Life’s a beach at Beaches Resort Turks & Caicos

Our travel editor heads to the Caribbean to discover if you can combine kids and all-inclusive luxury


My daughter turned to me, her eyes shining. "Mummy, this is the best place ever," she announced. In one corner, Cookie Monster was holding an impromptu disco, Ernie (from Bert and Ernie fame) had fed her cornflakes and shed just emerged from a furry cuddle with Elmo.

Outside, the sun was shining on the Caribbean at Grace Bay, regularly named the world’s top beach, and we had four more days of all-inclusive luxury to enjoy at the Beaches Turks & Caicos resort on Providenciales. I couldn’t help but agree with her.

Too often, all-inclusive means the same tired buffet being trotted out every day, while luxury and family aren’t always compatible. So we’d come to Beaches Turks & Caicos to discover if you really can have a luxury all-inclusive resort which is as good for kids as their parents (and grandparents).

The sister company to the romantic Sandals resorts, the focus at the three Beaches resorts in the Caribbean is on having something for everyone. And with 75 acres split into four different “villages” — Italian, French, Caribbean and Key West — all with their own atmosphere, facilities and activities, complete with 43 different room categories, the statistics alone were promising.

The choice didn’t stop there either: 22 different restaurants, from Indian and Italian to pizza, fish, Jamaican jerk, Tex-Mex, sushi, Japanese teppanyaki and American diner style, not to mention another dozen bars.

There were a total of 10 pools plus a waterpark with a splash zone for younger kids, lazy river, surf simulator and water slides, and watersports including unlimited scuba diving for certified divers, or the chance to try diving for a small fee — one of the few times, you might actually need to put your hand in your pocket unless your kids see the Sesame Street merchandise in the resort shops.

Because if the 12 picture postcard miles of white sand and turquoise sea topped my list, the big highlight for my four-year-old was meeting the TV show characters. We’d arrived with her having just a passing knowledge of Cookie Monster: by the time we left, she’d learned the words to the letter and number of the day songs and lost her heart to Elmo.


As well as spotting characters in a regular evening parade and around the resort, there are special activities to try. Some, like baking cookies with Cookie — including a photo with the sweet-toothed monster — were included. Others, such as the character breakfast starting our trip, had a fee: around £10 ($12) although the food came a definite second to meeting the furry cast, joining in a mini conga and dancing to Gangnam Style. I’ve never seen so many small children in sheer heaven.

Best of all was the Sesame Sail Away Catamaran Cruise — a 90-minute boat trip along the coast of Providenciales, with Elmo and Zoe on board. More music, more food to snack on, more photo opportunities, but they were also great at spending time with each child on board, encouraging the shy ones and ensuring everyone had a great time.

There’s even a Sesame Street theme at the kids’ club, with its own small pool for little ones, while Pirate’s Island has different programmes from ages five to seven up to 15-17-year-olds, including a games room for tweens and teens and an X-Box lounge.

But with all those pools calling, the kids in our group were usually to be found in the water somewhere. I’m not convinced my swimsuit ever had chance to dry between dips: fortunately all the poolsides had stacks of warm towels dotted around.

My daughter’s favourite was the huge pool in the Italian village, with its floats, heated section and shallow area, although we tried the buzzing Caribbean village beachside pool and quieter French village pool just to make sure.

Better still was the Pirate Ship splash zone in the waterpark with its mini slides. Helpfully there’s also ice cream and candyfloss at the Bobby D’s diner nearby so after parking her there with a friend, I grabbed half an hour to cruise around the lazy river before speeding down all the larger slides.


If my daughter’s happy, that goes a long way to ensuring my holiday’s happy too — but it takes more than a note saying “Bert loves you” to persuade me to book a long-haul all-inclusive trip. However, from coffee in the relaxed MyLounge at Gatwick airport before our direct flight to Providenciales (albeit with a touch-down in Antigua), I had plenty to smile about as well.

Our family suite for starters: two rooms, one with king-size four-poster bed and views onto the pool, the other with nautical themed bunk beds, plus a balcony for me to relax on with something from the minibar.

The minibar itself was a good indicator that here, “luxury all-inclusive” really meant what it said — along with champagne, wine, beer, soft drinks and water, I had four bottles of spirits. And was solemnly assured they’d be replaced straight away if I finished them, although there was little chance of that once I discovered the delicious strawberry daiquiris available from the bars.

The quality of the drinks was mirrored in the dizzying array of food. Kosher meals can be arranged in advance, several of the restaurants specialised in fresh fish — not least Barefoot by the Sea where shoes are optional — and there were vegetarian options galore. Even my fussy four-year-old found a variety to tempt her.

One of my few regrets was not making it for pre-dinner sushi at Soy or only having breakfast at the rooftop Sky Bar once, with its jammy berry French toast and views of the Caribbean.


It’s not surprising many guests never leave the resort. But for me, it’s not a great holiday unless I’ve had chance to discover some of the destination too. As Grace Bay has been voted one of the world’s top 10 diving destinations, scuba diving or a kayak trip both tempted me but the chance to visit a local school was top of my list.

The Reading Road Trip, part of an initiative launched by the Sandals Foundation, encourages guests to bring school supplies from a list recommended by partner organisation Pack for a Purpose, before reading and chatting with young pupils.

Greeted by beaming smiles and a class who seemed as fascinated by us, it’s a perfect way to make the trip even more memorable especially with kids.

Back on the resort, watching the sun set over the gentle waves of Grace Bay, my feet in the sand and another strawberry daiquiri in my hand, I decided my daughter had been quite right. This was the best place ever.


Seven nights at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa costs from £6,235 for a family of four (two adults and two children) in September 2017. Includes Luxury Included accommodation, return flights from Gatwick with British Airways and return resort transfers.
Island Routes Caribbean Adventures excursions can be booked online or at the resort. The catamaran trip costs from around £57($70) per person and the Reading Road Trip from around £20 ($25).
My Lounge by No1 Lounges costs from £18.

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