After four years of watching beautiful families frolic in the white sand and aqua-blue colored ocean with Elmo and friends, I just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s it, we’re going to book a vacation at this “Beaches” place and see if it’s really as good as it claims. I want to frolic with Elmo and swim with Ernie AND if I want to, then I just know the kids are going to love it too. However, there are a few things to factor in when going on the annual family vacation with your crew. How you get there, what you’re going to do when you get there and other miscellaneous costs associated with a vacation (i.e. food, car rental, etc.)…are all factors in deciding whether to book the vacation or not. Places that often look too good to be true, often are with hidden costs tucked somewhere along the way or the amount of planes, trains and automobiles needed to get to your destination makes the trip seem not worth it. And there’s my biggest pet peeve — taking kids on a vacation is really not a vacation for parents because it’s more difficult to entertain your kids for hours at a hotel after they get bored of the pool and beach.
Now ERASE everything I just said about vacations not being vacations from your mind because seriously…Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort is the best thing that ever happened to families for vacations. It’s like an answer to everything and everyone that ever complained. Did I mention that we’re picky travelers too? With a husband that has reached the million mile club with the airlines for the amount of time he spends in the air and at hotels around the world, we don’t settle for second best. Let me tell you a little why you just have to go frolic with our favorite Sesame Street characters and why you’ll be in heaven there as much as your kids. It’s actually hard to pinpoint where to start because it’s all fantastic but we’ll start with the necessities…
It’s all-inclusive — yes, cashless. No extra money needed for tipping (in fact, tipping is a no-no here they say), paying the check for dinner or paying to go snorkeling for an hour. Everything is included and it’s so nice to be able to get up when the kids have completely lost it and not be classified in the dine-and-ditch category. Eat whenever you want and as much as you want, drink as much as you want and whenever you want (seriously the bar is almost always open) and watch as many live shows as you want — all without spending an extra dime. After being there for a week, you’re so spoiled to go back to the real world where everything is operated by how much cash you’ve got in your pocket. I will say there are a “few” incidentals that are extra like in-room movies, boat excursions and scuba diving trips but that’s pretty much it.
The rooms — in one word you can sum it all up – spacious. What’s better than space and a bed for everyone (without extra charges) when you’re on vacation. Even the smallest rooms in the resort have sleeping space four people with a choice of either 2 double beds and 1 single sleep chair or 1 king size bed and 1 double pull-out sofa. Comprised of three separate villages, the Caribbean Village, the French Village and the newest addition, the Italian Village, there are over 15 types of rooms to choose from including suites. In the Italian Village, all the rooms are suites and the most luxurious rooms with ocean views and prime pool location also come with Butler service (oh la la!). Not to mention the fact that ALL of the suites come with a fully stocked bar, we’re talking regular size bottles of wine, champagne, beer, liquor (they ask you your preferences beforehand), milk, juice, waters. My husband was thrilled to know that if in fact you drank it all (which he didn’t but definitely thought about!), they will gladly replace it — AT NO CHARGE! That’s a reason for “cheers” if I ever heard one! But again, how much time does one really spend in the room while on vacation anyways…?
The hospitality –there’s nothing quite like island hospitality. They all seem to know you by name (or at least recognize your face) and will go out of there way to help you. They will not let you lift a finger by yourself. Which is so nice considering that moms really need this vacation the most, right?! My advice is to take full advantage of it and to just relax and be served. The Sesame Street characters are walking around the entire resort and are available for photo ops and almost every night there is a live parade or show with music and characters. It’s like living in your own small town, where you can park right on the sidewalk and watch a good ol’ fashioned parade with candy being thrown (that never happens in my town).
