Given the tears and tantrums, laundry and diapers, every new parent is in dire need of a decadent, tropical vacation. And, yet, most choose to stay home because, on the one hand, they don’t want to leave baby behind and potentially miss any exciting firsts (first steps, first words) and, on the other, they don’t want to spend all their time in the sun making sure that baby doesn’t crawl into the pool. What these parents don’t know is that there’s another option, that is, staying at a resort that understands the needs of young families and that caters to them.
But here’s the thing: while many resorts cater to families, only a handful are really suitable for babies and toddlers. When trying to determine if a resort embraces young families, the most important thing to look into is the kids club. Does the kids club have an age minimum? The vast majority do not accept babies or toddlers. If you want any alone time, make sure the kids club at the resort you’re going to will accept your little one(s). Other nice-to-haves are a minifridge in your room, access to a microwave for sterilizing bottles, and kid-friendly food. Also, bonus points go to any resort located near an airport, because after a plane trip with baby, you’ll want to hit the beach as fast as you can.
Here’s a roundup of the best Caribbean resorts for young families:
Beaches Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Beaches sets itself apart by being the tropical home of the colorful, lovable characters of Sesame Street. Six nights a week Cookie Monster and the gang get on stage to put a musical; twice a week there’s a Sesame Street parade; and every day there are different themed activities, such as story time with Elmo and making art with Julia. The kids club, which has no age minimum, is open almost every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and again from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. beaches.com/resorts/ocho-rios/
Bluefields Bay Villas, Jamaica
Bluefields Bay Villas is the place for high-end family pampering. The family-owned property is composed of six private seaside villas, and each villa comes with its own pool, manicured gardens, and full staff: a nanny for every two children, a personal chef, housekeeper, butler, night porter, and chauffeur. Though the chefs are skilled at preparing elegant Jamaican fusion cuisine, they’re also happy making kid favorites, such as chicken fingers. A bit of gossip: shortly before becoming Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and his family vacationed at Bluefields Bay Villas. bluefieldsvillas.com
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
The kids club at Carlisle Bay accepts children as young as six months old. It’s open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then again from 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Now, with the kids looked after, enjoy some well-deserved grownup R&R. Catch a movie in the screening room complete with blue leather seats and popcorn; take a yoga or Pilates class in the yoga pavilion tucked into a quiet corner of a tropical garden; or indulge in a sumptuous spa treatment, such as soaking in an anti-aging seaweed bath with organic, hand-harvested seaweed. carlisle-bay.com
Sugar Bay, Barbados
Infants under two stay for free at Sugar Bay, as does one child (age three to sixteen) per family. The complimentary crèche (nursery) is available daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and again from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. To make use of this service, there’s an age minimum of four months. Sugar Beach is located on a calm bay, perfect for baby’s first swim. Looking for other activities that will appeal to little ones? Try the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. sugarbaybarbados.com
Crystal Cove, Barbados
With their mobiles, baby tubs, blankets, bottle brushes, and nightlights, the suites at Crystal Cove feel like home to baby. For small children (newborns to age three), there’s a seasonal complimentary crèche (nursery), which is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and again from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Note that the Crystal Cove crèche must be booked in advance. For an extra fee, babysitting is also available. eleganthotels.com/crystal-cove
Photo courtesy of Beaches Ocho Rios.