Paris Permenter & John Bigley's
Caribbean Family Tripper travel guide

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Hideaways International's Top Family Getaways

Lists are always fun...you can compare your own favorites and also pick up some ideas for new getaways. Here's a list we received from Hideaways International of their top Caribbean family resorts.

Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia

Situated on the Northwest point of St. Lucia, this tropical 60-acre resort includes spectacular ocean views, private luxury accommodations and spacious villa living. Villas come in a range of styles and provide the best option for families to spend time together. All have ocean views, air conditioning, fully equipped kitchens, and decks or terraces; many even have their own private plunge pools.

For Kids: Windjammer's Jacquot Fun Club (named after the island bird) offers an assortment of entertaining activities-crafts, nature walks, tennis lessons, snorkeling, and more. For Parents: Golf nearby, or treat yourself to a massage or facial at the Serenity Spa. The entire family can enjoy horseback riding, daily excursions, water sports galore, and dining to suit every taste.

Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic

At "the Caribbean's most complete resort," you could stay in one of the guest rooms or suites, but the two- to six-bedroom villas with personal maid/butler service, private patios with pools, and space to really spread out, are the real treats. And with 7,000 acres of Caribbean playground to cover, you'll appreciate the 4-passenger touring cart included with every room and villa.

For Kids: Fun supervised activities for all ages--parties for teens, swimming & treasure hunts for younger kids, puppet shows for toddlers-to name just a few. For Parents: Three Peter Dye-designed golf courses; shopping; spa treatments & massages; gourmet dining options for every taste; and nannies to allow parents a little play time of their own.

Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Reached only by boat, the Bitter End stretches along a mile of beach and waterfront on North Sound, and has been the vacation destination for watersports enthusiasts for over 25 years. A winning combination of island-casual comfort, class, and camaraderie create the perfect playground for a memorable family retreat. On-shore accommodations give you plenty of places to anchor, including beachfront villas, secluded bungalow suites on the hill, and even a grand estate house.

For Kids: The Junior Watersports Program teaches kids how to snorkel, windsurf and sail in well supervised and fun sessions. Or they can learn sand painting, join guided walks, or take part in storytelling and snorkeling trips. For Parents: Climb on a windsurfer or sign up for a snorkeling or scuba excursion. Learn to sail a Sunfish or commandeer a larger boat and test your skill in a regatta. Enjoy the catch of the day on a deep-sea or bone-fishing charter.

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire

Bonaire is a famous dive destination and this hideaway is no less famous among those in the know for the way it protects and pampers its guests. Palm trees and lush landscaping shade the buildings that overlook a white beach. Each room, done in Caribbean nautical style, opens onto a courtyard or the marina, while the suites claim beachfront views and private terraces.

For Kids: Various snorkel and dive programs offered through Bonaire's Marine Education Center teach kids about the marine environment--fish, corals, sea creatures--in a safe and fun atmosphere. For Parents: Snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing, waterskiing, expansive fitness center, four lighted tennis courts, and yoga; after your on-site scuba training, dive to the wreck off the beach.

The Buccaneer, St. Croix (USVI)

A standout on quiet St. Croix, this family-run, full-service resort commands a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean. Accommodations are clustered in several distinct areas--the plantation-style Great House, two-bedroom family cottages on the hillside above the beach, oceanfront suites and rooms tucked between two of the resort's three beaches, and the ultra-luxurious Doubloons, a cluster of villas perched above Mermaid Beach. Kids' camp, nature trails, a full spa--all part of the package--are offered with a warm charm that keeps devotees coming back year after year.

For Kids: Full daily breakfast, kayaking, snorkeling, basketball, beach volleyball, and beachside ping pong. Kids ages 4 to 12 can also learn about geckos, or try kite flying, fishing, or other beach activities.

For Parents: Name your desire. Golf? The resort has its own course. Tennis? Eight courts and a resident pro. Water sports? Snorkel off the beach or arrange a scuba trip to Buck Island. Dining? Your choice of four excellent restaurants.

Villas, Villas, Villas

Sometimes only a home-away-from-home will do. The advantages? Space, privacy, and conveniences like a kitchen to whip up the kids' favorite meals, extra bedrooms for breathing room, and the ability to do what you want, when you want (like take a midnight dip in the pool). By the way, extra bedrooms make it easier to bring a nanny or babysitter on the trip with you . . . which means you might just have a relaxing summer vacation after all! If you want a totally carefree villa experience, consider one of the many staffed villa options available in the Caribbean.


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