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Category : Beaches Resorts

By Kimberly Milnes

My Top 5 Family Vacations for Fall/Winter 2013

My oh my where has the summer gone. Kids are back in school or will be soon, and it seems like we are on a bullet train straight through the holidays and on to 2014. So along with all the back to school planning, now is a great time to start planning your Fall or Winter vacation, especially if you want to travel during the holidays.   By planning early you can take advantage of great deals, as well be able to find decent airfare prices.  So to help with your planning, I wanted to give you some of my top family vacation picks:

1. Azul Beach –  Riviera Maya, Mexico

Located about 20 minutes from Cancun International airport, this Gourmet Inclusive resort is great for families with young children. It is a boutique-style resort, located right on the beach with great family suites, as well as a partnership with Fisher Price. Kids even get their own private check-in with a yummy fruit smoothie made just for them.

Along with the amazing Family Suites, they offer loaner baby equipment, like high chairs, bouncy chairs and toys.  It is a great perk to have what you need and not worry about lugging all these items from home. As well, they have Azulitos, the fun and activity filled kids club along with babysitting services for the little ones.  If you have older kids or are planning a multi-generational trip, there is Azul Fives or Azul Sensatori to fit your family.

2. Norwegian Breakaway – Sailing from New York City

This is the newest ship on the sea and offers everything the kids along with Mom and Dad could need. Our family was lucky enough to sail on her in May and I have to say my boys 4 & 7 had a blast.  Norwegian really thought about families when they built this ship.

There is a top notch kids club Splash Academy for kids 3-12 along with Entourage for the teens 13-17.  Please check out my review for more information. As well, the Sponge Bob Water Play area for the little ones, 5 water slides, mini golf and the ropes course where you can walk the plank.  Along with Team Nick and lots of slime.

Even better, in the fall and winter the ship will sail from NYC with stops in Port Canaveral where you can spend a day at the Magic Kingdom as well Atlantis where you can enjoy the amazing Aquaventure water park.

3. San Diego – San Diego is a great destination any time of year.  The weather is perfect and there is so much to do. Along with being close to Sea WorldLegoland and of course Disneyland. They have one of the best zoos in the US.  You can rent a car and visit all the great beach towns as you make your way up to Los Angeles for the day.  I would suggest staying at the historic Hotel del Coronado.  The hotel’s beach was named the best beach in America for 2012.

4. Beaches – Turks & Caicos and Jamaica – I think the Beaches properties are a great value.  Since Beaches resorts are all-inclusive, you are not going to end up with a surprise bill when you check out. They offer amazing kids clubs and activities with Elmo and the Sesame Street gang.  What I also love is that Mom and Dad can get a little vacation as well.  They offer the Red Lane spa, golf and certified nannies so Mom and Dad can have a long over due date night.  As well, the new Key West Village offers amazing villas that are perfect for a family reunion or multi-generational trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Atlantis – Bahamas

Atlantis is a favorite vacation spot for our family.  My boys love the Aquaventure water park, especially the special kids pool and lazy river.  As well, they have a great kids club.  I have learned some of the tricks for making Atlantis more affordable for families.  I have a great blog with information on the different room choices.

So as you can see I have included a lot of beach and warm weather getaways, a long Northeast winter will do that to you.  So don’t be stuck in the cold, start planning your Fall or Winter family vacation now.

Email us at info@adventuresbykim.com or give us a call today at 1-800-516-4329 to get your free quote and start planning today.

 

By Kimberly Milnes

Beaches Ocho Rios – A Vacation for the Entire Family

In January I was lucky enough to be able to tour this fabulous resort.  I have to say I was truly impressed by all this resort had to offer and the beautiful renovation that was recently being completed. Where Sandals resorts are geared towards couples, the Beaches resorts are “for everyone” as they like to say.  But really it is families that make up the majority of guests as these resorts. 

Getting There – When going to Beaches Ocho Rios you will fly in to Montego Bay airport. It is a very busy airport, but easy to navigate. When staying at Beaches you are directed to the exclusive Sandals Lounge at the airport.  You will check in and relax while you wait for your transportation to the resort. The lounge is very comfortable and offers complimentary food and beverages.  You can even get a nice Red Stripe beer to start off your vacation.

