Travel Tips: How to have a destination celebration


Whether it’s a milestone birthday or anniversary or a big work promotion, why not mark the occasion with a destination celebration? “Instead of a three-hour party, you can have a three-day celebration where you connect with your closest family and friends and create everlasting memories,” said Jack Ezon, who plans destination celebrations and is president of the New York City travel consultancy Ovation Vacations. 

Here he offers advice on planning a successful group getaway commemorating a special occasion.  

Know Your Budget: It’s essential, Ezon said, to plan your trip with a budget in mind. “Many people I’ve worked with have no sense of what they want to spend and are surprised at all the associated costs,” he said. In his experience, 25 percent of the budget goes toward accommodations and 40 percent is spent on the events; the rest includes extras such as airport transfers and welcome baskets for guests.  

Be Upfront About Who Pays: Some hosts cover the cost of everything for their guests, including airfare, accommodations and meals not part of celebration events. Others spring only for events associated with their celebration. When you’re inviting guests, clearly convey which costs you’re picking up. “Money is a sensitive matter,” Ezon said, “and I’ve seen instances where some guests assume that every part of the trip is covered but get socked with an unexpected hotel bill. A scenario like that can hurt your valuable relationships.”  

Have a Representative: Destination celebrations involve a lot of logistics, such as travel, the needs of your guests and the details of your different events. Managing all these aspects on your own is a headache and will leave you little room to enjoy your trip, Ezon said. A representative, either from your hotel or from a party planning company, can help lighten your load. Also, some travel agencies, including Ezon’s, have employees who are experts in planning large group getaways and can play the role of a representative. Expect to pay a representative around 10 percent of the celebration cost; hotels usually don’t charge for their representatives.  

Pick the Right Destination: An easy-to-reach location reduces disruptions and is respectful of your guests, Ezon said. You might dream about a party in St. Barts, for example, but the Caribbean island has limited nonstop flights from the United States. Stick to a destination that is within a three-hour drive from where most of your guests live or is a manageable nonstop flight away.  

Consider a Hotel Buyout: Taking over an entire hotel for your celebration has several advantages. “The mood is more intimate, you’ll get better service and you don’t have to worry about disturbing other guests with your festivities,” Ezon said. Whether you have 15 guests or 250, you can find an appropriate hotel, but if a buyout isn’t an option, choose a property with a variety of venues to host multiple events.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

A taste of small-town Texas
A taste of small-town Texas

When you’re craving an escape from city traffic and crowds, travel just beyond the outskirts of Austin’s bustle for a taste of the true small town Texas flavors that flourish in Taylor. This quintessential pint-size Texas town boasts finger-licking barbecue, a quaint Main Street lined with historic buildings being revitalized by independent...
Dressed to impress? Unofficially, the airline may take note
Dressed to impress? Unofficially, the airline may take note

It may matter what air travelers wear on the plane.  That’s not just the case for the legging-wearing teenage girls denied boarding on a United Airlines flight this spring. The two girls were flying on United’s pass program, which lets friends or relatives of airline employees fly free or at discounted rates. The catch is a dress code...
In Breezewood, Pennsylvania, the truck stops here
In Breezewood, Pennsylvania, the truck stops here

I expected to live my entire life without price-shopping for truck-stop showers. Then I spent the night in Breezewood.  The adventure began last August when my main squeeze James and I drove to Colorado. We passed through Breezewood, Pennsylvania, as do many drivers heading to the Rust Belt and beyond.   "What do you think about...
Plenty of legroom on Boeing 777 tailored for the world’s richest
Plenty of legroom on Boeing 777 tailored for the world’s richest

SEATTLE—On commercial airlines today, traveling in coach is a pain, while the wealthy are well looked after in first class. But for the ultrawealthy, there’s a whole other level available.  For China’s “Golden Week” holiday at the beginning of October, a group of rich Asians will take off from Hong Kong on a lavishly...
Traveling together? Apps to help split (and pay) the bills
Traveling together? Apps to help split (and pay) the bills

Traveling with a group — friends, extended family, a bachelor party — makes for some of the best summer vacations. It can also make for some of the most complicated vacations when it comes to splitting the costs of dinners, museum admissions, rental homes and cars.  Digital wallets and peer-to-peer payment apps, however, are aiming...
More Stories