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Editor’s Review of Franklyn D. Resort & Spa
Situated on three acres fronting a small private beach on Runaway Bay in Jamaica's north coast -- about 20 minutes west of Ocho Rios and an hour east of Montego Bay -- Franklyn D. Resort (or FDR, as it's called) pretty much epitomizes family-friendly, no-fuss vacationing.
The property originally belonged to an architect, who designed the buildings and grounds with a Mediterranean and Tuscan feel. In 1990, Jamaican hotelier Frank Rance took over and turned the property into Jamaica's first all-suite, all-inclusive resort targeted specifically at families. The owner implemented the concept of personal vacation nannies into the hotel's offerings as a way to set FDR apart.
During your stay, all of your ... more activities (excluding the spa and scuba diving), meals, drinks, water sports, Kid's Camp and daytime nanny hours are included. However, the first thing to know is that this is not a grand, ritzy chain resort kind of place.
Compared to other all-inclusive resorts up and down the coast, FDR has an intimate (they say 'boutique,' we say more like vintage-charm) feel. You're not going to find the huge poured concrete spaces and vast grassy lawns of a Beaches resort here. Protected by jetties and roped off for safety, FDR's beach (really two small coves) is a small but suitable place for families to swim in safe, sheltered surrounds. Despite its size, most things you find at larger properties -- from a comprehensive kids camp, good water sports and multi-cuisine dining options -- are available here.
The lush property is thick with pretty flora -- banana trees, almond trees, bougainvillea and palms -- with paths winding from building to building and past the pool area to the beach. The pink buildings where suites are located -- with their ample patios, balconies and arched openings -- conjure a Jamaican plantation house. The 78 suites all have an airiness about them that's typical of the tropics. All rooms have full or partial ocean views and separate living areas, kitchenettes with stoves, ovens, microwaves and a refrigerator and a table for in-room meals or snacks. Renovations take place on an ongoing basis. And while the resort does not feel very contemporary with its dark wood furniture and slightly outdated kitchenettes appliances, the style is comfortable and warm, with nice accents like brightly colored paintings by Jamaican artists decorating the walls. All of the wood furnishings in the rooms were refinished in 2010, the pool was re-tiled in 2010 and televisions in all suites were upgraded to flat-screens, too. All in the all, the resort is in quite good shape for the years under its belt.
There's not a whole lot to do in FDR's immediate surrounds, other than hop on a bicycle for one of the guided tours offered every morning. Ocho Rios -- with attractions like Dunn's River Falls, Mystic Mountains and shopping -- is only 20 minutes away by taxi.
All-inclusive rates include three meals daily and all snacks, your vacation nanny between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:40 p.m., kids camp, shopping tours to Ocho Rios, use of land and water sports (including bikes and tennis and kayaking instruction). Special tours such as glass bottom boat outings, snorkeling and booze cruises are also provided free of charge. less
- Kids' club with craft center, computer games, toddlers' play room, kiddies disco and more
- Personal vacation nanny for your family, included in room rate
- All-suite accommodations with kitchenettes
- All Inclusive
- Water Sports
- Horseback Riding
- Children's Program
- Connecting Rooms
- DVD Player
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids'/Theme Meals
- Laundry Service
- Onsite Dining
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You can opt for one-, two- or three-bedroom suites, and while connecting suites aren't available the resort makes an effort to arrange adjacent rooms ... more if you're traveling with friends or family. One-bedroom suites can accommodate two adults and three children. Two-bedroom suites have room for four adults and three children. And three-bedroom suites can host six adults and three children. Rollaway beds, cribs, bed rails, child gates (for split-level suites) and DVD players with kids' movies are all provided upon requested at no extra charge. Note that rooms are spread throughout the property in different buildings. There are no elevators, so if you are traveling with small children or need stroller or wheelchair access, be sure to book a ground floor suite. Suites all have tiled floors with throw rugs in the living area, dark wood furniture, Jamaican artwork and bathrooms with tub-in-shower configurations. The look is not contemporary, but there's a utilitarian, can-weather-family-fun feel that still manages to exude character and not feel like another soul-less chain.
Your nanny can take care of household chores such as laundry (for a small per-load fee) and washing dishes, and she's also the one cleaning your suite on a daily basis. She'll have an hour lunch break each day, at which time you can take your child to the kid's camp. Children under 6 years old stay for free at the resort. less