Could any trend be stronger than the posting of puppy videos on Facebook? Just one: the race to open name-brand, all-inclusive resorts, some for adults only and others that are family-friendly. Here’s how three successful companies are parenting new resorts targeting families.
AMResorts, a division of Apple Leisure Group, offers six different brands that have been expanding so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with them. On Dec. 23, for example, AMResorts opened not one but two Sunscape Resorts in Montego Bay—right next to each other, no less. The Sunscape brand’s patented Unlimited-Fun includes red-carpet check-in for kids, a club for children ages 3-12, another club for teens, large and/or connecting rooms, restaurants that don’t require reservations, and more.
But why two adjacent Sunscapes? The 308-room Sunscape Splash Montego Bay is action central with its pirate-themed water park, while the 122-room Sunscape Cove Montego Bay, whose beach faces Montego Bay Marine Park, offers a more low-rise, low-key setting. Guests at either one may use the facilities at the other. For a family of four with two children ages 5 and 13 who want to book July 16-23, rack rates at Sunscape Splash start at $534 a night (with a best available rate of $414 at press time) and at the Cove, $694 (best available, $526).
In the Dominican Republic, Sunscape Puerto Plata has just opened on the north coast, which boasts a varied topography and adventure activities. With 585 rooms and suites, this Sunscape is large enough to offer a great variety of dining, entertainment, and recreational options, including tee times on a Robert Trent Jones, Jr., golf course whose greens fees vary with demand. A Deluxe Family Garden view with a king and two twin beds for a family of four would start at $429 a night in July. P.S. Two more Sunscape resorts will open in the Dominican Republic this December.
On the same day the Jamaican Sunscape properties debuted, AMResorts opened the 180-room Now Garden Punta Cana. What distinguishes Now from Sunscape is its specific appeal to multigenerational families via a (patented) Unlimited-Luxury experience that includes gourmet dining, top-shelf spirits, and—this is key—activities geared toward all age groups. The new Now Garden sits directly behind Now Larimar, which has the beach, but guests at either resort can use all the facilities.
Although the Garden is newer than Larimar, it costs less: A July 16-23 stay for multigenerational Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, and the two kids would mean two rooms starting at $377 per room per night at press time; trade up two categories to swim-up rooms, and you’re paying no more than you’d pay for the most basic room (pool view) at Larimar: $423. However, note that Garden rooms only accommodate three, so these figures assume one child in the grandparents’ room. To put both kids in the parents’ room or to have connecting rooms, book Larimar.
Melia opened its first-ever resort in Jamaica, the Melia Braco Village, in December. This Rio Bueno, Trelawny, property has low-rise buildings with 226 guestrooms, including 61 suites, a camp for children ages 5 through 12, six restaurants (five a la carte), three bars, two pools, the beach, watersports, and more.
I’ve praised The Level of the Melia Caribe Tropical in the Dominican Republic because the four restaurants, beach area, pools, and other facilities designated for The Level guests make for a true resort-within-a-resort. Braco Village’s The Level is not so all-encompassing (e.g. there’s only one Level-only restaurant), so different clients will view it differently. A Deluxe Room with a Garden View featuring one king bed or two queens and a sofa bed for a family of four, July 16-23, starts at $557; note that the oldest a child can be for this family rate is 11, not 13.
Back in the D.R., Karisma Hotels, which in January unveiled travel agent commissions as high as 21 percent, is partnering with Viacom for a May opening of Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, Nickelodeon’s first-ever international hotel. The Aqua Nick Playground, appearances by Nickelodeon characters, children’s spa robes, complimentary baby food, strollers, cribs, and other amenities make life good for both kids and parents, while the resort’s Gourmet Inclusive restaurants (10 of them), 24-hour room service, tennis and other land sports, watersports, spa, and entertainment specifically target adults.
Accommodations range from 208 large suites with modern decor to a villa that resembles SpongeBob SquarePants’ home. The introductory offer that included free stays for children (e.g. the Jacuzzi Pad, with a king or two doubles and a pull-out sofa, was $450 instead of the $750 rack rate for a family of four) ended Feb. 29. No doubt, another deal is in the works.
Melia Braco Village: melia.com/en/hotels/jamaica/trelawny/melia-braco-village/index.html; melia.com/en/travelagents/home.htm
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana: nickresortpuntacana.com; karismatravelagents.com/KarismaTravelAgents-Home.cfm
Now Resorts: nowresorts.com; amrewards.amragents.com
Sunscape Resorts: sunscaperesorts.com; amrewards.amragents.com