Whenever you visit a new destination, you'll want to find out everything you can about the resort so you do not miss out on any fun. Returning guests know all the tricks and tips to get the best reservations and pool spots before other guests figure it out. Are you excited but nervous about the details of your first Beaches vacation? As they say in Jamaica, "no problem!" We are bringing you our best Beaches Resorts insider tips so we can share secrets that level the playing field when planning and getting the most out of your Beaches vacation. You can arrive prepared and ready to jump into the fun!
Beaches Resorts Insider Tips
Want to know what to do as soon as you arrive, what to bring and when to sign up for activities or meals? Is butler service really worth the extra cost? It's all here in our Beaches Resorts insider tips!
Research the Distance to and from the Airport
Once you land at your destination, you are ready for fun! But be aware that some Beaches Resorts are a quick 20-minute trip from the airport to the resort — such as Turks and Caicos — while the Jamaican resorts each are at least an 80-minute drive. It's about setting expectations. No matter which location you choose, Beaches provides the transportation, so that’s one less thing to worry about. To arrange your included airport travel, provide your flight information when completing the online check-in form. Car seats are not required to travel to the resorts, but you can request one by emailing special services at email@example.com.
Use Discounts to Get the Best Deal
Are you still looking to book your Beaches vacation? Use all of the sales and promotions you can to get the best deal on your tropical family vacay. We Caribbean amphibians are here to help with that soon! If you are a returning guest or have stayed at a Sandals Resort, or if you are a Sandals Select Rewards member, you may be eligible for further discounts. You can often lock in the best price by booking early.
Consider Upgrading to Concierge or Butler Service
These room levels do cost more than basic luxury rooms. With concierge service (available at all three Beaches locations), your upgraded service begins at check-in. You'll have access to the Concierge Lounge and even special cocktail parties. Your concierge will assist you with reservations around the resort.
Butler service (available at Negril and Turks and Caicos) comes with high-end accommodations. Your butler will make your life worry-free before you even arrive until it's time to check out. He or she can secure pool or beach chairs and serve you drinks and lunch by the pool. He or she can help with unpacking and pressing clothes or treating your family to special dinner tables, bubble baths and room service.
Pick the Best Time to Visit
Timing is everything! You may want to book off-season to save money and enjoy a less crowded resort. However, if you feed off the energy of other guests and want more of a party atmosphere, then the peak season (December to mid-April) may be for you. The peak season is also the perfect time to escape colder climates in winter. You might also want to time your journey just right to attend Jamaican festivals. Negril has a Bob Marley Birthday Bash in February, as well as Jerkfest in November and the Reggae Marathon, which passes right by the resort, in December. Montego Bay hosts Sumfest, one of the world's largest reggae music festivals, in July.
Plan Ahead for Activities
Each resort will have special activities for families. While you'll receive a detailed itinerary when you check in, it helps to know ahead of time what you may want to participate in for packing purposes. Here’s a look at the type of weekly entertainment you might experience at your resort. This way, you can pack the perfect outfit to match the theme or schedule your dining or other plans around it.
Negril Weekly Events
Events may be subject to change, but here is a sample of the weekly events in Negril:
- Sunday - Reggae Night and Karaoke
- Monday - Jamaica Day & Manager’s Meet and Greet
- Tuesday - Sandals Select Cocktails
- Wednesday - Beaches Festival of the Arts
- Thursday - Sesame Street Carnival Parade and Caribbean Carnival Beach Party
- Friday - White Night (Dress in White) and Chocolate Buffet
- Saturday - International Night
Ocho Rios Weekly Events
- Sunday - White Night and Chocolate Buffet
- Monday - Jamaica Day
- Tuesday - Festival of the Arts (Talent Show)
- Wednesday - Carnival Street Party
- Thursday - Reggae Fest
- Friday - Caribbean Beach Party
- Saturday - Family Fiesta
Turks and Caicos Weekly Events
- Monday - Manager’s Jamboree (for families) and Sesame Street Character Dining Breakfast (for a fee)
- Wednesday - Sandals Select Luncheon (for families)
- Tuesday Evenings - Sesame Street Live Parade
- Thursday - Sesame Street Character Dining Breakfast (for a fee)
- Daily - Sesame Street activities, including The Beaches Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street
- Weekly - Shows: There are four Creativiva musical theatre productions that bring to life acrobatic performances, singing, dancing, acting and technology
Sesame Street Character Breakfasts are an additional charge at Turks and Caicos. Book those in advance, as well as any other Sesame Street add-ons (such as photo sessions or having characters tuck your tadpoles into bed).
Know the Drinking Ages
The drinking age is 18 in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos. That means your older teens and younger college students may be able to drink on vacation even if they cannot drink at home. You'll want to prepare your kids with a talk about drinking responsibly at a resort that has all the drinks included.
Sign up for Scuba Lessons, Tours and Excursions Before Your Visit
If you are new to scuba, you can sign up for an introductory course (for a fee) before your trip. Consider signing kids up for bubblemakers if they have an interest in scuba. You experienced divers can skip the course, but you should visit the dive shop to schedule your dives for the week as soon as you arrive for the best availability.
If you want to explore the surrounding area, you can sign up for tours and excursions before your trip. These cost extra and vary per resort.
Hop over to the vacation extras page to book tours, spa, packages, scuba and other extras. If your arrival date is less than three days away, call 1-888-BEACHES for assistance.
Contact the Resort Regarding Food Allergies
Another thing you should do before your visit is alert the resort of any dietary restrictions and allergies. Once booking is completed, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking number in the subject line. A representative can provide alternative menus and talk to the resort on your behalf. Upon arrival, arrangements can be made to speak the head chef.
