Caribbean for kids: Michelle Heaton’s family trip to Jamaica is a real Sesame treat!
I love Jamaica. I’ve been quite a few times and it’s my favourite place for a holiday. On previous trips to the Caribbean isle I’ve stayed in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay and this was my first time in Negril.
The Beaches all-inclusive resort there is a wonderful-looking low-rise establishment on the famous Seven Mile Beach, which often turns up on lists of the best beaches in the world. It’s a great place from which to enjoy the beautiful and dramatic sunsets; there are lovely white sands and deep-blue sea – the sort that you seem to find only in the Caribbean.
Sun, sand and fur: Michelle, Hugh and Faith lark around on the beach with the Sesame Street characters
There is so much on offer at Beaches. The resort has three pools (and a huge Pirates Island Waterpark), six bars, a big Red Lane Spa and a nightclub. It runs lots of activities aimed at children – not really for children as young as my daughter, Faith, but my husband Hugh and I knew that there was always something for her to do or see.
This is what appealed about staying here. Holidaying with the baby was a new experience for us.
We are slowly coming to terms with the fact we have a young daughter now, so we have to think about what is best for her whenever we go away. Had we been coming to Jamaica as a couple, we would probably have chosen to stay at a Sandals resort but that’s for couples only – not couples with a baby in tow.
New friends: Faith meets a Sesame Street star
Faith’s almost two so we had to plan things carefully to make sure that the holiday would be a success for her too. At Beaches we knew that we could expect plenty of help looking after her and entertaining her – there’s round-the-clock family support at the resort, which was great.
This was our second long-haul trip with Faith. We took her to Los Angeles last March and that proved to be quite hard work. We thought that just because we had a young child it didn’t mean that we couldn’t carry on enjoying the sort of holidays we’d always liked – doing exactly what Mummy and Daddy wanted to do, leaving Faith to just tag along.
We quickly realised that we were never going to be happy unless Faith was happy. There was a sudden awareness that we’re a family and it’s not just two people. So, that was a bit of a shock to the system.
Faith needs her nap times and being away from home you can see she doesn’t really like the unfamiliarity of a new environment. She quickly relaxed at Beaches though and enjoyed the surroundings and became accustomed to familiar faces – she quickly got into the flow of things.
We were anxious about how quickly she would settle down because she didn’t sleep very well on the Virgin flight to Jamaica from London. Towards the end of the flight, we had a bout of screaming. Virgin put all the families in the same section of the plane, which seems like a good idea. But it also meant that one crying baby could set off another one, which is what happened – for a whole hour. It was quite funny.
Idyllic: The Beaches all-inclusive resort is located on the famous Seven Mile Beach
On our first full day at Beaches, Faith encountered the resort’s Sesame Street characters. She was so excited – and we knew that everything would be OK. The characters were throughout the resort all the time and there were a lot of Sesame Street-themed activities, where you went to meet the characters and they read stories – and every evening they put on a stage show for half an hour with song and dance routines. Even though Faith had never previously seen Sesame Street, she got straight into it.
For children slightly older than Faith – for four or five year olds – there were loads of other activities such as colouring books or beach games. I was impressed with how many activities there were. They cater for every age group.
If we wanted some time for ourselves, we were able to leave Faith in the crèche but we didn’t do this very often and never for very long. I left her there only for a little bit and we ate with her at every mealtime. Some of the other parents choose to leave their children longer and there’s an option for them to be fed as well, but I picked Faith up and we all dined together.
Digging in: The resort’s butler can even help with building sandcastles
We didn’t really venture off the resort property, there was no need to go anywhere. Besides I’ve seen all the sights here – my favourite is the Dunn’s River Falls near Ocho Rios.
The holiday was excellent value. You pay one flat fee and everything is included. There’s top-notch accommodation and brilliant food – you can have anything you want, at any point in the day. You don’t need to take your wallet anywhere and there’s no tipping – it’s just brilliant. And it’s perfect for people with a young family. You are never sure with children when they will want to eat – or even what they want to eat. But at Beaches there is so much food to choose from, whatever the time of day.
Faith soon became a big fan of the ice cream, which kept her very happy! Another great facility is the butler service: it’s like having your own version of Downton Abbey’s Bates on hand to help you. Your butler will even come and help you to pack and unpack – I declined the offer: I couldn’t have anybody touching my clothes or make-up, I wouldn’t ask anybody to do that. God knows what he’d find!
We’re all sold on the Beaches concept now and I would go back like a shot. I’m pregnant at the moment – the baby is due in March – and I think when this one is around Faith’s age and she’s about four, we’ll do another one. I might try the Beaches resort in Turks & Caicos next time – I’ve heard that’s amazing, so fingers crossed we’ll be able to go there.
Seven nights at Beaches Negril Resort and Spa on a Luxury Included® (all-inclusive) basis costs from £1,699 per adult and £1,019 per child for travel between May-June and includes return flights and transfers. Visit Beaches Resorts (beachesresorts.co.uk) or call 0800 597 0002. No. 1 Traveller Lounge passes for London Gatwick cost £22.50 per adult and £12.50 per child. Visit no1traveller.com.