Being a first time mommy and going back to work I could not wait for my first family vacation with my child. Every morning my 2 year old son and I would watch an episode of Sesame Street before we start our day. Before each show I would see as commercial for Beaches family resort. The commercial shows a mom happily drinking a mimosa at breakfast with her husband and the child looks even happier, as the family frolic on the beach together. Inevitably, I would look at the clock and realize I am going to be late for work. Each morning I would imagine myself in this commercial. Finally one day I went on the website and decided that would be me.
After extensive research into other vacation options we decided to book at Beaches Turks and Caicos all inclusive family resort. This place truly is heaven on earth.
One of the main reasons we chose Turks and Caicos is because of its location. Turks and Caicos is a 3 ½ hour flight from New York I thought that would be important since it was my child’s first trip on an airplane. The trip from the airport to the resort is only 15 minutes. That is so important. Most resorts take almost 2 hours to get to there from the airport. NOT FUN WITH A TODDLER!!!!!
I also appreciated the fact that a member of the beaches staff would greet us at the airport and bring us to the resort. The short trip to the resort was a breeze and by the time we got to paradise my son was still happy and ready to take on the trip.
We were greeted by Keisha Gordan, who made sure we had the vacation of a lifetime. As an aside, we were originally supposed to travel in August but due to Hurricane Irene we had to postpone our trip. Keisha knew rescheduling caused some difficulties for us, so she upgraded us to a suite in the Italian Village. This place was amazing. We checked into our room, which had a separate bedroom with bunk beds and an Xbox for kids We overlooked the beautiful pool and the ocean, which was a perfect way to start our day.
Jason the Concierge in the Italian Village treated us like family and more importantly went out of his way to make my son happy. The first morning we were there, we woke up to two chairs by the zero entry pool with a towel made into an animal by Jason. When Jason realized that my son liked dinosaurs, he went out of his way to make sure that the next day there was a dinosaur towel waiting for us on our beach chairs. Keisha and Jason are truly the reason we will be booking next year.
The Beaches resorts are the proud sponsor of Sesame Street so the resort is Sesame street world. If you child has any interest in Sesame Street, this is the place for you. The camp for infants and toddlers is called Camp Sesame. And that it was. Every day they had an itinerary of events that would occupy the children. You could bring you child there for the entire day or you could drop in for one of the many activities. Each day they had a letter of the day with a character. Throughout day, the kids would interact with at least three of the sesame street characters. This was the best part of the trip for my son. He would beam with excitement every time he was near one of his Sesame Street friends. He would call out to them and run over and they would turn around and give him a big hug. He still wakes up and says, “Let’s go see big bird”. Every night they have a live Sesame Street show or Parade. It was like going to see Sesame Street Live every night.
All of the characters have a handler that walk around with them and they are amazing. They help facilitate the show and activities that the character participates in. My son baked cookies with Cookie Monster and read a story with Elmo. Guirline, one the handlers, in particular was the best. Each and every time she saw my son; she remembered his name and made him feel so happy.
For the time when my husband and I wanted to private time or to go off on an adventure as a couple, we left our son at Camp Sesame. All of the camps and group activities for the kids are included in the price but if you want more one on one care for your child they have ultra certified nannies. Being a child abuse prosecutor, I was skeptical about leaving my son anywhere out of my sight. So I did my own investigation. I talked to the director of the camp and learned that all of the rooms are recorded, so there is constant accountability. I watched how the counselors interacted with the children. One of the biggest factors for me were all of the parents that I talked to who have been to the resort over three times, continue to use the camp and each year the counselors remain the same.
There are at least 6 different pools. The pool in the Italian village had a zero entry section, which is great for small children to walk in on their own and develop a sense of confidence in the water. Each day my son ventured a little further in the water, by the end of the trip he was jumping in. All of the pools have a swim up bar and my husband and I enjoyed a frozen cocktail while the bartender made my son a frozen chocolate milk.
They also have a water park, which had a lazy river, 4 water slides and an entire section devoted to toddlers. The swim up bar in the water park even served ice cream and milk shakes.
The Beach at the resort is the best beach I have ever been to in the Caribbean (and I have been to a lot). The sand is white powder that extends all the way into the ocean. I could not find a rock or a piece of seaweed the whole trip. The water was the most beautiful shade of blue that I have ever seen. When you were looking that the ocean you wanted to jump in and when you were in, you didn’t want to get out.
The other thing that I thought was amazing was there were spots in the water that you could snorkel right off the beach. For us that was fantastic. When you have a child you may not want to commit to a 3 hour snorkeling tour when your child is on land. This gave us the option to snorkel but feel that if we needed to be with our child we had that option.
I finally gave in and hired a babysitter during naptime. I hired her for two hours and asked her to stroll my son around the property. She was great. I learned that she is a doctor in her home country and she was so nurturing with my son. The best part of the camp or the babysitting is that they give you a cell phone and you can stay in constant contact with them (if you desired). I, being the nervous mom, took the cell phone. Those two hours have my husband and I an opportunity to do some of that off shore snorkeling. The fish were amazing. While I was in the water, I realized I would not be able to hear the cell phone, so I swam back to shore and asked the lifeguard to signal to me if the phone went off. He was happy to help. The phone never rang and my husband and I got to enjoy our time worry free.
The restaurants were five star. We went to Barefoot on the Beach which is a restaurant steps from the beach. It even has small tables for children. My husband and I ordered a filet Mignon. I have eaten at many New York steak houses and this steak was cooked to perfection.We loved it so much my husband and I ordered another one to share. The service was great, Unojay, took great care of us and we can’t wait to go back. The attention to service and friendliness of the staff make it so enjoyable.
Most mornings we ate at Mario’s. This was a great restaurant that had a buffet breakfast. The food was fabulous. The service was even better. They go out of their way for you and make each child feel equally important. This restaurant was my son’s favorite because they had a section called Bambino’s, where the tables were kid size and they had beautiful statues of the Sesame gang. The beauty of this was that my husband and I could enjoy our breakfast and sip our mimosas, while my son was happy to finish his breakfast so he could walk around and say good morning to all of the statues. Our servers, Emeliano and Junel went out of there was to make each meal a happy one. Junel came over to my som every few minutes to give him a high five when he ate like a “big boy”.
We also ate at Gordon’s, a pizza, Panini and hot dog place. It was great, you could go there and sit and have you meal with a glass of wine or you could pack it up and take it to the beach or pool with you. My son loved the cheese pizza and my husband and I splurged with prosciutto and ricotta pizza with a glass of chilled chardonnay.
The bottom line is that this place has something for everyone, especially children. The reason I find this place a cut above the rest is that you really do get the best of all worlds. Kids are busy and happy and catered too but you don’t feel like the place is over run with kids. You are pampered just as much as the kids.
Every morning we now watch the Beaches commercial and remember our vacation and my son yells out “Vacation! Vacation!” See you next year Beaches!!!
Danielle Pascale is an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, where she has prosecuted hundreds of sex offenders. She dedicated her career to seeking justice for victims of child abuse and sex crimes. Outside the courtroom, Danielle’s fondness for traveling led her to create Travelmommyl@Wordpress, where she blogs about the travels and adventures she has with her two year old son. Danielle Works full time as prosecutor, so she values the time she spends with her child.