Transportation – To get to Beaches in Ocho Rios you will be taking a luxury bus.  It will be about a 1 1/2 hour ride to the resort, it really depends on the traffic.  It is a very scenic ride and our driver was great about pointing out all we should be seeing along the way. We also stopped for a bathroom break as well as a snack.  I had to get some authentic Jerk chicken, yummy.

Arriving at The Resort – As we arrived at the resort we were met by these 2 lovely men, singing lively Jamaican songs.  I thought what a great way to begin a vacation.  Upon arrival guests are taken to check in and greeted with a cool towel to wipe off the travel and lovely tropical cocktail.  The kids will receive some island punch.  If you are staying in a Concierge Level or Butler Suite you will be whisked off to a private check in area.

 

The Rooms – We toured several different types of room. Since this resort is really a family destination the rooms are a nice size and set up well for families.   These photos are of  the Hummingbird Oceanview Mega Balcony Suite:

This room also comes with a microwave, mini-fridge and a flat screen TV.  Of course, since the resort is all-inclusive the fridge is fully stocked every day.  The step down to the living area really makes the room feel spacious. Of course the couch is a sofa sleeper for the kids.

These photos are of the Walkout Beachfront Suites.  All of these face the water and have the king bed, sofa sleeper, microwave, mini-fridge and more.   You can sit outside in the morning have room service and enjoy the view.

 

The Kids Club


Beaches offers a great Kids Club with activities for the kids all day long.  In the photo above they were finishing up Elmo’s Birthday party.  Beaches has all your favorite Sesame Street Characters to interact with the kids.   They offer indoor and outdoor activities and the kids are broken up in to appropriate age groups. You can also have private babysitting or nanny service for an additional fee.  For those tweens and teens there is Trench Town which is the nighttime hang out. As well as XBox and Kinnect.

Around the Resort  – Ocho Rios is nice size resort. You won’t be walking long distances to get from one area to the other. It is also a private and gated resort so you can feel safe and sound as well.

The photos above are a view from the front of the resort, grounds and tennis courts.  This is the main pool and it has 5 different slides for the kids. Along with a separate pool for the little ones, pool tables, and a few restaurants.

Another shot of the main pool                      The new Adult only pool for a little quiet.

 

A view of the beach and the walk out suites        You can enjoy live entertainment and a
show by your Sesame Street Friends

Newly updated Bayside Restaurant                      A view of main building and rooms

New Venetian Restaurant

Overall, I was very impressed with all this resort had to offer. I thought the rooms were modern and spacious.   Of course, as with all Sandals and Beaches resorts there is an amazing Red Lane Spa.  The main beach area is a nice size but not too big.  However, I think I would have a hard time getting my kids out of the pool.Though you might never want to leave the resort. I like Ocho Rios as there is a lot to do in this area.  If you have teens they might like Dunn’s River Falls or Mystic Mountain, for some more adventure.

 

 

By Kimberly Milnes

Fun Family Destinations for 2013

I know a lot of you are hitting the road in these next few weeks for your well deserved Spring Break vacation.  If you are still looking for vacation ideas for your summer vacation and beyond, here are some great family travel destinations.

 

Gogobot put together a list of the most shared travel destinations of 2012. I think there are some great choices, but not all are so family friendly.   Here is their top 10:

1. Paris
2. Las Vegas
3. San Francisco
4. Barcelona
5. San Diego
6. Bangkok
7. Rome
8. New York City
9. Venice
10. Marrakech

If you have not checked out Gogobot, give it a tour. It is a great site, I love their postcard app. It is a lot of fun.

Here are a few of my family friendly suggestions: 

1. Alaska Cruise – This certainly would be a family adventure to remember.  You can view the glaciers, take in the amazing Alaskan wildlife, maybe even see some whales. If you can go in May when the season opens you can get some great deals.  I would suggest sailing on either the Disney or Norwegian cruise lines.  They both have great itineraries along with activities and clubs for the kids.

2. San Diego – San Diego is a great destination any time of year.  The weather is perfect and there is so much to do. Along with being close to Sea WorldLegoland and of course Disneyland. They have one of the best zoos in the US.  You can rent a car and visit all the great beach towns as you make your way up to Los Angeles for the day.  I would suggest staying at the historic Hotel del Coronado.  The hotel’s beach was named the best beach in America for 2012.

