The Caribbean always makes for a great family escape. With plenty of sun, myriad resorts and easy connectivity, it’s a no-brainer. The only difficult part: Deciding which hotel to book. Luckily, Luxury Travel Advisor has rounded up three options that were among the most popular when we asked our advisor friends who sell the destination.
The Landings Resort & Spa
Located on the northeastern tip of St. Lucia, where many of the island’s resorts can be found, is The Landings Resort & Spa by Elegant Hotels. We love that the resort offers a “Luxe at the Landings” package, which includes helicopter transfers from Hewanorra International Airport, meaning your vacation gets started all that much sooner. (Car transfers can take about an hour-and-a-half, due to the airport’s location in the southeast.) But that’s not all! Guests, as part of the package, also receive a private yacht charter to the Pitons of Diamond Falls (we’ve made a similar boat ride — the approach to the Pitons from the water are absolutely unbeatable!), along with lunch onboard and, later, a private sunset dinner.
While the Pitons are just about synonymous with St. Lucia, Diamond Falls are a bit of a hidden gem. Located in the Diamond Botanical Gardens (the oldest such one on the island), it’s not a strenuous hike to reach the payoff — in fact, it’s as simple as walking down the maintained paths (great for families with young children). Note that you can’t swim in the pool at Diamond Falls, but you may bathe in the warm mineral pools in the Botanical Garden or at nearby Piton Falls. Another activity in the area for families suggested by The Landings is a tour of Fond Doux Estate, a working plantation where cacao is processed. Who doesn’t love chocolate?
Guests looking to get off property, without straying too far, might consider Pigeon Island. It is home to a historic naval garrison, museum, beach and hilltop lookout. Good to know: It’s also an easy hike to reach the hilltop lookout. If parents are looking to sign up for a spa treatment (there are no options for children), The Landings Resort & Spa has the Landings’ Kid’s Club, which provides fun, educational experiences for children. The complimentary program is available for kids between four and 12 years old, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Now, about the spa: Be sure to book a room with an outdoor hydrotherapy terrace. The Lucian Paradise (available in 60 or 90 minutes) is the signature treatment. The full-body massage uses light- to medium-pressure for a soothing application of local coconut milk followed by local coconut moisturizers that smooth, soften and tone your skin. Reserve your treatment at least 24 hours in advance.
Reach out to concierge lead Anna Noelien ([email protected]) to book “Luxe at the Landings,” other day trips or spa treatments.
The Landings Resort & Spa has 85 suites, which range from one to three bedrooms. The Beachfront Villa Suites have the best views. These suites are staffed with a personal butler who is on-call day and night. Bedrooms have en-suite marble bathrooms, while suites also have living and dining areas, full kitchens and washer and dryer. Good to know: The two- and three-bedroom suites have an optional private plunge pool. Book with Kerishma St. Remy ([email protected]), sales and events coordinator.
A popular dining experience at the resort is the in-suite dining in which a private chef will prepare a gourmet meal in the suite for you. The Landings also hosts a Caribbean Beach BBQ every Saturday night; guests can expect fire-eating, limbo dancing and a bonfire, in addition to Caribbean cuisine. Paul Collymore ([email protected]) is the general manager.
Note: Saint Lucia will be introducing a tourist accommodation fee to be used for destination marketing and development. As of April 1, 2020, stayover visitors to Saint Lucia will be required to pay an accommodation fee on their nightly stay on the island. All accommodation providers on the island (including hotels, guest houses, villas and apartments) will be required to collect from stayover guests $3 or $6, respectively, on a nightly rate below or above $120.
The Palms Turks & Caicos
If you’re looking for a beach vacation, world-famous Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales is hard to beat. Don’t overthink it and book a stay at The Palms Turks & Caicos.
Like The Landings, The Palms is an all-suite property, with its 72 accommodations ranging from one to three bedrooms. The top digs are the Ocean Front Penthouses, available in all room sizes. The master bedroom has a king-sized bed, an en-suite with an array of quality bathing products and its own private outdoor Sun Suite with an outdoor shower for the ultimate pampering experience (love it!). The second and third bedrooms come with a king-size bed and full-size sleeper sofa, while the gourmet kitchen has a range of professional appliances. In-room amenities include custom, hand-tufted bed linens, a private washer and an espresso maker, among others.
Good to know: The Palms’ chefs are on-call should you want to dine in the privacy of your suite or host a dinner party (traveling with another family, perhaps?). Your entire meal will be prepared for you on-site and served to you either in your dining room or private balcony.
