Beach travel w/toddler... help! :) ~

Old Dec 29th, 2009, 07:59 AM
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Beach travel w/toddler... help! :) ~

So. I've been researching. And researching. And RESEARCHING! Every lead I find leads to either sky-high rates or exceptionally poor TripAdvisor reviews. For all of you Caribbean experts out there... please weigh in!
My husband and I are desperate for a tropical family vacation in late March/early April. I know this lends itself to Spring Break/Easter travellers, but hubby is due to return from deployment during that time and we're anxious for quality re-connect time.
Here are our hopes and dreams:
- Reasonable rates. We've done uber-luxury in Mauritius and hippie low key in Akumal, but we're looking for something in-between.
- Kids Club and/or nanny service. Our son just turned two, so he'll fall below the standard 3-4yr requirement for most Kids Clubs.
- Potential for diving and/or excursions in "town." We're beach people, but we get bored quick. Options for sightseeing above and below water are key.
- We're not fans of all-inclusives, but if recommended, we'll give it a try. We like to eat "local" food wherever we travel and don't fancy troughs full of bland American fare.

So far, I've looked at the Windjammer in St. Lucia (TERRIBLE TripAdvisor reviews), Regent Palms, Grace Bay Club and the Sands at Grace Bay in T&C (ditto above... AWFUL reviews!). Somerset in T&C looks lovely but is a bit out of our price range. I've heard good things about Gansevoort Wymara in T&C but kid-friendliness may be an issue.

Please help a mama out!
Many, many thanks and best wishes for a travel-filled 2010!
Christine
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Old Dec 29th, 2009, 09:10 AM
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I don't know who these people are on Tripadvisor, but I like both Windjammer Landing in St. Lucia and Sands at Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos. Not quite sure where the negativity is coming from. But I don't know if either offers much in the way of childcare.

FDR Resort has nanny service, and it's an all-inclusive resort, but it can be a little expensive for what you get. For the money, the Beaches resorts on Jamaica are pretty good for a family-type resort. FDR and FDR Pebbles are the only resorts I can think of where nanny service is included. I know that Round Hill can provide nanny service, but it's more of a luxury resort experience and might be more than you want to pay.

Gansevoort is just not at all child-friendly. But the T&C is a good place for young children. Blamona might be able to give you more information on childcare possibilities, but I believe it can be arranged at a lot of the places there, which are mostly condo-style accommodations, but I don't think many of the resorts have on-site children's programs except for Beaches. There's not a lot to do on land in the T&C, however.

Have you looked at the Almond Resorts in either Barbados or St. Lucia? They're offering some good deals and most of the resorts are very family friendly with good kids' programs (and they will care for non-poddy-trained toddlers). Both St. Lucia and Barbados offer a lot to do both on land and on the beach.

My main advice is to take all the Tripadvisor reviews with a grain of salt. You will always find a mix. Some poeple will love a place, some will hate it. I don't put a lot of stock in those reviews.
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Old Dec 29th, 2009, 10:36 AM
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We have stayed at many resorts on Grace Bay (TCI)Love the Somerset now, liked the Sands very much and great kids pool, reviews are usually very good there. Stayed at Regent Palms-- had a bad experience. I would pick The Sands. Wife and I hated Windjammer Landing-RATS Everywhere!
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Old Dec 29th, 2009, 10:51 AM
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Yikes! Many thanks to you both for your advice! Windjammer is DEFINITELY off the list.
Anyone familiar with the Coconut Bay Resort in St. Lucia?
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Old Dec 29th, 2009, 12:15 PM
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Coconut Bay is fine, but it's on the Atlantic, so the water isn't safe for swimming whatsoever, and it's about as isolated as a resort can be. I would not recommend it for you.
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 02:51 AM
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You should go to Barbados,with crystal clear water and nice beaches please stay away from all inclusive,i rented a villa few months ago in Barbados,the owner will give you a free car,they also have a lot of connections with diving,snorkelling,and boat trips,i guess once you have the free car you can explore yourself, they are good people to know.If you go online to flipkey.com you will see the villa that offer a free car,email them and ask a question,Barbados is far better and safer than all those places you have mention.
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Old Dec 30th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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Try to look at Dreams La Romana on the south coast of Dominican Republic. There are more resorts if that one is too expensive (sometimes the rates are higher the other hotels in the area). there is also an independent hotel you can spend you vacation, with access to many restaurants and the price is very reasonable - but I am not sure about nanny service there.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 07:18 AM
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Thanks so much, Demi56! I did price out Club Med Punta Cana yesterday... may have to pick up a second job to pay for it but it looks pretty amazing.
All we need:
- clear gorgeous water
- a beach to sit on
- rum punch (or some sort of yummy beverage!)
- someone trustworthy to watch our kiddo if we need a break.
Fingers are crossed I'll find that magical place soon!
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 02:16 PM
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I think Grand Cayman is a good option, we've used the childcare services through an agency there and The Ritz Kid program was awesome. The water is fantastic, you can sit in the water all day and never want to leave and you can still see your toes waist deep in water in the night! I do like Barbados too though and we stayed at Glitter Bay but it's not like kids are everywhere there. Also, have you looked at picking an island and looking at VRBO.com? Often good rates.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 10:38 AM
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Sands in T&C gets awful reviews?? I think it is a very nice family resort in a great location. I also mentioned RWI in another post but no kids club. The Sands gets my vote. The pools are perfect for kids and there is a great restuarant overlooking the beach on-site.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 10:39 AM
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If you choose Grand Cayman, I recommend the Westin as the beach situation at the Ritz is just awful. Chairs are on top of each other. Westin has a great beachfront, many amenities but much less crowded.
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Old Jan 9th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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we stayed at the regent palms last year and it was outstanding. if you click on my screename, you can read a very detailed review. We travelled there with our 3 yo and it was a dream vacation- and i am very very picky.
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