grand_palladium_resizeSeems like planning a relaxing beach vacation BC (before children) was a breeze. Just had to get the time off and book the flights, then before you know it, it was time to relax… toes in sand, drink in hand. Planning a relaxing beach vacation now requires a little more  planning, but it can be done… even if you don’t have grandparents who can take your kids while you escape to the tropics.

If you find a hotel with the right kids club, your little ones will likely never want to leave. That leaves Mom and Dad with time to have a romantic vacation even with kids in tow. The trick is finding a resort where the kids program isn’t just an afterthought. Who wants to get a call after an hour to pick up their child because they’re crying? Good-bye paradise… hello diaper duty or toddler tantrum!One hotel chain that values families is Palladium, with resorts in Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. These are often massive resorts, which means there’s something for everyone to do, crucial if you’re traveling with kids of different ages, like my brood, which ranges from 4 to 14.We enjoyed our time at the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Not only is the Grand Palladium Jamaica’s kiddie_pool_palladium_resizelargest resort, it boasts the country’s largest spa (18 treatment rooms!) and the island’s largest pool. Noone’s getting bored here!

Included in the all-inclusive rate is a fun kids club for four — twelve-year-olds open from 9am- 5pm. There’s also a baby club open during the same hours for one — three-year-olds. The kids club is particularly good for smaller children, as it has its own playground and wading pool with plenty of toys.  Another perk is the complimentary strollers/buggies available for guest use.

The fun for kids doesn’t end when the kids club closes though. Nightly stage entertainment is family-friendly as well. Before the big live msuic and dance show each night, kids are invited to come onto the stage in a game show type program, that included a dance contest while we were there. My 4-year-old daughter loved going on the big stage and speaking into the microphone.
dancer_palladium_resizePalladium dancers also do a meet-and-greet with kids after their nightly show. This photo’s definitely one for the vacation scrapbook— Vegas meets Jamaica!Starting in July of 2013, the kid-friendly entertainment is getting a makeover. All the Palladium hotels will feature characters from the children’s TV show Raggs, which airs on some PBS stations as well as the Spanish language station, Telemundo. Various costumed animals make up the Raggs band, which will perform a live musical stage show. In addition, the animals will make photo-op appearances throughout the resort and participate in kids club activities.Palladium’s new Raggs kids programming is sure to hit a high note with younger kids, leaving Mom and Dad to enjoy some relaxing vacation time alone,  even with kids in tow.

Disclosure: The author was hosted by the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton in order to research this story.

Andrea Guthmann is a freelance journalist focusing on family travel. She spent many years as a writer/producer for WTTW-TV, the PBS station in Chicago. Her travel stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Parent and on-line travel sites.

Raggs_in_Action_3A native Floridian, Andrea’s now a big (windy) city mom of 3, who range in age from pre-school to high school. She loves sailing Lake Michigan and visiting the world class museums and restaurants in her sweet home Chicago. Being a scenery starved city girl she loves escaping to the outdoors during vacations and is working hard to raise 3 happy campers.