Every poll about the best family resorts in the Caribbean seems to list Beaches Turks and Caicos at or near the top. For years I wondered what its secret was, and I jumped on a recent chance to check it out. My son couldn’t join me due to school schedules, but one of my gal pals was more than happy to step in. Our takeaway? You might have an even better time than your kids.
Beaches is the kid-friendly branch of the Sandals family tree. It has two properties in Jamaica, as well as its flagship on Providenciales, the most populated of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Like Sandals, pricing is all-inclusive — a big draw for families who just want to hit the easy button on vacation. It’s the kind of place where you can fill every second with activities or spend the day horizontal in a hammock, and feel equally good about both.
Beaches Turks and Caicos is huge, to the tune of more than 750 rooms and suites, but doesn’t feel overwhelming. One reason is the staff, who may be the friendliest I’ve found at a resort this size. They’re quick to call out a greeting, chat about your day, or escort you when you’re lost on the property (not rare, given its size). And as you’d expect, they bend over backwards to make little ones feel at home.
Four different villages, each with a distinct feel and character, make up the resort. The newest is Key West Luxury Village, a cluster of beachfront buildings drenched in sky blue and sherbet green. Graceful trellises covered in brilliant tropical blooms dot the landscaping, and wide verandas overlook the walkways. The feel is elegant yet relaxed, and the light, airy room decor sets a perfect tone for a Caribbean getaway.
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The tile roofs of the Italian Village, curling wrought-iron balconies of the French Village and vibrant colors of the Caribbean Village (the most value-oriented of the four) round out the picture. All sit close together, and guests have complete freedom to move between them; you don’t need to stay in a particular village to use its pools or eat at its restaurants.
Beaches has so many room configurations for families that it would take a separate post just to list them all, from three- and-four-bedroom villas to suites with bunk rooms to standard doubles. We stayed in a one-bedroom suite in Key West, which had a huge balcony, a spacious king bedroom, a full kitchen and an overscale trundle daybed in the living room. A family of four could fit with ease.
The resort sits on Providenciales’ knockout Grace Bay, a stretch of sugar-white sand fronted by bands of turquoise and sapphire water. Given the volume of guests, I was amazed that the beach never felt crowded — no fighting for chaises or pushing past a wall of people to get to the surf. The water is super-calm and the shore has a gradual entry, i.e. it’s ideal for young kids. Complimentary water sports include paddle boarding, sea kayaking, Hobie Cats, windsurfing, scuba diving and more.
All Turks and Caicos beaches are open to the public, and the locals come to enjoy them also. We met a few delightful island residents during our stay, plus a colorful character or two.
Families are Beaches’ raison d’être, so the kids’ amenities are off the charts, right down to the tiny picnic tables and mini armchairs all over the property. Kids’ clubs are included in the rates. Camp Sesame, helmed by the Sesame Street characters and staffed by certified nannies, welcomes infants through 4-year-olds. There’s also a weekly Sesame Street parade and, for an additional fee, a character breakfast with visits from the all-stars: Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and company.
Older kids have their own camps and pursuits such as pizza making, snorkeling and beach soccer. The tween/teen set can hit the Xbox lounge, enroll in the Scratch DJ Academy, or hang out at Trench Town, which offers air hockey, foosball and other favorites. They can even get a taste of nightlife: Club Liquid is just for under-21s until 11p, when it shifts to adults-only.
Beaches has 10 swimming pools onsite, not counting the private plunge pools at some of the villas. Between family pools, an adult infinity pool and more, there’s one to suit every sun-seeker’s style. Having sampled nearly all of them, I vote for the ones within Key West — small, secluded, and nearly deserted. Bliss!
If you crave more action, the French and Italian villages have enormous (though crowded) pools with swim-up bars, music and water activities. Kids won’t want to go any farther than Pirates’ Park, which has its own swim-up smoothie bar, a lazy river, a surf simulator and water slides that are fun for grown-ups too.
It’s hard to go hungry here. The property has 19 restaurants with themes that span the globe: Japanese, Southwestern, Italian and more. As with most all-inclusives, a lot of them serve buffet-style, and the fare is solid overall, if a bit uneven. The à la carte venues, though, shine. We loved the French cuisine at adults-only Le Petit Chateau and lingering over breakfast at the open-air Barefoot by the Sea, where you can kick off your flip-flops at the hostess stand.
For picky palates, head to the ’50s-style diner Bobby Dee’s or one of the two pizzerias. Café de Paris, a cute patisserie, is the perfect place to wait out an afternoon rain shower with a cappuccino and a plateful of bite-size pastries.
In addition to all the kids’ activities, there’s plenty going on for parents, from fitness classes to pampering at the Red Lane Spa. Still, don’t miss a chance to take an excursion and see a little more of the local area. We had a blast on the catamaran cruise offered through Beaches partner Island Routes, which included snorkeling over a coral reef and a stop at a deserted island to hunt for shells and laze in the sun.
For a more meaningful outing, sign up to volunteer with the Sandals Foundation. We visited a local primary school on Providenciales to donate much-needed supplies and read to the children. Seeing their excitement melted all of our hearts, and it was a wonderful, relatable way for the kids in our group to grasp the idea of voluntourism. That’s a souvenir worth keeping!
Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino was part of a media trip to experience Beaches Turks and Caicos and Key West Luxury Village. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Lisa Frederick.
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