This is the Beaches Turks and Caicos review you’ll see nowhere else as it’s based in clear eyed reality. The topic of me visiting Beaches generated some interesting questions and a constructive discussion that I want to address. Now that I’ve discussed my biased point of view before visiting and given my birds-eye view of all-inclusive resorts I’m ready to share my thoughts on Beaches Turks and Caicos. Today’s review will focus on the resort experience. Part 2 focuses on the dollars and cents. Make sure you take a good look at the dollars and cents!
In a word: stunning. We had a chance to chat with Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals/Beaches, where he mentioned the company’s ability to scout locations that stand out and “Sandalize” the properties. Based on Beaches T&C, I believe it! The sand was powder-fine, the water transparent and the entire area completely unpolluted. I didn’t see a single cigarette butt, bottle cap, or even a piece of seaweed.
Also excellent. Beaches is much larger than I expected with 4 distinct “Villages”, each with its own pools, restaurants, and amenities. Constant upkeep shows and I didn’t see any peeling paint or rust, which in the tropics can be a constant battle. They hit the marks on my pet peeves:
- Garden view rooms really do face “gardens”, not parking lots.
- Beach and pool chairs are of high quality, with padding, and during my visit were plentiful. I’d be curious to see how they get in high season.
- The loudest areas of the resort (waterpark, disco) are kept in an area apart from guest rooms.
My experience with the rooms is a bit biased as I was upgraded to a 1 bedroom suite in the newest village (see picture). The suites also come with washer/dryers and fully stocked fridges. I spoke with others in the Italian Village who enjoyed their rooms as well. The Caribbean Village rooms are the oldest in the resort and tend to be tied with the French as the least expensive. With what I saw of upkeep in the public areas I’d have no problem with an older room. The French Village is a bit farther back from the beach and is nearest the waterpark and disco so I’d probably stick to the Caribbean.
One of my questions was room quality and I was pleasantly surprised that so many categories of rooms were available all the way up to 4 bedrooms (I saw one, it was incredible). They also got right another pet peeve: high thread count sheets.
In general, excellent. Check-in is personalized and deskless. The transfer process to and from the airport is seamless. The waiters had me saying “Thank you, Linus” before my diet cokes were drained. Rooms are refreshed twice a day. Special shout-outs to the singing chefs at Kimono’s steakhouse and the DJ at Cricketeer’s Pub for the most rockin’ game of Bingo I’ve ever played.
Reader Mike asked about how the staff was treated. While I can’t be sure, I think you can judge how service industry employees are treated by how they treat their guests and by how stringently they adopt company policy. By that mark, Beaches employees must be treated well as I tried 4 times to tip 4 separate staff members and was politely rebuffed each time.
Also notable is the large number of employees I met worked for the company 10, 15, even 20 years. I find turnover to be rampant in the service industry so think that’s also an accurate gauge. I did mention that the optics surrounding diversity can be a challenge, but I find that to be industry wide and not specific to Beaches.
First the great: Neptune’s restaurant in Key West Village was my favorite for every meal of the day- and I tried all three. Between the low-key atmosphere (see top photo) to the fresh seafood to the terrific gazpacho, I didn’t eat anything at Neptune’s I didn’t want again.
Another good choice was sushi, either from Soy in the French Village at dinner or from Bayside at Key West at lunch. Bayside is a buffet which would prepare “to go” plates for your room or the beach: another bonus.
Kimono’s hibachi grill Japanese steakhouse is an absolute must do, as much for the presentation as the food. I won’t spoil it for you.
Others I didn’t have time to sample but heard especially good things: Cafe de Paris for crepes and croissants at breakfast, Barefoot at the Beach for super-fresh grilled fish.
The big miss for me (and others): Mario’s. The good news is that being all-inclusive you don’t have to finish any given meal and can just go somewhere else. The bad news is that I left one meal to find a different one!
Beaches serves good alcohol and is generous with the pours. Brands include Appleton 5-12 year rums, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire Gins, and Absolut flavored vodkas. You have to request your specific brand in a mixed drink- as in “Sapphire and tonic” or “Appleton (oldest you have) rum punch”- or you will end up with some random bottle you don’t recognize. Lots of good beers to choose from. I’d skip wine as Sandals has a partnership with Beringer. I’d call their house wine at about $7 a bottle.
A reader asked if unlimited alcohol led to a “drinking culture”. I saw absolutely no evidence that guests went crazy when the tab was lifted.
Availability of activities was one of my pre-trip concerns. I found it a lot less important once I got there. The beach and 10 pools including a huge waterpark will keep most plenty busy, not to mention that all-important afternoon nap.
However, I was right to have my warning flags raised. You have to get to the activities desk early to reserve what you want to do or risk missing out on the boat tours and other capacity controlled items. Another concern, especially on a shorter trip, is that the tides may not cooperate even though the weather looks fine. I was unable to snorkel because of murkiness under the sea although it was all sunshine above.
That said, they have a strong scuba program with full PADI backing. When my kids learn how to dive (and Deal Dad and I want to refresh since we haven’t been down since Deal Kid was born) I would definitely let the Beaches instructors teach. Also noteworthy is the special scuba program developed for kids as young as 8. Certification is extra ($90), but reasonable as the dives for certified divers are included.
The Kids Camp options at Beaches may be the #1 selling point, especially is you have kids under 6. They have certified nannies and take kids literally from birth–which I find amazing. Kids over 4 have camp open till 8 or 9 so the grownups can even have dinner after dark without hiring an in-room nanny. If you have an under-4, camp is open till 6. Might I suggest a long lunch?
The Sesame Street partnership could be huge if you have kids in the right demo. They even bring (extra but worth it) Grover to your room to come tuck you in at night! Included is the Sesame Street parade so even you will have plenty of chances to tickle Elmo.
Tweens and teens own their own set-aside X-box lounge and disco. However, I see the allure of camp fading about age 7 or so. By then they’ll be all about the waterpark.
I don’t mean this as a joke: if you have post partum depression, spend whatever it takes and get yourself to Beaches for a few days, even if it’s just you and the baby. You’ll get some sun and rest, the baby will be well taken care of during the day, and a light just might appear more quickly at the end of the tunnel.
I’m going to wrap up this Beaches Turks and Caicos review with a statistic. I mentioned earlier the impressive tenure of the staff. Equally impressive is the tenure of the guests: 40% have stayed at a Beaches/Sandals property. I arrived at Beaches a skeptic and even if I’ve not completely succumbed to the siren song of the 4 corner hammock yet, it’s clear they’re doing something right.