Family wellbeing and wellness is high on the agenda in 2021. Here’s some simple steps we know help increase both family health and wellbeing.

1. Eat meals together

2. Simplify your family schedule – we are human beings not human doings. The need to be constantly busy could be a trauma response.

3. Designate a family fun night – rediscover everyones childlike sense of wonder through creativity, imagination, joy and spontaneity

4. Hold regular family meetings – Communication is key

5. Reduce toxins at home – keep it natural

6. Develop healthy sleep habits for all family members – sleep is medicine

7. Organize your home to lower stress – remove clutter

8. Volunteer for a cause together – clean the beaches, plant trees, help out at care homes

9. Preserve family memories– create albums together and write who people are and their stories

10. Get active as a family – yoga, hiking, biking, rafting, surfing, paddle boarding … get out in nature – beaches and forests are your friends

11. Visit relatives – family is more than one home

12. Drink more water – water is medicine it flushes toxins improves brain cognitive function and energy levels, optimum metabolism in breaking down fats

13. Learn emotional regulation together – When family responds collectively to stress this is where trauma bonds can happen and the nervous system can stay switched on without an off button. Practice Wim Hof deep belly breathing together. Discuss best tools for emotional regulation. Journal how you all feel and share, discuss how to use boundaries as an act of self love. Practice witnessing your thoughts without judgement (Read Rumi – The Guest House) Do a guided body scan once a week as a family and notice sensations in your body. This is a chance for parents to look at reparenting themselves.

As a family run business in hospitality we believe in the power of family reunions. Family reunions can connect the next generation to their past. From children hearing stories about the family history and trying recipes that have been passed down over the years, family reunions help younger children to form identities about who they are. … Your children will know who they are because of their family members.

A notable travel trend 2021-2022

“We have seen a 50% increase in enquiries for families to book out the entire hotel, an opportunity to bring their family members back together, safely, in the sun. It’s the 40 + year old market that used to holiday as couples that are driving this resurgence. After such a difficult period for so many, and the travel restrictions and lockdown many have been unable to see their families for nearly a year and a half. We know there’s going to be some emotional embraces and celebrations of families being reunited. We have created new packages to accompany the close out (hotel takeovers) so the phrase it’s on the house can be used by many a family member (because it’s all included!) and for your entire stay for all your family the house is literally yours, with all your needs are taken care of!” Gabriella Howell The Great House Antigua.


“We know there’s going to be some emotional embraces and celebrations of families being reunited. We have created new packages to accompany the close out (hotel takeovers) so the phrase it’s on the house can be used by many a family member (because it’s all included!) and for your entire stay for all your family the house is literally yours, with all your needs are taken care of!”

Gabriella Howell Director The Great House Antigua
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The Great House a wellbeing retreat set up for family reunions

If one freeze brand of the covid-19 pandemic has been social distancing, another has to be forced intimacy and community within the home. More than half of humanity has been confined to their homes at one time or another since the start of the outbreak. Many children have seen more of their parents and siblings than ever before; partners have had to negotiate new ways of juggling work and household chores; older and supporting vulnerable relatives have felt cut off. 

The History of Family Reunions

Let’s explore the history of family reunions which for many in Great Britain and Northern Ireland started in 1966 as a picnic tradition. A family reunion is an occasion when many members of an extended family congregate. Sometimes reunions are held regularly, for example on the same date of every year. A typical family reunion will assemble for a meal, some recreation and discussion. The older attendees are generally grandparents, parents, siblings or first cousins while the youngest may be second, third or fourth cousins to each other. It is also not uncommon for regular family reunions to be sponsored by family organisations or family associations centered on a more distant common ancestor (often referred to as “ancestral family organisations”) or a commonly shared surname (“single surname family organisations”).

Did you know that many reunions are made possible by family history societies? The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) is an international organisation based in the UK which represents, advises and supports over 220 family history societies. The Federation of East European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) was organized in 1992 as an umbrella organization that promotes family research. The Canadian Federation of Genealogical (CanFed) and Family History Societies work with Canadian born families.

However from the earliest traditions of simple family organised family reunions to current times things have started to fade. From 2016 onwards, the attendance of family reunions has been dwindling with older generations sadly no longer with us, and many younger generations abroad in University or travelling the world so scattered far and wide different continents and different time zones without the inclination to catch up with family that they haven’t spoken to on a regular basis. People had started to live insularly within their own homes and not consider extended family as family. 

Family matters in 2021

It is deemed that to be a well-functioning family there must be support; love and caring for other family members; providing security and a sense of belonging; open communication; making each person within the family feel heard, understood, important, valued, respected and esteemed.

The text book types of families include:

  • Nuclear families – A nuclear family is two adults with at least one child
  • Single-Parent Families
  • Blended Families (Step Families)
  • Grandparent Families
  • Child free Families
  • Extended Families
  • Friend families – The only families you choose

Does COVID indicate a return to family?

Does a return to family reunions  indicate a return to family values? And has COVID positively impacted this? 

Neuroscientists have looked in depth to understand what’s going on in our brains when we connect with other people. It turns out that there is a huge and positive power that is overlooked in the digital age and that is the power of proximity – physical proximity.

