more energy to enjoy being together, which is exactly what multi-gen family holidays are all about in the first place.