Because adolescents are no longer children, they often want to assert their independence. However, they’re not mature adults, either, so parents may balk at giving them too much independence. So how to keep everyone happy on a family vacation? The following Caribbean resorts provide solutions via well-designed programs for kids at that half-child, half-adult stage of life.
All rates below are for two parents with an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old teenager sharing a room the week of July 13-20, 2019, and are inclusive of taxes. Of course, everyone may be happier with two connecting rooms.
Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas
It’s not hard to keep teens happy at this megaresort, what with the Aquaventure Atlantis Bahamas Waterpark and the endless aquariums. However, the fun doesn’t stop there. The 14,000-sq.-ft. Crush Teen Club features an Internet lounge, pool, foosball, a gaming stadium with 24 consoles and Xbox/PlayStation everything, private gaming cabanas, a mocktail bar and snack stand,
and a dance floor with a live DJ. What’s more, Crush can accommodate 650 people. Families may enjoy the facility from 4 to 8 p.m. ($50 for a family of four), but from 8 to midnight this supervised scene is for teens only ($25 p.p.).
Summer rates for our family of four start at $2,570 per week in the Beach hotel. Just $550 more ($3,120 per week) nets a room at the just-renovated Coral.
Beaches: All Properties
Teens enjoy not just land and non-motorized watersports but scuba diving. In Xbox Play Lounge the whole family can play controller-free games, but the Trench Town teens club is just for them. Trench Town offers electronic basketball setups and laser-hockey, and its graffiti murals, concert posters, and Sirius Satellite Radio immerse teens in a hip, only-in-the-islands environment. At night it’s teens only at Club Liquid, a South Beach-style dance club. For an extra charge, the new Ginger Lilly program at the Red Lane Spa features treatments, cool nail laquers and all, just for teens. (Beaches Ocho Rios resort also includes 20 hours of golf instruction for teens.)
Finally, this is unique: Beaches’ Island Impact Volunt-teenism program gives high school students an opportunity to earn community service hours by giving back to the islands they are visiting. For example, adolescents who participate in a Sandals Foundation Reading Road Trip help children with reading comprehension at a local school. At press time the family of four could get a Caribbean Grande Luxe Suite Double at Beaches Ocho Rios for $5,545 per week.
Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
The Club Med CREACTIVE experience with Cirque du Soleil at the Punta Cana property is, as you know, a dream for teens of all ages. Cirque performers teach skills such as tightrope walking, flying trapeze, acrobatic bungee, aerial silks, trampoline acrobatics, mask painting, make-up, and juggling. If anything, CREACTIVE is so appealing that you might almost forget to tell clients about the Club Med Passworld Teen Clubs (ages 11-17). Passworld offers contemporary spaces just for adolescents and a range of G.O.-led activities: tennis, archery, sailing, windsurfing, dancing, shows, art projects, hiking, picnics, camping, movie nights, and beach parties.
The Family Club Room in July 2019 starts at $4,735 per week, including the $180 Club Med membership fee.
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, St. Lucia
The Teen Activity Program at Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa only operates during the summer and Christmas and Easter weeks, but of course, that’s when most families with teens go there. Daytime activities include kayak races and a beach Olympics, “water wars” pool games, a waterpark obstacle course challenge, a greenhouse tour, a hike to Quarry Hill for selfies and Facebook Live moments, a paint ball target challenge, and an introduction to kite surfing.
Other activities include a glow party and hay ride, a party at the Jerk Tree House, a country lime, a weekly Tribute to the Stars and Talent Night, and a reggae beach party with a bonfire. These events fill Sundays through Fridays, and for Saturdays teens can sign up for the carnival parade that kicks off a Caribbean Theme Night Poolside Dinner and Show. Summer 2019 rates for our family start at $1,935 per week.
Dreams Resorts, Dominican Republic
Teenagers will find a lot to like at any of the Dreams Resorts & Spas, but for now, let’s focus on three Dominican properties: Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa, Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, and Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa. At all three the Core Zone Teens Club (for ages 13-17) offers Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, pool, and foosball, etc. Outdoors, a Dreams Entertainment Team organizes sports, games, and other activities for teens. Moreover, every night the Core Zone hosts supervised teen socials.
Summer 2019 rates for our family of four start at $3,530 per week at Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa; $1,990 per week at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana; and $2,090 per week at Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa.
Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa, Dominican Republic
Bavaro Suites has 672 suites, and teens staying at the Grand Palladium Punta Cana Resort & Spa and the Grand Palladium Palace Resort Spa & Casino also use Bavaro Suites’ teen facilities, so this is the place for adolescents who like to mix and mingle. The Black & White Junior Club for ages 13-17 has a teens-only lounge where adolescents play video games, pool, table tennis, and foosball, and have access to computers. The staff lures them outdoors with contests, sports, and other activities. The teens also get to stage musicals, attend parties, and croon karaoke.
July 2019 rates at Bavaro Suites start at approximately $1,875 per week for our quartet, but they should, at the very least, upgrade to a Family Master Junior Suite: $1,935 per week.
Jewel Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Although the name of Jewel Runaway Bay’s teen program—Fossils—sounds like that of a senior citizens’ club, it is anything but. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8 to 11 p.m. counselors offer activities such as snorkeling, photography, running an obstacle course, lounging at a mocktail bar, cooking, laser tag, staging a toga fashion show, gathering ‘round a bonfire…. With options like this, any adolescent would be happy to stay in that sweet spot between childhood and adulthood.
Rates for summer 2019 were not yet available at press time; our family’s rates would have started at about $3,850 per week this summer, so figure $4,000 for a week in
Sunscape Resort, Spa & Casino, Curacao
We’re focusing on the Sunscape in Curacao here, but this property’s offerings are also applicable to other Sunscape Resorts. The Core Zone Teens Club keeps teens ages 13-17 engaged from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with activities that include swinging like Didi Gregorius in a batting cage, watersports, archery, Euro-bungee, board games, PlayStation, camping adventures, socials, and karaoke nights. Moreover, Curacao is ideal for families who want to explore an island beyond the resort’s gates: Willemstadt offers history, architectural marvels, and museums, while the rest of the island has Instagram-worthy landscapes and beaches, and excellent snorkeling. Also, Curacao lies south of the hurricane belt: another plus for summer vacations.
Summer 2019 rooms for our quartet start at $3,822 per week. For a step up in luxury, also see the teen programs at AMResorts’ Now properties.
Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas: atlantisbahamas.com
Beaches Resorts: beaches.com
Club Med Punta Cana: clubmed.us
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa: cbayresort.com
Dreams Resorts: dreamsresorts.com
Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites Resort & Spa: palladiumhotelgroup.com
Jewel Runaway Bay: jewelresorts.com
Sunscape Resort, Spa & Casino, Curacao: sunscaperesorts.com/curacao