Paired with the bluest of blue waters, powder-soft sand, ample sunshine and warm temperatures of the Caribbean, all-inclusive resorts create the ultimate family vacation. With so many options, however, how can a family choose just which all-inclusive resort to visit? And more importantly, how can a family find one that realistically meets their budget needs?
We’ve chosen our favorite accommodations in the Caribbean (listed in no particular order), with popular destinations, family ratings, various budget ranges and consistent promotional rates in mind. Plus, our writers — who personally visited the resorts — have weighed in with tips of their own.
Round Hill Hotel & Villas – Jamaica
Many couples marry at this remote resort, located in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but just as many (if not more) families converge here, partly for the unique kids clubs — which include themed agendas — but mostly for the resort’s pristine stretch of beach and infinity-edge pool (which includes a separate wading area for tots). Round Hill Hotel & Villas offers 36 oceanfront rooms, many of which have connecting capabilities, and 27 villas, most of which offer private pools and personal staff members who prepare continental breakfast daily.
Insider’s Tip: “Especially with young kids, pick a villa that’s relatively close to the beach,” says Candyce Stapen. “Villas 34 through 39 are a short walk to the sand.”
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Jamaica
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa is a bona fide family resort, with a playground, giant waterslide, swimming pool, kids club, teens program, kids buffet, and a beachfront location, to boot. Plus, standard guestrooms sleep up to five guests (two adults and three children under age 16). The resort, located in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, is best known for its nanny services, however, which are complimentary to all guests and especially welcomed by parents, who like to dine at The Pier Restaurant, an adults-only eatery with delicious fare.
Insider’s Tip: “The resort is known for its excellent nannies, most of whom are mothers, so take advantage of that for some time with your significant other off of the property,” says Terry Ward. “Chukka is a great tour operator that runs river tubing safaris, dune buggy adventures and high tea outings on the beautiful grounds of Good Hope Estate, not too far from Franklyn D.”
Bitter End Yacht Club – British Virgin Islands
Each day brings something new to Bitter End Yacht Club — an icon in the British Virgin Islands — and the resort’s children’s program, BYEC Kids, is no exception, with varied activities, such as snorkeling and sailing. You’ll always find something new and delicious each time you visit the resort’s restaurants, too, most of which offer kid-friendly fare. And when it’s time for some consistency — perhaps hours of sunbathing and sandcastle building — you can head to a beach (there are three), the refreshing pool or even your cottage, where a porch and double-size hammock likely await.
Insider’s Tip: “The Bitter End Yacht Club is nestled into the hills and doesn’t offer special amenities in the room – not even a TV!” exclaims Lissa Poirot. “But that’s the allure of the BEYC — you and your kids can all unplug and just enjoy time on the water together.”
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – St. Lucia
Sugar Beach – A Viceroy Resort used to be called Jalousie Plantation, and long before that, it served as a sugar plantation. Today, it’s a St. Lucia standout, situated amongst 100 acres of tropical forest, which includes the majestic Pitons. Natural beauty makes way for unsurpassed snorkeling, boating and scuba diving opportunities, and a kids club, pools and babysitting services round out the family appeal.
Insider’s Tip: “Take advantage of the convenient butler service upon arrival,” says Michael Blanding. “For no extra charge, the expert room staff will unpack your bags and put your clothes away, so you can spend more time relaxing on the sand. They’ll book tours for you, as well, including a hike up Gros Piton.”
Beaches Turks & Caicos – Turks & Caicos
Ask any family which all-inclusive resort they’d like to visit, and they’re likely to mention Beaches Turks & Caicos. The all-inclusive resort continually reinvents itself, the most recent updates including Key West Luxury Village, a series of studios, suites and villas ideal for multigenerational families. Kids can easily spend an entire visit at the waterpark, which now touts the SkySlide — the tallest of its kind in Turks and Caicos — as well as the hotel’s six swimming pools. There’s also a kids club, teen nightclub, 19 restaurants and a scuba program. We could keep going…
Insider’s Tip: “Stay in the Italian Village, which has bigger rooms and is tucked away from the crowds and noise,” suggests Lissa Poirot.
IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites – Jamaica
Combine Jamaica, an all-inclusive resort haven, with IBEROSTAR — IBEROSTAR Rose Hall Suites, in particular — and you’ve got it made. The all-inclusive resort offers a slew of opportunities to enjoy its beachfront location, including snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, and sailing; all non-motorized sports are free of charge for one hour per day, per room. Lucy’s Club provides activities for kids ages 4 to 12, and the pools, nightly entertainment, restaurants (of which there are four), and spacious rooms with balconies are there for the entire family to enjoy.
Insider’s Tip: “Rose Hall Suites is located near the Great House of Rose Hall, home of the White Witch,” explains Lissa Poirot. “Cabs at the hotel will take your family down the road to the Great House and wait for you as you do a tour at a nominal fee. It’s an interesting — and spooky — sightseeing break from the beach and pool.”
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort – Jamaica
Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort became an all-inclusive, family-friendly resort in 2012, following extensive renovations to what used to be an adults-only retreat. Two years later, it lands itself on our list with a children’s club (open to all ages), recording studio for teens (who walk away with their own CD), and a Laser Tag Ranch for the whole family to enjoy! The resort, located in Jamaica (surprise, surprise), recently opened a brand new spa, has announced the opening of a water park in December, 2014.
Insider’s Tip: “Request a room in the Turquoise Building, which was completely renovated in 2012,” suggests Andrea Guthmann. “Not only will you find new furnishings and stylish Caribbean decor, but you’ll also have luxury bathrooms with multi-jet showers that resemble your own private water park. You won’t have to ask your kids to shower on this vacation — it’ll be part of the fun!”
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa – St. Lucia
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa offers family and adults-only accommodations and pools, making it a viable option for multigenerational vacations. It also houses St. Lucia‘s largest water park, complete with a lazy river and two giant waterslides. Better yet, it offers a paintball facility, along with a kite and windsurfing center. And, of course, there’s a kids club and restaurants aplenty.
Insider’s Tip: “Even if you don’t register your children in the kids program, you can take them into the children’s area to enjoy the water sprayground and play equipment,” says Candyce Stapen.
The Verandah Resort & Spa – Antigua
Antigua‘s Verandah Resort & Spa only offers 180 rooms, creating an intimate atmosphere — you’ll quickly come to know staff members and even other guests. The resort itself, however, still manages to encompass 30 acres, with two beaches, four pools (including one just for kids), a mini-golf course, playground, kids club and a teen hangout.
Insider’s Tip: “Request a waterfront suite in the 160 to 180 range, which is nice and close to the main pool, restaurants, kids club and the water sports beach. Plus, they all have nice views of the bay,” says Lisa Milbrand. “Also, make sure you sneak over for at least an afternoon or two at Long Bay Beach. It’s a super short walk from the lobby and one of the coolest Caribbean beaches we’ve ever visited… and we’ve been to many.”
IBEROSTAR Bavaro – Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers several IBEROSTAR resorts, but IBEROSTAR Bavaro, located in Punta Cana, trumps all. It offers something for everyone in your group, from kids clubs to nightclubs, along with a giant swimming pool overlooking the ocean. We love the two-story bungalows, along with the resort’s convenience (just a 20 minute ride) to the airport, but the best feature is easy accessibility to neighboring IBEROSTAR resorts, where you can enjoy shared amenities, such as onsite restaurants.
Insider’s Tip: “It’s a great resort for strolling younger children,” says Steve Jermanok. “You pass flamingos and herons on paved pathways that connect to its sister resorts.”
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