The Dominican Republic is among the more affordable destinations and has a number of resorts to choose from. The Bahia Principe group operates two all-inclusives that are ideal for families (www.bahia-principe.com). The Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia in Punta Cana has thought of everything, from fairytale castles to a teen club for ages 12-17 that is decked out with its own spa, movie theater, game room, and even a dance floor. In addition to the pools, there is a water park suitable for all ages, with lifeguards on duty. Even little ones can get spa treatments, and mom and dad can enjoy grown-up time thanks to the family suites and babysitting services. Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo in Samaná also has a water park along with its full menu of watersports that includes paddle boards, snorkeling, and even SCUBA lessons. Both resorts feature the Bahia Scouts program for younger kids that keeps the kids active while they learn about the environment and sustainability.
For a high-end luxury experience in the Dominican Republic, Paradisus by Meliá Punta Cana Resort has family-tailored options that take care of every detail, so that parents can relax and enjoy their vacation knowing that kids will be having the time of their lives (www.melia.com/en/hotels/dominican-republic). The Family Concierge service features a dedicated butler who ensures that the entire family’s daily activities are coordinated, and suites have thoughtful touches like kids’ drinks in the mini-bar and a milk-and-cookie turndown service. Perks for adults include a full-service spa offering a full range of treatments and special activities like wine tastings, massage lessons, and eco-tours.
Located on the Gold Coast of Barbados, the all-inclusive Mango Bay Hotel is a boutique-style resort that specializes in making sure that guests don’t have to worry about any of the details from the moment they arrive
(www.MangoBayBarbados.com). To sweeten the deal, kids aged 3 and under stay free and older kids stay at a reduced rate. In addition to drinks and meals, guests don’t have to pay extra for any of the wide-ranging activities. Resort watersports include kayaking, water-skiing, sailing, snorkeling, and SCUBA lessons. To sweeten the experience, off-property excursions are included too, like a catamaran sail or a ride in a glass-bottomed boat.
Recommend Spice Island Beach Resort to parents who want plenty of time to relax and soak up the sun in peace and enjoy resort amenities that include a nine-hole golf course, tennis, SCUBA diving, and more (www.spiceislandbeachresort.com). The Nutmeg Pod, the resort’s full-day children’s program for ages 3-12, engages kids in a variety of activities including imaginative play, crafts, and games. To make it even more fun, kids get to leave their handprint on the wall when they leave so they can become a permanent part of the resort. Clients will be happy to know that even top-shelf cocktails and wine are included at any of the resort’s bars and restaurants.
The Franklyn D. Resort & Spa is one of the most popular of Jamaica’s all-inclusive family resorts (www.fdrholidays.com). The biggest selling point is a dedicated “Vacation Nanny” who will supervise the kids, coordinate activities, and tend to their whims while the grown-ups play. Resort amenities include a 100-foot waterslide, snorkeling and kayaking, glass-bottom boat rides, a teen game room, kids’ activity room, toddler areas, and beach games.
Located in both Ocho Rios and Negril, Beaches gives kids and teens a variety of fun activities. The Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street® in Ocho Rios is a big hit with the little ones. Best of all, everything is included at these family all-inclusive resorts.(www.beaches.com)
Jamaica’s newest all-inclusive destination is the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa (www.jewelgrande.com). In addition to a dozen international dining options and a huge spa, the resort has a team dedicated to making sure that the kids are entertained and happy, offering everything from splash pads to cooking lessons.
For many clients, the added expense and hassle of getting passports for the whole family can keep them from thinking about venturing beyond the mainland. The U.S. Virgin Islands have great options that don’t require a passport, or currency exchange. The Buccaneer on St Croix offers vacation packages that have something for the whole family, combining room, food, and activities (www.thebuccaneer.com). Families get an extra value thanks to a second-room upgrade discount, allowing mom and dad to have added privacy. Packages include a kids’ camp that operates daily for ages 4-12, snorkeling and SCUBA lessons, a sunset sail, use of the golf course, lots of beach sports, and even a two-day car rental.
The Caribbean invites laid-back carefree vacations, and all-inclusive resorts and packages make this even easier.