Turks and Caicos might be one of my favorite places to visit. It's luxurious, it's friendly, and it has the best beaches. I was lucky enough to spend almost 2 weeks in Turks and Caicos at the beautiful Beaches Resort. Let me start by saying that this trip was unlike some of my previous trips. I flew into Turks on Monday and stayed at Beaches thru Thursday for vacation. Then flew home for the weekend and flew back on Monday for a conference that lasted until the following Monday. Some call it bad planning but I actually planned it that way so I could spend some time at home. When you travel as much as I do, you take as many nights in your own bed as possible!
Lets chat about the island first. Turks is small, and known for its beaches and ocean. The flight is about 3hrs from the Northeast (NY). If you are flying from NY/NJ, United has non stop service on the weekends from Newark and JFK has non stop daily from JFK (at time of writing this). The only carriers that pretty much fly into turks are Jet Blue, United, Air Canada, American, and US Airways.
When you fly into the island, take a look out the window. I guarantee you will see shades of blue you didn't even know existed. The water is fairly calm but does have some waves and when a storm is near (Hurricane Raphael was far away my second week there but the waves from it weren't) you can definitely feel the currents and things pick up a bit. However, 10 out of the 12 months, water is calm and relaxing. The beaches are white, soft, and great to relax on, work out on, and take nice long walks on. In fact, I was pretty proud of myself for getting up at 6am every morning and going for a run.
Now for the scoop on the resort, Beaches Turks and Caicos. Both weeks I was in the Italian Village which is the higher priced of the three villages on site. There is the Italian at the top of the price chart, the French right below it, and the Caribbean at the lowest. However, the French is furthest away from the beach (about a 10 minute walk but could seem like days with little kids, a stroller, and beach toys. Each village has its own pools although you can use them all if desired), and since some renovations were done in the Caribbean, there are a few room categories now that price higher than the French Village so be sure to look at all the options when booking. Speaking of renovations, Beaches has recently purchased the resort next door and has converted it into the Key West Village. This village houses 1,2,3 and 4 bedroom accomodations. My room in the Italian was nice, I had a 2BR family suite both visits which had bunk beds in the front of the room with a trundle bed, a full bathroom with tub, stand up shower, and toilet room, plus double sinks. The Master BR area had a Queen sized bed. Each bedroom had TV's and the kids area had xbox as well.
The food on site was pretty decent. In fact, I was surprised how good it was. The French styled adults only restaurant has an appetizer of tortellini stuffed with squash with goat cheese that was amazing! I wish I had a double order for dinner although my Veggie Risotto was very good too. I also ate at Sapadillas, the other adults only restaurant, which was probably the best meal I had there the whole time. Duck eggroll as an appetizer, a Sweet Potato soup with homemade chips for dipping, and Dijon Chicken. SO GOOD! Everyone had different things and loved it all. The breakfast buffets were great but Mario's in the Italian village was by far the better of the three options each morning. And who can forget about Cricketers! Cricketers is the Irish pub on site and considering I was there for two weeks worth of football, it was my saving grace (although my NY Jets lost while I was there..luckily I had crystal blue water to cheer me up). TIP: While room service isn't offered for every room category, Bobby D's (over by the kids area pool) is open 24/7 and offers pizza,burgers, mac n cheese, ice cream, and more around the clock. The onion rings were so good! There is also a bakery over by the stage in the French village with cookies and coffees that has to go boxes so you can take a few pastries for mom and dad and cookies for the kids back to the room.
I had been to Beaches once before for business and this vacation would be the first time I was there for vacation. Being there with some friends, as well as a 3yr old, and a 15month old was definitely a different experience and I saw the resort from a completely different side. There is so much for kids to do. Nap time or bed time won't be a problem because they'll be exhausted! Sesame Street characters walk around throughout the day offering plenty of picture opportunities. I saw Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, The Count, Abby, and Zoe all walking around the pool throughout my stay. They also have Camp Sesame for the kids where you can do Tea Time with Abby, Make Cookies with Cookie Monster, and the like. The kids spent an afternoon there and loved it. They also have a great water park for the kids (and the young at heart like me) with a pirate ship, lazy river, and some big kid slides as well (which I must say were pretty fun). For the big kids (yes, that means me again) they have a wave simulator where you can hop on a surfboard and try your hand at surfing. It is not as easy as it looks but was a ton of fun.
If you travel there with kids, make sure you check the activity schedule, every night between 630 and 7, the Sesame Street characters have a nightly show or parade. It lasts about 15 minutes but the shows are great for the kids. To sit there and see the kids mesmerized by it or up dancing in front of the stage is what will make the vacation for you, and for them! After the show, they always keep the characters around for a little bit, maybe 10 minutes, so you can try and get some pictures with them. Each night is a different show.
I could really go on and on with all the tips and highlights of this resort but I would be writing a novel. Just know that this resort was designed with the kid in mind. When I was here for business, I missed all the great things for kids because I was always busy or in meetings and never around to experience it. Now that I've gone with little ones, I really do think this is a great resort for families.
Here are a few tips real quick:
- If you go with young ones, buy them some Sesame Street stuffed dolls before and surprise them while there. On site they cost about $45 and you can get them for half that back home
-Check out the "letter of the day" at all the bars and restaurants. Each day is a different letter, just like on sesame street, and it's a great learning tool for the young kids
-Show the kids camp sesame. Some kids will want nothing to do with it just because of their nature but I was surprised how the little one's I was with stayed and stayed all afternoon. You never know!
- The hibachi is a lot of fun and they really want you to have fun too. We had a great chef who sang the whole time. This is the only restaurant you definitely need reservations for, although I suggest making reservations for as many restaurants as possible just so you don't have to wait.
- The gym on site is pretty big and one of the nicer gyms I've seen at a resort. Each morning I either went to the gym or ran on the beach..or both. It's open 24/7 which is nice as well.
- The airport is small. Be prepared when going with kids. There is pretty much one room with a liquor store, a bar with minimal food, and a jewelry store. That's it! The weekends are a mad house so bring snacks, take some cereal from the breakfast buffet, and bring some games for the kids because it will feel like you are there forever.
-If you are willing to pay extra, check out the catamaran ride with the Sesame Street characters or the Character breakfast.
Safe Travels! See you on my next adventure!