With kids in tow, the challenge of a summer vacation for any couple with children lies in maximizing the fun and minimizing the meltdowns. Getting away from chicken fingers on the buffet and swimming pools that look like daycare centers is the true test of a family-friendly holiday that can turn romantic when the kids are tucked into bed at night. Yes, you can give the kids a bucket and a shovel and go back to your novel, but there is a wide array of resorts that not only cater to families but make sure parents enjoy quality time on their own.
Any resort worth its tot-sized robe can call itself kid-friendly but a bonafide family-oriented property is also fun for the grown-ups. From splash pools and Big Bird on the beach and adults-only hot tubs, the Caribbean is rolling out the red carpet for families of all sizes and shapes.
In Barbados, the all-inclusive Turtle Beach resort, part of the Elegant Hotels Group, caters to families with a myriad of activities at The Flying Fish Kids’ Club from calypso dancing and steel pan lessons to water sports and kayaking. Open from nine to nine, the Club entertains kids under thirteen years old while their parents enjoy more grown-up activities like topping off their tan and rubdowns in the spa. Teenagers at the Tamarind, also an EHG resort, rave about Club Tamarind where swimming with turtles and watching movies at the Olympus theatre rock the house and at the uber-cool Clubhouse, a treasure chest of teen toys like Wii consoles and flat screen TV’s keep the groovy set busy till the sun sets. www.eleganthotels.com.
Crowning a limestone cliff overlooking a pink sand beach, The Reefs in Bermuda is wooing families with spacious suites and three on-site restaurants. “In the winter, The Reefs provides a reprieve from the cold weather with a beachfront setting and ocean views from every room,” says Nagma Walker, general manager, “families have the option to room together either in our cottages or our new two- and three-bedroom condos.” www.thereefs.com. Island-wide, the “Compliments of Bermuda’ promotion offers shopping and restaurant discounts and one night free when three are booked for travel through March 31. Hotels participating include The Reefs, Grotto Bay Beach and the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and Fairmont Southampton. www.gotobermuda.com
In Grand Cayman, Cotton Tree impresses with a treasure chest of fun from sand castle building and scouting for shells along Barkers Beach to bikes, hikes and plenty of perches for mom and dad to take five. “We love to pamper our guests and watch their stress melt away,” says Heather Lockington, owner. www.caymancottontree.com.
X-Box or Bread Box
While resort game rooms are standard-issue these days, it’s the state-of-the-art stuff that keeps tweens and teens happy. The Xbox 360 Game Garage at Beaches Boscobel and Beaches Negril in Jamaica and Beaches Sandy Bay in Turks & Caicos features the latest and greatest ‘Kinect for Xbox 360’ with its signature voice and motion-activated system. “We are thrilled to be the first within the travel industry to offer the most up-to-date forms of entertainment to our guests and demonstrates that we will continue to raise the bar within the teen and tween market,” said Adam Stewart, CEO Beaches Resorts.
Ratcheting up the family appeal, Scratch DJ Academy, created by hip hop legend Run DMC; Liquid nightclub for teens; Trench Town game room where adults aren’t allowed and the Red Lane Spa Teen Spa keep families busy from sunrise to sunset. Take your family to Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean!
A Family Six-Pack
- Y-Splitter to hook up two headphones to one jack so two kids can watch the same movie at the same time.
- Lollipops to fix ear pain on planes.
- A Nanny, if you can afford one, is the great reliever.
- Waterproof camera for capturing vacation memories in the pool.
- A Wikki Stix for an impromptu arts and crafts lesson.
- An invisible ink pen that leaves no mess to clean up.