By Madeleine Tibaldi, Taking the Kids correspondent
After a long and stressful year at college, nothing could have been more eagerly anticipated than a weekend soaking up the sun at Beaches Turks and Caicos with my mom.
Plenty of Space in our Room
It only took 15 minutes to reach the resort from the airport via the Beaches shuttle. My mom and I were staying at the new Key West Village. We booked a 1-bedroom suite, which meant I had my own daybed and flat screen TV in the living room. We had a full kitchen and fridge stocked with cold beverages. Our room was comfortable and luxurious, though I barely spent any time there, what with the spectacular beach and dozens of pools calling my name.
Grace Bay is Spectacular
Beaches Turks and Caicos is located on Grace Bay, which is the most beautiful water I have ever seen, eclipsing even the waters of Costa Rica and the Mexican Riviera Maya. The water was calm, warm and a vivid turquoise color that I had only seen in pictures. The resort provides beach chairs, towels and drink service from the adjacent bar. The swim-up bars are fun options. Kids and teens will also enjoy the resorts waterpark, which includes several slides, a surf simulator and a lazy river. Younger kids can attend kid’s camp, while teens can visit Club Liquid. The staff was always attentive and friendly, even though it is a no-tipping resort.
Lots of Healthy Dining Options
Beaches is an all-inclusive resort. This means that all of the property’s restaurants and amenities are included in the price of your stay, so I didn’t need to ask my mom for extra money. The food was really good. I enjoyed dining at Barefoot by the Sea, where shoes are optional and delicious local Caribbean specialties are served with a water view. For older teens like myself, the resort also offers several adults only dinner options. Since I eat buffet-style all year round at my university, I was happy to have a few sit-down meals. I was glad that the buffet always included healthy options like a large salad bar, fresh fruit and grilled chicken and fish. The best part about our dining experience was that I could indulge without feeling guilty about the extra cost incurred by ordering drinks, appetizers or dessert.
Spa Services Just for Teens
Spa services are obviously not included in the price. I have an allergy to formaldehyde, so I can’t usually get manicures, as it is an ingredient in most nail polish. But the Red Lane Spa at Beaches uses very pure products, including SpaRitual brand formaldehyde-free nail polish, so I splurged on a manicure. They have a special menu of services just for teens, including facials, scrubs and fruit-infused massages, all using natural ingredients. They even have a menu of treatments called Dads and Dudes, so boys can get pampered too.
Reading Road Trip
While I loved the hotel, the most memorable part of my vacation occurred off property. The resort offers a weekly volunteer trip through the Sandals Foundation, where guests can elect to visit a local elementary school and read to the schoolchildren. I was curious to learn more about the local culture, so this was my chance. Though I had worked in a classroom setting before, I was struck by how welcoming, polite, and curious these kids were. The children seemed thrilled to have my mom and me in their classroom. They asked me lots of questions about my life back in the States and I was eager to hear about their life on the island. Several of the children wanted to touch my hair and asked me if it was real. I was surprised, as my hair is dark blonde, and certainly not an anomaly back home. While I only spent a few hours outside the resort, I appreciated that Beaches made an effort to expose its guests to the rich Caribbean culture.