Looking at summer and beyond for your next, big family vacation? If you have a group who prefers tropical weather, here is a sampling of classic resorts in the Caribbean that are more than worth considering.
Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa Providenciales has myriad rooms that are great for families, from beachfront villas to family suites. The range of options can comfortably accommodate families of all sizes, multigenerational groups and also those with special needs. We’re fond of the villas located in the Key West Village. These three- and four-bedroom villas have private pools, full kitchens, fully furnished living and dining rooms, an in-room washer and dryer, as well as butler, room and car service. They range from three to 10 guests.
In total, there are 51 rooms that can accommodate a family of four. Besides the Key West Village, the Italian Village has a handful of impressive options. The Two Bedroom Butler Family Suites have a master bedroom with a four-poster mahogany bed, a dedicated kid’s bedroom (with bunk beds with a trundle), a multi-function game table and dual-vanity bathrooms, plus more. We like how all accommodations surround the pool, while others offer walkout beachfront access. And located just behind the Italian Village is the Pirates Island Water Park. In addition to the attractions (that include three slides, a lazy river, a surf simulator, geysers, water cannons and a zero-entry pool, kids have access to self-serve ice cream, pizza and frozen concoctions at a swim-up bar.
Other water-based activities that the entire family can enjoy includes Hobie cats, scuba diving and SNUBA (a kid-friendly cross between snorkeling and scuba) programs.
The family-friendly offerings continue with: Club Liquid, a teens-only lounge that’s reminiscent of an underwater scene with blue glow lighting, shimmer and bubble screens, and wave-adorned walls; sports that include basketball, beach volleyball, soccer, tennis and croquet are all available to guests; the XBOX Play Lounge; and Trench Town, a hangout spot with arcade games.
Families with younger children will be pleased to hear about the partnership with “Sesame Street,” which lets kids meet the characters from the TV series, enjoy a show every night at 6:30 p.m., make chocolate chip cookies with Cookie Monster, treasure hunt with Abby Cadabby and more. And for the parents: Camp Sesame allows you to drop your kids off to go scuba dive or have a romantic dinner — perhaps at Le Petit Chateau, which serves Parisian-inspired cuisine with a fine wine list and romantic, dim lighting (resort evening attire required).
Travel Agent is told that Beaches Turks & Caicos is already at 60 percent occupancy for December 2019 and it’s strongly suggested to book at least a year out. Beaches also has resorts in Negril and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
Another good option is Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia. The resort is split into two sections: Harmony and Splash, the former being the adults-only section and the latter being the family-friendly portion. One thing makes this a great destination for families is that it’s just minutes from Hewanorra International Airport.
Splash Concierge Premium Ocean View rooms at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa have one king bed plus trundle twin beds (pictured) or two queens with sofa.
Guests of all ages will enjoy the colorful rooms, which face the ocean and overlook CocoLand, Saint Lucia’s largest water park. At CocoLand, families can enjoy the large activity pool, lazy river and two water slides. Another standout feature? The Zone, the Caribbean’s first paintball facility, able to host 10 players at a time. One round of paintball includes camo jumpsuits, protective eye gear and face masks and 140 rounds of paintballs; games are booking in 30-minute increments and guests must be over 13 years of age. Other recreational activities available include beach and pool volleyball, water polo, non-motorized water sports (such as snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding), soccer and more.
Families have access to three of the five pools at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa: The Activity pool, located between the Harmony and Splash sides; the Splash Pool, a zero-entry family pool with waterfalls, a fountain and foot massagers; and the Splash Plunge Pool, located in CocoLand. The resort also borders one mile of white-sand beach with views of the Maria Islands.
As for lodging, we suggest the Splash Concierge Premium Ocean View. Located on the fourth floor, these rooms have views of the Atlantic Ocean and CocoLand waterpark. Rooms have one king bed and trundle twin beds or two queens with a sofa. Rooms also offer a flat-screen TV, balcony, and a bar with mini-fridge stocked with water, soft drinks and local beer (by request). With this room category, families receive exclusive concierge amenities, which includes a private check-in, access to a weekly pirate-themed beach party, preferred seating at restaurants on property, reserved seating at weekly dinner shows, airport transportation, babysitting services and more.
Noteworthy from the resort: Executive Chef Angelo Konidis has created new menus at the resort’s four à la carte specialty restaurants where guests can enjoy fresh island ingredients and unlimited dining. What else is new? Silk now has a tandoori clay oven, which reaches temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, used for cooking meats and seafood. A Latin twist was brought to the contemporary Caribbean menu at Calabash (we’re told the tenderloin topped with garden-fresh chimichurri, shrimp coated in shaved coconut and raisin chutney is a must-order). Veranda, the new adults-only restaurant, serves dishes such as fresh marlin smoked with pimento seeds and hickory wood, a Caesar salad with roasted pineapple chunks and a papaya dressing, and grilled lamb chops. The casual, outdoor Seaside encourages sharing with plates of spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and peppers, crispy bruschetta, antipasto and balsamic drizzled lamb.
Children also have the choice of ordering from Lil’ Menus at Seaside and Silk, including favorites like barbeque chicken wings, chicken fingers with fries and beef stir fry.
Note: All of the restaurants at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa serve meals for guests with dietary preferences, including gluten-free, vegetarian, sugar-free and dairy-free.
Air Travel: JetBlue recently launched its Mint service to Saint Lucia from Boston Logan International Airport.
Bermuda’s Fairmont Southampton, home to the Explorers Camp Kids’ Club and a dedicated children’s pool, now welcomes certain other family members as well. The resort hotel is allowing guests to bring their dogs to stay at the property for an extra $50 per pooch per night. Each pet gets a package that includes a dog treat, food and water bowls, pet waste disposal bags and a dog bed. Visitors who bring their pets need an import license for dogs, as required by the government. To receive the documentation, owners must visit their local vet and submit an application.