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

Your guide to Caribbean family vacations from a husband-wife team of professional travel writers and guidebook authors.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pirate Fun at Jamaica's Sunset Beach Resort & Spa

It's this summer's runaway success: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest has made away with hearts and imaginations everywhere, and Sunset Beach Resort & Spa knows just how you can have your own Jack Sparrow adventure. Patch and sword are optional, but bathing suits are a must! With slides and rides and twists and turns and a Caribbean Pirate's Paradise Water Park is a splashing good time for kids of all ages!

Two shooting waterslides--a whopping 240 feet in length and 40 feet high--and a Pirate Ship add to the excitement. The little one's section with its very own club house, swimming pool and slide keeps both tots and parents happy; add two rooftop Jacuzzis, Blackbeard's Lazy River, waterfalls, splashes and squirts and it's a vacation for the whole family.

Family Package: Looking for treasure? Sunset Beach has a deal that's golden: all pirates ages 12 and under stay free during the months of September, October and November! [Good during the months of September, October and November. Applies to bookings taken August 1 thru August 21. Blackout Dates & Restrictions apply.]

Pirates older than 12 need not quiver in their boots--there's plenty to do for the 'older' set! The Pirate's Cove Teen Center is located right alongside the waterpark, with arcade games, pool tables and nonstop reggae music. Littler ones have their very own Club Mongoose, with a disco stage for special events and fully supervised activities and entertainment. And it's all complimentary.

For more information:
• call 800-234-1707 in the US and Canada
• visit www.sunsetbeachresort.com

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.

Are You Considering a Spring Break Vacation?

If you are considering a trip to the Caribbean next March or April, be sure to read this first! The Caribbean will be hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup next spring, an event expected to draw over 100,000 visitors during March and April. It's a great opportunity for the islands...but it also means a lot of demand for airlift and often higher hotel prices during the match weeks.

Just where will the matches be held? Matches are scheduled for Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Trinidad. Check the Cricket World Cup for more on the schedule.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Puerto Rico Photo Gallery

We've started a new feature here at CaribbeanFamilyTripper.com: photo galleries! We've just added a Puerto Rico photo gallery with shots from San Juan and the surrounding region. (Click on any thumbnail to see a full-size version of the photos then, from that point, click on the "fast forward" button in the upper right corner to view the whole gallery as a slideshow.)

Discovery Cruise Line Announces Hurricane Policy

Discovery Cruise Line, the largest tour operator from South Florida to Grand Bahama Island, has announced its hurricane policy.

The policy provides that "In the event of a hurricane watch or warning being posted by the National Hurricane Center for Southeast Florida or the Northern Bahamas during the time of your travel, you may cancel or rebook
your trip without penalty."

The policy also says, "Any passengers vacationing on the island during the posting of a hurricane watch or warning who may wish to return from the island earlier than originally booked are welcome to do so without penalty (based on space availability)."

About Discovery Cruise Line: Discovery sails daily from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to GrandBahama Island, departing at 7:45 am and returning at 10 pm. Discovery offers same day roundtrip cruises as well as cruise and stay vacation packages at most of the island's hotels, including Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya, Viva Wyndham Fortuna, Port Lucaya Resort and Yacht Club and Pelican Bay at Lucaya, among others.

Except for the all-inclusive Wyndham resort, kids under 6 cruise and stay free at their Bahamas resort and kids under 12 pay $49 for the cruise and stay free at their Bahamas resort. And, teens under 17 pay $89.99 for the roundtrip cruise. The cruise prices do not include a $25 per person Bahamian Departure Fee and fuel surcharge or a $10 per person security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Fee.

For more information:
• call 1-800-93-SHIPS
• visit www.discoverycruise.com

Marriott Vacation Club Adding St. Kitts

Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott's vacation ownership division, has announced its first resort on St. Kitts. Planning to open January 2007, Marriott's St. Kitts Beach Club will be located on-property with the AAA Four Diamond St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino. The new club will include 88 two- and three-bedroom villas ranging in price from $16,400 to $69,500 per week, depending on season and floor plan selected.

Our family once had the opportunity to stay at a Marriott Vacation Club in Aruba and found them a real family favorite. Since travelers own the same week every year, the friends children make one year will likely be vacationing there the same time next year, a definite family-friendly feature.


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