The Caribbean has long been a favourite destination for British families. With a good flight network, a wide variety of islands, good-value accommodation, excellent beaches and plenty to keep all ages entertained, it certainly ticks a lot of boxes. And the choices just keep getting better.
“As the Caribbean has been such a long-standing favourite with Britons, the destinations have quickly learnt to take into account the requirements and expectations of families,” says Carol Hay, marketing director for the UK and Europe at the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
“Some of the properties are known for their great children’s clubs, which offer everything from kayaking to helicopter tours, while others have developed special dedicated programmes for teenagers.”
Upmarket operator Seasons says the destination is also continually improving its luxury family offering.
“Traditionally, the best option has always been self-catering apartments and private villas,” says sales director Joanne Clarkson. “So it has been great to see the top-end hotels developing their family product over the past couple of years.”
Hay also points to the fact that agents can find so many attractive added-value offers and discounts, especially at high-season times like summer holidays. Here’s a taster of what’s on offer right now.
Elegant Hotels has a ‘summer savings’ offer, discounting up to 35% across the group’s four properties in Barbados: Turtle Beach, Crystal Cove, Tamarind and Colony Club. In addition, kids stay free this summer at Tamarind and Colony Club, and get free food and soft drinks.
Watersport activities are included in the holiday price at Crystal Cove, while Turtle Beach is about to open a Flying Fish Kids’ Club as part of its ongoing refurbishment, due to be completed this month.
Half Moon, a RockResort property in Montego Bay, Jamaica, has launched a Sizzling Summer package, offering 14 nights for the price of seven, meaning a family of four can save at least £2,736.
The 400-acre resort has a daily programme of supervised activities for three to 12-year-olds, including arts and crafts, steel pan playing, puppet shows and cookery. The Hype Zone, for those aged 13 to 20, has a games room, cyber lounge, disco and cinema.
The resort also has plenty of other activities, including golf, tennis, horse riding, and swimming with dolphins. Caribtours has 14 nights at Half Moon for the price of seven, from £1,864 per adult and £588 per child sharing a junior suite, room-only, including flights and transfers, for summer 2011.
Smugglers Cove Resort & Spa is an extensive village-style four-star all-inclusive resort spread over 45 acres in a secluded bay in Saint Lucia. Its macaw parrot, Maco, has his own club, Maco’s Kid’s Club, which caters for newborns to teenagers, divided into three age groups.
Activities include jewellery making and T-shirt painting, flower and sand art, face painting and tie-dying, as well as sports and dance classes. The hotel also has a 100-metre waterslide and play areas. A ‘stay free, play free and eat free’ campaign is running for bookings up to December 20.
Cotton Bay Village, in Saint Lucia, has a new “bring the baby, not the baggage” concept. Parents can pre-order anything from nappies and baby food to car safety seats and armbands online to be placed in their villa on arrival.
Cotton Bay has a Hummingbird Kids’ Club, offering a range of dedicated facilities and activities specifically tailored for different age groups, including Club 16 for independent teens and tweens, and a crèche, which is free of charge for up to two hours a day.
Carlisle Bay, situated near lush rainforest in Antigua, has extended the upper age limit for family deals for its Super Chill Out packages, which gives 50% off a second ocean or garden suite. The deal is now on offer for adults up to 21, as well as teenagers.
The resort has a Cool Kids Club, which is free for two to 12-year-olds, while there is a small charge for babies over six months. Complimentary activities include tennis, guided nature walks in the rainforest, water sports and a gym. For families with children under 15, up to two children can eat and stay free.
Carrier is offering a week at the resort in November from £7,090 for a family of four, including the 50% teenager discount and a $350 drinks credit.
Jalousie Plantation, on Sugar Beach in Saint Lucia, is running an eat-and-stay-for-free offer for children under five, in addition to offering seven nights for the price of six, and 14 nights for the price of 12 for bookings for travel until October 31.
The resort, set within 100 acres, has free, supervised activities for children up to 12. All activities are fun and educational and combine the rainforest environment, the nearby Soufriere volcano and marine biology of the area with story telling, dance classes and craft making.
Some of the lesser-known islands are also getting in on the family-friendly act. For example, Hayes & Jarvis recommends the new five-star Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent. Activities include a Liverpool FC soccer school, Pat Cash tennis academy, kids’ club, a performing arts academy and watersports. Seven nights’ all-inclusive costs £7,099 for a family of four in August, including flights and an upgrade to a garden view villa.
Parrot Cay, in Turks and Caicos, has added complimentary activities such as snorkelling trips, sailing and windsurfing lessons, plus a “castaway family picnic”.
Seasons’ Clarkson says the best accommodation option for families is the resort’s private villas on the beach as guests who book this accommodation get a wider choice of complimentary activities, including a family barbecue or cookery classes. The island is exceptionally safe for children, with warm seas and weak tides.
Tips: Selling the Caribbean to families
- Find out what is important to them as a family. Do they like to spend time together, taking part in family activities, or want somewhere where all family members will find something they are interested in individually?
- Always check the ages of the children involved. Many kids’ clubs start from the age of four and are therefore not always suitable for families with young children.
- Look for hotels with interconnecting rooms or one-bedroom suites that can house the family in one room.
- Check hotels’ dining options for kids. Although they may claim to be family-friendly, not all hotels offer separate children’s menus or family restaurants.
- Research the extent of properties’ family facilities and children’s activity programme. Some hotels offer minimal activities or have higher age restrictions, while some do not even have separate kids’ pools.
Tourist board promotions
Saint Lucia has introduced a ‘kids go free’ promotion, called Go Bananas, for this summer, in conjunction with selected operators, hotels and major attractions on the island.
At the Barbados Sports Camp in August, football, cricket and netball fans can get coaching from sporting legends including Mark Bright, Gladstone Small and Graeme Hicks.
St Kitts’ Kids R VIPs programme offers deals on a range of activities in St Kitts and Nevis, from sailing and cooking classes to cricket coaching.
Hayes & Jarvis offers Saint Lucia’s four-star Almond Morgan Bay, which has kids’ clubs for every age as well as four pools, watersports, spa and a golf course. Under its Go Bananas offer, two children under 12 stay free, and excursions, to Pigeon Island, for example, are also free. Seven nights’ all-inclusive, including flights and transfers, costs £4,299 for a family of four in August.
Book it: hayesandjarvis.com, 0871 200 2211
Western & Oriental Travel is offering seven nights for the price of six, a 30% discount on full-board accommodation and a ‘one child eats, drinks and stays free’ offer at the Tamarind by Elegant Hotels in Barbados in August, during the island’s Sport Camp season. The package costs £1,589 per adult and £749 per child, including flights and transfers.
Book it: wandotravel.com, 0845 277 3310
The Adventure Company offers a 12-day family holiday tour of Cuba, taking in the main towns of Havana and Trinidad, and activities such as snorkelling and hiking. The tour costs from £1,699 per adult and £1,369 per child, including flights, 10-nights’ B&B accommodation, transport and some meals.
Book it: adventurecompany.co.uk, 0845 287 1198
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