3. Colonial Williamsburg and Surrounding Area –  Colonial Williamsburg, is considered one of the largest living history museums in the United States. It is an opportunity to learn, teach and play at the same time.  You will be able to show your children how America was settled and how our country came to be. You can also visit Jamestown and Yorktown as well.  But, when the kids eyes glaze over from all the history you can head over to Busch Gardens Amusement Park or Water Country USA to cool off.   There really is something for everyone at this destination.

4. Beaches – Turks & Caicos and Jamaica – I think the Beaches properties are a great value.  Since Beaches resorts are all-inclusive, you are not going to end up with a surprise bill when you check out. They offer amazing kids clubs and activities with Elmo and the Sesame Street gang.  What I also love is that Mom and Dad can get a little vacation as well.  They offer the Red Lane spa, golf and certified nannies so Mom and Dad can have a long over due date night.

5.  Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – This is a perfect family destination. It is only 4 hours from NYC, with lots of nonstop flights to choose. Along with pristine beaches and great all-inclusive resorts. One of my favorite resorts here is Hard Rock Punta Cana.  They are all-inclusive and now have The Little Big Club for kids. The club highlights Thomas The Train, Barney, Bob the Builder and Angelina Ballerina.  For Mom and Dad there is the spa, golf and of course the casino.  The Hard Rock also has Family Suites which are beautiful and give the family a little room to spread out.

These are just a few of my choices to get you started on your search for that perfect destination for you and your family this year.  I am always looking for new destinations to share with you all so stay tuned for more to come.

 

By Kimberly Milnes

Why I Love All-Inclusive Vacations

When it comes to traveling as a family I think some of the biggest challenges are budget, making sure there are activities for the kids and Mom and Dad being able to get some adult/date time.  While I believe there are several vacation choices that will conquer these challenges, at the top of my list is the All-Inclusive resort vacation.
Here are some of the reasons I love all-inclusive vacations:

1. Cost –  There are all-inclusive resorts to meet any budget.

The best part of going to an all-inclusive resort is the “all-inclusive”.  When everything is included you really do save money over other vacations, and you will not be surprised with a big bill when you check out. The only additional charges should be if you choose a spa visit or additional babysitting. However, not all resorts are created equal and there can be additional charges, but that is where I come in to make sure you get to the “right” resort.
2. Amazing Food and Drink –  Long gone is the boring buffet line. There are now many gourmet all-inclusive resorts. The Azul Resorts in Mexico and of course the Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean are amazing resorts that cater to families and offer gourmet food and luxury accommodations. You can have your choice of  lobster, steak, amazing international cuisine, brick oven pizza, gelato and bakeries for those yummy afternoon snacks.  Many resorts are also serving premium brands of liquor and wine.  No watered down no name drinks.
3. Activities and Entertainment –  These resorts offer activities for adults, kids and the whole family. You can learn to scuba, surf or just relax on the beach. They have night time parties and amazing entertainment for the whole family.  A nice added feature is that resorts like Beaches and the Hard Rock Punta Cana also offer great character experiences for the kids.
4. Child Care and Kids Clubs – This is one of the great added values of the all-inclusive when it comes to families. Many resorts offer child care and activities for kids 4 and up.  But what about the little ones? Well, there are several resorts which include certified nannies.  At Franklyn D Resort in Jamaica every family gets their own nanny for the length of their stay. The great thing is that you can use the child care as much or as little as it suits your family. It is just nice to have it as an option. I think Mom and Dad deserve a little vacation too. Even if it is just to be able to have a nice dinner date.

5. There is an all-inclusive resort to match any family.  There are many all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, with the best deals being Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Mexico.  But, if you are looking for something closer there are actually some great resorts right here in the US, like the Club Med Sandpiper right in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

So, are you ready to start planning your All-Inclusive vacation? I know I am ready for some some and sand after this winter.

By Kimberly Milnes

Want to Hang with Elmo and Big Bird?

When trying to find that perfect vacation spot for your family there are so many variables to consider; location, amenities and budget are just a few. Recently, I have seen many hotels, cruise lines and resorts begin to make sure they have something to offer families.  They are changing their kids menus, ramping up their kids programs, and adding water parks.  Finally, families are getting to have many more choices when it comes to where to vacation.