What to Bring on Your Beaches Vacation
Even though everything you need is included in your vacation, bring some spending money for souvenirs (although cash is not accepted at gift shops), butler tips (it’s the only tipping that’s allowed besides spa therapists), spa treatments, photo packages and more. The resorts and shops take U.S. dollars, but you may receive change in the local currency. You can exchange dollars at the on-site exchange bureau. In Jamaica, bring golf money for a golf caddy (about $15) and golf cart (about $40) if you're hoping to hit the green.
Don't leave important travel documents at home! You'll need passports that are valid for the time of entry and exit for travel to Jamaica. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry into Turks and Caicos. Since children's passports expire every five years, that expiration may come up quickly.
Sun Protection and Bug Repellant
You’ll want that reef-safe, water-resistant sunscreen, UV wear, hats, sunglasses, UV swim goggles and water shoes to protect your family's skin. Apply and reapply sunscreen, and use any available shade you can find. Don't froget lip SPF — sunburned and chapped lips are no fun. Croak! The Caribbean sun is very strong. You might want to use bug repellent in the evenings, especially during the rainy season, to avoid bug bites. We find it easy to travel with the repellant towelettes and bracelets.
Save money by bringing your own floaties for the pools and water parks. Life Jackets are provided for water sports. You can find life jackets at the water park, too, but the supply can be limited at peak times. If you have a toddler, life jacket arm floats or familiar floats with a perfect fit, and room in your luggage, you might want to bring them with you for peace of mind.
You might find it easier to bring a stroller (or rent one) for getting around a large resort, such as Turks and Caicos. That resort also has a mini-train to transport you around! Woot! Woot! Your shorter-legged froglets will enjoy hopping aboard.
Dive Cards and Seasickness Meds
If you are scuba certified, bring your dive cards with you. If you are attached to your equipment, you can bring it, but Beaches provides everything you need if you want to use the resort equipment. If you are prone to seasickness, don't froget to bring medication. Mommy Frog says meclizine works best if you take it the night before a dive so it has time to get into your system. When she takes her meds, she never gets sick.
Insulated Cup and Reusable Straws
You can keep the drinks cold on the hot beach and the seas free of plastic.
Nighttime Dining Attire
I once made the mistake of packing only shorts — and no long pants — when we visited Turks and Caicos. That meant we could not enjoy a few of the adults-only restaurants at night that had a dress code. You can look up each resort’s restaurants ahead of time to find out if there is a dress code. That means long pants and no flip flops for men, and dresses or nicer outfits for the ladies. A golf shirt and Dockers will do just fine. You do not have to get toadally fancy.
Here's a look at the Beaches dress codes:
- Resort Casual (daytime attire and some restaurants at night): Shorts or jeans, T–shirts or polo shirts. Swimwear must be covered. Shirts and footwear required.
- Resort Elegant (evening attire at some restaurants): Dress pants or jeans for men, long or short sleeve dress shirts (with or without collar). Wear dress shoes or sandals. No shorts, T–shirts, sleeveless shirts, sneakers, flip flops or slippers. No hats or caps.
While the sun is up, your shorts, tank tops, swimsuits, short-sleeved shirts, sundresses and light slacks are the perfect attire. As the sun sets and you set out to enjoy the evening, proper attire is required at some restaurants. Elegant dress shorts are permitted in some restaurants.
All of your meals and snacks are included in your stay. If you want more of anything or an extra serving, just ask! You can even order double dessert. No judgments if you head back for a second dinner.
Your Workout Clothes
Each resort has a fitness center with equipment and classes. We aren’t saying you have to work out on your vacation, but it’s nice to have the option, especially if you have been taking advantage of all of the included food and dessert!
Leave the Blow Dryer at Home
Hairdryers are in every room. You do not need to bring an electrical adapter. You can also leave beach towels home, as they're provided by the resort.
Things to Do Upon Arrival
Check Out the Pamphlet for Activities
Do you suffer from fear of missing out? Be sure to note all the activities and entertainment you want to experience when you arrive and schedule your time around the parades, shows and games. If you have small children, you'll definitely want to catch the Sesame Street parades and shows.
Make Dining Reservations
Not all restaurants take dining reservations, but a few do. Find out which restaurants are more in demand at your resort than others and reserve when you arrive. For example, Kimonos teppan table restaurant at Turks and Caicos has limited seating, so that's a good one to book right away.
Book Scuba Dives at the Dive Shop
Experienced divers can skip the resort course (unless you need a refresher), but you should visit the dive shop right away to schedule your dives for the week.
Use the Kids Club
It’s free babysitting and fun for newborns up to teens. Your kids can make friends and do activities just for them while you and your partner enjoy a quiet meal, a dive or some alone time.
Get an Early Spot at the Water Park
If you have a room with butler service, enlist your butler’s help in getting a front-row view of the action so you can keep an eye on the tadpoles. We do not want to create anxiety, but if you do not have a butler, secure chairs with your desired view early if that is important to you.
Borrow a Board Game
If you want some quiet family time, borrow some board games from the front desk.
Raid the Minifridge
You know how you might keep the tadpoles out of the minibar at other resorts due to price? Let them go for it at Beaches, because the minibar is all included, with sodas for the kids and beer and wine for the adults. Concierge rooms have liquors, and rooms with butler service have full bars with premium spirits.
Know the Checkout Time
Checkout is at 11 a.m. If you have a later flight, keep a backpack with essentials and hand off luggage with the resort and enjoy the property until it is time to leave. You can use a departure lounge to clean up and wash up before heading to the airport.
Hopfully, these Beaches Resorts insider tips have you feeling pretty good about what you need to do to make your vacation frogtastically fun! If you have any further questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below and we will jump in to find the answers.