Photo: Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
1. Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
The family that gets slimed together stays together at this Karisma-owned Dominican Republic resort, where your kids can meet Spongebob Squarepants, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Paw Patrol in the, uh, plush. The two halves of this expansive, all-inclusive resort are linked by a path and golf-cart shuttle. Stick to the west side sports complex and Aqua Nick water park (where you experience the aforementioned slime) for kid-focused fun. The east side, shared with sister resort Sensatori, is where you’ll find the well-appointed rooms, restaurants, the beach, a pristine infinity pool and Spongebob’s Pineapple Villa. Book a swim-up suite with a shared pool right off your patio, so your water bugs never actually have to get out of the pool. There are several restaurant options (including an excellent burger joint, BRGRS.PH) and a family-friendly buffet, stocked with baby food pouches and plenty of high chairs. The pretty rooms sleep up to six people. Let them know the age of your kids before you go, and they’ll set up the room with whatever you need (baby food, milk, a stroller, crib, bottle warmer, bathroom step stool, kids’ spa robes). The best part: downtime is totally yours once they see Club Nick, an ages 4-12 club with its very own curly slide into a ball pit, and tons of bean bags and pillows for kids who want to take a break from the sun and cool off. For younger babies and toddlers there’s a Baby Zone, also open all day–but at an extra cost.
2. Beaches Turks and Caicos
You’ll need a detailed itinerary to squeeze in all there is offered at this massive all-inclusive. Take your pick from a large selection of family-friendly suites (some come with separate kids’ rooms and private butler service!) and then fill your belly with gourmet pizza, tandoori chicken, coconut crusted shrimp, Jamaican jerk pork and more from one of the 21 restaurants on the property. Situated on a spectacular 12-mile stretch of white, sandy beach, your family can make the most of the glittery, blue waters with access to SUP, wakeboarding and snorkeling—at no extra charge. In the morning, treat your little ones to breakfast with Big Bird and the Sesame Street gang before heading over to the 45,000 square foot waterpark, with waterslides, kid-friendly splash pools, water cannons, a lazy river and a swim-up soda bar. There’s also a surf simulator where you can learn how to hang ten. Got the munchies? Grab some ice cream or gooey mac ‘n cheese from the food trucks parked right in the park, or take a break from the sun in the diner where you can get cookies, sundaes, hamburgers and pizza on demand. If (gasp!) it should rain, you can take refuge in the Xbox Play Lounge where the entire family can get their Minecraft fix. In the evening, you’ll have your pick of entertainment, from theater productions to movie nights in the pool and a teen-friendly disco where they can dance the night away. Want some solo parent time? The onsite kids’ camp caters to tots and teens (up to 17 years old) with certified childcare workers and activity-packed programs running all day. Once they’re back and ready for bed, have Elmo or Abby tuck them in by booking a VIP Sesame Street bedtime service. Now that’s seriously a good night!
Some of the writer’s costs were covered by Beaches.
3. Memories Varadero
If your kids enjoy watching the adventures of Toopy and Binoo on TV, then they’ll love this 1,035-room megaresort. The beloved Canadian characters roam the grounds of this affordable all-inclusive along with Bingo’s doll, Patchy Patch. Picky palates have plenty to choose from at the resort’s six on-site restaurants, which serve cuisines of all flavours including Cuban, Italian, and Japanese. At the included baby club, open nine to five, little ones ages three and under are entertained while kids ages five to 12 can play in the playground and participate in games at the kids’ club. There’s also after-hours babysitting for an additional fee. One kid twelve and under stays and eats for free, while a second sibling is charged a discounted rate.
4. Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This all-inclusive resort is 10 minutes away from the airport, so the vacation starts (almost!) when you arrive. The resort has a complimentary Baby Welcome service for kids two and under (sign up when you book your trip). The service includes all the baby equipment you’ll need like a stroller, diaper-changing mat, baby bath and a pack ‘n’ play. Babies and toddlers from ages four months to three years can be cared for during the day for an additional fee, and kids ages four to 11 can participate in free daily activities like dance lessons and theatre classes at the included kids’ club. They’ll also love circus school (free with your stay), where they can learn acrobatics, tightrope walking, and mask painting from Cirque du Soleil-trained performers. If you need a longer break, for an additional fee you can check kids four months and older into Pajama Club, an evening babysitting service. Every night parents and babies can eat dinner together at The Baby Restaurant (located inside the kids’ club), but if you want to eat in the main restaurant, head to the baby corner, where food like yogurts and mashed fruits are available. The resort also has several 24-hour baby-care areas each with a blender, sterilizer, microwave, refrigerator and bottle warmer. (Formula isn’t provided so bring your own). Kids under four stay free and kids between four and 11 stay for 50 per cent off.
5. Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino
This all-inclusive resort caters to families with its accommodations and activities. There are plenty of connecting rooms and family suites, and in-room childcare for kids under three is available for an additional fee. Kids ages three to 12 can party at the included Explorer’s Club, which features sandcastle competitions, nature and exploration programs and a weekly campout adventure. The kids’ club also has its own pool. Families can play sports together, including tennis, beach volleyball, and sumo wrestling. They can also take part in more adventurous activities like snorkeling (for an additional fee). Don’t forget to check out the family-friendly nightly entertainment like beach parties and parades.
6. Abaco Beach Resort, Bahamas
Surrounded by the serene blue waters of the Sea of Abaco, this resort isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s known for its family-friendly atmosphere and its unique program for kids: Bahama Buddies. Kids ages five to 12 can participate in arts and crafts, beach activities, and watch movies. They’ll also be fed lunch depending on what time the program is running. For families with especially little travelers on board, complimentary cribs are available, and for an additional fee parents can get in-room childcare if they need a break. Adventurous guests can go snorkeling and kayaking with free equipment, or try a biking tour to discover the flora and fauna of the island. Up to two kids under 12 stay free when staying in a parent’s room.
7. Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, St. Lucia
First things first: St. Lucia is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. It’s hard to beat vacationing in a place that comes complete with its own mountains, rainforest and miles of gorgeous beaches. This all-inclusive resort is only five minutes away from the airport. The not-too-large property has a family-friendly Splash section (ask for the King room with the trundle bed). The enormous complimentary CocoLand Kidz Klub kids’ club will take babies, has its own splash pad, playground and climbing wall. The on-site Coco Corral petting zoo is populated with friendly donkeys, goats, ducks and sheep, and day excursions (for an extra cost), include snorkelling trips and pirate-themed adventures. Babysitting is also available after 5 p.m. for an extra fee. Tips: Bring your own pool and beach toys, as the resort doesn’t really have any to lend. Make sure to pack bug spray and after-bite balm, too – because of the rainforest, St. Lucia tends to be buggy at night. Also, you may have to schlep your own car seats (they haven’t always been a “thing” in St. Lucia) and, if so, brush up on how to attach them using seat belts only.
8. The Tamarijn Aruba All-Inclusive
This all-inclusive hotel lets you get super close to the beach – all the guest rooms are oceanfront and have panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. Non-motorized water sports and lessons are complimentary, so let your little travellers try something new! From snorkelling to kayaking, there’s something for every kid. At the included Kids’ Camp, kids ages five to 12 can learn Papiamento – the most widely spoken language in Aruba and neighbouring islands, make their own kites, climb a rock wall and participate in scavenger hunts and bicycle tours. (There are no bike helmets so bring your own). For little ones ages three and under you can book childcare services at arubababysittter.com for an additional fee. Kids 12 and under stay and eat for free.