Beaches Negril                                                Beaches Turks & Caicos

Beaches Ocho Rios

I do believe though, that the Beaches Resorts were really the first to addresses all of these issues and more. There are 3 Beaches resorts and they are located in Turks and Caicos, Negril and the newly renovated Ocho Rios  I believe as a luxury all-inclusive resort, they have it all.  Travel and Leisure Magazine recently named Beaches Turks & Caicos and Beaches Negril , the #1 and #2 Family Resorts in the Caribbean.  This survey was actually voted on by Travel and Leisure readers, so I think that is a great endorsement.

Here are the reasons I think Beaches Resorts are a perfect destination for all families:

  • A Luxury All-Inclusive – Beaches Resorts offers more quality inclusions than any other resorts. Your hotel, all your food, drink, unlimited water sports, kids club are all included. There are few vacations where you know you will not have a huge bill waiting for you when check out.
  • VIK – The Very Important Kids Club,  Beaches has amazing kids programs. They offer services from infant through teens. The children are supervised at all times by the Ultra Nannies, which have been trained and approved by the International Nanny Association. They have 5 different age levels that allow Beaches to create exciting age appropriate fun. They have activities like, face painting, snorkeling, theme parties, scavenger hunts and more.
  • Unlimited Watersports – This is not just the pool and maybe a canoe. Beaches includes; Kayaks, Banana boats, windsurfing, glass bottom boats, scuba diving, Hobie cat sailing, snorkeling, paddleboats, aqua-trikes, Sunfish sailing. All of these activities are included, so cool.


  • Water Parks – Beaches knows that kids love the water parks so they have decked them out.  They have the Pirates Island Water Park, which includes the slides, pools and lazy river.  They also have a surf simulator for the brave.  For the little ones there is also an area with splash deck, water cannons, and the Treasure Isle Aqua play area.
  • XBOX – This is a special area where the kids can play the latest XBox 360 and Kinect games.  They have stations for the little ones as well.  It is set up so everyone can have a chance to play and have fun. I  know my boys are not going to want to leave.
  • Trenchtown/Shadow Lounge – These are the ultimate hang out areas for the kids, where they can play billiards, air hockey, foosball, basketball machines. They also have flat screen TV’s and bean bags to just hang.
  • Liquid Nightclub – No adults allowed!  This is a nightclub just for teenagers. I know for parents with teens it can be tough on vacation. Beaches has great activities and areas just for the teens where they can  meet new friends, hang out and not be embarrassed by us parents.
  • Scratch DJ Academy – This is where the kids get the chance to become a real DJ. They will learn all the tricks to mix, blend and scratch on vinyl (I guess it still exists), CD and even their own Ipod. Sometimes they get to show off what they learned at the Liquid Nightclub.
  • Sesame Street – Elmo and friends are at all the Beaches resorts.  They have activities all day: Character Breakfast, Games, Special Shows, make cookies with the Cookie Monster, Sail away with  Elmo and Zoe, are just a few. There are new activities every day so there is always something different for the kids.
  • Amazing Family Suites and Kids Rooms – Beaches has always excelled in providing the most amazing rooms.  You can have a room that opens on to the pool or beach, so the baby can be sleeping and you can watch the older kids at the pool. Also, a separate room for the kids to provide a little privacy for Mom and Dad.
  • Amazing Food – You will never go hungry, that is for sure.  There are up to 16 different restaurants to chose from, it is not the same boring buffet each day.  But, they do have the buffet every one loves, the  Chocolate Buffet. There are even fun kids themed restaurants.  You can book a private dinner on the beach for that romantic date night.  There are so many choices, from Thai, Italian, French, Teppanyaki even pizza, from a real wood burning pizza oven.
  • Premium Beverages – Sandals/Beaches is the only resort to partner with Beringer Wines. They also only serve premium liquors like Absolut, Johnnie Walker, and Tanqueray. Also, for when you need that  caffeine blast they are only resort in the Caribbean to serve Jamaica’s Lively Up Blue Mountain coffee.

As you can see Beaches really does offer you really anything you could want on a vacation. There is something for every one in the family.  I like that there is great child care so Mom and Dad can get a little vacation too. At the very least a trip to the spa or a romantic dinner on the beach.

If you want more information on Beaches email me at kim@adventuresbykim.com

 

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