By Christina Campbell, with testing assistance by Ava, 2
Sun-seekers and water-lovers looking for an upscale all-inclusive experience.
Activities and amenities cater to all ages, but the costumed Sesame Street characters are the true stars of the resort, so kids aged seven and under will like it best.
Good to know before you go
It takes about an hour and a half through rough and winding roads to get to Beaches Negril from the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, so be advised (and pack some Gravol!)
What to do there
• The resort is located on a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach and the crystal-clear water is shallow enough for little ones to confidently wade out. An all-inclusive menu of water sports is available (including waterskiing, scuba diving and kayaking), but we preferred climbing into the giant ocean trampolines so that our intrepid toddler could splash around as we kicked back and let the soft waves mellow us out. For maximum bliss, guests can rent a private cabana on the beach.
• A nursery, staffed by certified nannies, is equipped with cribs and strollers for infants and toddlers, and supervised Kids’ Camps and programs cater to children of all ages. Our little one was happy to spend some time inside the kitted-out, air-conditioned playroom, but an hour or two was her limit before wanting to head back to mommy and daddy.
• Guests looking for a break from the sun can pay a little extra to check out the Red Lane Spa, the Martha Stewart Crafts Studio, for crafters of all abilities; and the Scratch DJ Academy for budding DJs. Daily Sesame Street stage shows (right before dinner) and a weekly Sesame parade are highlights for the under-six set. Older kids will love the Xbox 360 Game Garage and teens will be happy to ditch their parents for Liquid, an alcohol-free nightclub. Plus, mom and dad can unplug at the resort’s
Rooms and suites at Beaches range from standard offerings that sleep 3″“4 people to sprawling options perfect for extended families of up to 12. Our room was tastefully decorated, though the bathroom could have benefited from a facelift: since our little one was in bed by 7:30 each night, a deep soaker tub and a glass of wine would have been the perfect way to end a fabulous day.
Those who want a truly white-glove experience can upgrade to the Suite Concierge Program or even Personal Butler Service. The former will assist with excursions and restaurant reservations as well as speedy check-in and upgraded room features, while the latter will arrange to have your meals served on your terrace or even unpack your luggage. It may seem a bit over the top, but paying extra for butler service might just save your bacon once you realize that you forgot to pack the beach toys and somebody’s favourite sippy cup! Rates for one week, including airfare, per person, start at US$2,500 depending on departure city.
When to go
Avoiding the high season from December to April can help you save money, but be forewarned that hurricane season hovers from June through November. Single parents can take advantage of great deals during certain periods when the single supplement fee (of up to US$190 per night) is waived.
Do it or regret it forever
The “Night Night, Sleep Tight” tuck-in with your child’s favourite character might seem a bit steep (starting at US$125 for one child and another $30 for each additional child), but watching your wide-eyed kidlet stare in disbelief as Elmo and a helper read a story, sing lullabies and share some cuddles makes it worth every penny. Less expensive though still fabulous is the bi-weekly character breakfast at US$50 for a family of four.