I can remember where I was when I got the email: “Beaches Turks & Caicos Press Trip Invitation”. I was sitting on the GO Train, heading downtown Toronto for an event. When I opened the email and started reading I thought to myself, “No…this isn’t right. They aren’t inviting you, they are just sending you a press release.” You see, as a blogger, I get A LOT of press releases from various brands and media agencies trying to promote various products, events or destinations.
But I couldn’t get past the word INVITATION in the title. I read and re-read quickly and when I finally realized I was actually being invited with a plus 1 to Beaches Turks & Caicos, my jaw literally hit the floor.
Going to Beaches Turks & Caicos has been on my bucket list for a few years now but never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that not only I’d get an opportunity to go, but that I’d be invited personally by the Beaches/Sandals team to experience this incredible resort.
Fast forward a few weeks and my daughter and I were headed on an early morning flight to the Turks & Caicos Islands via Miami. A few travel hiccups here and there made for a bit of a long travel day, including lost luggage once we finally arrived, but nothing could get us down because I was living my dream come true.
As soon as we arrived at Beaches after that long day of travel, we were greeted by the friendliest front desk staff who escorted us to our room in the Italian Village and made sure we were equipped with food options and so on. I won’t lie, I was exhausted and considered just going straight to bed (it was around 11pm and we had been up since 3am that morning). But leave it my nine year old who was starving and so we had to make sure we got her some grub asap!
We ordered some chicken wings and fish and chips at The Cricketers Pub next to our building and ate outside on a large, wooden swing, under the moonlight. As we were finishing up she looked at me and said “Ok, let’s go for a night swim!” I laughed and said “There’s no way we can go for a swim…it’s almost midnight! The pool isn’t open!”
After some insistence from her (she comes by it honestly), and asking a few workers, I realized that the pool WAS in fact OPEN! This completely shocked me. I’ve been travelling most of my life with both my parents and now as adults with my own kids, and EVERY SINGLE hotel and/or resort I’ve been to that has a pool has SET opening and closing hours, which honestly, can sometimes be a real bummer when your travel schedule doesn’t match up with those hours. So this was a total first.
We quickly ran back to the room to change into our bathing suits (which I had the foresight to think to pack them in my carry-on) and slipped into the pool for a midnight dip under the stars.
It was magic. We were in paradise. And that is how the rest of my time at Beaches Turks & Caicos continued on – in awe, in paradise.
There are some quick facts about Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort you should know right off the bat. First, this resort is only one of three Beaches Resorts, with the other two being in Jamaica. Beaches is the sister company to Sandals – Sandals is adults-only while Beaches is for the whole family.
Beaches Turks & Caicos is located along 12 miles of one of the worlds best beach – Grace Bay Beach where you will find endless games and water activities, many at no extra charge. If the beach isn’t your jam, no sweat, the resort has 10 pools with four swim-up bars and NINE waterslides in the kids area! There’s even a kid-friendly swim up bar and a lazy river in the Pirates Island Waterpark.
Beaches Turks & Caicos has five villages you can choose from to stay in: Keywest, Italian, French, Caribbean and Seaside, with 44 different room categories for every family and budget size.
If you are wondering about the food situation, let me tell you that there’s pretty much no way you can even eat at ALL the restaurants in ONE stay (although that may be a fun challenge to try)! That’s because there are 21 gourmet restaurants which doesn’t include the two food trucks in the kids waterpark! Yup, you read that right – FOOD TRUCKS! Curls & Swirls delivers mouth-watering ice cream and smoothies, perfect for a hot day in the sun while Mr. Mac offers up 10 different kinds of macaroni and cheese dishes, including crab, cheeseburger and deep fried cheese balls!
It’s probably a good time to also mention that there are endless options for kids of all ages as well. There are six different kids programs ranging from infants to teenagers, as well as private daycare and even special needs programs. All of these are supervised by certified nannies and kids camp staffers. The whole cast of children’s favourite Sesame Street are also onsite and love to come out to play with the kids. There’s even a new character, Julia, who has autism and works to help those kids with special needs feel welcome.
Ok so now that I told you about some of the many wonderful things that Beaches Turks & Caicos has to offer, you’re probably wondering what else we did during our three days there?! Let me break it down into categories because it was just non-stop fun!
We had breakfast every morning at Mario’s Restaurant located in the Italian Village. It’s a buffet style restaurant with every breakfast food you could imagine, including an omelet station! The staff will even make you an Americano to go, if you ask with a nice smile!
