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The Rat Pack

A serendipitous encounter at Peninsula Papagayo turns into a lifelong friendship for several Club Members.

Members Pat DiPietrantonio and Don DeCarlo joined Exclusive Resorts for the Club’s extensive Residence Collection. A chance encounter at the Club’s flagship property in Costa Rica launched a friendship neither could have expected. Over the years, their circle of friends within the Club has grown to include Members Michael Bushkoff, Greg Tedesco, and Fred Saint. The five men, along with their wives, are now regular vacation buddies. Here, DiPietrantonio and DeCarlo reflect on what drew the group together and some of their most memorable getaways.

How did the two of you strike up a conversation in Costa Rica?

Pat: It was Thanksgiving 2007 and my wife, Karen, and I were with our family when we met Don.

Don: We hung out a bit that week, and exchanged phone numbers and about every month we’d exchange a text or two. Don had convinced me to sign up for a Seabourn cruise with The Club. My wife was hesitant. We live in Oklahoma, so we decided to all meet and get reacquainted at the Exclusive Resorts residences in Laguna Beach. 

How did you decide to go on a Seabourn cruise with the club? 

Pat: At the time, my son was going to USC and his roommate’s parents ended up having the same Exclusive Resorts Ambassador as we did. We met them on move-in day, started a friendship, and agreed to go on this cruise with them. I texted Don immediately saying he had to join.

Your friend group grew on the cruise. How did that happen? 

Pat: I’m from New York and my Ambassador told me another couple from New York, Greg and Connie Tedesco, would be aboard and I should say hello. Turns out I had met them previously on a wine tour with the Club. Karen and I initially joined Exclusive Resorts so we could have our family together in one place. We never thought of the social aspect.

Don: We’ve now been on three Exclusive Resorts cruises. On the first one, no one knew us. Now we have friends we always see on these Journeys. We’re all very type-A and outgoing. Put us together, and wow! I never joined to meet other people but it turned out to be a nice bonus. My face hurts from laughing after a week with our Exclusive Resorts group.

Do the five families always travel together? 

Don: We’ve been to each other’s homes and on vacations with Exclusive Resorts. This spring, the Saints and Bushkoffs are going on a cruise to Tahiti. Pat and his wife are joining my wife Susan and me on Maui. Last fall, four of the five guys went to Kiawah Island for a golf getaway.

Pat: All five families got together for Thanksgiving one year in Costa Rica. Each family got their own residence and we did a dinner for 30 or so. 

How do you choose a location? 

Don: I’m not sure place is as important as logistics and the ability of the five couples to get somewhere. Our second cruise wasn’t a lot different than the first Italian cruise. One went north; one went south. But the attitude of our group is, who cares as long as we’re together somewhere warm. 

A lot of people say it’s harder to make real friendships as we age. Why has your group been able to bond so strongly? 

Pat: As years go by, you start to wonder: maybe I have too many friends. And so perhaps later in life you don’t try as hard. We’ve all been Members for quite some time and our needs have changed over the years. We used to travel as families, but our kids have grown and we realize we like traveling with other Members. We will go weeks without talking and that’s okay. Lately we text each other almost daily about something silly.

Don: I think every couple in their own hearts knows this is something special. If one couple can’t make a trip, we don’t force it. We meet when we can. It’s also not just the men. Our wives all get along and do their own girl getaways.