In one Hallmark vision of a multigenerational Caribbean vacation —identified as the top family travel trend by Virtuoso — mom and dad are sipping fruity drinks by the pool while grandma and grandpa keep watch over the kids splashing in the pool. It’s an appealing tableau, and surely one that plays out in real life. But the reality of a tropical vacation with the extended family is a little more complex.
First and foremost, Baby Boomer grandparents aren’t necessarily going to be content to be glorified babysitters the whole trip. They want to have activities of their own. So planning a multigenerational trip doesn’t mean just finding a resort that has room for the whole family, but also plenty of activities, whether it’s family time or the ability for kids, parents, and grandparents to go their separate ways.
Mexico’s Hotel Xcaret and its affiliated adventure parks on the Riviera Maya, for example, breaks multigenerational vacations down by age, touting the Children’s World attraction at Xcaret Park and the Xiquillos Kids Club at the resort for kids under age 12, snorkeling and zip lining at Xel-ha Park for teens, whitewater rafting at Xavage Park for young adults, in-park nightlife and dining for adults, and spa services for seniors.
Many of these attractions also have appeal across age groups, and the hotel’s Xiiapal Teen/Family Club is designed to bring families together for activities like pool, air hockey, and foosball.
Among the factors that play into the Caribbean’s appeal as a multigenerational travel destination, two stand out: The region has more all-inclusive resorts than anywhere else, and it has an excellent stock of luxury villas that can accommodate everything from parents and kids to grandparents, cousins, and more.
All-Inclusives: All in for Families
All-Inclusive resorts are increasingly dominant in destinations like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and the Mexican Caribbean, offering cost-certainty to families and increasing brand familiarity, as major resort chains like Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott add all-inclusive programs of their own in the region. In December 2019, for example, Hyatt opened the twin all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cap Canaand Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana resorts in the Dominican Republic, touting the combined 750-room resorts “ideal for large gatherings and multigenerational travelers” with both teen and kids’ clubs, a water park, spa, cooking lessons, and painting classes.
The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa, a luxury all-inclusive that opened last year in Costa Mujeres near Cancun, offers Family Selection, an “elevated experience for families” with a dedicated family host, and in-suite amenities like cookies and milk turndown service.
Beaches all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos offer a range of fun for kids of every age with waterparks, kid’s clubs and a nightclub for teens.
Elite Island Resorts offer a choice of family-friendly and all-inclusive resorts. In Antigua, The Verandah Resort and Spa and St. James Club and Villas cater to guests of all ages. Kids are also warmly welcomed at the St. James Club in St. Lucia.
A just-completed renovation of the Club Med Caravelle also focused on family and multigenerational travel, expanding its children’s programming to include a new Baby Club that provides care and play for children from 4 months to 23 months old, a new water play park for adults and kids, and a new spa and Zen Oasis pool area.
Club Med’s new Amazing Family all-inclusive vacation program features five categories of activities: Time to Splash, focusing on “water fun,” Time to Play, such as giant-sized family board games; Time to Quest, solving mysteries and challenges as a family; Time to Recharge, relaxing activities for all ages, like family yoga classes; and Happy Family Time, ways for parents and children to participate in sports and activities together, like family trapeze classes and pickleball games.
“Our goal with the new Amazing Family program is to encourage families to put their phones down, disconnect from everyday stressors, and reconnect with their families to create lasting memories,” said Sabrina Cendral, vice president of marketing and digital for Club Med North America.
Villas: Making Space for Everyone
For villa vacations, it’s not just size that matters, but layout. At the Beach Enclave Turks & Caicos, a private villa resort, the four to six bedroom villas were specifically designed with multigenerational travelers in mind: each has two master suites, allowing both parents and grandparents (or two sets of grandparents) to have their own space.
Hotels have always been challenged to accommodate extended families: multigenerational travel at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino — popular because of its 8,000-square-foot pool complex — has been on the rise, so connecting rooms ”are always the first ones to sell out, along with the family suites,” according to a hotel spokesperson.
One way that hotels have responded to the trend is by adding their own villas: the Rosewood Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas, for example, recently debuted a six-bedroom, 6,200-square-foot beachfront villa with dedicated butler service and a pre-stocked kitchen pantry. The resort also has added Rosewood Explorers, a children’s program that focuses on immersive cultural experiences, such as Junkanoo dance parties and biology programs at the resort’s marine sanctuary.
Article featured in JAX FAX Magazine.