The kid’s clubs — speaking of knowing you all by name, the kid’s clubs are beyond amazing. I’m always a little weary of using kid’s clubs and babysitters while going on vacation because after all, isn’t it a “family vacation?” But what’s the fun in another dinner with screaming kids — you can have that home. After our first day there, we went to explore the kid’s club and they never wanted to leave. Why? Well, there are activities going on there around the clock that all involve the Sesame Street theme. For example some of the activities that our kids took part in were: Storytime with Elmo, Baking Cookies with Cookie Monster, Dancing with Zoe, Make Number Magic with the Count, Discover Magical Treasure with Abby Cadabby, and Exploring with Grover. The kids club minimum age is 6 months where they have loving and attentive staff members to rock, feed, play and put your baby sleep if needed while you frolic in the ocean water and reconnect with your loved one sans kids. They have tons of cribs and rocking chairs in the baby room that are clean and are begging to be used by you. Camp Sesame starts at ages 12 months and goes up to 4 years and is separated by age group to accommodate rest and snack times as well as their attention span for activities. They also have their own playground and splash pool — just for the kids at the camp. The club is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. so if you just want to enjoy a quiet dinner at the sushi restaurant, just drop them off for an hour and don’t feel guilty. There is also a kid’s club for ages 5-7 on “Pirate Island” which includes XBox games and Crayola crafts. Of course, don’t forget the tweens and teens either! There is also a nightclub/game room just for tweens and teens to hang out, play games or dance to music. What more can I say…we loved it and so did the kids. I will add that my daughter and I went back for a “girls” only weekend a few months later and they remembered her from the summer and asked her where her brother was. That is what I call a GREAT kid’s club!
The food — okay, now we get to the important detail…the food. To my husband, it’s the most important thing on a vacation — what we’re going to be eating. Like I mentioned earlier, you can eat whenever you want and as much as you want but you can also choose from over 16 gourmet restaurants like a Teppanyaki-style Japanese, Sushi, Italian, French, an American 50s style diner, pub food, wood-fired pizza (best pizza I’ve ever had, seriously) and Southwestern. There is also a coffee shop, a restaurant right on the sand (no shoes required!), and for those looking for a little peace and quiet – an adults-only restaurant. Every restaurant you can also order to-go and you can eat al fresco on your outdoor balcony/patio with the kids. It’s a great way to end the day. I’ve had some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten at Beaches and to say I was “surprised” is an understatement because I was thinking “cruise” food (ick!) but no, it was GOOD!!
Martha is there — well, not technically but there is the Martha Stewart Craft Studio run by Martha-trained staff members. If you need a break from the sun, this is the perfect place to hide out and get some much needed crafting done. I could not get my daughter out of there nor did I want to. Open everyday, there are a number of classes that you can take such as a Glitter class, Scrapbooking class, Stencil fashion class (where you make t-shirts and bags), a Punch and Stencil class and a Postcard class all with Martha Stewart craft materials and products, some made especially for the Beaches Resorts. In each class you get an amazing craft to take home with you to make the memories last even longer. While the ages on the brochure for some classes say 6 and up, my daughter (who is a highly trained expert crafter) at 4 years old did all the crafts with minimal help. Just look at what she made! Oh, and if you go tell Mimi and Barbara we said “hello!” We were there everyday, they just HAVE to remember us.
Did I mention Elmo and friends are there? Not only are they there roaming the grounds by the pool, beach and wherever humans may be but they also do nightly shows where the kids can sing, dance and interact along with them but they also will come to your room and tuck in your kiddos and read them a night time story. No joke. Elmo, Abby or another favorite character you select is available on select nights for tuck-in service. For a nominal additional fee, they come to the door in their pajamas with storybooks, a gift (stuffed character of themselves) and lay down in bed with your child(ren) and read 2-3 bedtime stories. There’s plenty of time for photos and hugs too. It was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip — getting to have one-on-one time with Elmo and Abby as they tucked the kids in. Those pictures are priceless and the memories will last a lifetime.
I didn’t mention that there is a HUGE pool for each individual village and you’re welcome to go to whichever one you want, regardless of the village you’re actually staying in. There is also the amazingly huge waterpark with splash pad area with small slides for tots, two medium sized water slides for older kids (again, my 4 year old rode them but she’s a fish), two huge water slides for older children and adults, a wave maker and a lazy river. There’s also an amazing spa…I really could go on forever but I’m pretty sure you’ve had enough of the frolicking like I did and are just ready to go book the trip already! Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself and then you can thank me later. For more information on booking a trip at Beaches Turks & Caicos, visit www.beaches.com.