The No-Brainer Vacation
Leave your worries behind at all-inclusive family resorts
In many ways, all-inclusive resorts are the ideal destination for family fun.
Put away any preconceived notions you may have about cheesy, packaged holiday factories. These places have come a long way in recent years, with spruced-up facilities, specialized amenities and new programs that ensure all ages are well looked after.
Various 3- to 5-star resorts usually offer multiple pools, various water sports and activities, entertainment options, spa treatments and golf course for the grownups, kids’ clubs and teen lounges for the younger set and, of course, endless all-you-can-eat/drink/snack pleasures. Even if you’re usually the independent adventure traveler type, as a parent you owe your brood a trip to one of these family vacation specialists at some point. You may be pleasantly surprised.
One of the most appealing features is the built-in childcare options available at these resorts. Don’t feel guilty about dumping your offspring off at the Kids’ Club – you’ll have plenty of time for quality family togetherness. Your child will most likely revel in the opportunity to create arts and crafts, have treasure hunts, costume parties, dances and other memorable activities with other kids.
Some resorts like Club Med have even more extensive offerings like trapezes, trampolines, skateboard parks, and sound mixing/film editing programs. Having a safe, clean, fun, stimulating, supervised environment for your child to meet and play with similar-aged youngsters means he or she will have a blast while you get a chance to recharge your batteries. It’s a win-win.
The convenience of paying upfront means you don’t have to think about watching your budget so you can indulge to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content. Ideal if you’re looking to check your brain at the door and not have to think, plan or budget too much on your vacation – this is easy turn-key holidaying. If you’re content to stay on the resort property for all meals, activities and entertainment, this is a decent way to go. Children’s programs mean fun for the kids and breaks for the parents.
These resorts can be pricey, but you do get a lot of value for your money when you add up all the meals, drinks and activities that are included. Don’t forget to factor in airfare if that’s not part of your package, and check to see if things like ground transfers, taxes and gratuities are included so you have no expensive surprises at checkout. Not all activities are necessarily free of charge so read the fine print (golf, scuba diving and spa treatments are often extra). You probably won’t get an authentic feel for the local culture as you’ll most likely stay on the property, so consider it a “resort vacation” rather than a “travel experience.”
All ages will have a good time at a family-oriented resort. Do your homework to ensure the children’s program accommodates the ages relevant to your family – not all resorts have a baby nursery or accept children three or under unsupervised in their clubs, and only some cater to tweens and teens well.
Eat, drink and be merry. You and your kids can take advantage of all the amenities and activities available and never leave the resort, go for optional excursions around the area or simply kick back and relax. It’s up to you.
Just your swim suits, sun screen, sunglasses and sand toys. Ask about cribs, highchairs and the like but most everything is provided for you.
Mexico and the Caribbean have really cornered the market on all-inclusive family resorts. Many of the resorts also have timeshares for sale for families that are looking to return on a more frequent basis.
Beaches Turks and Caicos has a Sesame Street theme.
Franklyn D. Resort, Jamaica – large rooms come with their own nanny!
Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – excellent childrens’ programs, one of the best for tweens and teenagers.
Breezes Curacao Resort and Spa has Camp Breezes for children.