By Carol Cain, on November 15, 2014

Family vacation in Turks and Caicos

Vacationing with kids at an all-inclusive resort offers a lot more than just the comfort of endless services and amenities at your disposal. Other bonuses: the convenience of access to so much, and not having to worry about anything, including add-ons to your bill.

My husband and I recently took my children to their first ever all-inclusive experience at Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa. The resort is located in Providenciales, the more touristy island of the 40 islands that make up the Turks and Caicos. It is one of the most visited in the archipelago because of its many resorts and activities.

During this trip, I was reminded of why so many families prefer an all-inclusive getaway, and it humbled me to a reality that I had taken for granted for so long.

For years now, I’ve avoided vacationing at all-inclusive resorts. Don’t get me wrong, these types of resorts can be great and quite beautiful. But, in the few years I spent living in the Caribbean I visited more all-inclusives than I care to remember. For wealthier Caribbean natives, escaping to the resorts as a weekend getaway was the thing to do. Also, with a father that worked in the hospitality industry, I gained an insight into the vacation escapes that didn’t work for me as a traveler growing up.

My greatest issue with some all-inclusive resorts has been this: Despite the comfort that they offer their visitors, these resorts also can create a barrier between the local community and tourists. In observing and interacting with travelers who visit these resorts, I have felt that many people rarely leave, and therefore are left completely unaware and disconnected from the realities of the destination they just visited. I worried that this disconnect made it harder for visitors to put a face to the needs of some of the low-income countries in which these resorts are located. I worried that the disconnect would prevent visitors from giving back to the destinations that offer them so much.

The party never ends

It was with this perspective that I visited Beaches, a property that was designed with families in mind.

All-inclusive highlights for families visiting Beaches are the kids day camps, child care centers, Xbox game rooms, water sports, water park, and all the food and ice-cream a kid could want. I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t challenging my kids to dance-offs in the video game room, stuffing my face with ice cream, or enjoying the perks of the kids camp to get my groove on with my husband in our luxury condo (beware: this can also lead to making babies), because I did. For me, the bigger challenge was accepting the fact that although we never once left the resort, we had an incredible time.

The overall resort is divided up into four several smaller resorts. Italian Village, which is the center of the resort and one of the largest and most popular. Of all the different areas in the resort, this one has most of the hotel feel. It also has the best pool. The restaurants at the Caribbean Village was our go-to for Caribbean food. French Village is where the popular watermark is located, as well as the Xbox lounge and ice cream parlor. Needless to say, this is a kid favorite. Key West Village is made up of beautiful condo-style accommodations, as well as seaside villas that come with pools. We stayed in a three-bedroom, three-story condo, with a rooftop deck. Like many accommodations in the resort, it came with a full-service kitchen, as well as dining and living room area. This is a wonderful option for families and larger groups traveling together. Request to have butler service for a complete luxury experience.

Viewfinder Tip: If you’re convinced one particular type of vacation experience isn’t for you, open your mind and reconsider. You might be surprised what you learn.

We considered leaving the resort a few times, because that’s what real travelers do, but we found it difficult. The kids always wanted to take part in one activity or another, such as snorkeling, sailing, parade-watching, or playing in one of the group games coordinated by resort staff. And my husband and I were tired. So, so tired. We wanted nothing more than to eat, sleep by the beach, or play with our kids in the pool.

We saw the crowds leaving in the mornings for one of the off-site tours offered through the resort (for an extra fee), but we walked right passed them each time.

Instead, we indulged in the endless sushi at Soy Sushi Bar, which was our favorite of the resort’s 19 restaurants. We watched Disney’s Frozen under the stars in the resort’s outdoor movie theater. We woke up early and watched the sunrise and connected with the people who worked there, all of whom made us feel welcomed.


Less hassle means more pool time

Beaches Resorts gave my family and me the opportunity to relax and enjoy each other without having to worry about a thing. All we needed was right there, spread across a beautiful 65 acres of tropical land.

I also appreciated learning about the Sandals Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the resort’s parent company, and how the group uses 100 percent of donations to give back to the communities where the resorts are located. This appealed to me on a very personal level and helped me to come to terms with that fact that sometimes, vacationing this way can be enough for a traveling family. I remembered how hard it was to do anything with small kids in tow, much less explore a new country. In the process, I learned to respect and appreciate what all-inclusives such as Beaches Resorts have to offer families like mine.

Not all-inclusives are the same, so I do suggest doing your research to make sure the properties you are considering fit your needs and vacation style. I can’t really share much about Turks and Caicos, and I’m still curious about the area in which the resort is located, but I am fine with this not having been the time to explore it all. What our all-inclusive vacation taught me is that it’s not always about what we take on when we travel; sometimes, what we take in, even if it’s just sitting still, is far more important.

 What is your favorite all-inclusive destination?