After travelling to Beaches Resorts three times, both in Turks and Caicos and Negril, Jamaica, I’m convinced that despite these all-inclusive meccas providing being luxury-level vacations, they are also very budget-friendly. I have 7 awesome reasons why. In addition, there is freedom and relief when you arrive at a resort that gives the highest level of service and quality, and you need not open your wallet the entire time you vacation. It’s as if the relaxation has double the effect.
At both resorts there are a few activities that carry a fee should you choose to book them, but even the Scratch DJ Academy provides far more learning and experience than the minimal fee would indicate. My kids and I learned how to DJ, cut a CD and mixed a bunch of sounds like pros for minimal cost. (Maybe I still have to work on the lingo to sound cooler than I am..)
1. Scuba diving is included for certified divers. This easily saves $100 per day, per person. The dive boats are specifically designed for Beaches and are clean and spacious. Dive shops offer training for a fee, but if you have your certification card all you need to do is book a day ahead. This year in Negril, Beaches began offering Snuba as well, which is a fabulous cross between snorkeling and scuba.
2. Photo shoots are the best value around. Sitting fees for the outdoor shoots at various locations on the resort in Turks and Caicos and Jamaica are free. You are getting a whole hour with a private photographer (an expensive camera) staging shots of your family with no obligation. When you later select the photos you adore, they actually give you the digital file (hello holiday cards) for less than $18 per image. For a nominal fee you can also print the photos if you’re like me and have a billion you haven’t uploaded to a print shop yet. At home, I would pay a minimum of $600 for all of this.
3. Transfers are included. Not only is this one good for the budget, but also for your peace of mind. You can count on the shuttle being there for you as you will have previously given the resort your flight information. The day before you leave, instructions are slipped under your door indicating when luggage should be left outside your room and what time you need to be in the lobby for the return shuttle. In Negril, Jamaica private transfers from the airport would run you $300 round trip.
4. You don’t tip. Nada. Not the housekeeping staff, the bellman who brings luggage to your room, your meals, or the concierge who brings an extra bottle of rum to your minibar because you ‘spilled’ the other one. I estimate that this saves about $100 per day. The only exception to this is if you pay for a butler-level suite, in which case you have a private butler who you may want to tip at the end of your stay. Butlers provide extra services, such as turn-down service, making dinner reservations, arranging drycleaning and making awesome towel art for your private beach or poolside cabana.
5. Childcare is free. The Kids Clubs at the resort keep your kids happier than they often are with their parents.. and you can drop and pickup as you wish. Kids can bake cookies with Cookie Monster, spend supervised time in the XBox lounge and participate in organized games. So the gourmet dinner date without kids and your romantic morning beach jog are all possible without forking out a cent. ‘Child’ Care also includes activities for tweens and teens that they will WANT to participate in. Club Liquid turns into adults-only late at night, but in the early evening the teens rule the roost. If you had the kids in the club for 3 hours daily that saves $45 in typical childcare fees.
6. Expanding the palette. So often we want our kids to try new foods and introduce them to as much as possible. That can get expensive in going to a sushi restaurant only to find out they they gag at the thought of raw fish. The international cuisines at Beaches are prepared by chefs directly from the country famous for their cuisine. Mexican, Korean, French, Italian… the kids can try mini portions of everything so that you know what they won’t eat before you hit up the fancy Korean joint and fork over a ton of cash for a meal they didn’t touch.
7. Free (and really good) entertainment. Whether you are participating in a soccer league or seeing a band at a club, there always seems to be a fee. These resorts have a team of entertainment staff so not only will you always have someone to play beach volleyball with, but you’re never dancing by yourself at the club. At night, you might happen upon a spectacular bubble party or carnival. Games are organized throughout the day, and awesome quality musical acts are scattered over the properties to enhance the vacation experience. I was on the dance floor the other night with a couple teens who could have been doing way less appropriate things in sunny Jamaica were it not for being made to feel wanted and included on the dancefloor after dark. Value: Priceless
Disclosure: My family travelled to Beaches Resorts as part of the Social Media on the Sand conference. We received a discount as part of that group on our stay.