These locales aren't just for honeymooners or SCUBA divers. They are as kid-friendly as they are ideal for adults looking to get away from it all.
Set in a choice 11-acre enclave on Provo in the Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay Club has 1,100 feet of powder-sand beach fronting turquoise waters. While the club has a lovely 82-room hotel that is adults-only, it offers appealing family-friendly options that include 38 Villa Suites and the even more alluring resort-within-resort Estate Residences. To make children's stays even more enjoyable -- and to provide some downtime for vacation-needy parents -- Grace Bay Club's well-developed "Kids Town" program will keep children from toddlers to teens engaged in a full range of activities. These can include half-day excursions such as kayak tours of the local marine nature reserve, trips to North Caicos to visit the colorful resident flamingo colony and escorted snorkel tours (off-property excursions carry an additional charge). Morning programs, which begin at 9 a.m., might entail games and competitions such as sand castle-building followed by post-lunch excursions that get children back to their parents by 4 p.m. The enhanced VIK -- Very Important Kids -- package provides children with a lot of extras (T-shirts, bathrobes, backpacks and more) that will make the whole experience seem tailored to them (at an additional cost ranging from $130 to $255).
Another first-rate resort, set on a big, sandy beach with calm waters, is Carlisle Bay, Antigua. A full weekly program of events for children is divided according to age: 6 months to 3 years, with activities such as finger painting and treasure hunts; 4 to 6, featuring junior-level sports, song and dance, and art projects; 7 to 12, the "Crew Blue" club, which includes diversions such as beach volleyball and junior yoga and is scheduled during all major school holidays; and for teens up to 18, "Crush," an adventure program that runs in July and August. Daily movie screenings give parents and grandparents a little break in the afternoon. Children's menus are available, as are smaller portions for older children. Each 730-square-foot Beach Balcony Suite features a bedroom with a king-size bed and a sitting area, as well as a separate study or a second bedroom with twin beds. These can comfortably sleep two adults and two children. They are mere steps away from the water, and are perfect for families.
On St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the lovely Caneel Bay is more understated (some may find the rooms dated, although we thought them low-key and refreshing, with no TVs and no Internet connections), and is definitely a family-friendly resort. Activities in which parents and children can partake abound and include (at no additional charge) the use of kayaks, Sunfish sailboats and snorkeling equipment, plus tennis on the resort's 11 excellent courts. When parents need a little down time, "Turtle Town" can be a relief. This area at the north end of the property is devoted to children ages 3 to 12, with a full program that includes arts and crafts and outdoor activities. Two of the resort's restaurants have children's menus: Caneel Beach Bar & Grill and Caneel Beach Terrace. Additionally, babysitters ("Caneel Companions") are available throughout the day and evening by advance arrangement. Also, accommodations south of the "Cottage Point" section of the property, available at all levels, are specifically designated for families with children under 7.
On 500 acres along a pristine crescent beach on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, Rosewood Little Dix Bay includes an array of attractions for children. The "Children's Grove," located in the shade of a stand of mahogany, offers a miniature Caribbean chattel house, a dress-up parlor, an arts and crafts center, a shipwreck and an outside play area. The exuberant staff lead young guests on nature walks, shell-collecting expeditions and treasure hunts within Little Dix's gorgeous natural setting, and offer hands-on activities such as stone painting, Caribbean folk art and West Indian musical instrument crafts. Children's menus are available in the Beach Grill for lunch and in the Pavilion for dinner. New lodging options accommodate families in spacious two- or three- bedroom beachfront villas, and even larger three- or four-bedroom hilltop villas that provide commanding ocean views and private pools.
Located an easy 40-minute drive east of of San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, is sequestered on a 483-acre former coconut plantation. Now, the enclave is home to the 139-room resort, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. 18-hole golf course and two miles of unspoiled golden sand. The heart of the property is a spectacular pavilion accessed by a covered walkway across a koi pond. The fully staffed Iguana Kids Club, housed in a nearby airy pavilion, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers a range of activities for children ages 5 to 12. These include nature walking, bird-watching and turtle-feeding, as well as more familiar pursuits (books and movies) for the older kids. Full-day care is available for $80, while half-day experiences cost $50. During our recent stay, The St. Regis was at full occupancy, yet it never felt crowded, even at the pool. The space, number of activities and high degree of organization all make the property ideal for families. Overall, this is a fine new resort that greatly exceeded our expectations. We recommend the one-bedroom suites, which can be connected to extra bedrooms with two queen beds to create expansive two-bedroom units.
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