Best family-friendly resorts in the CaribbeanDec 21, 2018
Photo: In Jamaica u Credit: Transat.ca
By: Melanie Reffes
Source: USA Today
A family vacation means more these days than booking a room with a view, jostling for space at the buffet or leaving the kids in the game room. Vying for your holiday dollar, resorts have upped the ante with a boatload of family fun from fishing and diving to chocolate-making classes, meet and greets with iguanas and sleepovers on the beach.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Photo: Beaches Resorts
On Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, a rare spot that really is as gorgeous as it appears in the brochures, Beaches Turks & Caicos is the island’s largest resort, with 758 rooms and multi-bedroom suites. The numbers at this all-inclusive are staggering: 21 restaurants, 15 bars, six pools including a wee one for toddlers, Pirates Island where kids hang 10 on the Caribbean’s only Surf Simulator, and Club Liquid for teens. For picky eaters, food trucks make the rounds, like Mr. Mac with macaroni and cheese and Curls & Swirls for ice-cream cones. Courtesy of a partnership with Sesame Street, parades star Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, bedtime tuck-ins with the furry superstars are Instagram favorites and Camp Sesame is kids-only while grown-ups chill in the spa or linger over dinner. Nightly rates for a Family Suite that sleeps four start at $346 for each grown-up and $51 for each child.
Photo: Photo: Divi Resorts
On the south coast, Divi Little Bay Beach Resort is a popular choice for families looking for a vacation that won’t break the bank. With 210 rooms and hilltop suites with kitchens, the beachfront resort offers two freshwater pools, snorkeling and kayaking, with entertainment and duty-free shopping in the capital city Philipsburg, a 15-minute stroll from the resort. Not an all-inclusive, meal plans can be conveniently added upon check-in rather than deciding prior to arrival. Nightly rates, double occupancy, start at $189 for a Beachfront Guestroom.
The largest resort on the island, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort celebrates a big reveal on Feb. 1 when the all-inclusive reopens with new family-size Loft Suites that come with elevated bedrooms and pull-out sofas. Beachfront on 10 acres close to Princess Juliana International Airport, the resort is a vacation playground with a Kids Club, Teen Zone, five restaurants, pizzeria, sports courts, kiddie pool and aqua park. Nightly rates start at $264, double occupancy, for a Superior Room. Children up to 6 years old stay without charge and children 6 to 12 at $45 extra nightly.
Photo: Credit: Transat.ca
It's a family twofer at Sunscape Splash Montego Bay and the adjacent Sunscape Cove Montego Bay, a pair of all-inclusives surrounded by the Montego Bay Marine Park. Close to Sangster International Airport, 308-room Sunscape Splash has six restaurants, five bars, five pools, the Pirate's Paradise Waterpark with a full-size pirate ship, an Explorer’s Club for Kids and a Core Zone Teens Club. There’s a cool kids' check-in desk with red-carpet stairs, resort passports that look like the real thing and, with a parental thumbs-up, overnight campouts on the beach. A tad quieter with 122 rooms, families at Sunscape Cove have access to everything at Sunscape Splash in addition to room service, more restaurants and milk and cookies at bedtime for the kids. For bookings made in December, nightly rates in January, double occupancy, start at $347 for a Deluxe Oceanfront.
Photo: Credit: Casa de Campo Reso
Casa de Campo opened almost 50 years ago as the first resort in the Dominican Republic, situated on 7,000 acres on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. The splurge-worthy resort offers 185 rooms and suites, 65 villas, 20 restaurants and bars, Minitas Beach Club and a trio of golf courses that include the Pete Dye signature Teeth of the Dog, ranked one of the best in the Caribbean. Children will enjoy the 300-horse Equestrian Center and Real Madrid Football School which offers soccer instruction. Other activities include merengue lessons on the beach, saddling up on a pony, playing polo with donkeys, deep-sea fishing, helicopter rides and splashing around in the family pools. Nightly rates for an Elite room start at $349 and include a funky four-passenger golf cart called a Casa Cart.
Photo: Credit: Anse Chastanet
You won’t find supervised kids' programs at the Anse Chastanet Resort, but you will find 12 miles of bike trails, two sandy beaches, extra-large suites and the island’s best burgers at the Jungle Grill and Bar, steps from the water’s edge. On a 600-acre estate anchored by the twin Piton Peaks, the resort’s Emerald Estate offers a sweet diversion with hands-on chocolate-making classes and tours to see the more than 1,000 cocoa trees. For the wide-eyed, birds seen nowhere else in the world flit about, like the St. Lucia pewee with its easy-to-spot orange underbelly. Scuba St. Lucia offers lessons and, for kids who take their underwater exploring seriously, the resort offers a Kids Sea Camp. Nightly rates start at $630, double occupancy.
