“My daughter will have a baby next month, but our family is so busy and so scattered—in Nassau, Fort Lauderdale, Montreal—that we don’t spend much time with each other anymore. So we’re talking about what we’ll do at Christmas.” The person telling me this is Kerry Fountain, executive director of the Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board, and a man who has access to the best hotel rooms. His family, he goes on to say, will rent a private home or villa.
Condos and villas in the Caribbean region are increasingly popular among multigenerational families like Fountain’s because they have living rooms, patios, kitchen/dining areas, and often private pools that allow people to reconnect without intrusions. They also enable families to eat at “home,” which minimizes the tedium of waiting for a large restaurant table, mulling over the menu, placing orders, controlling bored kids while the kitchen prepares the order, and paying a small fortune for all that. Besides, shared meals without distractions bring families together, and as Cayman Islands’ director of tourism Rosa Harris puts it, “create lifelong memories through shared experiences.”
Booking condos and villas, however, isn’t always easy, in part because it’s hard to be familiar with the thousands of options. A company like Villas of Distinction can help, and villa product and agency relations v.p. Steve Lassman suggests issues to raise with clients, including location (which island? and beach or hilltop?), family members’ interests, mobility and other safety issues, budget (or budgets, if more than one party is paying), staffing needs, and desired amenities.
That last one is tricky for families who crave privacy but want a full-service resort’s facilities, such as supervised children’s activities for when the adults want a day of golf or shopping. My solution: Book homes and/or condos connected with resorts. Here are four recommendations—and they’re all on islands with good connections to the mainland.
Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic
“No matter the ages of the visitors, all guests are sure to find something perfectly suited to their interests, activity levels, and budgets in the Dominican Republic,” says Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic. Which brings me to Casa de Campo.
This is a superb resort for families who want to pursue different passions (or not) by day and then reconvene for dinners and lounging about. It offers world-renowned golf (e.g. Pete Dye’s Teeth of the Dog), beach activities, tennis, restaurants, entertainment, kids and teens clubs, a spa, fitness center, shooting center, riding stables (with a polo field!), and even an art colony designed like a medieval village. Scores of lodging options, too.
The 3- to 7-bedroom Spanish revival villas sport classic stucco exteriors with red tile roofs. They feature a mix of traditional and wicker furniture, private pools, WiFi, modern kitchens, transfers from LRM, welcome amenities, the use of one or more golf carts, and the services of a maid and butler from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A 3-bedroom, 4,305-sq.-ft Garden Villa with private pool (of course) and two golf carts costs $1,046.25 per night in high season, or $7,323.75 per week. Add 18 percent sales tax and 10 percent service charge for a total of $9,374.39.
A 5-bedroom, 8,611-sq.-ft. Classic Villa with three golf carts costs $1,852, or $12,967.50 a week; with taxes and service fees that’s $16,598.40. For families who put a couple of children in the living room, add $32 per night per child. Clients with large family groups might consider Villa Radiante, a 7-bedroom palacio that costs $7,460 a night, or $52,220 a week, plus 28 percent service charge for $66,841.60.
Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Great Abaco Island
I saw a lot of multi-gen families on my most recent trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas, and Fountain explains why:
“The numbers of large family groups staying in Out Islands ‘Apartments/Villas’ increased 9 percent in 2014 and 11.5 percent in 2015. Family members reconnect here because there aren’t a lot of modern-day distractions like X-boxes. Visiting families do things together, from hanging out to island hopping.”
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, where I spent a few days, attracts a prosperous, country club demographic. Straddling a white, 2-mile beach, it offers excellent golf, watersports, tennis, spa service, and offsite options such as fly fishing, diving and snorkeling. Left of the beach is a promontory with cottages and villas; all include updated kitchens, daily housekeeping, and the use of a golf cart.
For example, Ocean Blue (yes, it’s blue) is a 2,600-sq.-ft. “cottage” with four bedrooms and four and a half baths that sleeps 10. It has a huge, screen-in porch/lounge and an oceanfront deck, and it’s near the Cliff House Restaurant (kudos for the jumbo shrimp), spa and infinity pool. High season rates are $2,499 plus taxes/fees of 23.5 percent, or $21,604 a week.
For an extended family that can afford over-the-top luxury, 6-bedroom, 7.5-bath, 7,000-sq.-ft. Ynys Marn (that’s Welsh) offers Architectural Digest-worthy contemporary design, pickled wood ceilings, indoor and outdoor dining, and a private pool for $10,000 a night plus the 23.5 percent fee, or $86,450 per week. In theory it sleeps 10, but sure, two more could sleep in the maid’s room.
