“It’s my daughter’s sweet 16, so we let her choose the family vacation, and she wanted to come back here,” says the woman at one of the picnic tables during the Friday night beach party. When she finishes her dinner, her two girls pull her and their dad to the dance floor (dance sand?), where hundreds of kids, parents, and grandparents are boogeying and smiling at each other. Hey, what ever happened to cranky kids, family squabbles?
Cranky is in short supply at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa. This 614-room/suite all-inclusive manages to please kids, teens, parents, and grandparents, a not-so-minor miracle. Located on Providenciales’ Grace Bay, a 12-mile strand of snow-white sand, this Sandals-operated resort includes three distinct “villages”—Caribbean, French and Italian—plus seaside villas, excellent food and libations, a long menu of events and recreational options for all ages, a spa, and superior children’s programs, and all but the spa are included.
Lodgings feature kids’ beds and range from doubles to 3-bedroom suites with butlers, and the suites in the Italian Village are standouts, with child-pleasing kids’ rooms that have bunks and/or trundles, a TV, an Xbox, and a scaled-down toilet and sink. The mahogany four-poster in each master bedroom, the 42-inch TV, the well-stocked bar, and other amenities bespeak an attention to adults not often associated with family resorts.
“We book a lot of young families at Beaches Turks & Caicos,” says Bob McMillen, founder and CEO of TravelWizard, “but we also book multi-generational vacations.” Sharon Walters, Virtuoso travel agent at TravelWizard, adds, “The availability of a wide range of accommodations [30 categories] is perfect for these groups because the grandparents, who may be paying for it all, can book one larger suite where the family can gather.”
bang for the buck
Wharton says that Beaches Turks & Caicos’ Luxury Included vacations initially strike some clients as expensive, but guests get a lot for their money, which is why the World Travel Awards has named this resort “The Caribbean’s Leading Family All-Inclusive” 14 years in a row. The 16 dining options, for example, offer quality cuisine, whether it’s continental or Caribbean, Southwestern or Italian. Some venues are casual while others request “resort evening wear”; there are buffets (Giuseppe’s), adults-only restaurants (Sapodilla’s), and child-oriented eateries (Mario’s). Only one restaurant, Kimono’s, requires reservations—and it’s expanding to accommodate more diners. The ever-dangerous Cafe de Paris tempts guests all day with pastries that seem unnecessarily delicious for an all-inclusive, and the Sunday night chocolate buffet could serve as your primary selling point.
Or not, because when you’re helping families choose a resort, children’s facilities matter even more than chocolate. Reassure clients with tots that all the nannies are accredited by the International Nanny Association, and the daycare rooms are large, clean, and well-equipped. At Camp Sesame, three- to five-year-olds are wowed by Sesame Street characters who lead educational activities like Letter of the Day and Bird Watching with…guess who. The camps for
children ages 5-7 and 8-10 run until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. and wisely balance outdoor and indoor pursuits. Tween and teen groups get more sports as well as DJ lessons, parties, and Xbox contests. “My 14-year-old has made friends from other regions and even other countries, people she wouldn’t have met back home,” says a 40ish man in the sauna. “She walks back to our room around midnight, after the teen program ends. We wouldn’t allow that at home, but here it feels safe.”