Photo: Credit: The Reef by CuisinArt
The Reef by CuisinArt welcomes the well-heeled traveling with kids with 80 stylish suites, some big enough for large broods. The resort on the beach sports an enormous sea-view pool where massages and aqua cycling are offered. Fun in the sun includes glass-bottom kayaking, snorkeling and paddleboarding. For active families on land, there are two tennis courts, fitness classes, play at the CuisinArt Golf Club, bocce courts and cooking classes at the nearby CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa. For indoor kids, the Media Room sports Apple computers and 70-inch TVs. The Yacht Club and Breezes are where hungry families dig into wood oven-fired pizza and chocolate layer cake. It’s worth staying up past bedtime for local bands performing at night. Nightly rates start at $475, double occupancy, including breakfast.
Photo: Credit: Copamarina Beach Resort
In Guánica on the southwest coast, Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa is a world away, or two hours by car, from the bustle of San Juan. Close to Ponce, the island’s second-largest city, the resort is big with families who come for a hefty dose of vitamin sea like scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing and kayaking. Not super-fancy but comfortable, the resort offers rooms big enough for families. Finicky children will enjoy Burger Night on Mondays and Pasta Night on Tuesdays. Named after the classic TV show, Gilligan’s Island is a day trip away with water calm enough for young swimmers and visibility up to 130 feet below the surface where divers come face to face with muskets, cannons and gold coins left behind by Spanish pirates. Nightly rates start at $205 for Deluxe Oceanfront rooms ideal for families with children.
Photo: Blue Horizons Garden Resort
Celebrating 40 years as a family business, Blue Horizons Garden Resort is comfy with 32 cottages, each with separate bedrooms and kitchenettes to allow for some meals and snacks at home. You can also dine at the resort’s La Belle Creole and Aqua Pool Bar & Grill next to the freshwater pool. Vacation niceties include rollaway beds and cribs, guided walkabouts to see the yellow bananaquit, one of nearly 30 tropical birds that call the hotel home, and green fees at Grenada Golf Club. Four miles from Maurice Bishop International Airport, the affordable resort is close to Grand Anse Beach and the wonderfully fragrant open-air spice market in the capital city of St. George’s. Nightly rates at Blue Horizon start at $148 for a Deluxe One Bedroom Garden View that easily fits two adults and two children.
Photo: Credit: Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort
Between the Caribbean Sea and Spanish Water Bay, Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort bundles authenticity (it's not part of a chain) and amenities in one family-friendly resort on the beach. The largest on the island with 350 rooms and suites, the resort is the star attraction on a 2,000-acre plantation. Not an all-inclusive, although meal plans are offered, restaurants include Medi for breakfast buffets and varied menus for lunch and dinner, Splash for fish tacos and fine dining at Shore and Jun’s Sushi Bar. Keeping the family busy is a breeze with hiking, biking, four tennis courts, three pools, ATV rides, jet skiing and Camp Arawak. Kids who like critters can feed the iguanas Wednesdays and Fridays and for grown-ups, there are massages in the Atabei Spa and play at the Old Quarry 18-hole course (voted best in the Caribbean by USA TODAY 2018 10Best Readers’ Poll). Nightly room rates in December start at $143, double occupancy; $399 for a Suite.
Photo: Credit: Carlisle Bay
A Caribbean classic along the south coast and a member of Leading Hotels of the World, Carlisle Bay is centered on a bay between beach and rainforest. It offers 87 suites, some couples-only and others for families. For adults the enticements include Blue Spa, yoga in the garden, rainforest treks and nine tennis courts. The big plus for kids is the fiber optic-lit library and 42-seat cinema. Four restaurants include pizza poolside at Ottimo with a "Little Ottimo" menu for kids, and Indigo for bacon cheeseburgers and cornflake-crusted French toast. The Cool Kids Club keeps those from 6 months to 6 years busy with sandcastle building and lizard hunts while Crew Blue entertains the older set with barbecue parties, tennis and zip lining. Carlisle Bay’s private yacht hosts onboard picnic lunches, tours to Nelson’s Dockyard and snorkeling at Cades Reef, where sea turtles mingle at the intersection of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nightly rates including breakfast and afternoon tea start at $740 for a Beach Balcony Suite.