Caribbean Club, Grand Cayman Island
“Multigenerational families choose the Cayman Islands because they cater not only to different personalities, but every age,” says Harris. “Our trio of islands is beyond a beach destination, offering ‘Caymankind’ hospitality and a diversity of experiences, an ever-expanding culinary scene, and cultural attractions.”
The Caribbean Club, a beachfront boutique residence hotel, is a smart pick for multigen groups who want some hotel facilities, but don’t want to pay for things they won’t use (e.g. Hobie-Cats, daily poolside entertainment, etc.). It has a pool, fitness center, free oceanfront cabanas, visiting massage therapists, and a superb Italian restaurant, Luca, that will deliver multi-course meals for dining en-suite. The front desk can arrange anything—trips to the Turtle Farm and Stingray City (although I recommend renting a car on this island), snorkeling and fishing trips, golf, helicopter rides, or tennis at the Ritz-Carlton, just a few minutes’ walk away. For an extra charge, children, teens, or, even better, entire families may use the Ritz-Carlton’s Ambassadors of the Environment, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s award-winning kayaking, snorkeling, a blue iguana tour of the botanic park, crafts, or star-gazing program.
The website describes the lodgings as “villas,” but they’re really condos, albeit not “just” condos. The 3-bedroom, roughly 2,700-sq.-ft. units have ample furnished balconies, large living rooms, furnishings with peaceful earth tones, kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, and marble countertops in the baths. Agents can request a pull-out sofa or air mattress so families can put a couple of kids in the living room.
The prices of 3-bedroom Tower and Pool View apartments are the same, $1,765 plus 23 percent per night, or $15,196.65 a week, and a Beachfront suite costs $18,942 for the week. But here’s a secret: You can request an unpublicized 4-bedroom, ground floor walkout for larger groups, and it costs less than the Beachfront: $17,004.75 a week.
Seven Stars Resort & Spa, Providenciales
This Turks and Caicos island lies near the mainland and is served by multiple airlines. It’s upscale, safe, and home to Grace Bay, which boasts one of the finest beaches in a region that’s rich in good beaches. The all-suite resort Seven Stars has prime beachfront, attentive beach attendants, a blue-tiled saltwater pool that can be heated, complimentary watersports, bicycles, tennis, activities for children, a fine restaurant, a caring staff, a gourmet restaurant, and a classy beach bar, The Deck.
The suites are in three 7-story buildings with French-blue roofs; the original plan to build seven of them never came to pass, which is fine by me. An oceanfront 3-bedroom, 2,610-sq.-ft. suite features comfortable white furniture, marble baths, a kitchen with granite counters and whizbang appliances, a large living area with a pull-out sofa bed, terraces on two sides, a laundry room, daily breakfasts, and Internet access. Luxury doesn’t come cheap—the 3-bedrooms cost $8,550 a night, or $73,017 a week, including tax—but they somehow feel both posh
Seven Stars also offers villas that lie 10 and 30 minutes from the resort, so these are for multi-gen families who want both ultimate privacy and access to the resort’s facilities. Affinity Villa, a 4-bedroom, 3-bath hideaway, has a private pool, gas grill and fire pit, a dock with a kayak (good fishing there, too), a pool table, housekeeping services, a nearby beach and restaurant, and killer sunsets, all for $1,095 to $1,733 per night, plus 12 percent room tax. It’s one of the best values on Provo.
The Abaco Club on Winding Bay: theabacoclub.com
Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board: myoutislands.com
Caribbean Club: caribclub.com
Casa de Campo: casadecampo.com.do
Cayman Islands Department of Tourism: caymanislands.ky
Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic: godominicanrepublic.com
Seven Stars Resort & Spa: sevenstarsvillas.com
Villas of Distinction: villasofdistinction.com
Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Anguilla
When Four Seasons Resorts takes over operations of this luxury Viceroy property Oct. 20, expect some changes in dining and service but no immediate revisions to the physical resort. Arguably, it doesn’t need any.
Multigen families will be able to rent a 3-bedroom, 2,548-sq.-ft. Ocean View Residence with a 610-sq.-ft. balcony and private plunge pool for $3,450 a night; with taxes and fees, that’s $29,589 a week in the winter season. A 4-bedroom, 4,817-sq.-ft. Beachfront Villa (it also has a 1,252-sq.-ft. deck and spa pool) costs $6,100 per night, or $52,220 per week including taxes and fees. For more information, visit fourseasons.com or viceroyhotelsandresorts.com. —Ed Wetschler