Kim Goldstein of Journeys Inc. // © 2016 Kim Goldstein
Feature image (above): Tour Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica with operator Island Routes Caribbean Adventures. // © 2016 iStock
Kim Goldstein, a manager and travel consultant with Journeys Inc., has long been passionate for two travel segments: tropical destinations and Disney vacations. In 2006, she joined Journeys as a Disney specialist. Since then, she has been recognized by multiple brands — Disney Destinations, Sandals and Beaches — for her incredible sales efforts and stellar customer service.
TravelAge West spoke with Goldstein about the Caribbean, a region she loves and sells regularly.
Travelers are drawn to the Caribbean for myriad reasons. What island do you prefer to send first-timers to?
The Caribbean is full of culture, languages, balmy weather and gorgeous blue water. Given that, it’s hard to pick a favorite island. They each have their own distinct culture and vibe.
That said, my family vacations in Turks and Caicos each summer. With the white sand and crystal-clear water, you can’t go wrong. The atmosphere is very laid back, it’s clean, and it’s extremely safe, with modern conveniences that are perfect for families. Resorts are close to the airport, and the main island is very easy to get around.
Once there, what accommodations fit families best?
Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages & Spa is the ultimate playground for families. Vast activity offerings include a large waterpark, an Xbox Play Lounge, on-property kids’ camps with “Sesame Street” characters and an extensive watersports program. While the kids are playing, parents and grandparents can visit Red Lane Spa, have a private candlelight dinner or go to Club Liquid, the resort’s nightclub.
What if a family also wants to get off-property to experience local life?
Each time we visit the resort, we participate in a tour offered by local operator Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, which allows us to go to a local school or orphanage to spend time with the kids. While there, visitors can tour the facilities, read with the kids and play soccer. We bring school supplies and toys to help support local families.
For a family that less inclined to book an all-inclusive property, what do you suggest?
Grace Bay Club in Providenciales is a fabulous upscale resort that offers large suites with excellent service for families. Babysitting, kids’ activities and kid-friendly tours are also available here.
What’s the best Caribbean destination for a more adventurous family?
Jamaica tops my list for adventure offerings. Families can zipline, climb waterfalls at Dunn’s River Falls, ride ATVs, go horseback riding, try out Jamaican bobsleds, swim with dolphins, go river tubing and so much more. There’s never a dull moment. For softer adventure on the island, catamarans are a great way to experience the beautiful sights from the water.
Are there cultural opportunities available as well?
To experience Jamaican culture, there is a tour that takes you to Kingston and visits many of the important historical destinations, including the Bob Marley Museum. I use Island Routes Caribbean Adventures for all of my Caribbean tours, as they offer the most memorable experiences in a safe environment. Each tour is assessed by the company, so that they can ensure that safety procedures are top notch, in addition to having the proper insurance needed to run tours.
What do you think is key to designing a successful family vacation to the region?
Especially with multigenerational travel, they key is to ensure that there are activities available for everyone. The grandparents will say they just want to be with the grandkids, but there needs to be options just for them, as well.
It’s also extremely important to understand what type of accommodation works best for a certain family. Some need a little more alone time; other families like a large villa where everyone can gather. For others, an all-inclusive resort is right — the kids can do as many activities and drink as many milkshakes as they want because it’s included.
No matter what, in the Caribbean, you feel immediately feel relaxed, which is why I love to spend my free time there. I like being able to do as much or as little as I want. Some days, my biggest challenge is getting my float to go where I want it to go in the pool. Other days, I’m ziplining across the jungle.