The all-inclusive resort Beaches Turks and Caicos is an impeccable property consisting of three “villages” – the French, Caribbean and Italian, with a fourth, Key West, opening in May 2013. There are 19 restaurants, a water park and a host of kid-friendly activities day and night. My family, including my five-year-old twins, recently visited and here are a few tips and lessons learned from our amazing vacation.
Choosing a Village at Beaches Turks and Caicos
To read TripAdvisor, one would think figuring out which village to pick for a Beaches vacation is akin to solving world peace. It’s not that complicated! Yes, each village has its own vibe, but you have access to every amenity, pool and restaurant in every village no matter where your room is located. We pretty much visited every village each day and it’s just a short, pleasant walk between each. In general, the Italian Village is the busiest with the most children; the French Village is the most tranquil; and the Caribbean is somewhere in between with old-school charm. One thing to consider: if being as close to the ocean as possbile is important, the French village is not for you, although it is only a quick five-minute walk to the beach.
With fun to be had outdoors every waking moment, you will be in your room mainly only to sleep. During our week (off-season in November) a family of four could have paid just under $5,000 for a hotel room in the French or Caribbean Village to upwards of $12,000 for the sweetest oceanfront family suite in the Italian Village.
Are the Italian family suites with a separate kids’ alcove furnished with bunk beds lovely? You bet, and they are certainly among the most coveted room category. But you will have the same vacation experience (except the accommodations) no matter what room you book so it’s a matter of if a suite with some privacy for the parents is worth the sometimes thousands of extra dollars. Also keep in mind the Caribbean and French villages have higher end options for families as well: all room classes with photographs are available at Beaches.com.
Guest Services at Beaches Turks and Caicos
Much like which village to choose and what room category to book, whether it’s worth having a “butler” service room is of much discussion among Beaches guests. Here’s a good rule of thumb in my book: If you don’t have a butler at home, you don’t need one on vacation. Of course there are advantages that come with the butler service including room service, cabanas at the pool, coolers filled daily with drinks and snacks and no waiting times at restaurants because the butler has pre-arranged it. The families we met who had butlers were pleased with the service, but, butler or not, you will have a grand time.
Be aware that there is no “pool or beach service” meaning there aren’t servers going around the pool and beach asking if you need a drink. We heard one (loud, rather obnoxious) person grousing about this. To which I would say this: there are bars practically every ten feet and if you are too lazy to get up and order a cocktail at the bar, well then maybe you don’t deserve one. And we found the bartenders extremely quick, attentive and accommodating, unlike some vacation destinations where you stand there for an hour wondering if someone cast a spell rendering you invisible.
Family-Friendly Activities at Beaches Turks and Caicos
Don’t miss the weekly Friday night beach party, modeled after an authentic Caribbean street party. The characters are out in full force dancing up a storm and fun extras like face painters are on hand.
Catch at least one Sesame Street show – even if your kids have outgrown Grover — on the main stage which usually runs nightly. The dance party they have afterwards brings out every kid’s inner rock star.
19 Restaurants Offer Variety of Dining Choices
With 19 restaurants, it’s hard to try all of them. Here were our favorites:
Café de Paris: We would start out our early mornings with a steaming hot cappuccino as we debated where to have breakfast. This café serves fresh pastries, croissants and desserts all day and into the night. Usually we opted for the breakfast buffet at Mario’s or Reflections – both quick and tasty – where we dined alfresco and planned the day.
Adjacent to the pool in the Caribbean village, Arizona’s was our go-to lunch spot where meat was grilled fresh and served sizzling hot with an abundant salad bar and picturesque ocean views. The kids loved diving right into the pool from the restaurant once lunch was over (okay so a few people sitting at the bar got wet…). The service and food were equally good at night for a la carte meals, and the manager was attentive and made sure everyone was getting what they needed.
Bobby Dees is a kid’s paradise connected to the water park serving soft serve ice cream, fries, pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers. The swim-up kids bar serving up smoothies is quite a treat for little ones.
Bella Napoli serves wood-fire oven pizzas for lunch; they take about 30 minutes to bake so plan accordingly – worth the wait!
Barefoot by the Sea: On the ocean in the Italian Village, the kids dig around in the sand making friends while parents enjoy before-dinner cocktails at this non-buffet a ala carte eatery serving seafood and steaks.
The two most upscale restaurants are Sapodilla’s and Le Petit Chateau, both adult-only. If you plan to have only one dinner sans kids, go for Sapodilla’s. We found the seaside atmosphere more romantic than that of Le Petite Chateau, but certainly visit both if you have two nights off to yourselves.
We were somewhat underwhelmed by Giuseppes, Cricketers and Gordons: Absolutely no complaints on the food, but they are not on the water and just don’t offer the breathtaking views and ocean breezes vacationers enjoy at many of the other venues.
Speaking of restaurants, there are days and nights that certain restaurants might be closed so before making plans check the restaurant itinerary you receive at check-in. We talked to people who didn’t read the materials provided and were surprised to show up somewhere for a meal and find the venue closed. But there are always tons of choices and the closings are rotated so that there is ample opportunity to try out every restaurant multiple times in the week. Although most restaurants don’t take reservations, our longest wait time was 15 minutes (and that happened only once) during which we were brought drinks and seated the minute a table became available.
Two Kids’ Clubs
There are actually two separate kids clubs: one for ages four and under at the Sesame Street Camp and one for five and over run out of an area near the water park. Older kids are welcome to join siblings at Camp Sesame but kids must be five (strictly enforced) to participate in the older kids camp. So keep in mind your kids might be at different camps doing different activities depending on their ages. Both are full of excellent, age-appropriate activities, with the younger camp engaging with the Sesame Street characters several times a day and the older camp off on adventures on the beach and participating in organized games. Babysitters are available at night for a reasonable fee ($15 for up to three kids) and you can request your favorite camp counselor.
There is so much activity going on every moment of every day, don’t forget to take some time to just relax on the beautiful beach or by the pool where impromptu appearances by the likes of Cookie Monster and the gang are a cool bonus.
Everything is pretty much included at Beaches, but there are extras, some involving the Sesame Street characters. Read what I had to say about which add-ons are worth it.
Have specific questions or need recommendations? Leave a comment and I’ll let you know!
Disclosure: Beaches hosted my family for research purposes and as always this does not affect my review or recommendations.