Parents need time together, without their kids. Cosmopolitan magazine will back me up on this. Part of our mission at TravelingMom is to encourage moms to take time for themselves and their relationships outside parenting. Ten years ago I did that – left the kids with my mom and took a trip with my husband (also known as DH/SH – Dear Husband/SandHater) to St. John. That’s right, TEN YEARS AGO! (It’s really 12 but who’s counting.)
So when I was invited on a press trip to check out Beaches by Sandals in Turks and Caicos, I grabbed my husband and we headed off. We were happy to find out when we arrived at the resort that we were not the only kid-free couple there. One couple from Illinois said they have visited several Beaches locations with and without their kids.
It was quiet. It was relaxing. It was easy. That’s because Beaches is an all-inclusive. Not having to even think about the cost of meals and having tips constantly at the ready allowed us to decompress faster. And service did not suffer for lack of tipping. Any time we asked for directions, a Beaches employee would lead us to our destination. When I told one horrified housekeeper to just point in the right direction. She replied, “No pointing,” and walked with me.
All-inclusive at Beaches Turks and Caicos really means all-inclusive. You do not have to spend anything extra for fun, drinks or food – although you can upgrade to a better bottle of wine or opt to pay for a massage or snorkeling trip.
Beaches Turks and Caicos Activities
Most of the Beaches activities are included in the all-inclusive prices, including some that would otherwise be quite pricey, like learning to scuba or sail. (If you don’t want to learn, you can just ride with one of the sailing experts.) Or you can check out a kayak, enjoy a covered chair at the beach or pedal that crazy big bike thing in the sea–all at no extra charge.
Island Routes Tours on Turks and Caicos – $98pp
DH/SH and I took a 3 hour snorkeling trip with Island Routes. Lots of loud upbeat music with a talented DJ, open bar, gorgeous boat with water slide, clean equipment, plentiful snacks and great crew made for a great time. We snorkeled for 20 minutes, saw tropical fish, found several sand dollars at one beach and anchored so everyone could take a turn on the waterslide.
Beaches Snorkel Trip – +$25pp
This 2-hour trip went to about the same area for snorkeling as Island Routes. I went alone – DH/SH went to the pool (just in time to grab a complimentary neck massage). I loved this excursion: small group, good snacks, clean equipment, no DJ or loud music, and a full hour of snorkeling where I saw a gorgeous variety of tropical fish. And a shark. Our snorkeling guide, Max, found it and waved us over. He pulled me by the hand to help me swim faster to where the 6’ long nurse shark was gliding along the bottom. Max bravely dove down to get a closer picture for us. On the way back, JoJo, a friendly dolphin found us so we circled around a bit and snapped lots of pictures of him. It was thrilling and well worth the additional $25.
Beaches Turks and Caicos Food
Summary: Good, with great moments. We hit as many of the 19 restaurant choices as possible. All of them get 5 stars (the best) for atmosphere, cleanliness, fresh veggies, service and dessert. The meals varied. Below are the highlights:
- Dino’s – quick food. Pizza is terrific – my 100% Italian east coast pizza eating DH/SH fully approved. Paninis, salads and smoothie bar ****
- Mario’s – Italian, also fully approved! Gnocchi got rave reviews from my husband and my risotto, although a bit garlicky, was tasty. It was our #1 pick for breakfast too – a colorful buffet with made to order omelets. *****
- Neptunes: Swordfish – meh – too much sauce and too leeky. DH/SH grabbed a pizza afterwards. I ordered but did not eat the bland seafood bisque. The chocolate polenta cake, however, was a different story – delicious and not too sweet. **
- Bobby D’s – ice cream and burgers (veggie burger too). Open til 6am for the late night club crowd. Smiling Pamela, (who took our order is worth visiting. ***
- The Cricketer – The only other restaurant open after 9:30. Fish & Chips, bad Karaoke singers and pub food. Decent but we wished we had planned better and eaten earlier at another restaurant. **
- Schooners – let’s start with the coconut tart which is actually a mini coconut pie. Awesome! Dinner was very good – tuna steak with risotto and DH/SH had Jerk Grouper. ***
- Sopadillas – I was expecting local authentic dishes and found only a couple of options: fried coconut shrimp that was tasty but not special, signature pineapple martini – (pulpy pineapple with vodka- not special). I had to special order an appetizer of mashed plantains, which seemed odd since that is a local staple **
- Barefoot by the Sea – literally built on the beach so bare feet are welcome but wet bathing suits are not. The jerk chicken is a recommend. ***
- Bayside – unbeatable view. Breakfast buffet was good but not as lovely as Mario’s. **
Beaches Turks and Caicos Key West Village
There are 4 distinct lodging themes at Beaches Turks and Caicos, which are referred to as villages: Key West Village, Caribbean Village, French and Italian. Our one bedroom villa was big enough for a family of 3*. There are larger villas and hotel room style rooms also available in Key West Village. The largest room I saw was in the Italian Village – a 2 bedroom suite overlooking Beaches’ largest pool, with full living room, bunk beds, 2 entrances and a butler’s kitchen (for the butler that came with the suite).
Some highlights of our villa:
- King bed so comfy that I inquired about where to buy the mattress. Daybed so uncomfortable that we never sat on it once. But it looks pretty.
- Full kitchen that you likely will not need with 19 restaurants to choose from. However, the full fridge and a mini bar is stocked with drinks which can be convenient.
- Dining area so a family can eat around the table in the room. We ate out and piled our papers on it.
- Two big closets. We used the hall closet to store an open suitcase because there are no drawers. This was frustrating. I want to unpack when I arrive and I can’t hang up my underwear.
- Washer/Dryer! You can pack less!
- Front porch: One lounge chair which we never used because we could not both fit on one chair.
- Conveniently located with a short walk to the beach, pools and other villages.
- Departure lounge – this is where you check in and out. Guests at the other villages have to depart from one lounge in the French Village. We had our own departure lounge.
- Pool: There are several to choose from: the huge, busy, crowded bar/pool in the Italian Village, the smaller version of that in the French Village and the water park in the Caribbean Village. Our favorite was the one nearest our room – a short lap pool in a very quiet garden. All pools have a lifeguard on duty.