For lunch (as well as many snacks throughout our stay), we visited Bobby Dee’s for some quick American grub such as burgers and pizza. Leah also loved getting freshly popped popcorn and cotton candy from there too! We also tried The Jerk Shack on the way back from snorkelling on our last day and let me tell you – there’s nothing quite like eating fresh jerk chicken on the edge of the beach with the wind blowing through your hair! One of my favourite moments from the trip (and yet I don’t have a single picture of it because I was too busy enjoying the food and scenery!) If you look at the map of Beaches, you might be inclined to skip the Jerk Shack because it’s at the far end of the property, but let me tell you, it’s worth the walk down there!
We had two dinners, apart from our late night snack the first night, while on property. The first was at Soy, which is located in the French village. This was my daughter’s choice as she’s an AVID sushi eater! The food was delicious and it was the first time I ever tried conch (and loved it!) The next night we had a team dinner at Schooners Seafood Grill, right along the ocean. The food, company and sunset was unreal!
It’s important to note three things here that were again different than any other resort I’ve been to – 1. No reservations are needed for any of these restaurants. It’s first come, first serve, which I really like, especially when on vacation. I hate being on a schedule. 2. All restaurants are included. There are no specialty restaurants that you have to pay an extra fee to eat at (although it is important to note that a couple of restaurants on property are adults only). 3. NO TIPPING!!! When they say that everything is included in your stay there, they quite literally mean it. Unless you’ve booked a butler service, there is no tipping allowed on property.
Aside from swimming in one of the 10 swimming pools or in the gorgeous ocean, we were able to take part in a number of activities. The first we did was the glass bottom boat ride. This was such a neat experience to head out to the reef (one of the top in the world) while the boat driver tried to help us spot sea life, which we did! Fish, small sharks and sea turtles!
The day we left, we got up early to sneak in a snorkelling session just a short walk down the beach from the resort with one of the resort beach activity workers. All of the equipment including snorkel/mask, life jacket and flippers were included. It was incredible to swim around with the abundance of fish and sea turtles!
A thing to note here is that I was given the opportunity to have a massage at the spa onsite, Red Lane Spa, but I decided to forego it so that my daughter could get her hair braided with the gift certificate instead. (insert mom of the year award, right?!) Red Lane Spa is a full service spa with many different spa services available at an additional fee. There are a number of hair braiding stations set up throughout the resort where anyone can get their hair braided for an extra fee as well. Two months later, Leah still has a couple of the feather extensions that she had put in her hair!
There is no shortage of entertainment at the resort. As I mentioned, there are programs for every kids age, including an XBOX lounge that is open for all ages to escape and play some video games.
The last night there, we caught a glimpse of the Sesame Street Parade, complete with a dancers and a live band. It was spectacular.
There are also shows happening all throughout the week at the Entertainment Stage. We saw a fire show, which included a brief history about the Turks & Caicos Islands. It ended with a massive dance party, which we thoroughly enjoyed!
This recap of our time at Beaches Turks & Caicos wouldn’t be complete without telling you about the Sandals Foundation and probably one of the biggest highlights of our trip there.
In brief, the Sandals Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was launched in March 2009 to help Sandals Resorts International continue to make a difference in the lives of the Caribbean people. They are committed to making investments that create a positive and sustainable impact on their communities and surroundings through education, community and environmental initiatives.
We had the opportunity to participate on the Reading Road Trip which is a “voluntourism” literacy programme, which is available to all resort guests, where they can visit local schools to interact with the children through reading. Resort guests can bring their own kids books to read to the children and donate them, if they’d like, afterwards to the school. To date, more than 13,875 volunteers have participated in this program. They’ve also impacted 578 schools and 169,000+ students, trained 2,455 teachers, awarded 180 scholarships and donated more than 274,000+ books and 2,500+ computers through the program!
The reason this was so special to me was to see my daughter interact with these kids. She was the one to read to them and it was honestly her first look at what school looks like in another country. It was a good reminder for us both that while we got to enjoy the most incredible few days in paradise, that there is another side to these places that aren’t as fortunate.
If you are visiting any Sandals or Beaches Resorts, you can speak with the front desk to organize going on one of these reading road trips (there is a small fee of $25 which helps facilitate transportation and fund the program). I would highly encourage you to do so!
Well friends, if you are still reading this, I think it’s safe to say that in just spending about 62 hours at Beaches Turks & Caicos, I was blown away by EVERYTHING – top to bottom. From the smallest details of not having to wear a wristband that leaves an unforgiving tan line to the grandioseness of the entire resort, there’s a reason why Beaches Turks & Caicos was voted #1 beach resort in the entire world! I never came across one unhappy worker nor ever saw one piece of trash laying around on the grounds. Every detail is thought through and taken care of – from special needs (including special allergy requirements) to having a departure lounge complete with showers, snacks and baggage check for those who have flights departing later in the day – EVERYTHING is perfect. So it should come at no surprise that I’m already planning our next family vacation there, only this time, I’m staying longer!
Love & Blessings,