Book with Jenny Capili ([email protected]), special project assistant. We’re told the Conch Kritters Club is popular with younger guests. Open to kids, 12 and under, there is a clubhouse for indoor fun and a range of beach toys and floats for outdoor activities. A fitness center and floodlit tennis court are also open to families traveling with kids and teenagers.
Note: For families with very young children, babysitting services can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice and cribs are available. Families can also hit the water by themselves. The Palms offers complimentary non-motorized water sports for guests of all ages to enjoy Grace Bay; options include Hobie Cat sailboats, kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling gear and more.
Or, while the children are spending some time at the kid’s club, parents can head to The Palms Spa. Guests can opt for stand-alone treatment rooms, each accented with a water feature by day and fire feature by night, or in the garden where tented cabanas provide an alternative setting for island-inspired treatments. Two over-the-top spa suites are also available for couple’s treatments. There are four signature treatments; highlights include hand-crushed local queen conch shells and sea salt, aromatherapy, therapeutic massage techniques and two masseuses working in sync.
Parallel23 at The Palms Turks & Caicos is the signature restaurant, which also offers al fresco dining on terrace.
Reach out to spa director Carnah Collins ([email protected]) to review the options and book treatments. Good to know: The spa accepts guests 14 years old and over.
Should you be traveling with teens, who can handle dinner on their own for a night, one popular activity for adults (only) is moonbathing. The nighttime experience includes mini-spa treatments and after-dinner cocktails and snacks on lounge chairs right on the beach under the bright Turks and Caicos stars. Sounds good to us!
Led by executive chef Lauren Callighen is Parallel23, the upscale, signature restaurant. The venue has full-height French doors and a high-tech display kitchen with a wood-burning oven so diners can enjoy the theater of food preparation. Menu options include coconut-marinated conch ceviche, pan-roasted sea bass and 25-day-aged ribeye steaks. There’s even a kid’s menu with favorites like penne pasta, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, grilled Caicos grouper and grilled chicken. Jeff Morgan ([email protected]) is the general manager.
Fairmont Royal Pavilion
In Barbados, the Fairmont Royal Pavilion opened as The Miramar Hotel, which was built in the 1940s as the first hotel to be constructed on the West Coast of the island nation. At this time, the property comprised just 12 rooms. After several transitions, it joined Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in 1999 and was given its current name; guestrooms were most recently renovated in November 2017.
The hotel is well-situated for guests looking to explore the island. But first, the water. For families who are looking to enjoy the water — this is the Caribbean, after all — one of the top options is snorkeling with turtles. We’ve done this as part of a catamaran tour (lunch and drinks included) and loved it. Good to know: The artificial reef isn’t far from land. Guests can also opt for jet skiing, single and double kayaks, paddle boats, sea floats, Hobie wave sailboats or stand-up paddle boards.
To learn a bit more about the history of the island, consider the St. Nicholas Abbey History Tour and Train Ride. At the plantation and museum, the steam locomotive Heritage Train is the newest addition to the property. The narrated tour takes you past the historic St. Nicholas Abbey Great House, around the lake and through the mahogany woodlands. The tour culminates at Cherry Tree Hill, an elevated point offering views of the island’s rugged east coast. Tip: There’s even a rum distillery on property.
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion’s 650-square-foot Beachfront Suite has its own private beach deck.
Another way to experience the natural beauty of the island is by a Harrison’s Cave exploration. Families have the option of one-hour tram or walking tour; adults can opt for a more extreme three-plus-hour eco-adventure tour (hard hats, head lamps and knee pads included). Note that the last option is available by reservation only.
For a taste of the local cuisine, a must is the Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday — especially if your family loves seafood. To help arrange tours and excursions, contact Tawanda Thompson ([email protected]), guest relations manager. At the resort, the Beachfront Suite is the top non-villa option. It has pillowtop king-size bed, lounge area with an additional queen-sized sofa bed; the bathroom has a shower and separate tub. Guests booking this room receive Platinum Fast Track Service, which provides you with your own airport concierge who assists with Customs and escorts you to your complimentary luxury airport transportation. Each Beachfront Suite is inclusive of daily full buffet breakfast and afternoon tea, butler service and your own private beach deck.
If you’re looking for more space, consider one of the two- or three-bedroom villa options. These rooms also include the Platinum Fast Track Service.
Travel advisors should book with Katharina Kustos ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing. Rooms are most difficult to book from December through April; it’s recommended to book two to three months in advance.
Good to know: The Palm Terrace Restaurant was renovated this past December and is sporting a new grill-inspired menu. Highlights include the special 32-ounce Tomahawk steak, 16-ounce prime ribeye, wood-fired shrimp or the spiced lamb chop, grilled to perfection in a Josper oven. Travel advisors can contact Jean-Christophe Martinez ([email protected]), the general manager.