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2018 Caribbean All-Inclusive Resort Search

At present, our family is in the process of finding a place to go for vacation. Last year, we had the opportunity to go to Turks and Caicos (see above photo) after finding a great deal and had a fantastic time. This year, we want to find something great as well. Our criteria are:

  • 6 night stay in December
  • access to snorkeling (preferably included)
  • reputable nanny services for date nights
  • easy access to swimmable beach
  • easy access to water park / water slides

In order to get a good starting point, I went to familyvacationcritic.com and look at their list of 10 best all-inclusive Caribbean family resorts. The resorts that they mentioned were the following:

  1. Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Jamaica
  2. Windjammer Landing – St. Lucia
  3. Jewel Runaway Bay – Jamaica
  4. Beaches Resort – Turks & Caicos
  5. Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana – Dominican Republic
  6. Coconut Bay Beach Resort – St. Lucia
  7. IBEROSTAR Bavaro Suites – Dominican Republic
  8. The Verandah Resort & Spa – Antigua
  9. Las Casitas Village – Puerto Rico
  10. Wyndham Reef Resort – Cayman Islands

In this list, we’ve actually gone to Iberostar Bavaro Suites in the past and absolutely loved it — however, we do want to try a new resort, so it’s off the list.. For this trip, we were hoping to go to a place with a non-stop flight time from NYC of less than 4 hours, with a per-person ticket cost of less than 600 dollars. We also didn’t want to go to Puerto Rico, since it did get hit pretty hard recently by Hurricane Maria. We do have credit card points saved up, which we plan to use. Here’s the breakdown of places from Google Flights:

Location Flight Time (hrs) Cost (dollars)
Jamaica (MBJ) 3h55m 583
St. Lucia (UVF) 4h40m 656
Turks and Caicos (PLS) 3h32m 527
Puerto Rico (SJU) 3h47m 370
Dominican Republic (PUJ) 3h51m 502
Cayman Islands (GCM) 3h54m 577
Antigua (ANU) 4h14m 494

After applying our restrictions, we exclude Antigua, St. Lucia, and the list goes down to:

  1. Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Jamaica
  2. Jewel Runaway Bay – Jamaica
  3. Beaches Resort – Turks & Caicos
  4. Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana – Dominican Republic
  5. Wyndham Reef Resort – Cayman Islands

Five places seems like a manageable place to start, so it’s time to look for prices and deals to find the best bang for the buck! Here’s my notes on each place:

Franklyn D. Resort & Spa – Jamaica

  • $449/per person (from Tripadvisor)
  • Pros: private nanny! Good internet access. Snorkeling available
  • Cons: tiny beach, one type of beer, older resort, requires ClubMoBay for transfer to hotel, food hit or miss, questionable issues of child trafficking in Jamaica
  • Other reviews available at itsalovelylife and at NYTimes.

Jewel Runaway Bay – Jamaica

  • $341/per person (from Tripadvisor)
  • Pros: Jewel Lagoon Water Park, spa days (not sure if included), lots of food options, infinity pool, good snorkeling. Water bicycles and kayaks available.
  • Cons: Smokers allowed? Poor wifi, Old hotel (built in 1950s)

Beaches Resort – Turks & Caicos

  • $800/per person (from Tripadvisor)
  • Pros: food trucks (?!) premium alcohol. ELMO! SKYSLIDE! Italian Village supposed to be good for family with kids, 10 minute airport transfer. Dive Center. Private childcare available at 15/hr.
  • Cons: Price. Understaffed. We actually stayed right next to this resort last year at Alexandra, and the beachfront is pretty tiny compared to the much cheaper resort next door.

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana – Dominican Republic

  • $573/per person (from Tripadvisor)
  • Pros: Outdoor water park, new resort (2016!)
  • Cons: No water sports, smokers, not a lot of branded characters available during the day, ok food, rough water not swimmable, waterpark far away from main campus

Wyndham Reef Resort – Cayman Islands

  • $544/per person (from Tripadvisor)
  • Pros: Only all-inclusive resort in Grand Cayman
  • Cons: Dangerous swimming with strong current, rude staff, rooms are mostly time-share, dated accomodations, bad wifi

Looking between the different options so far, it seems that the most viable places are either Beaches or FDR. We hope to make the final decision tomorrow and hopefully in a few months will be posting from the Caribbean!

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