Before Hayes was born we traveled A LOT…like every single month for a solid year with the 12 trips in 12 months series and at least every few months before that series and after it…until we had a baby that is. We felt like we needed to slow down the travel a little bit around the time Hayes was born, with just a couple of quick trips before he was six months old, to see family in New York and Jacksonville. BUT now that we (kinda) have our bearings with the parenting thing, travel is back on our radar in a big way.
Starting with a trip to Turks and Caicos with our closet friends (Ashley, Kelly, Lexy)…and all of the husbands and kiddos. It was relaxing and crazy all rolled into one with five kids and eight adults…for a total of thirteen people if you’re counting. We stayed at the all-inclusive family resort, Beaches Turks and Caicos, and I’m sharing all the details (and a whole lot of drool-worthy beach photos) today!
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me say that tropical vacations are amongst my absolute favorite trips to take. Get me to a white sandy beach with a tropical cocktail in my hand and I am as happy as a clam. So, naturally, I was totally in my element on this Turks and Caicos vacation. AND this trip in particular was extra special because it was Jeff and I’s first ‘real’ vacation since Hayes was born and Hayes’ first time in the ocean…and in a pool for that matter. Memorable stuff for us. Quick note: I’ve been to Turks before, but only to Grand Turk. Read that travel guide here: where to go in Grand Turk. This time around, we stayed on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (the north shore of the island).
The beaches in Providenciales are pretty perfect – white sand, super clear turquoise water. So good! And I spent a good amount of time on those white sandy beaches this trip because the Beaches resort westayed at is right on the beach and has a lot of oceanfront square footage. The property is huge, with four different ‘villages’ and each village goes right up to the ocean, so there is a LOT of beachfront to walk down. Golden hour there is unlike anything I have ever seen. I don’t know if I was able to really capture it in photos, but WOW. AND ALSO, HOW MANY MORE TIMES CAN I SAY THE WORD BEACH OR BEACHES IN THIS POST?!
Off site, another stunning beach to check out, Shore Club beach (in the Long Bay region), was one that you’ll stop by if you go on the ATV four wheeling excursion that you can set up through Island Routes (extra fee FYI). All the guys went on this one and they brought back some crazy photos of the beach and video too…I’m pretty bummed that I didn’t get to see it in person, honestly, BUT if you get a chance to, you definitely should!
So what’s it like to stay at an all-inclusive?!
Well, first up, for me at least…staying at an all-inclusive is infinitely less stressful than a ‘regular’ resort because the vast majority of the costs are included (everything was included with the exception of excursions in our case). Which means I can just relax and have another cocktail. Is it obvious that I had a clear agenda on this trip?! Haha. Instead of trying to do quick math toward the end of each day on how much I’m spending on food and drinks. When you’re with a big group, that really, really, REALLY helps. Trust me – trying to figure out who owes what at the end of a long stay when you have thirteen people, all ordering different things and not necessarily keeping track of every little purchase can be a nightmare. We’ve done it before, so take it from me. 🙂 So yeah, I highly recommend an all-inclusive resort to make things easy.
And another thing that I love (specifically about Beaches resort) that you might find surprising about the all-inclusive thing is that there are TONS of choices for food and drinks. They have 21 restaurants to choose from on the property, with all different kinds of cuisine from tacos and pizza to Mediterranean and Indian. My fave food spots were: Neptunes, Sky, and Barefoot by the Sea. Oh, and iced coffee and pastries from Cafe de Paris. Also loved the mac and cheese truck, Mr Mac, by the kids waterpark and Curls and Swirls for ice cream (get the coconut one – yum).
All of us stayed in the Key West village of the resort, which has a laid-back, beachy vibe. Yes please. Jeff, Hayes, and I were in a one bedroom Key West suite that had a full kitchen, stackable washer and dryer (which was super convenient for washing clothes – especially with a baby that seems to dirty up laundry like it’s his job), a king size bed PLUS a twin daybed with a trundle in the living room, and a huge patio with outdoor seating.
I’m typically not someone who needs a giant hotel room to be happy because we rarely spend a ton of time in the room anyway on a trip. BUT now that we have a baby , I suddenly realized how crucial it is to have room to sprawl out because of Hayes’ naps (needed somewhere to go in another room while he naps), all the bottles we are constantly making (full size fridge comes in handy here), a patio space (for late night guacamole and friend hangs after the baby goes to bed), etc, etc. All this vacation with a baby stuff is still kind of new to me, so if I’m stating the obvious forgive me. It’s not something I even thought about until we arrived, but once we were there I was like THIS IS AMAZING AND EXACTLY WHAT WE NEEDED.
As you may have guessed from what I’ve mentioned so far, I’m pretty much good to go just relaxing by one of the (many) pools or floating in the ocean on trips like these. BUT we also made time for some activities around the resort. My fave? All the girls did drift away massages one day toward the end of the trip and then hung out in one of the plunge pools at the Red Lane Spa for a few hours. I always try and squeeze in a massage on vacation if I can…it’s one of my favorite things to do and feels like such a luxury…and it totally is! But the plunge pool chats are why I love these girls so much and will go on family trips with them for as long as they’ll let me.
There are lots of stuff for kids to do too, FYI – including a waterpark, a kids camp (which is included as part of the all-inclusive), and a whole lot of Sesame Street activities where you can interact with the characters. Again, all included. For an extra fee, which was super reasonable, you can also book a babysitter that can come to your room and watch any kiddos so you can go doing something fun on your own.
We took advantage of this one of the days and it was really nice to have a little bit of time to ourselves where we weren’t trading off on who was watching Hayes. It was also one of the few times that all the adults got to hang out together without any little ones chiming in. And I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty great. Kids are awesome, really they are, but you know what else is awesome? Silence. Haha. Having a little time away from kids when you’re on a family vacation is kinda important if you want to feel relaxed, even if it’s brief.
Most of the time though, we all hung out together as a giant group, pool and restaurant-hopping and it was really, really fun. All the older kids got along so well and played together. We mostly pushed Hayes around in his Doona (carseat and compact stroller in one that I got a zillion questions about on stories during this trip) when we were walking around the different villages and then when we’d stop, we’d get him out to play and the kids would come over and hold his hand or play with a toy (which he loved). I can’t wait for him to get a little older so he can interact with everyone a little more. Even now, just a couple weeks later as I’m writing this, he’s doing so many more things than he was on the trip – fully sitting up on his own without falling over, eating purees, blah, blah, blah. How do babies grow so fast?! It’s kind of nuts.
Anyway, now that I’m speaking in cliches, I feel the need to wrap this up. So here are all the photos I took in sunny Turks and Caicos. Thank you so much Beaches for having us!
Have any questions about all-inclusive or Turks and Caicos that I can answer for you? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.
This post is in partnership with Beaches Turks and Caicos. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Paper and Stitch running.