PLANNING YOUR GROUP TRIP
PART I 5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A LOCATION
Hi! Susan here from the Sassy Goose.
Since this is my first blog for the Sassy Goose, I would like to take just a minute to introduce myself. My sister Linda and I have run the Sassy Goose for the VandeWeghe family for the last few years. Before that, Linda and our Dad took care of everything. But it all began with our parents who wanted a place where their large family could gather.
More than 30 years ago Bob and Bette (our parents), welcomed their first guests to the Sassy Goose? Back then it was a Bed and Breakfast with just 3 bedrooms in the Lodge. Mom took care of the breakfast while Dad held court. He had a whole new audience to tell his stories. Guests who stayed at the Sassy Goose back then still talk about Breakfast with Bob.
This blog is going to be about a number of things: a little history of the Sassy Goose, things to see and do in Cedar Mountain and Transylvania County and ideas to help make your travels comfortable and easier.
To start it off:
How to plan for traveling with a group
Now that many of us have been vaccinated, it’s time to escape with your favorite people?
1. Who will be in your group?
It doesn’t matter if your group consists of family, friends, couples, business associates or a combination of them all, everything goes much more smoothly when important details are planned in advance.
The VandeWeghe siblings know this because our parents designed The Sassy Goose as a place where we could all get together once or twice a year. And since there are seven of us plus spouses and children that can add up to a lot of people.
2. When will you be traveling?
The first thing that needs to be decided is when everyone can get together - or at least the majority of the group. It’s not the best idea to tell everyone to check their calendars and send dates. Half of them will forget. Some will say anytime works for them. The last third can be the most difficult. They have children in school and lots of other commitments. Ugh!
Here is what I suggest. Decide what season you want to travel. Winter for skiing and snow or maybe an exotic beach vacation? Fall to be a leaf watching or antique hunting? Spring for hiking and biking? Or Summer for swimming and boating?
This is always an easy decision for us. We love to swim – well most of us do. So, our annual get-together is usually in the summer and at the Sassy Goose. Why go anywhere else when our lake here is perfect? We can play games at the pavilion, just fit everyone in the lodge’s dining room and still have some alone time for those private moments.
We also enjoying being together for the holidays. Of course, our holiday get-together can only be every other year. Otherwise, it’s not fair to the spouse’s families. Also, December in North Carolina can be snowy and it is hard to travel in the mountains when there is ice on the roads. That is one of the reasons we close for the winter. Our holiday get-together is usually some place warm.
3. Where will you go?
Next, find a location. But I haven’t picked a date yet you say. Well, unless you are scheduling at least a year in advance (and aren’t you smart to do that) or planning to go to one of those mega, all-inclusive resorts, it makes more sense to find out about the places availability before committing to a date. Otherwise, you may find there is no room at the inn for the dates you want.
For example, here at the Sassy Goose, we can accommodate a maximum of 14 people (including children) as overnight guests. We do occasionally work with another vacation rentals in the area when there are 5 or 6 more people in a group. But the Sassy Goose’s facilities can't manage more than about 20 people on property at one time, even when a quarter of them are sleeping off property. Our driveway is single lane, parking spaces are limited, and there is no city water or septic in Cedar Mountain.
One other suggestion about finding a location. It is a good idea to look for a place that is centrally located to the majority of the people. Traveling can be hard, especially with kids. Oh, and for that one who lives all the way on the other coast, sorry.
4. How will you find the best venue for your group?
How do you find the perfect place for your group? Research!
You should have a pretty good idea what the people in your group like to do. Are they active? Do they love to shop? Maybe there is a purpose for your trip. My children’s writer’s group is a great example. We schedule a retreat once a year. Each person is responsible for one meal (bringing the food, cooking and cleaning up after). The group eats meals together but spend the rest of their time writing or communing with nature.
Does your group like planned activities like they have at the mega all-inclusive resorts? Or do they like to make their own fun? Don’t get me wrong, the VandeWeghe's have enjoyed our stays at a few of those all-inclusive places. But we are very happy entertaining ourselves. One of the siblings is always our “cruise director” and comes up with games. I bet if you ask, you have one of those people in your group also. But more about that in the next installments - How to Entertain a Crowd.
Each lodging option has its advantages and disadvantages. Find out what is the most important to your group? Maybe your group wants to be pampered. Or they want a full schedule of activities. Do you love to show off your cooking? How will you feed all those people? The mega resorts can handle large parties for meals very well but it is more difficult to find a place to feed 14 or 15 people in a small town. We will talk more about this in the third instalment – How to Feed All Those People.
Back to research. Do you have friends that love to travel? Ask the people in your group what was their best trip ever. Ask at the office. People love to talk about wonderful places they have been and interesting things they have seen.
Go on line.
For example, if your participants are mountain bikers – ask Google what is the best place to mountain bike in the south. Of course, Dupont State Forest comes up as #1. The back gate is just down the street from the Sassy Goose. Sorry, I couldn’t resist the plug. But you get the idea.
Go to places like Airbnb, VRBO, Trip Advisor, etc on line. You will get interesting ideas there, but remember, those companies make money by charging a fee to both you and the lodging. So, once you find where you want to go, Google places to stay for that area. For example, try lodging near Dupont State Forest or places to stay in Cedar Mountain, NC. You may or may not find a better deal.
OK, you know who will be part of your group.
You have a good idea what they like to do.
You know when you want to travel.
You have decided on where they would like to go.
Now get to researching and find the perfect place for your group.
5. This is the time to think about the Budget
You should already had an idea about what everyone is willing to spend on this trip. Although the budget should be number 1, you first need to find out what all these different places cost. So check out that plush hotel with a world famous chef all the way down to the camp ground in the middle of nowhere. List all the things that are included with each location. List the things you will have to pay extra for or will have to supply yourself. Then compare what the actual costs will be per person or per couple, how ever you are going to split it up.
The Washington Post had a great article about just this subject that I found on the Morning Brew (a daily newsletter about what is going on in business and other things). Click Here for the link to this article.
Why wait. It is time for everyone to start planning. Check out what the Sassy Goose has to offer. If you have any questions, please give me a call at 828-966-3200.
More to come: How to Entertain a Crowd and How to Feed All Those People.
I would love to hear your thoughts on traveling with a group.