Come Together

In Jamaica, families get a helping hand

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Creative Offers

One of the more distinctive packages at FDR Pebbles is the BYOG (Bring Your Own Grandparent) offer. For every paying parent, one grandparent can come for free, and the whole family will receive an automatic upgrade to a two-bedroom suite.



FDR Pebbles
800-654-1337, 888-337-5437

All-Inclusive Rates for 2009:

Oceanview Junior Suites: $230-$325 per person, per night
Oceanfront Junior Suites: $280-$375 per person, per night
Special rates for children and teens are available.

Commission: Agents receive 30 percent off.

These days, hoteliers report more and more well-to-do families are traveling with an entourage that often includes a nanny. And why not? What guest wouldn’t mind having help with the kids while they enjoy their hard-earned vacation time? Assuming — and this is the catch — they can afford it.

There’s a resort in Jamaica that brings this concept to the masses. Every family that visits the all-inclusive FDR Pebbles resort, on the north coast just a 45-minute drive from the Montego Bay airport, receives their very own Vacation Nanny. Included in the price of the stay, the Vacation Nanny will watch a guest’s child (or children) all day while the guests sightsee or otherwise enjoy the island, and can even be hired to babysit at night (for a small additional fee).

It’s the most unique feature — but not the only one — at a resort that puts its focus on the needs of the family. That’s probably the reason why the resort was selected Best for Families in Latin America/Caribbean by Trip Advisor.

“If there’s a problem with a particular nanny, or the vibe is just not right, we try another nanny,” said Freddie DePass, general manager. “We seek to match the nanny to the child. If the child is a runner, you need a nanny who’s a runner too. Once the kids get to know the nanny and feel comfortable around her, then the whole vacation is easier on everyone.”

Walking the property with DePass, it’s clear how involved he is in creating the right environment for families. The resort employs around 100 nannies on staff, and DePass seemingly knows every one of them.

“Jamaicans love kids,” he said, “so we usually have a good fit. But our nannies are very professional. They know CPR, they are well trained and it’s a small resort, so our guests really feel the personal service here.”

The resort has 12 wooden buildings stretching along 600 feet of powdery white-sand beach, with a total of 96 deluxe air-conditioned junior suites. Each suite has an ocean view, and, in fact, I was struck by how close the rooms are to the water line. It sometimes felt like the waves were going to roll right under the seaside terrace.

In addition to the nanny service, the resort has three busy kids’ clubs — serving kids from 3-year-olds still in diapers all the way up to teens. There are also numerous other family activities, including tie-dye; watersports (non-motorized for safety); arts and crafts; fishing with bamboo poles in the resort pond; tennis; and more. There’s a 100-foot waterslide at the pool and a gentler kiddie slide as well.

DePass describes the accommodations at the resort as striving for a “cabins on the beach” feel. In actuality, the rooms, while simple and wood-paneled, are not nearly as rustic as all that. They are not extravagantly priced and come with all the usual amenities, including satellite TV, a mini-fridge, Internet access and air-conditioning. To give parents a bit more privacy, the rooms feature a day bed for the children separated from the main bedroom by a screen.

There are four distinct restaurants on the property. The Oceanside is the main buffet restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Beach Grill features jerk pork and chicken all day, while the adults-only restaurant, Sabbia, serves Italian food and is only open for dinner. And then there’s the new Overproof Restaurant, serving authentic Jamaican cuisine for dinner, five nights a week to adults only.

But perhaps the best part of the resort’s restaurant scene may not be the cuisine but the ambiance.

“If your kids throw a tantrum in our [main] restaurant, it’s no big deal,” said DePass. “Everyone here is a parent. They all understand. You are among friends.”