Although my children have travelled a fair bit, they have a firm favourite when it comes to vacations. They absolutely adored Beaches, the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, with a love that defies explanation. We went to Beaches Ochos Rios for a one week vacation two years ago and the children have been begging to return ever since that trip.
The weather was perfect and the resort was small enough that we could let the children run around without worrying too much. We met another North London mother who said she picks Ochos Rios because it is the smallest and easiest to manage of the Beaches resorts when she is on her own with her kids.
The hotel is right on a white sand beach. The water is calm which makes it perfect for children. There are numerous activities available on the beach such as ride-on cycles, canoeing etc. Mostly though we hung out in the pool.
My children loved hanging out on one of the floaties and going up to swim-up bar to get (non-alcoholic) drinks. The pool staff arranged volleyball, water aerobics etc. every day but they were very good about leaving you alone if you didn’t want to join.
Be forewarned, getting a place by the pool was a bit of a scrap. I don’t know when these people got up because the seats were already covered with towels early in the morning. We spared ourselves the hassle and rented a cabana for the week. Cabanas come with waiter-service and are more sheltered than the rest of the deck chairs.
My son loved the water park. He could spend hours on the water slides. The Jamaican life guards were very sweet and got to know him pretty well because he was constantly there.
My daughter love the arts & crafts room. We were there pretty much every afternoon when the sun was at its height. For a small fee to cover the charge of materials, you can pick out a craft activity which then gets supervised by Auntie Pat, the lady in charge of activities. My daughter and I created a scrapbook together of our holiday. She also painted and decorated a box to hold her assorted trinkets.
My husband and I thought the food was pretty good. The children loved the buffet options and the endless ice-cream on tap. We insisted on having dinner at the Jamaican restaurant most nights. In terms of upscale food options, this restaurant was the best on offer. The Jamaican dishes were excellent. They even made pasta for my fussy-eater daughter even though it wasn’t on the menu.
Every evening there was some sort of entertainment on the stage. Some of the entertainment was better than others. I liked the Jamaican music night. The talent show where guests (mostly children) got on stage to show off their “talent” was somewhat painful.
We had two interconnecting rooms which was perfect. The rooms were spacious and comfortable. They were decorated in the usual Caribbean manner (lots of wicker furniture and pastel colours). The resort was nicely landscaped.
Our children and the nanny did not leave the resort at all. They were perfectly happy playing in the pools and eating ice-cream.
My husband and I took a couple of day trips organised by the concierge at Beaches Ochos Rios to visit some of Jamaica. We find it difficult to laze around on vacation for more than a couple of days. We are also foodies who like exploring the local culinary options. Although not our ideal holiday, Beaches was a great compromise with the children.
If you are looking for a hassle-free, easy holiday with kids, I think Beaches Resorts have got the mix right. There are plenty of children’s activities and just enough to keep the parents happy. We have promised our children that we will return to Beaches in the near future.