OVERVIEW OF BEACHES RESORT: This has been the only resort we have ever gone to twice. The first year we went my older daughter was sick for the first 2 days and then my younger daughter for the last 2. (Really sick… puke on a white comforter sick.) Luckily they were able to still swim and play in the sand when the Advil kicked in and they were feeling better. The following year when we were planning our trip we said, “If we had 2 sick kids and still had a great vacation, can you imagine what it would be like if we were all healthy?” So we booked it, prayed no one would be sick over Winter Break (I turned into a Wash Your Hands monster), and it turned out to be one of our favorite island vacations yet. This resort is the largest resort on the island and caters to families both big and small. This all-inclusive resort has endless options of activities like table tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, a gym, tennis, lawn chess, croquet, and an amazing spa. There are 18 restaurants so you don’t feel confined to places to eat like many all-inclusive resorts.
My biggest hesitation with booking this resort was the fact that it is affiliated with Sesame Street. Not that there’s anything wrong with Sesame Street…(Please don’t throw alphabet blocks at me…I love Oscar the Grouch!!) but I was picturing characters all around me at the beach, pool, and restaurants. I was completely wrong. Ok…once I saw Big Bird walk by as I was sitting by the pool and once we passed The Count as we were walking to dinner, but it was fine and the kids acted like they just saw a celebrity. The characters are mainly located in the Kid’s Club when they are there for an activity.
The grounds of the resort are breathtaking. There are many gorgeous places to sit and relax like hammocks, patios, and gazebos that overlook the water.
ACCOMODATIONS: There are 4 villages in the resort: Italian, Key West, Caribbean, and French. Each village has its own feeling and the restaurants in that area take on the look of the village. So you feel like you are in 4 resorts at the same time. You have the option of renting a room, suite, or villa and the Presidential and Penthouse suites even include a butler (Seriously? I would never leave!).
We stayed at the Italian village both times because we loved it so much and there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out. We stayed in an Italian oceanfront walkout family suite with a kid’s room. The kid’s room was amazing. It had fabulous bunk beds and a television with an Xbox with tons of games. The bunk beds included a trundle so you could fit more children in that room if needed. At the time our youngest was in a phase where she was falling out of bed a lot so it was great to have the trundle bed to catch her fall from the bottom bunk. The master bedroom had a king size four poster bed and a couch that also had a pull-out trundle. The master bedroom had a slider that led to a patio with chaise chairs. The room had a huge bathroom with a large soaker tub that was great for bathing the kids. Housekeeping was wonderful. They did a thorough cleaning job and my girls loved coming back to the room and seeing the animals created with our towels and fresh flowers.
POOLS: There are 6 pools at this resort: 2 kiddie pools, and 5 with swim up bars. The beach in the Italian village is where we spent most of our time because it is the largest and it was in the village we were staying in. The girls loved the swim up bar and would get strawberry banana smoothies every afternoon. (When we got home I was watching the girls play with their toy Strawberry Shortcake smoothie shop and overheard my daughter pretend that her doll, Blueberry Muffin, ordered a froze margarita. The things you learn on vacation!) There were several nights where they would set up a projector at the pool and you could sit on lounge chairs or float right in the pool as you watch a family movie.
Another pool we liked was the Caribbean pool. It has a small waterfall and a cave you can swim through as well as a swim up bar. The pool in the French village is gorgeous and the gardens are lush with blooming flowers. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Key West pool. It was large and pretty but there was nothing special about it so we didn’t go in it on either trip.
BEACH: The beach was gorgeous and always had plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas. The sand was powder white and building sandcastles was a part of each day for us. The water was unbelievably clear and the hotel provides snorkel equipment that I would recommend using. They also offer water trikes, paddle boards, kayaks, and windsurfing. (PS…we don’t usually travel with monkeys but “Banana” was the class mascot and it was our turn to take him for the week. He had a lovely time at Beaches!)
WATERPARK: We only went to the waterpark once because there were so many other activities we were doing. The park has a lovely lazy river and several water slides. They also have a surf simulator, a waterfall pool, a kids only swim up soda bar, and a 50’s diner including a soft serve ice cream station. If we were to go now that my kids are older I’m sure we would spend much more time in this section.
KID’S CLUB: I have never ever left my kids at a kid club but the amazing staff made me feel so comfortable and they had great activities that my kids enjoyed doing. I went to the spa the second morning we were there and when I got back to the room my husband told me he had been on a walk with the kids and they stopped in to the Kid’s Club to check it out. The kids begged to stay there so he said they could stay for an hour. The club gives you a cell phone and they’ll call you if there’s a problem. Well we were about to go pick them up when the phone rang. I panicked but it was just the staff saying the kids wanted to talk to me. When I got on the phone they begged me to let them stay there longer because they were having such a fun time. How crazy is that? So we agreed that every day we would choose about 2-3 hours that they could go there and do an activity. They ended up meeting kids and making friends that they would see around the resort. (They had a much bigger social life at the resort than we did).
Each day you got a schedule of activities for the Kid’s Club and you can have them pick and choose what interests them. When they are done you can pick them up and continue family time. Activities included treasure hunts with Big Bird, baking cookies with Cookie Monster, crafts with Zoe, and many more. They divide Kid’s Club into 4 sections: infant, toddler, preteen, and teen. They also offer an evening service where you can drop them off and the adults can go to dinner at one of the adults-only restaurants. Back at Kid’s Club they do a kid party where they have dinner, play games, and watch a family movie.
SESAME STREET CATAMARAN CRUISE: My husband and I are not huge fans of characters but we thought the kids would like it so we were ready to take one for the team. The boat ride ended up being such fun. The characters would go into the main cabin of the catamaran and they would dance and sing with the kids. Meanwhile, on the deck, the crew would hand parents a rum drink and tell us to enjoy the cruise. The characters are only there for half the cruise so there is plenty of time for enjoying the boat ride as a family At one point, my girls and I were sitting on the rope hammocks and dolphins started swimming right under us. They followed the boat and my youngest daughter was squealing with happiness because dolphins are her favorite animals. It was a nice way to see the island from a different perspective.
FASHION SHOW: My girls both decided to do the resort fashion show and it was the cutest thing ever! They did a casualwear, eveningwear, and beachwear part. The kids all practiced together, which allowed them to meet kids their age, and then they performed the show for their families and guests of the resort. The resort took professional pictures that you could order online. It was so much fun and they felt like superstars!