We had one helluva cold winter. So when the invitation to check out Beaches Turks & Caicos newest expansion arrived in my inbox, how could I refuse?
This was my second visit to Beaches, a premium all-inclusive resort that is the “little cousin” to Sandals Resorts, for couples only. The first was five years ago when they built the large and impressive Italian Village to add to the already large property that now includes four world-class villages: The Caribbean Village, The French Village, the Italian Village. Now the newly acquired Key West Luxury Village joins the fold. To return was sweet, but sweeter yet was traveling with my big kid, Jason, 18.
Though all four villages are priced separately – each with their own feel and style – you can use the entire resort facilities, not just the amenities in your particular village. It is a massive resort but feels quaint throughout. No line-ups, no reserving of lounge chairs by the pool. It’s open, beautiful and relaxing.
Also relaxing is the fact that you don’t have to tip, so put away your wallet during your stay. I love this feature as no one wants to carry money around or be beside the big shot who thinks tipping the bartender for the week gives him special privileges and the best liquor. It’s fair play (and best liquor for all). And no ugly wrist band either. Just grab your sunscreen, hat and go…
There are 19 restaurants serving everything from Caribbean to Italian to seafood, most don’t require reservations. The food is excellent. Jason had the best steak of his life at Schooners Restaurant.
We spent much of our days pool hopping throughout the resort’s 10 swimming pools, one of which we only found on the last day tucked away between the beautiful bungalows of Key West Village. The jewel in the pool crown is Pirates Island Waterpark, 45,000 square feet of splash fun. It includes 10 waterslides, lazy river, surf simulator, water cannons, cranks and spray features. But if you prefer the beach, Grace Bay is truly one of the most splendid beaches I’ve ever visited. Turquoise water and 12 miles of soft sand for long walks.
For the little ones:
Camp Sesame: This is in a spacious air-conditioned building where nannies and counsellors cater to children from ages 0 – 11 months, 12-24 months, 3-4 years. Camp Sesame is equipped with cribs, swings and rockers. There is a children’s swimming pool with canopy, separate play area, kids playground, arts and crafts and more! All nursery and babysitting staff are trained in child care. There are two locations, Caribbean Village and Key West Village. All included in your package. Beaches also has an exclusive partnership with Sesame Street. The life size characters come to life as they wander the resort or enjoy a Sesame Street Character Breakfast with Elmo and gang. Don’t miss the Sesame Street Live Parade on Tuesday evenings.
For the bigger kids:
The Pirates Island Waterpark is for all ages, the X-Box Play Lounge will be a hit with plasma screens and the latest games on the market. Beaches also has Scratch DJ Academy where you can learn to mix, blend and scratch on vinyl, CDs or your iPod. Shadow Lounge is the ideal teen hang out spot with arcade games, foosball, basketball, ping pong and billiards in a cool (no adults allowed) atmosphere. At night, release your teen to enjoy the Liquid Night Club. Yes, it’s a club but without the alcohol. It pulsates with great dance music from hip-hop to reggae. With the pools, the beach and the numerous outdoor activities, your kids will not be bored. Not for a second.
For the adults:
There are fully equipped air-conditioned fitness centres in French & Key West Villages. Land and water aerobics are also offered. I watched but didn’t partake in the water aerobics. I was too busy drinking my “Dirty Banana” cocktail. Is that wrong?
More my speed is the Red Lane Spa, whose classic European Spa services have a distinctive Caribbean flair, using all-natural organic products made from nourishing tropical ingredients. With treatments like Scrub-A-Dub-Dub and Slumber Bar, well, I’m in. There is also Dads and Dudes treatments (it’s not always about mom).
And when you simply must get up and do something, there’s plenty of fun to be had with kayaks, windsurfing, snorkeling, aqua trikes, Hobie Cats and paddleboards. Certified scuba divers will love the unlimited diving.
Beaches Turks and Caicos is so expansive and beautiful, you’ll not want to go off-site, but one of our highlights was a Reading Road Trip with the Sandals Foundation. For $20 and a new or gently used book that you bring from home, you can be part of the trip to the Enid Capron Primary School. Visiting the school fosters the love of reading and improves literacy skills in the Caribbean and you and your kids are part of the growth. You read and talk with the young students, whose school is home to 580 students.
You and your family hop on a school bus and head to the school (about a 15-minute ride). You will be asked to read to a class that matches the book you brought. Jason and his nine-year-old pal Theo read a few pages to a Grade 3 class. Then it was my opportunity, with my pal Leslee, to teach the kids about time. I am a frustrated teacher and loved every minute of our short lesson to the Grade 3 kids at Enid Capron. Truly a highlight of our trip.
I know I sound like a broken record, but Jason and I adore Beaches Turks and Caicos and will save up my loonies and toonies to take my family there next year. They have great deals, sometimes as much as 65 percent off, so be sure to check out their site www.beaches.com. Maybe I’ll meet you poolside.
Getting there: There are lots of direct flights to Turks and Caicos via WestJet or Air Canada from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Transfers are provided (and included) to and from the Providenciales International Airport – about 15 minutes from airport to resort.
Connecting: There’s WiFi = in all rooms. But do yourself and your family a favour and refrain from working, you’re on vacation and your kids want to play (and so do you).