Siblings reconnecting. Cousins play for hours together at the pool. Grandparents love every second of it. Priceless. Are you looking for anniversary celebration ideas with family? Why not take the whole family on vacation? We had the pleasure of speaking with Gayle Tomlinson about her 50th wedding anniversary with 29 members of her family at the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at MarBrisa in Carlsbad.
The Vacationeer: How did you decide to have your 50th at MarBrisa?
Mrs. Tomlinson: There are so many anniversary celebration ideas with family you can take with HGV. Since our kids live in Northern California, Utah, and Arizona, we wanted to choose a resort that was close enough for everyone to travel to. The MarBrisa Carlsbad resort is not only the most central to our family, but it is also one of our favorite HGV resorts. It has a beautiful pool area, and the climate is perfect.
The Vacationeer: How did you use your points to book family vacation timeshares?
Mrs. Tomlinson: When I first became a member of HGV, I would attend the meetings Club Counselors host during a vacation. A couple of years before our 50th wedding anniversary, I began talking with the sales team about it and how to best prepare. I started to save my points for the next two years and then when it came time to book our rooms, I borrowed additional points for the following year.
The minute I could reserve our rooms, I was online to book that very moment! We reserved four nights and a total of four rooms for our family – two 3-bedrooms and two 2-two bedrooms. I did make one error in my reservation so, I called a Club Counselor, and they helped me resolve it immediately.
The Vacationeer: When you finally arrived, what were your rooms like?
Mrs. Tomlinson: The rooms are so nice! Our grown kids thought they were going to stay in a small hotel room, and they were blown away with the space and comforts of home. Our grandkids were so amazed that they each had their own bed and drawers to put away their things.
The rooms I reserved were really close to the pool, so the grandkids loved that they could see what happening poolside, and they could run out of their rooms to jump right in!
The Vacationeer: Can you share some highlights of your 50th wedding anniversary?
Mrs. Tomlinson: The four days we spent together at MarBrisa created so many fond memories for my family. Since there were so many of us, we didn’t eat out at all. We loved BBQing at the resort each night. The BBQ area is so close to the pool so, we grilled and set up our food using the outdoor tables, and relaxed in the lounge chairs and fire pits poolside.
We spent so much time down by the pool. We had 17 grandchildren on our trip, so the more pool time, the better!
On our second night, we hired a professional photographer to take pictures of all of us at the beach which is walking distance from the resort. After our photos, we had a big party on the beach. We brought music to play, and had a huge anniversary cake and gave all the grandkids tons of glow bracelets.
As the sun began to set on the beach, a double rainbow appeared, and there was no rain, so I wasn’t sure how it even happened. People were pulling off the freeways to take pictures, and everyone’s heads were looking up at the colors in the sky. It was breathtaking and we had our photographer on the beach taking photos right when it happened!
The grandkids loved running up and down the beach glowing in the dark. Our family gave us a present, and then one of our grandkids gave us the surprise of the night. She gave us a bag and inside was an ultrasound picture – we were going to be great grandparents! I started screaming, and then we all started hugging. It was such a special moment.
We pretty much spent our four days bouncing back and forth from swimming at the pool to boogie boarding at the beach. We didn’t need any other entertainment. I packed little prizes and pool toys, like floaties, and pool rings for the grandkids and they loved running to our room to get a new prize to take to the pool. The younger kids also loved the resort’s splash pad and of course, popping in and out of the hot tub.
After dinner each night we would end our day roasting s’ mores together at the resort’s fire pits, with one final dip back in the pool.
The Vacationer: How did the team members make your anniversary vacation even more special?
Mrs. Tomlinson: The staff was so attentive during our stay. When we first arrived, we received a welcome note and a bottle of sparkling cider to celebrate. One of the sofa beds didn’t have bedding when we arrived, so all it took was a call to the front desk, and it was brought up and made immediately. Whenever we needed extra towels, and with 29 of us, we went through lots of towels – we always got them right away.
Housekeeping came to our room on our last night with a cart filled with chocolates, candy treats, extra toiletries, and other items we could choose from. It was such a nice touch.
The Vacationeer: Since you traveled in such a big group, how did your family utilize the amenities that MarBrisa Carlsbad resorts offer?
Mrs. Tomlinson: The space for all of us was key. We would have spent so much more money booking individual hotel rooms for everyone. The two and three-bedroom condos offered so much room to spread out and not be on top of each other. Of course, we also used the kitchen and BBQ spaces every day. Having this luxury allowed us to relax and not have to worry about finding restaurants reservations for 29 people.
The Vacationeer: How does HGV bring more value to you as a traveler?
Mrs. Tomlinson: The family time is huge for us. This is what sold us in the first place on HGV. We have a big family and being able to travel so comfortably together makes such a difference. I love that our kids are now bringing their kids on our vacations. On the last day of our trip, our grandkids ran up to us and hugged us saying this was the best vacation they’ve ever been on. Having the space for these cousins to all spend time together in such a beautiful setting is what brings value to our family.
The Vacationeer: Where are you off to next with HGV?
Mrs. Tomlinson: Well, I did just use all of my saved and borrowed points, but our kids are already talking about planning a trip for all of us in Hawaii with HGV. Time to start planning!
Do you have any amazing anniversary celebration ideas with family?