UNLESS YOU CHOOSE SOMETHING SIMPLE, like renting a house on the Cape, planning a multiple-family vacation can be a study in constraints and compromises. So when my younger sister proposed that her family (based in New Jersey, with daughters ages 8, 7, and 4) and mine (based in suburban Boston, with kids 13, 11, and 7) take a joint trip this summer, what ensued was a process of offer and counteroffer. No planes, I decreed, having just taken my family to California. No beaches, she replied, having already booked a week in North Carolina. “Maybe an Adirondacks-style resort, like in Dirty Dancing?” she suggested, e-mailing a link to an all-inclusive place in the Poconos. “How about something with horseback riding, and closer to Massachusetts?” I countered. “What about this place?” my wife chimed in, sending along a link to Rocking Horse Ranch Resort (800-647-2624, rockinghorseranch.com).
Amid the Venn diagrams representing our various priorities, Rocking Horse seemed to bull’s-eye the overlapping area. Located near Poughkeepsie, New York, it’s almost equidistant from our homes. As the name implies, it has horses — along with kid-friendly food and a host of activities, including an indoor water park, boating, and entertainment. It looked pricey, but when I called the reservation line, a persuasive rep touted the all-inclusive package. And since it allowed an early arrival and late departure, we could spend three days enjoying the facilities but pay for only two nights. After a quick group consult, we put down a deposit.