Grand Caribbean Vacation

You'll relish the all-inclusive luxury of these resorts

By Nadia Ali

Picture this: the sun, surf, and your grandkids at an all-inclusive resort on a Caribbean island. With its lush rain forests, leisurely lifestyle and those lilting Caribbean accents, nothing could be better for a multigenerational getaway.

Staying at an all-inclusive resort in the islands means nearly everything is taken care of for you. This is what you can expect: airport transfers, unlimited snacks, buffet meals, unlimited drinks, entertainment night and day, satellite TV, swimming pools, access to beaches, water sports, land sports, no-tipping rules, laundry service, and a nanny.

The companies that run these Shangri-las are by no means novices; they are part of huge chains which aim to beat out the competition. There are always special offers, activities and new attractions to appeal to you and your grandkids, from never-ending snacks to island discovery tours. Consider these Caribbean resorts for the next outing with your grandkids:

Beaches, Turks & Caicos

[photo photo2 align=right max-width=100]Just one hour's flight from Miami, on the island of Providenciales in the British Turks and Caicos Islands, Beaches has 450 beachfront rooms and a pool for nearly every day of the week. This is the place for tots as the resort features interactions with costumed Sesame Street characters. Elmo drops by at Story Time, and Cookie Monster will help the kids munch on cookies they mix and bake with the kitchen staff. For the picky grandchild, there are ten restaurants, including Bobby D's, a 50s-style diner which serves pizza, hot dogs, and fries inside a pirate ship. It's even got a self-serve, soft ice cream machine. When the kids are tucked in bed, rent a nanny so you and yours can linger over a gourmet meal. For the ultimate in pampering, rent a butler to cater to your every wish. It's no wonder Beaches won the World Travel Award for Leading Family All-Inclusive Resort eight years in a row.

FDR Pebbles, Jamaica

[photo photo3 align=right max-width=100]Located on the north coast of Jamaica, Pebbles is relatively intimate, with 96 family suites housed in 12 wooden cottages. It prides itself on being a soft adventure resort with a staff to guest ratio of 1:1. It's the kind of place you can expect to hear this key phrase frequently: "No problem, mon." On check-in, guests with small children are assigned their own vacation nanny to look after the little ones all day. Children as young as 8 or 9 can get a taste of scuba diving in the PADI Bubblemaker program. Pre-teens and teenagers can choose from an array of discovery tours featuring biking, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, camping under the stars, and even a good ole beach party. Of the four resort restaurants, two are adults-only.

Breezes, Curaçao

[photo photo4 align=right max-width=100]Breezes offers 341 rooms and family suites along a 1,500-foot private beach on the island of Curaçao in the southern Caribbean. While you take classes in mixology and reggae, the kids can work on their juggling and trampoline skills. For teens, activities include sumo wrestling, rock climbing, beach volleyball, and even toga parties. The island of Curaçao offers a variety of enriching outings. The Sea Aquarium with its Dolphin Academy (see the article, "A Day at the Sea Aquarium") and miles of coral reef in Curaçao Underwater Park are close by. Or, take your grandchildren to Willemstad to experience the Dutch heritage of Curaçao, while you do a little shopping in the tax-free town. Explore the Hato caves, take a sunrise or moonlight horseback ride, or a jeep safari to Christoffel Park to view the wildlife. Child Magazine ranked Breezes among the 10 Best Caribbean Resorts for Families in 2005.

Club Med, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

[photo photo5 align=right max-width=100]Club Med Punta Cana is located at the edge of a blue lagoon in the Dominican Republic on the eastern end of the island of Hispaniola. The resort offers 519 suites decorated in vibrant colors, with separate sleeping areas for the kids. You'll find all the usual activities, water and land sports, plus a flying trapeze and circus school! Specially trained G.O.'s (gentils organisateurs, the term for all staff members at Club Med) will keep kids ages 2 and 3 busy at Petit Club Med, and kids 4 to 10 occupied at Mini Club Med. For those hard-to-please teens, Club Med has created The Ramp. It's got a huge hammock for hanging out, a slope for rollerblading and skateboarding, and a canvas sail for screening movies. The teen-only lounge includes a custom soda bar, jukebox, photo booth and foosball game. Enjoy a little off-site adventure by signing up for a Discovery Tour to explore Santo Domingo, traditional island culture and nature preserves.

A vacation with your grandchildren at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort is far from a budget holiday, but it provides a never-ending helping of food, drink, and entertainment for everyone. As the late Dean Martin crooned, "Memories are made of this!"

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