It’s been a week since I hopped a plane and took my mom with me to Turks and Caicos for the Beaches Resorts at Turks and Caicos Social Media on the Sand Conference. Nearly 6 months ago, I planned a trip to learn more about the all-inclusive vacation brand that touts luxury services that are the best in the world. When we finally hopped on the airplane, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had heard about romantic Sandals Resorts and knew Beaches was it’s family-friendly sister brand. What I didn’t realize was that Beaches is a vacation destination that offers every generation of your family a fabulous vacation at the same time, at a price better than a cruise.
Leaving Red and Hubs at home was pretty hard. Everywhere I looked, there were families with children of all ages, and several families had multiple generations traveling with them (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.), having a glorious time. But eventually I noticed that not only were these families having a great time, but my Mom was, too. When I was holed up in the conference room learning, she was exploring the local markets, enjoying a cocktail, shopping the stores, and strolling the beach. When we were together, I brought out the kid in her splashing in the warm turquoise water, building a sand castle, walking the lush gardens and dancing in the streets to the Sesame Street parades. She was having a great time!
During nearly the entire vacation, we would be talking with each other about the different activities that Beaches offered, and which part of our family would be loving it. For my brother, we reminisced that as a teenager, he would have either been skipping around the 45,000 sq. ft. water park and splash fountains or stuffing his face full of ice cream sundaes (part of the all inclusive meals!), knee deep in airhockey and shuffleboard or gaming in the spacious XBOX lounge (which was full of nearly every game you could imagine, and there were enough consoles that are never lines!), and then nowadays, parked at the swim up bar or the dance club at night.
My Dad would have relished in the padded beach chairs (for any guest – not just private cabanas!), the included swim, snorkel and scuba diving trips to the reef, as well as the extra excursions and fishing charters. Topped off with a plated dinner at the Italian restaurants and an in-room scotch, Dad would be pleasantly surprised with the level of luxury service offered by every resort employee.
My Nana (grandmother) would have loved several of the resort shopping areas, from the general store to the jewelry store to the beach fashions and couture handbags. Not to mention that all the ladies in my family would have loved to visit the Spa. Mom and I made sure to book an appointment for the body scrubs and facials, which were affordably priced (Spa treatments, champagne and excursions cost money at Beaches… nearly everything else is included), and simply divine. I’m so glad we opted for this special time!
But if you’re only traveling with older family, like teenagers, parents, or heck, if you’re just with your spouse, Beaches is a fabulous place to be. The resort grounds are extensive, so you’re never bumping elbows with anyone. Plenty of chairs (which can’t be said for a cruise), wide sidewalks, 12 miles of soft sandy beaches, and with 19 restaurants (all included… even Hibachi, sushi, 50’s dining and an English pub), so there’s no waiting list and NO paying for drinks. Ever. Top shelf liquor, many wines, sodas, good teas – it’s ALL included.
And the next time, when we bring Red, I think he will really enjoy the Kids Camp. The kids center has an incredibly clean splash pool, toys, activities (face painting, puppets, magic shows), plenty of certified caretakers and regular Sesame Street visits. With hours from 9-6, and after hours for bigger kids, Chase and I could escape to snorkel or scuba, or have a private dinner for two. If we ever needed to continue our romantic evening alone, a certified babysitting service is available for small charge.
Sounds pretty awesome, right?! And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the Social Media on the Sand conference set a challenge before me… It was Instagram Scavenger Hunt, asking us to capture 50 different scenarios; everything from a selfie with a stranger, to checking out the excursions, to exploring the beachfront, and having dining experiences. I was so into it! Because I’m no good at sports, I stink at trivia and small things are my bag, I wanted to try to get all 50 photos in less than 3 days. Could I do it?! I HAD to. It was my personal challenge. Below are just a smattering of my photos – a mere half!
50 hours after starting the challenge, I was finished! My list was capped off by meeting the Chairman and Founder of the Sandals and Beaches brands, Mr. Gordon “Butch” Stewart. I was so overwhelmed by the good of the Sandals Foundation and this absolute slice of heaven in the caribbean that I almost had no words to give Mr. Stewart. In fact, after I introduced myself, he said, “Oh, honey, I know all about you! Please, tell me, what do you think of our place?” and I cried on him. I totally cried. Out of awe, thankfulness, appreciation and surprise that he was so magnanimous and spoke to me like I was the only person on the planet while he was on vacation with his family and friends. It was one of the most grateful experiences I’ve ever had.
And after that cleansing, happy moment of the trip, I headed to another conference function that brought our official time on the island to an end. There, they announced 10 awesome ladies that won superlative prizes for the best selfies, most engaging photos and the grand prize winner who was to receive a trip back to the island with their family…. and it was ME. Right?! I was Flabbergasted. Shocked. Excited. Elated. Happy. Grateful. And so happy to bring Chase and Red back with me. What an amazing thing. Once again, no words.
I can’t wait to take my family back to Beaches (and not just the prize trip… I’m talking for years to come) to experience the restaurants, the excursions, the highest level of service and the mission of the Sandals Foundation. I will always recommend a Beaches trip more than a cruise, or any other all-inclusive resort. It was a mind-blowing experience, and I hope that you make it there, too!