Like that man’s daughter, most children at Beaches Turks & Caicos participate in the programs, but many families hang out together at the Sesame Street parades, Xbox 360 Game Garage, watersports center (which has a spiffy fleet of kayaks, water-trikes, windsurfers, and Hobie-cats), beach (ask for snorkeling gear), outdoor theater, and swimming pools, especially the huge, heated Italian Village pool. At Pirates Island Waterpark, you pass a 13-ish boy urging his father to join him in the surf simulator. Dad grins and galumphs into the “surf” with his son.
“I got PADI certification here a few years ago,” says a Midwesterner whose children are in the Tween Beat program. “The classes cost me extra, but now I go diving almost every day we’re here.” Other extras guests can purchase include snorkeling and Iguana Island boat tours (highly recommended), birthday cakes, and long-stemmed roses. TravelWizard agent Wharton says her clients wait until they’re at Beaches to book off-site tours, but agents who do book excursions in advance earn commissions through Island Routes.
With or without extras, this family resort offers an awful lot of adult pleasures. Parents whose children are in the kids’ programs can enjoy romantic adults-only restaurants like Le Petit Chateau, elegant private dining on the beach (extra charge), poolside cabanas with butlers (also extra), 16 bars and lounges, the excellent Red Lane Spa (first-timers should try the Discovery Lane Sampler), and late-night dancing at Liquid.
About 10 p.m. one evening, a couple in their late-30s cuddles on the beach. Their two sons, they explain, are at a teen karaoke event while mom and dad canoodle. Win-win.
tips for travel agents
Nonstop flights to Providenciales depart from 10 North American cities: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Montreal, New York City (JFK), Ottawa, Philadelphia and Toronto. A room for a family of four starts at $6,037.40 for a week in mid-December and $5,581 for a week in winter, subject to availability. At press time, Christmas and President weeks were almost sold out. This map—beaches.com/media/pdf/Beaches_Turks_and_Caicos.pdf—will help clients decide whether they want to be closer to the waterpark or the beach. Upon arrival, they should take a 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. orientation tour; the new and seriously cute mini-train that connects the three villages also helps newcomers get their bearings. Meanwhile, advise clients that tips really are included at this all-inclusive, unless they want to tip a spa therapist or butler.
“The lion’s share of our bookings are from travel agents, and the majority of our tour operator bookings are through travel agents as well,” says Gary Sadler, senior v.p. of sales for Unique Vacations, Inc., Sandals/Beaches’ marketing division. “We want to continue rewarding agents,” so the company offers five tiers of commissions ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent for 25 or more bookings. Also, agents earn commission on all elements of their clients’ vacations, including every aspect of the new Weddingmoons program that they book, from flowers to spa treatments. Sandals offers Certified Sandals Specialists (CSS) and Preferred Sandals Agency (PSA) programs as well.
During Beaches’ FAM trips, which run throughout the year, agents see the property, attend workshops and hosted events, and enjoy the resorts’ Luxury Included amenities. The Sell & Go program allows agents to earn free nights for their bookings. Some agents use these nights for traveling with their children so they can experience the resort as their clients would.
Family accommodations with separate kids room at the resort’s Italian Village.
Island Routes: (877) 768-8370; islandroutes.com