Photo: Nickelodeon Hotel & Resorts Punta Cana
1. Nickelodeon Hotel & 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 Just Kiddin’, 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 (accompanied by a parent), the kids’ club is open as an indoor play space for a few hours midday.
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 crumbled 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, snorkeling and scuba diving—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 27,000 square foot waterpark, with waterslides, kid-friendly splash pools, water cannons, whirlpools, 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 massive pirate ship diner where you can get hot dogs, PB&J sandwiches and banana splits 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 productions of Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island to movie nights in the pool and a tween-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 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 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 watching the adventures of Toopy and Binoo on TV, then they’ll love this 1,025-room megaresort. The beloved Canadian characters roam the grounds of this affordable all-inclusive along with Bingo’s doll, Patchy Patch. Picky palettes have plenty to choose from at the resorts eight on-site restaurants, which serve cuisines of all flavours including Cuban, Italian, Japanese and French. At the included baby club, open nine to five, little ones ages three and under are entertained while kids ages four 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 staff are warm, welcoming and multicultural –they’ll greet you in several languages including French, English and Spanish. 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 Pyjama 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 from the get-go, with its family check-in experience that includes a red carpet and kids’ welcome treats. You can request kids’ amenities like gaming consoles or cribs for you room, and there are plenty of connecting rooms and family suites. In-room childcare for kids under three is available for an additional fee, and kids ages four 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. For an additional fee, families can go on snorkelling excursions or feed marine life like turtles, sharks and stingrays. Don’t forget to check out the family-friendly nightly entertainment like Talent Night (for guests and staff), beach parties and parades.
6. Abaco Beach Resort, Bahamas
Surrounded by the serene blue waters of Sea Abaco, this resort isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s known for its family-friendly atmosphere and its unique program for kids: Bahama Buddies ($30 per child). Kids ages three to 12 can learn what it’s like to live on the islands from the Bahamian kids their own age (many of them sons and daughters of staffers). Participants make traditional island crafts, learn the Junkanoo dance and prepare conch and fish off the docks with their new friends. For families with especially little travellers 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 snorkelling 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 with complete with its own mountains, rainforest and miles of gorgeous beaches. This all-inclusive resort is only five minutes away from the airport, and the not-too-large property’s family-friendly Splash section has many freshly renovated rooms (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, and caregivers will take your kids on hayrides, doll them up for Caribbean parades and teach them Creole. 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, plan to schlep your own car seats (they’re not really a “thing” in St. Lucia) and brush up on how to attach them with only seat belts – the transport vans that ferry guests to and from the resort and out on day trip don’t all have the universal anchorage system.
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 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 there are childcare services available for an extra cost. Kids ages 17 and under stay and eat free between January and May.
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 Girlle, Seaside Café and Opus-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. Tots ages six months to three years can join the Granny Nanny program where they can enjoy cuddles, toys and activities in the nursery. 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!) But if you want to stay up and enjoy some nightly entertainment, a babysitter can watch your kids in you room till 2 a.m. for an additional fee.
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 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 Grande
There’s tons of fun for the whole family at the all-inclusive Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. Tweens can get their surf of the FlowRider and see who can stay on the board the longest, while the complimentary Playroom – which includes and Xbox room, a movie and play beauty salon – will keep kids ages two to 12 busy. Babysitting is available for younger guests for an additional fee. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, try out on 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. Memories 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, mister 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’ Adventure program. From trivia games to mini golf, there’s something for every kid. Don’t forget to hang out with Toopy, Binoo, Patchy Patch and Brother and Sister from the Berenstain Bears, 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 parks and mile-long river ride. The resort has 18 themed “lagoons” loaded with kid magnets: sharks, mysterious moray eels and the Goliath grouper, which can grow up to eight feet long and weigh 1,000 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 (though you can purchase all-inclusive stays if you’re travelling with a large group) 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 12), where kids can tour a pirate ship, bungee jump, try out the ocean trampoline and camp on the beach. They can even have dinner at the club if you want a romantic evening since the club is open form 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Babysitting services are 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 boar 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 pick 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
With 1,787 rooms across 121 acres, the 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 play mini golf, hit the video arcade or tackle the climbing wall. With the KIDZ BOP Experience, kids can have a a place to pretend to be a superstar, complete with a performance on stage. Evening and daytime nannies are available for an additional fee. Kids 12 and younger stay and eat 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 four 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 kids’ 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 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. Paradisus Varadero
Since summer 2016, this Cuba all-inclusive will be treating families with their very own concierge, who customizes the mini-bar with kids’ drinks and snacks and provides in-room amenities like children’s robes and slippers, beach toys, and evening turndown service with milk and cookies. The free kids’ club lets guests ages five to 12 play games and have outdoor fun while little ones age one to four hang out at the free baby club. Kids ages two and under stay free, kids between three and 12 get 25 per cent off in the winter and 50 per cent off in the summer when sharing a room with two adults.
20. 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, green fees at the Runaway Bay Golf Club and twice daily glass bottom boat rides. Don’t miss the Red Ruby Ranch, where kids can groom horses, play laser tag and learn archery, and the brand new waterpark. The kids’ club provides free fun for kids of all ages. Little ones ages 18 months to two years can play games and sing songs, kids ages three to five can make crafts and paint shells while explorers ages six to nine can enjoy their own games and sports. Kids and their grown-ups can participate in free activities at the Red Ruby Ranch like horse grooming, cattle roping and archery. There are also private nannies available during the day and evening for an additional fee. Don’t forget to check out the family-friendly entertainment like steel drum bands and Jamaican dancers in traditional costumes on the main stage. Kids under five stay free when sharing a room with two adults.