Could being kept indoors in the home have actually built stronger bonds and deeper relationships than we realise?

Only time will tell but it is noticeable to the travel world that more family holidays are being requested than before and that these enquiries are coming to smaller hotels that are family run. People certainly are looking to aligned values and a sense of belonging and home. 

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“In my opinion it seems to have done some of the world well to spend more time with their families and connecting with extended families. Tough times always help us realise what and who matters most. We see more stories told online about family histories, with younger generations retelling the tales they have just learned with enthusiasm and pride. Equally for those that do not have or hold family close, they seem to have created a family of friends; the only family you can choose. Smaller circles and deeper relationships meaning stronger bonds. This is the second category we are noticing enquiry spikes for, small groups of females between two and five close friends.”Isabella Howell 

Bringing your family back together safely

The covid-19 pandemic of course has negative effects on the family relationship and bonds. However, positively it has also raised a calmer and kinder set of questions. Better personalised arrangements for care and mobility and quality of living for those with illnesses for the elderly a 50% increase in early retirement rates and the very young needing holistic support and coping tools are under the microscope. It is predicted that adult children may take on the care work for their parents in future if they emigrate they may look to take their parents with them rather than look at a care home; they may also be more aware of the value of having grandparents or other relatives nearby not just for childcare but for passing on unrivalled wisdom that comes only with years and the stories and histories of the family tree. 

The family unit can be seen as a trauma cause for some with more harm done under the guise of family and of irritation to many others. Yet  we must not devalue its role as a safety-net and a place of belonging and this has been put in the spotlight from events of the last twelve months.

“We are proud to be able to offer our family home a private paradise hotel in Antigua to give families all across the globe a safe space to reunite.”

Gabriella Howell Director ,The Great House Antigua 

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What’s it like to stay in The Great House, Antigua?

See a couple of our reviews below to get a good feel for The Great House Antigua and what we can offer your family.

Lovely stay at this old sugar plantation!

We spent an excellent 8 nights at the Great House, Antigua in January 2019. Set within a former sugar plantation in quiet and tranquil grounds, it is a special place to visit if you are looking to completely relax and detox, or get fit through optional boot camp and yoga sessions. You wake up to birdsong after a comfortable night’s rest in a cool, spacious bedroom and can take a dip in good-sized clean pool within the well-maintained, spacious grounds surrounded by luscious tropical vegetation. It is close to lovely beaches in Long Bay and Half Moon Bay, both only a short drive away. The food is good and we greatly enjoyed the delicious local coffee served at breakfast by the friendly staff. They helped us with whatever we needed. If we go to Antigua again we would definitely stay at the Great House for a unique break away. Ed J Vatican City (Trip Advisor) 

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Splendid, remarkable and soothing- truly a Great House!

It’s almost three weeks since we returned from the Great House and yet it’s balm stays with us. My husband and I travel frequently and love all that Antigua offers but this was very special. Apart from anything else, it was the first time that my husband has ever returned from a holiday and started to look for flights back!
The house, though a bit tricky to find (look for number 9 on the free maps ) is elegant, well cared for and astonishing in its collections of furniture, paintings, photos and historical artefacts. This might seem a bit overwhelming in our minimalist world but it seems right for a house built in the 1670’s and of historic importance to the island.

We loved staying in the Royal Suite with its grand shutters and four poster bed.
As well as the house, it was the staff and their attitude which was so very impressive. Mara, the housekeeper made us feel special and helped with everything, the chef produced fantastic food- fresh and delicious every day, and Celia came each day to give us yoga lessons which were perfect.
As a keen swimmer, I loved the large and well run pool set in the middle of 27 acres of beautiful gardens. 
Our sincere thanks to Gabriella, the owner, for the immense attention to detail. We loved it!

Stella West London 

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Step back 350 years by entering one of the Caribbean’s original sugar plantations. ​ The Great House Antigua offers a unique stay in the Caribbean, as one of the last original estate houses that hosts guests. As one of the only original stone estate houses The Great House Antigua enables guests to stay in the 350 year old main house which are equipped with modern amenities, while retaining their historic charm. The four estate house suites are equipped with private bathrooms, air conditioning and grand four poster beds. ​ The Great House Antigua’s four garden suite cottages are spacious and private, set in 26 acres of tropical gardens with sea views. Palm, Pineapple, Cotton and Coconut Cottage all retain the names of goods grown in the estate grounds. Each garden suite is fitted with a private veranda, hammocks and his & her rainfall showers. 

The house was the home for the current owners for over 50 years, and the welcoming family run feel is clear in every experience and room explored at the hotel. All meals and soft drinks are included in guests stay, along with complimentary local hikes and exercise classes. Guests can book treatments in the in-house Banana Spa. The Great House Antigua history sets the hotel apart, with unique stories and incredible artifacts. While staying guests are able to explore the original Sugar Mill, 350 year old house, the original out-houses, tropical gardens and look through their small museum collection. The Great House Antigua – an experience like no other for families to enjoy as their own, while reuniting after the past 18 months. 

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To learn more about The Great House, Antigua click here :