The Caribbean is ripe with resorts geared toward families — and they always have something new going on. If your clients are considering a warm-weather getaway with the kids in tow, here are four all-inclusive properties you should consider.
This winter, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa (and its accompanying adults-only sister property, Sonesta Ocean Point Resort) in St. Maarten will be home to a variety of holiday-themed events. Among the highlights will be holiday brunches, beach barbecues and five-course dinner menus from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. Meet-and-greets with Santa and other fanfare will also take place.
Earlier this year, the resorts introduced new entertainment programming, which includes live performers, musicians, artists, SunFit instructors, presenters and technical experts. At Sonesta Maho Beach Resort specifically, additional entertainment includes a BBQ Beach Party Under the Stars (a Caribbean Carnival-style event with food, fun, special performances and crab racing). Daily activities include a variety of games by the pool or beach, trivia, prizes and SunFit program sessions.
For families, there is the dedicated Beach House kids’ program, Teen Zone and Aqua Park, which are pretty much brand-new following 18 months of renovation. The Beach House Kids Club has 1,000 square feet of indoor space and a 2,500-square-foot outdoor area with a playground. Tip: The Club also provides 24-hour babysitting services upon request. Adjacent is the Aqua Park with a kid’s pool, three slides and a pool deck with loungers and umbrellas. The new, high-tech Teen Zone is packed with entertainment and games, including air hockey, foosball, table tennis, crazy golf, a cinema-style TV media room with PlayStation, Wii and Xbox, among others.
Tip: Families looking to experience some local flair should be sure to take in the Maho Village Carnival, which marches through the town on Friday nights. This event features the Generation New Status Youth Marching Band and The Sonesta Showteam.
For active families, the new fitness and wellbeing programs, SunFit Body + Lifestyle Sessions — well-suited for guests of all ages and levels — range from mindful mediation and yoga to morning runs.
The Loft Suites are best for families. These 765-square-foot rooms have ocean views, balconies, an elevated bedroom with a king bed and a sitting area located beneath with pullout sofa, providing privacy for parents and space for the kids. (It also comes with three bottles of premium liquor, parents.)
All room categories, except for the Loft and Deluxe One Bedroom Suites, have connecting rooms, should a family prefer this option. The top non-suite option is the Premier Ocean View. These rooms are located on Floors 6 through 10 and have a balcony with views of the ocean, the Oasis Pool and Maho Beach.
The busiest time at the resort is from Christmas till end of April and again from July to August. Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa recommends that guests book three to six months in advance, although there may be rooms available for the holidays due to cancellations and such.
In the Dominican Republic, the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is hosting SpongeBob’s 20th Anniversary and Best Year Ever Celebration through the remainder of 2019. Guests visiting the resort will be privy to an array of exclusive activities such as SpongeBob and Patrick meet-and-greets, Family Disco Dance Parties, a SpongeBob Edition of Nick Live Poolside and The Pineapple Villa Open House. Weekly celebrations and special experiences also include early check-in, fun poolside activities and games at Aqua Nick.
Good to know: For guests who would like more than an “Open House” tour of The Pineapple Villa, can book a stay in the accommodation. The two-bedroom / three-bath accommodation — the resort’s top option — has all the amenities of the Super Villas, but décor is Bikini-Bottom inspired, from the indoor and outdoor living and dining areas to a private master suite with a king-size bed and smart TV. The second bedroom is on the upper level of the villa’s loft-style living room and comes with two single beds, a TV and private bathroom.
The living room has a pull-out sofa bed, dining room, TV, storage space, a private bathroom and access to the villa’s private gardens and patio where the Pineapple’s infinity pool, sunbeds, and dining and living area can be found.
The living room of the Pineapple Villa at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Private butlers take care of families’ every need, from pre-arrival through the end of their stay. These butlers will also arrange tailor-made private activities, such as a moonlight beach dinner or an in-suite afternoon tea party, pizza party or pajama party (as well as wine tasting for grown-ups). Guests of The Pineapple receive preferred access to all restaurants and the spa.
