All to­gether now

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

The “lat­est” travel trend, ap­par­ently, is rent­ing a villa to hol­i­day with fam­ily and friends. This is hardly new and was known as “house party tourism” a decade ago, but rein­ven­tion is ev­ery­thing in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

That word villa does have a ro­man­tic ring, sug­gest­ing you could be at Lake Como with, say, Ge­orge Clooney, eat­ing olives and slurp­ing Ital­ian reds, when you are ac­tu­ally on the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula with Un­cle Ge­orge, a bar­bie and a beer.

I can fur­ther re­veal that the process of rent­ing a hol­i­day place to share is now known as “to­geth­er­ing”.

It took me a while to stop shud­der­ing at yet an­other lib­erty with the English lan­guage and now I can’t un-see that word, any more than I can deal with the Myer Christ­mas “Gifto­rium”, where you prob­a­bly can’t buy a villa but there’s sure to be a Lego dwelling, its pine trees in sym­met­ri­cal green skirts and a per­fectly pro­por­tioned lit­tle fam­ily shar­ing the lawn-mow­ing and the wash­ing-up. This is an ide­alised world in minia­ture, of course, but the hol­i­day house get­away is also a rose-coloured con­cept.

In­evitably, there is envy over which cou­ple gets the best bed­room (first in, best dressed, I reckon). This will be the “master” with en­suite, views from a lovely ter­race, and space for his-and-hers yoga mats and not the tucked­away cham­ber with bunks and a door that is close enough to open with­out get­ting out of bed.

Then there’s the mat­ter of who is ap­pointed “villa mayor” (yes, it is a “thing”) to de­cide such mat­ters as cook­ing and bar­be­cu­ing ros­ters and shop­ping du­ties. You can save money this way, and it is fun to all muck in and catch up; in places such as Bali there will be but­lers and even on-site cooks.

But the pro­to­cols are a mine­field and no one tells you that in the fine print.

As an ex­am­ple, a gen­er­ous friend rented a villa in south­ern Thai­land about this time last year. It was a 10bed­room man­sion and he in­vited every­one he could think of to stay, an­tic­i­pat­ing only a small num­ber would pay the air­fare and get time off work.

But be­fore you could say “Make that bed!” the villa was booked out and not by his dear­est friends but the B List (his words) of those who, like long-lost aunts and un­cles you feel obliged to ask to a wed­ding, he didn’t re­ally want to see from one Christ­mas tur­key coma to the next.

The other new phrase do­ing the tourism rounds is OOHlies. It’s a take on schoolies; the acro­nym stands for Off Our Hands. The idea is be­ing pi­o­neered by re­cently re­opened Vomo Is­land in Fiji’s Ma­manuca group, which has beach and hill­side vil­las and pack­ages for cou­ples.

The idea is to send your school-leavers to a nearby is­land while you, per­haps with a group of fel­low par­ents, have a break on Vomo and then meet up as a fam­ily at hol­i­day’s end. It’s the ul­ti­mate in sleep­over kids’ clubs and might be all very nice for the par­ents, but pity those cou­ples on other is­lands when the schoolies ar­rive en masse. OOH no.

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