9. Ocean Club, Turks & Caicos
When you check in at one of two Ocean Club Resorts (not all-inclusive) in Providenciales, you’ll enter a paradise of turquoise waters and deep 8-inch white sand. Ditch those sandals and get ready for some barefoot walking or uber sandcastle building! The hotel provides families with cribs, pack ‘n’ plays, high chairs, strollers and baby monitors. And if you need beach toys, just ask the front desk. Younger kids will love discovering the world’s only conch farm (a 10 minute drive from the resort), riding a glass-bottom catamaran or going on a tour of nearby Little Water Cay island to look for iguanas. Upon arrival, kids will get a game kit to identify indigenous plants and animals. Called Seafari, the property-wide scavenger hunt rewards young explorers with daily prizes and teaches them about the surrounding ecosystem. See if your kids can spot hummingbirds and hermit crabs! There’s no kids’ club but adventurous families can try special day tours like horseback riding, jet skiing and kayaking. If you want to escape the kids for a bit, babysitting services are available for an extra fee. Want to save some money? The grocery store is walking distance from Ocean Club West, and you can ride the complimentary shuttle between the resorts. But if you do plan on eating the hotel food, kids’ menus are available at Cabana Bar and Grille, Seaside Café and Opus-Wine-Bar-Grill.
10. The Holiday Inn Montego Bay
This all-inclusive beachfront hotel is conveniently located near great local attractions like the haunted Rose Hall Great House, the Marta Brae River and Dunn’s River Falls, so families won’t have to travel far to do touristy things. The hotel also offers complimentary children’s activities during the day. Kids ages four to 12 can participate in activities like pool games and a kids’ concert. Consider getting a Kid Suite, which gives the kids a private space with bunk beds and has a wall to separate them from the grown-ups (you’ll finally get some sleep!)
11. Meliá Cayo, Guillermo, Cuba
Welcome to paradise on this secluded beach. The still, fish-filled waters are ideal for guests who want to go snorkelling, scuba diving or fishing near the pier – you may even spot some turtles. This all-inclusive hotel is ideal for parents with kids under three with its included baby club (ages one to four), shallow wading pool, cribs available on request and after-hours babysitting services for an additional fee. There’s also a complimentary Mini Club for kids ages five to 12. Little ones will love playing in the playground while big kids will enjoy the electronic games room. The Mini Club has a 30-cm deep kids’ pool for little swimmers, and there’s also a splash pad at the main pool.
12. Moon Palace Jamaica
There’s tons of fun for the whole family at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica. Tweens can get their surf of the FlowRider and see who can stay on the board the longest. Kids four to 12 (younger kids will need a guardian present) can take part in fashion shows and face painting and play on the jungle gym. There’s also a Wired Room where kids can play video games. Babysitting is available for younger guests for an additional fee. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, try out one of the tours such as swimming with dolphins or the sunset cruise for a stunning view of the Caribbean Sea. The hotel is just five minutes away from downtown Ochos Rios, so make sure you take the family for an adventure in the city. Bonus: room service is 24 hours, in case someone is screaming for a snack at 11:30 p.m. because he didn’t eat his dinner.
13. Royalton Splash, Punta Cana
Located in one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, this all-inclusive hotel is perfect for water-loving little ones. Just try to get them to leave the water park, with its tubes, monster slides, splash pads and wave pool. Guests ages four to 12 will want to check out the included daily games and activities at the Kids’ Club. From discovering the playground to watching cartoons, there’s something for every kid. Don’t forget to hang out with Toopy and Binoo, who rove the property making appearances, leading activities and performing live shows. In-room babysitting services are available in the evening for an additional fee.
14. Atlantis: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Atlantis has got the coolest kids’ club on the planet, Atlantis Kids Adventures (ages three to 12, not complimentary) – complete with a wizard-ing room, life-sized dollhouse, state-of-the-art interactive game room, cooking classes for aspiring brownie bakers and a Lego room. There’s also the famous waterslides, water park and mile-long river ride. The resort has 14 themed “lagoons” loaded with kid magnets: sharks, mysterious moray eels and the Goliath grouper, which can grow up to eight feet long and weigh 800 pounds (they say it’s the beast that swallowed Jonah in the Old Testament). A short distance from the resort, everyone can play with friendly dolphins and even give one a smooch at Dolphin Cay. In-room babysitting services are available for an additional cost. Atlantis isn’t all-inclusive and it’s no secret that it’s not cheap. But you can drastically cut costs by staying at the nearby Comfort Suites, where your accommodations include a daily buffet breakfast and access to Atlantis. The rooms also have mini fridges you can stock with nearby grocery store fare.
15. Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic
If you care about the environment, here’s a holiday you can feel good about. This all-inclusive resort is committed to protecting local plants and animals by raising environmental awareness, planting trees and having beach cleanup and recycling contests. They’ve won several awards for their green practices and sustainability efforts. Your stay includes the Explorer’s Club (for ages three to 13), open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., which offers video games, crafts, and a camping adventure on the beach. Babysitting services are also available for an additional fee. Take a day trip to one of the many spots near the hotel like Island Saona to see the limestone cliffs (and maybe spot some dolphins during the boat ride!) or visit Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World.
16. Grotto Bay Beach Resort
OK, Bermuda isn’t technically in the Caribbean. But one look at its sandy beaches and sparkling waters – easily accessible via two-to-three hour flights from central or eastern Canada – and you’ll be fooled. Stay just five minutes from the airport at this beachfront resort with a subterranean cave spa for adults, a floating inflatable slide and trampoline and sailing charters for the whole family. You can choose to make your holiday all-inclusive or not, the resort caters to both options.
17. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
This Dominican Republic all-inclusive is as big as the A-list acts it draws (Ringo Starr or mega-DJ David Guetta, anyone?) It’s not short on G-rated fun either. Kids can build sand castles, hunt for treasure or attend a pool party with floats. With the Mini Rockstar activity, kids can have a place to pretend to be a superstar. Evening and daytime nannies are available for an additional fee. The resort occasionally does promotions, so look out for deals where kids aged 4 to 17 can stay for free.
18. Franklyn D. Resort, Jamaica
What the all-inclusive FDR lacks in modern polish it makes up for with its casual, call-you-by-name vibe. And here’s the best part: A nanny comes with your stay. It’s not that you won’t see your kids; the resort is small, with two pools and one small beach. But it will be someone else’s job to watch them like a hawk while they tie dye in the Kiddie’s Centre or go down the waterslide for the 57th time. Read a book or have a long conversation with your spouse while your kids have a blast? Now that’s a vacation. (You do, however, need to pay extra if you need your nanny after 4:40 p.m.) There are fun free activities for kids ages two to 11 in the Yellow Bird Kids’ Club, including video games, movies and crafts.
19. Jewel Runaway Bay Beach & Golf Resort
This Jamaica all-inclusive features amenities not typically offered at similar resorts: guests receive complimentary round-trip airport transfers from Montego Bay and green fees at the Runaway Bay Golf Club. Don’t miss the Jewel Lagoon Waterpark, which features a lazy river with rock grottos and waterfalls, a kids’ splash zone, and a 5,000-square-foot oceanfront sundeck. The kids’ club provides games and activities for infants through teens, as well as excursions and programs for kids 11 and up. There are also private nannies available during the day and evening for an additional fee.
20. Finest Punta Cana
This all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic helps prove the old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder by giving parents a bit of space to relax on their own. The resort has two Imagine Lounges, located near restaurants, where pre-registered, potty-trained kids 3 and up can play video games, colour and make friends while their caregivers enjoy some alone time at nearby restaurants. For kids who are comfortable on their own for longer stretches, the Imagine Kids Club provides all-day activities—including a mini water park, costume and pajama parties, sports and even horseback riding—at both a mini club (age 3 to 6) and a maxi club (age 7 to 11). But family fun is also on the menu, with kids’ splash pools and games at the main pool and activities like kayaking and nighttime shows open to all ages. If you’ve got a mix of children who nap and don’t, swim-up or private pool suites make it easy to entertain older kids, while family suites have an extra bedrooms for kids so the main room isn’t off limits while little ones doze. The resort also provides parents with a number of baby necessities, such as bottle sterilizers and warmers, bathtubs, cribs and high chairs.