Should The Pineapple be unavailable, the Pool Super Villa is the pick. Aside from the shape and décor, it’s the same accommodation as The Pineapple. Another top option is the Swank Wraparound Swim-Up Suite.
Nickelodeon Place serves as a central hub of the resort throughout the day; here, guests will find Aqua Nick, Plaza Orange, Character Central, Just Kiddin’ and Nick Knacks. Aqua Nick has water slides, splash pads, spray grounds and a lazy river — kids can even join a Mass Sliming or partake in a Slime Time photo opportunity. Plaza Orange is host to a bunch of comings-and-goings, including character appearances, “Wow Familiy Fiestas,” dance parties and more; similarly, guests will be able to find and take photos with Nickelodeon characters at the aptly named Character Central.
Part-clubhouse, part-artist’s studio, Just Kiddin’ is the resort’s kids’ club, designed for children from four years of age through 12.
For additional recreation, all guests have access to the Sports Hub, where they will find tennis, archery, basketball, soccer, giant chess and a clubhouse with table tennis and foosball.
Be sure to remind your family clients to visit Zest, an interactive dining venue where guests can meet some of their favorite characters, including SpongeBob, Patrick, Dora, Boots, Paw Patrol and the Fairly Odd Parents; there’s also a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Power Breakfast and a Pajama Jam — as the name implies, guests can enjoy a breakfast party in their PJs. Reservations are required for one of its three dinner sittings. For picky eaters, it’s good to know that there are nine more venues available for family dining.
Another suitable option for families is Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in Jamaica, which opened just last year. If it’s the top accommodation you’re after, look no further than the Three Bedroom Oceanfront Villas, which are the most requested rooms on property. Totaling nearly 4,400 square feet, the three-story villas have a fully equipped kitchen, half bath, dining and parlor seating area on the first floor, with walkout access to an oceanfront terrace and a private plunge pool. The second level has two bedrooms with queen-sized beds and their own private bath with shower, washer and dryer. The top floor is home to the master suite with a king bed, large master bath with a soaking tub and a large terrace.
The Three Bedroom Oceanfront Villa at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa in Jamaica has nearly 4,400 square feet of space.
Another top option is the Three Bedroom Grande Luxe Penthouse Butler Suite, which measures just over 3,500 square feet.
Note: Both the Sabal and Silver towers offer butler service to all suites; guests staying in the third Sentry tower’s Presidential Suites can take advantage of butler service, as well. This section is the newest on property. Opening in March, the resort debuted the third tower with 88 modern junior suites and expansive presidential suites.
Jewel Grande offers a Kids Club and Teen Lounge of its own. Features include a “fun-size” soccer field, table tennis, pool tables and beachfront play area, as well as a splash pad, jungle gym and more. Video game systems, bowling and arcade-style games are also among the options. The resort has nine F&B venues, so diverse family members are sure to find something to their liking.
Good to know: The Grande Spa offers treatments for guests of all ages. All spa services should be booked at least 48 hours in advance.
Elsewhere, Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia recently completed the renovation of most rooms on property. General Manager Waltrude Patrick says that all 18 garden-view, 24 beachfront and 20 pool-view rooms have already been completely refurbished, with the remaining 16 pool view rooms to be finished in time for the start of the peak winter season in December. Room upgrades included new Wi-Fi-enabled Samsung and LG smart televisions. New stainless steel kitchen appliances have also been installed in the one-bedroom beachfront suites.
Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa in St. Lucia recently completed the renovation of most rooms on property.
The room that provides the most space is the Two Bedroom Pool View Suite. It has a living and dining space (complete with a kitchen) and a large bathroom.
Good to know: All of the Bay Gardens Resorts (five, all in all) include one complimentary spa treatment daily per room, unlimited access to Splash Island Water Park and access to the Dine Around program (with a booking of seven nights or more), which includes additional restaurants at its other properties in Rodney Bay Village.
Tip: Splash Island Water Park has dozens of obstacle courses including trampoline challenges, climbing walls, slides, swings and more — all floating in the bay. For active families, St. Lucia is a great island to do some hiking and snorkeling. The resort’s proximity to the marina also makes it a quick getaway for fishing, if that’s more your family clients’ preference.