Caribbean Family Vacations: Five Great Hotels and Resorts
Traveling with kids can be a rewarding family bonding experience if done correctly and a drain on both your sanity and wallet otherwise. Aside from the added expense, finding activities that are both age appropriate and entertaining are often difficult.
Travelers who don't want to sacrifice quality for "family-friendly" are often at a loss ... where can they find both "me" and "we" time? We've done our homework to find five great family-friendly Caribbean resorts that boast everything from included water sports to newly-revamped kids clubs, all while keeping in mind that bringing along the little ones doesn't mean you'll need to sacrifice quality along the way. Here are the best places to start planning your Caribbean family vacation.
Best Caribbean Family Vacation Spots: Beaches, Turks + Caicos
Turks + Caicos is becoming exceptionally popular amongst American travelers due to its pristine beaches, temperate weather and the easy access of flights. But until recently, few Caribbean resorts catered specifically to families with children. This was rectified last year with the re-opening of the island's first Beaches resort, an all-inclusive experience geared towards families and couples alike. The $68 million enchancement ensured that the resort, part of the Sandals chain, is up to snuff. Book one of the 168 family suites, specifically designed for those traveling with children. Spend the day playing in the on-site water park or 1,115 square foot pool. The littlest ones can play in the nursery, while kids can venture to different areas depending on age. There's a Sesame Camp for children age five and under and a Pirate Islands Kids Club for kids in the age range of six to 12. The Sesame Camp features characters from the popular television show -- Grover, Elmo, Cookie Monster and others -- and they interact with the children. Adults will love the on-site slot machines.
Families traveling with children will find no better Caribbean family resort than the legendary Atlantis in the Bahamas' Paradise Island. Their chidlren's features are fresh from a March 2010 renovation that unveiled an 8,000 square foot kids' paradise. An even newer addition is the Crush Teen's Club, an $11 million facility opened in December 2010 that includes an innovative 32 TV screen tower, "gaming cabanas" and touch-screen tabletops that let kids do everything from order food to upload Facebook photos. Of course, there's plenty else to do for kids of all ages - from water slides, a pottery studio and underwater exhibits to culinary journeys and a "performance" stage, your kids will never want to leave this family-friendly resort. Parents can even join the kids for healthy Yoga on the Beach. For adults, there's a 30,000 square foot Mandara spa, restaurant ranging from American to French to Chinese, a 21 shop Bahamanian market, and A-list performances (Josh Groban and The Jonas Brothers, among others, have performed here).
Best Caribbean Family Vacation Spots: Four Seasons Reosrt Nevis
Newly re-opened after nearly two years of renovations following Hurricane Omar, this ultra-luxe Caribbean resort is perfect for families seeking a high-end vacation with the little ones. Family-friendly amenities include kids-sized bathrobes and milk and cookies upon arrival, plus a turtle toy and turtle treat made just for the little ones by the pastry chef. The resort offers 17 family suites (and in-room DVD players for those times when you just want to get out of the sun). Kids can even enjoy an educational journey through the resort's Sea Turtle Education and Adoption program, where they'll take home a certificate of "adoption." The onsite Kids for All Seasons program has a mini pirate ship and tropical tree house (with stuffed monkeys hanging from the tree!), plus a cute kids menu and excursions like a supervised lizard walk. Nevis is one of the lesser-visited Caribbean islands and this resort is perfectly-positioned for privacy on Pinney's Beach. Adults will love the Robert Trent Jones II-designed golf course and beachfront restaurant.
Re-opened in November after a $10 million renovation, Tamarind, a part of the Barbados' Elegant Hotels chain, offers something for everyone. Kids and adults alike will love the all-inclusive approach to water sports (only jet skiing is extra) and the daily free buffet breakfast, featuring kid-friendly pancakes and cereals plus traditional Bajan fare like plantains and flying fish. Kids aged three and up can play all day in one of two newly-revamped kids clubs (there's a special area just for teens, too) where they'll enjoy activities ranging from board games to nature walks. Older kids will enjoy Wii tournaments, an air hockey table and activities ranging from karaoke to movie night. While the kids are at play, adults can dine at the resort's new oceanfront 246 Restaurant, offering a mixture of Caribbean and Asian and Italian fusion cuisine (try the signature Watermelon martinis) or simply enjoy some much needed quiet time at the resort's spa or private white sand beach, where dedicated "beach ambassadors" will attend to your every need.
Best Caribbean Family Vacation Spots: Club Med, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
We've always heard that traveling with kids can be a circus - but we've never heard about a resort with a literal circus school ... until now. Kids as young as four years of age can learn the art of flying trapeze, juggling, and acrobatics (all with appropriate safety gear, naturally) at the Caribbean family resort's Circus School. A performance is staged for the parents weekly. Is your little one more into dance, perhaps? How about a Hip Hop Kidz dance class? Children up to 13 years of age will enjoy up to three different activities offered each hour, including things like puppet shows, archery and a mini gym. A special program is available for teenagers up to 17 as well. Amenities available for families include three swimming pools, baby bathtubs, no-fee stroller rentals, a teen lounge and mini fridges in all guest rooms. Perfect for impatient little travelers, the resort is a mere ten minutes from the airport. Parents will love the fitness classes and snorkeling excursions. For added amenities, book rooms in the five trident luxury space at the center of the resort, which includes upgraded food and beverage programs, private concierge service and 32 family suites with terraces and water views.