Everything You Need to Know About Family Vacations in the Caribbean

Guests of all ages can swim with the dolphins at Atlantis Paradise Island.
Guests of all ages can swim with the dolphins at Atlantis Paradise Island.

Cartoon characters...circus acrobatics…dolphins…water sports — these are just some of the things most kids love and which can be found at new and well-established resorts in the Caribbean. And grownups will find plenty to their liking, including wallet-friendly discounts and deals.

The latest news on this front is that Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is slated to open on May 15 and is now available for bookings through the following U.S. operators: Funjet Vacations, Classic Vacations, Travel Impressions, Exclusive Group Travel, Vacation Express, MLT Vacations and American Airlines Vacations.

Nestled on Uvero Alto beach in the Dominican Republic, the upscale property aims to deliver delightful twists, including surprise “slimings” and unexpected visits from clients’ favorite Nickelodeon characters. The resort has 208 suites in seven styles designed to cater to a variety of tastes, from intimate Jacuzzi Pads and Flats to exquisite Swim-Up Suites.

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Guests may also choose to book one of four exclusive, two- and three-bedroom Super Villas providing upwards of 2,200 square feet of vacationing space each, including the Pineapple Villa, inspired by SpongeBob SquarePants’ home in Bikini Bottom.

At the heart of the resort will be Nickelodeon Place, with areas to tickle the senses of kids and adults alike. The variety of dining options all but ensures that even the pickiest of young eaters will find something to their liking. There are 10 Gourmet Inclusive restaurants, two Gourmet Corners and the Doppio Coffee Shop.

The Club Med Creactive by Cirque du Soleil interactive playground experience gives families a chance to learn more than 25 acrobatic and artistic activities.
The Club Med Creactive by Cirque du Soleil interactive playground experience gives families a chance to learn more than 25 acrobatic and artistic activities.

At Club Med Punta Cana, Club Med and Cirque du Soleil launched an innovative concept last June that aims to take experiential travel literally to new heights. The Club Med Creactive by Cirque du Soleil interactive playground experience offers vacationing families the opportunity to learn more than 25 acrobatic and artistic activities ranging from flying trapeze, acrobatic bungee, tightrope, aerial silks and trampoline to mask painting, make-up and juggling lessons and more.

Families will be fully immersed in a colorful environment that is custom designed to encourage both adults and children alike to learn new skills, play and have fun under the supervision of Cirque du Soleil trained staff, which will help them progress and discover unexpected new abilities.

Club Med’s all-inclusive rates cover kid’s clubs — which offer dedicated age-appropriate programs and sports for teens and children — as well as beaches and pools, a vast array of land and water activities and a variety of dining choices.

Atlantis Paradise Island — where Dolphin Cove, water parks, river rides, a marine habitat, live entertainment and more have long attracted families — continues to upgrade and add new amenities. The Cove Atlantis recently refurbished all of its suites, including new headboards, carpets and colorful wall art. Also, 77° West, a new signature restaurant, opened in November, serving South American-inspired cuisine with a Bahamian touch.

Poseidon’s Table, formerly Marketplace, is a new, ocean-inspired update designed by Jeffery Beers that introduces new large, round booth and banquette seating to accommodate 300 guests. The casino also added a new elite gaming experience, the Salon Prive.

Iberostar has a Kids Stay Free promotion at its hotels in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. When visiting select properties with two adults paying full price, families can enjoy a complimentary stay for up to two children (varies by property). This offer is valid when booked now through October 31 for travel from May 1 to October 31. In addition, guests who book between now and April 30 for travel through August 15 will receive $250 to $500 in IB Resort Credits to be used on services and amenities, including room upgrades, spa treatments, golf, hotel shopping and more.

Wyndham Reef Resort, the only property in the Cayman Islands with an all-inclusive option, is now offering a 15 percent commission to agents who book any all-inclusive vacation package for their clients. All-inclusive packages start at $482 a night for double occupancy (travel March 28 – August 13), plus $60 a day per child ages 4-17; those ages 3 and under stay free.

In addition to all meals and drinks — both non-alcoholic beverages and house brand liquor, beer and wine  — families can enjoy free Wi-Fi access and one hour per day use of kayaks, pedal boat and paddle boards, plus free use of snorkel gear. Room-only rates are also available and are commissionable to travel agents at 10 percent.

In St. Lucia, where tourism officials are preparing to welcome more than 700 new hotel rooms to the island’s accommodations in 2016, Rex Resorts has re-opened the 110-room Papillon Hotel as an all-inclusive four-star property after extensive renovations. “Rexplorers” activities for 4 to 12 year olds are available by request, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-4 p.m. (except public holidays). Papillon is adjacent to the St. Lucian and Royal by Rex Resorts hotels on Reduit Beach near Rodney Bay.

Also set to open this year, the Harbor Club on the Rodney Bay Marina will have 115 four-star accommodations, two restaurants, lounges, a full-service spa, gym and a pool recreational concept. Adjacent to the Harbor Club is the recently completed Dive Saint Lucia, a scuba diving center in the Eastern Caribbean just south of the Rodney Bay Marina.

Also in St. Lucia, the Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina’s new lineup of classes include a Beginner’s Sailing Lesson at The Capella Marina. Suitable for children 10 years and older, this class is a fun way to learn about the history of Marigot Bay while enjoying the Caribbean Sea and learning to sail at the same time. This introductory class (which is a certified course) will cover the basics of sailing theory and practice in a fun and interactive session. Guests will thrill in the excitement in taking the helm, hoisting the sails and reading the wind and water. A full day of lessons (eight hours) starts at an all-inclusive price of $1,300 and includes the use of a boat, instructor, picnic lunch and non-alcoholic beverages. One weeks’ notice is required.

In Bermuda, the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is expected to complete its $100 million renovation project in June. The 400-room property has added 43 new suites, three new restaurants, an exhale flagship spa, gym and boutique fitness studio, a private beach club and a 60-berth marina.

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