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Travel, a Teacher

As the mother of a young family, Joey Whelan, Exclusive Resorts’ SVP of Marketing, recalls a pivotal hotel experience that prompted her Club Membership.

I’ll never forget a trip — with my husband, Tim, and my two kids, Grace, and Dylan — when we were staying in a Four Seasons hotel room as a young family. Tim and Dylan were in one bed, Grace and I in another. It was 8pm, the kids were asleep, lights off, and Tim and I each had our own iPad with headphones on, in separate beds. We had brought cocktails from the bar — and we cheers-ed across the beds, silently. Here we were, in this luxury space, and I thought to myself, “Travel has got to be better than this!”

That’s when I decided to join Exclusive Resorts. When we signed up — on New Year’s Eve 2017 — we had certainly outgrown hotel rooms and loved the idea of traveling more easily with extended family and friends. Fast-forward five years, and we’ve since traveled to countless beach destinations and several ski trips as a family. Silent toasts in cramped hotel rooms have turned to Thanksgivings in Real del Mar and Spring Breaks in Grand Cayman, in addition to expanded family gatherings in spacious and stylish villas. We cherish a future of continued exploration with plenty of privacy and room to roam.

The Value of Vacationing

Being a numbers-oriented MBA, another primary reason we joined the Club was that it provided much more value for our vacation dollar. Before joining Exclusive Resorts, multiple hotel rooms or renting a villa during school break weeks was beginning to break our budget. The Club provided many more options within our price point than anything you could find via the open market during the times we needed to travel. We didn’t want to pay $5000 a night to stay at the quality places we desired — which is ultimately why we signed up for the Club lifestyle.

We also enjoy having gourmet kitchens and hangout spaces, regardless of which destination we choose to explore. We’re not limited to only resort food options; paying $300 daily for breakfast or $22 per cocktail gets expensive quickly. Plus, the ability to have your own private pool or various living areas is a huge perk. It’s so nice to read a book outside while the kids have nap time or watch TV in the afternoon. You don’t have to leave them somewhere alone or worry about finding a resort sitter.

Islamorada, FL
The Palms | Turks & Caicos

Amenities & Access

When our kids were little, I really cared about having access to resort amenities. I desired the Kids Club, the big resort pool, the spa, the restaurants. And most of the Club’s residences, and its Hotel Collection, have all of that. But now, Nevis has become our new favorite family destination, and it’s because it feels so private and remote — without a resort vibe. We love walking down the pathway from our four-bedroom villa to the private Paradise Beach, getting a frozen BBC cocktail/mocktail from the beach bar, and settling in to watch the sunset or play Woboba in the ocean. As my kids grew older, the resort amenities became less important and as a result, we’ve been more adventurous in exploring all of the Club destinations. I love that the Club has the best of all worlds: amenities, access, privacy, and value.

What’s more, the Club grows with you as a family. With young kids, there’s the first initial stage (you have to schlep so much with you!). Yet I quickly found that Exclusive Resorts takes care of it all — the pop-up cribs and kiddo essentials, not to mention groceries — upon arrival. This sets you up from the start for a worry-free escape where your first few hours on vacation are actually spent enjoying vs. just settling in. Now that my kids are a little older (Grace is now 8 and Dylan 10), we plan to tackle the more adventurous trips I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking them on, like our first Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey. While we still plan to vacation with extended family, we now have the space to invite even larger groups, and we’ll invite other families, too. I imagine as our kids become teenagers it will become more about bringing their friends. With teens, I know it can be a challenge to convince them that a vacation with their parents will be fun (no matter how nuanced the “sell”!), but when bringing friends, teens don’t feel it’s a chore. Outside of family trips, we’ve also celebrated girls’ weekends (my 40th recently at Turks & Caicos) and couples getaways (St. Barts in December 2020) with the Club.

Travel as a Teacher

So, what’s next? We were recently at The Abaco Club celebrating Grace’s eighth birthday — cake, balloons and all — and a picture of Costa Rica while celebrating her fourth popped up on my iPhone memories. It made me realize the emotional arc the Club has delivered. Now the question always is, “Where are we vacationing next?” We’ve talked about the New Year’s Antarctic Cruise and Botswana Family Safari, as our kids are finally getting old enough to appreciate international travel.

We’re also thinking about our next life stage as a family, and vacationing is what we’re passionate about. Travel allows for time together, when Mom and Dad aren’t two working parents. In the future, I think we’ll dive more into cultural immersions as well.

During the height of Covid, my then seven-year-old daughter Grace was writing at-home essays. In one of her stories, dated January 13, 2021, she wrote (and I’m purposefully including spelling typos): “If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Huwiye. I love it has cool volcanoes, and I cold spend the rest of my life siping peniclotus on a beach.”

The teacher emailed me and jokingly said, “Your daughter is my spirit animal!” But on a more serious note, the teacher also wrote “you are passing along your passion for travel to your kids.” For me, this funny yet inspiring exchange is a reminder to keep traveling and exploring, as Exclusive Resorts has fast become a catalyst to family bonding and unique discovery.