All-inclusive resorts? Not for me. That is, until I visited Beaches. Now I'm a full-fledged convert.
I’m not sure why I’ve never taken my family to an all-inclusive resort. Perhaps I thought it would be too “vanilla,” i.e., not adventurous enough, or that they attracted a stuffier form of traveler than I want to hang around for week. To be clear, I never judged anyone for opting for an all-inclusive vacation; I simply thought, “That’s not for my family or me.”
But I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. And in the case of Beaches Turks & Caicos, I was dead wrong.
Set along world-renowned Grace Bay—12 miles of stunning, white-sand beach on Providenciales that’s often ranked the world’s best—Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa has made me a believer.
Here are five of my top misperceptions about all-inclusive resorts and how Beaches not only has me saying, “Mea culpa,” but also, “Which resort can we try next?”
1. We would be bored.
I must’ve been under the impression that visiting an all-inclusive resort meant lounging on the beach, interrupted only by waiters bringing drinks, an occasional dip in the ocean and three meals. Again, there’s nothing wrong with any of these options, especially the servers-bringing-beachside-drinks thing. But I was anything but bored at Beaches Resort.
The family-friendly counterpart to Sandals Resorts, Beaches offered so much activity and water sports that I was actually sad I’d attended a press trip here without my two kids. I kept thinking, “Oh, they’d love the water park, the water toys, the beach, the clubs, the…” You get the point.
In addition to providing access to water-sports equipment—kayaks, snorkeling gear, aqua trikes, SUPs, underwater vision boats and more—the resort also offers unlimited scuba diving for certified divers, as well as, for additional fees, a PADI Discover Scuba course, a PADI Scuba Dive Certification and children’s scuba programs.
The resort’s Island Routes tour desk offers even more options, from deep-sea fishing to sunset cruises and catamaran tours, as well as excursions like seaside scavenger hunts and historic tours of nearby villages and farms.
Bottom line: Not only do I need to return with my family, but I’d need more than a week to take advantage of the resort’s offerings.
2. Our family would feel claustrophobic.
In my mistaken mind, I envisioned feeling crammed into one small lodging area on one tiny swath of beach with a bunch of strangers, i.e., the antithesis of a relaxing vacation. Oh, how I misjudged.
With 758 rooms and suites among 44 categories on more than 75 acres, Beaches offers a wide variety of lodging throughout five distinct villages: Seaside, Caribbean, French Village, Italian and Key West Villages (featuring 3-to-four-bedroom villas), providing a range of amenities that culminate at personal butler service.
There are also 10 different pools, including a Camp Sesame Pool that features a fenced-in play area with a sandy “beach,” a shallow pool with pool toys and mini-beach chairs; adults-only pools and a family infinity pool, to name a few. And let’s not forget the crown jewel of any kid-friendly vacation: a water park, Pirates Island, filled with waterslides, swim-up soda bars, water cannons and a surf simulator. Translation: My boys would never want to leave!
3. There’s not enough variety.
If the offering of water sports, shops and excursions wasn’t enough to prove me wrong, the resort’s range of food options and on-site programming was off-the-charts proof of my flawed perceptions.
With 22 dining options available, there’s no excuse for picky eaters to declare, “I can’t find anything to eat!” From barbecue to pizzerias; Japanese Teppanyaki at uber-popular Kimonos to Pan-Caribbean Cuisine served with white-glove elegance at Sapodilla’s Restaurant; a ‘50s diner to a macaroni-and-cheese food truck, there’s something for even the fussiest of foodies.
The resort also provides on-site programs for children of all ages, from nurseries staffed with certified nannies to kids’ day camps for toddler, tweens, special-needs children and teens. Then there’s the resort’s exclusive Sesame Street programming, featuring parades, performances and activities—including a breakfast featuring all nine characters—that the littles will love.
Kids too old for Sesame Street? Send them to the Xbox Play Lounge for gaming fun, Trench Town for foosball and air hockey, or Club Liquid to dance the night away (teens only). At night, the entire family can head to live shows, including a Cirque du Soleil performance, or enjoy a complimentary sunset photo shoot, bonfires, talent shows and more.
Bonus? Free drinks—yes, that means adult beverages too—and a no-tipping policy throughout the resort.
4. We’d want to explore outside the property.
I pride myself in being adventurous and getting off the beaten path. But this time around, I was happy to stay in the Beaches bubble for five straight days, save for the one time we did leave the property for a Reading Road Trip.
A voluntourism initiative launched by The Sandals Foundation—the resorts’ non-profit philanthropic arm—the weekly Thursday-morning tour takes guests to foundation-adopted schools to promote literacy efforts among primary students.
On the day we toured, our group brought new books to a classroom filled with precocious 6-to-8-year-old boys and girls, who were eager to show off their reading and writing skills, eventually roping us adults into a boisterous game of Simon Says. I couldn’t help but wish I’d had my boys along to experience these kids’ joy and enthusiasm for learning.
5. My kids would hate it.
Need I say more? Sure, every kid will find a reason to complain or say the dreaded vacation words, “I’m booooooored.” In that event, simply refer them to items one through four before swimming back to the pool bar and grabbing yourself a drink.
Did you know?
A British protectorate located 575 miles southeast of Miami (roughly two hours by plane)—south of the Bahamas and east of Cuba and the country of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti)—the Turks & Caicos Islands comprise more than 40 small islands and cays, eight inhabited. Beaches Resort is located on the most populated and developed of the islands, Providenciales, locally known as “Provo.”
In September 2017, Turks and Caicos Islands suffered significant damage from the ravages of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Providenciales generally fared the best of the major islands, according to Visit Turks & Caicos Islands, and the recovery and clean-up efforts are essentially completed. That includes Beaches, which reopened Dec. 14, 2017, a full week ahead of schedule. In other words, the islands are open for business!
NOTE: This was a hosted press trip, but I was not paid to attend or write this post. Trust me: All opinions are very much my own.
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