These four resorts fit the bill when it comes to a family vacation in the Caribbean.
Recommend put together the following criteria to choose these family-friendly resorts: (1) easy flights from U.S. gateways; (2) superior children’s facilities, including a camp; (3) superior amenities for adults, because that’s who hires you; (4) commissions—d’uh; and (5) non-affiliation with an international brand, so you can honestly tell clients, “I have something special for you.”
Travel agents, please take note that the quoted rates are forPresidents’ Week rather than off-season, because even if some of your clients travel with children in October, most do not.
curtain bluff, antigua
Curtain Bluff’s founder broke new ground when, in 1962, he opened a 22-room, upmarket all-inclusive. Since then this property has expanded to 72 units, yet still feels both country-club upscale and cozy, attracting more repeat business than a neighborhood pub. On which subject, its wine cellar is legendary.
How else does it appeal to parents and grandparents? Ocean views from every room; a superior tennis program; watersports facilities including diving, fishing and waterskiing as well as non-motorized pursuits; a fitness center, classes, and spa treatments; and a squash court, which says something about the clientele—so does the deliberate absence of guestroom TVs.
Many children and teenagers learn sailing and tennis here, visit the game room, and swing from the jungle gym. The Tamarind Terrace serves them early dinners, after which their parents savor feasts prepared by an Alain Ducasse-trained chef. Best of all, Curtain Bluff’s experiment with serving as an adults-only hideaway each February is over, and the new CEEBEE Kids Club offers well-supervised recreational and educational activities.
A spacious Deluxe Room costs $1,230 per night, all-inclusive, plus $90 for each child age 2-5, $215 age 6-12, and $270 for 13 and up.
Of Elegant Hotels’ five different boutique hotels on Barbados, this is the one for families who want to explore the island in addition to enjoying Tamarind’s beach, spa, and other facilities.
The 104 rooms and suites offer choices, comfort, and style (judicious soft pastels), and the fitness center and spa, which provides free fitness classes, promote a healthy vibe. Tamarind has three pools, and not only are non-motorized boats complimentary, but so are several motorized watersports. The front desk arranges tee times and golf lessons at two championship courses, one of which is Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s Royal Westmoreland. Restaurants include the Zagat-rated Daphne’s.
A professional staff supervises the Flying Fish Kids Club (ages 4-12) daily, except Sundays, and there’s also a family lounge with games and TVs: Club Tamarind. The restaurants offer healthy menu choices for children.
In addition to Elegant Hotels’ many off-site trips, the new Bajan Family Adventure Camp takes groups of children or families out for horseback rides, encounters with green monkeys, snorkeling cruises, and deep-sea submarine journeys. The sister hotels also offer free boat shuttles between properties, so a family at Tamarind can spend a day test-driving, say, Crystal Cove. A meal voucher plan makes dine-arounds easy. Pool/Garden View rooms ($592, including taxes, fees, and breakfasts) can accommodate two parents and one child; for clients with two children book a Junior Suite ($716), with a spacious seating area, a 2-sink bathroom, and a private terrace.
The Elegant Escapes Rewards Program offers agents cash bonuses, overnight stays, and other incentives.
coconut bay beach resort & spa, saint lucia
This 250-room all-inclusive is one of the best values on otherwise costly Saint Lucia. A four-story wing extends from either side of the main building, and each is a semi-separate resort: Harmony for couples and Splash for families. Extensive renovations have upgraded Splash’s rooms, public spaces, and amenities.
Families who want time together have access to a mile-long beach, a lazy river, a swim-up bar offering kiddie treats, and the
largest water park in Saint Lucia. Coconut Bay is also the only resort on the island offering paintball. Children love the Cocoland Kidz Club, too, so even when they’re not in camp, they often wear Kidz Club T-shirts and backpacks; the club accepts children under 3.
Many families take the hotel’s off-site soft-adventure excursions (recommended), while some parents crave a chance to simply relax by the adults-only pool or on the beach. Go-getters enjoy fitness and reggae dance classes, volleyball and cricket games, tennis, the fitness center and spa, and watersports (the kitesurfing program is especially strong). Four restaurants and six bars/lounges offer dining variety, and some evenings there are parties.
An all-inclusive vacation for a family of four costs $436 a night in one of the upgraded Splash Premium Ocean View units, which
feature a king, trundle bed, mini-fridge, and balcony. Better yet, book two connecting Deluxe Ocean View rooms for $774 per night.
Children under 3 stay free, and there are no additional taxes, gratuities, or fees for airport transfers. Coconut Bay’s Sterling Agent Benefits program features commission bonuses, marketing tools, discounted stays, and client perks.
round hill, montego bay, jamaica
Round Hill Hotel & Villas has the most elegant ghosts in the Caribbean—Fred Astaire, Errol Flynn, Ian Fleming—but this 61-year-old classic is, above all, a refuge for (well-heeled) families. Visitors may choose among rooms in the Pineapple House (connecting rooms available), villa suites that accommodate two adults and one child, and 27 splendid villas. Much of the interior design is by Ralph Lauren.
Most families choose villas so they can have both family-only spaces and the facilities of a resort. These include the beach, watersports, pools (including one for children and one for adults only), a superb tennis center, tee times at the Tryall Golf Club, a beachfront spa, a fitness center, and a kids’ camp.
The camp is divided into two groups: ages 3 to 7 and 7-plus. It’s also complimentary, and the staffers are well-trained. They smartly mix educational and athletic activities, and unlike camps at some other resorts, Round Hill’s operate year-round, even during “school months.” Round Hill also arranges family-only excursions to the area’s historic, natural, and adventure attractions.
You could book clients adjoining Ocean View hotel rooms for $764 each, but $1,249 gets them a 2-bedroom villa such as Villa 3, near the beach. Villa 10, a secluded 4-bedroom with pool whose ghosts include the Kennedy’s, costs $3,589. Many families ask staffers to prepare breakfast in their villas; meal plans for the restaurants are available, too. Round Hill’s villas are so popular that it’s not too soon to plan trips for spring or summer.
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa: (877) 352-8898; cbayresort.com or cbayresort.com/travel-partner
Curtain Bluff: (800) 259-8017; curtainbluff.com or curtainbluff.com/trade.html
Round Hill Hotel & Villas: (800) 972-2159; roundhill.com
Tamarind: (888) 996-9948; eleganthotels.com or eleganthotels.com/travel-agents