Before I had a child, my favorite vacation involved a $2 bus ride to a hut on the beach in Tulum with no electricity. I scoffed at the timeshare my parents had and the moms hanging out in the lazy river with thermoses full of wine. Now that I have a one year old, that lazy river (and free childcare provided by my parents) sounds pretty great.
So when I was invited on a press trip to check out the newest Beaches all-inclusive family resort at Turks and Caicos, I was more than a little excited. It was my first time on an all-inclusive vacation of any sort and I think The Key West Village at Beaches Turks & Caicos may have ruined me for other vacations.
I brought my son, my sister and lots of sunscreen. We had a really great time and it made me realize why all-inclusive vacations exist in the first place. All of the adventure parts of vacations that I used to like now seem like major nuisances with a child in tow.
Here are Ten things I learned about all-inclusive vacations over the course of a five day trip.
I can’t say for any other inclusive resorts, but Beaches does a really great job of helping you enjoy your time off. I never needed a wallet or purse in the five days I spent in Turks and Caicos. Our biggest concern was which of the 19 restaurants on the premises we planned to stroll up to and order from.
2 Never Worry About The Check
There is something both liberating and disturbing about being able to just walk up and order whatever you want at whatever time you want. Of course, you’re paying for all of this in a (hefty) daily fee, but you don’t have to worry about the cost of every item on the menu, because it’s all included. There is no waiting for the check as your child’s wails/tiredness become increasingly apparent. At the end of the meal, you can just say thanks and walk away.
(Photo: Tax Credits)
3 Accommodations For Picky Eaters
It’s untenable to prepare enough food to bring with you to feed your child for a week. But purchasing meals for small children on vacation can be a real bummer. Once you get your head around the sometimes $20+ you can spend on a dish while on vacation, you have to just sit helplessly by as the kiddo just takes a sniff at the food and says “naaah.” At Beaches, kids under 2 are free, so I didn’t feel too bad about Max deciding that he would make entire meals out of watermelon for days on end. Also, there were so many options on the premises (far beyond the standard buffet), that all sorts of diets and tastes can be accommodated.
4 No Mid-Vacation Budget Worries
When I left the resort, I had a fee of $8.60 for a toy I bought my son in the gift shop. I can’t remember the last time I hadn’t accrued various impulse costs and expenses during a beach trip.
5 Just Relax. Really.
There is something really compelling about being able to enjoy yourself without counting the pennies you’re spending every minute/day/hour. Drinking and eating by the pool is less relaxing when you think about every $14 Mai Tai you’re ordering.
6 Solutions For Indecisive Vacationers
At Beaches, the beach, a water park, multiple pools and a room full of Xboxes was all a quick walk away. It turns out my son was most interested in the beach and the little foot shower outside the beach. But wherever we ended up, we were always about a five minute walk away from our room, which takes the stress out of planning logistics and fun while out of town.
7 No Lines
A lot of the amenities at this resort were geared toward older children. There was a pretty extensive water park, an army of Sesame characters wandering the premises and hosting events, and an entire building devoted to video games. If you hauled your kids to a place exclusively geared toward any of those things, you may spend the better part of your day waiting in line in the hot sun. But I never saw a single line for any activity while I was in Beaches. Strolling up and enjoying a water slide or a Dance Dance Revolution competition whenever the mood strikes is pretty nice.
8 Beach Beach Beach
I guess there’s a reason the place is called Beaches…. Every building was walking distance from one. I’ve never been to Turks & Caicos, but it was probably the nicest beach I’ve ever been to, mere steps from our hotel suite. Completely white sand, clear blue water and fish happily swimming around you. A perk that my son enjoyed? Super calm waves. A perk that I enjoyed? Waiter service on the water. Ordering Pina Coladas on the beach is something I will never get tired of.
9 Me Time
The thing about vacation with kids is there’s not really a lot of downtime. Kids don’t sleep in just because you’re on vacation. In my case, my son always sleeps much less when he’s not in his own crib. During the day, chasing after a kid in the sun is more interesting than your own apartment, but no less tiring. At Beaches, they had really nice daycare options with well equipped rooms full of age appropriate toys and sitters available for nights. My son was obsessed with the infant room.
10 Amazing Staff
The location we visited was amazing, but the thing I was struck most by was how much everyone we encountered seemed invested in our trip being a success. No one was maneuvering for tips or just trying to push us through a restaurant. During the trip, the press people I arrived with were mixed among families who had paid their way and every single person who worked at Beaches — from the waiters to the lifeguards, cleaning staff and valets — was so friendly and sweet and accommodating, it really made our trip. I don’t know what kind of training or standards they have for their team, but I was definitely impressed. We may have gotten a few more smiles because my son played peekaboo with every single person he saw, but the friendliness was at a pretty high standard for the whole trip.