Onward And Upward

Beaches Turks & Caicos’ new Italian Village proves it can be a leader in upscale value for families

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

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In the past few years, Beaches Resorts, along with its sister company Sandals, has made an effort to evolve its all-inclusive properties by providing true value to mainstream travelers without compromising on quality. The May opening of the Italian Village at Beaches Turks & Caicos is a perfect example of this. The latest addition to the popular Providenciales resort offers state-of-the-art luxury accommodations and unique activities that rival, or exceed, anything found at more pricey Caribbean properties — with family comfort in mind at every turn.


Beaches Turks & Caicos has six pools and a waterpark. // © 2009 Beaches Resorts

The Italian Village joined the resort’s Caribbean Village and French Village and is built around the largest swimming pool on the island. On a recent visit to the Tuscany-inspired resort, the Family Suite my 5-year-old daughter and I shared had plenty of room and a wide array of amenities. We liked the four-poster bed, separate sitting area, small terrace and the convenience of in-suite Wi-Fi. In addition, the suite came with a second bedroom, with bunk beds, an XBox and a flat-screen television. The bathroom featured a huge, marble tub and high-end bath products.

Even the suite’s layout was well thought out — with the kids’ room separated from the parents’ by the bathroom.

The gigantic pool (bringing the total number of pools at the resort to six) features a swim-up bar (serving up smoothies for kids as well as cocktails), several knee-deep shallow areas ideal for toddlers, spraying fountains and more. There’s also an expanded Pirates Island Waterpark, billed as the largest waterpark in the Caribbean, with waterslides, a lazy river, fountain areas for tots and even a Surf Rider simulated wave creator, with instruction by Ron Jon Surf School. During my visit, I often wondered where all the kids at the resort were — only to discover they were concentrated at the waterpark. As busy as it was, however, it never felt crazy or overcrowded.

Beaches also provides options for an often-overlooked group, tweens and teens. Adjacent to the waterpark there’s a teen hangout called Trenchtown, an Xbox 360 Game Garage, an under 21 disco called Club Liquid and the Scratch DJ Academy, which specializes in teaching teens the art of being a nightclub disc jockey. In fact, during their stay, some of the teens even get the opportunity to show off their DJ skills on stage at the resort’s teen club.

The addition of the Italian Village also brings with it a number of new dining options, including Mario’s Italian Restaurant; Barefoot by the Sea for seafood; the Kids’ Grille featuring fast-food outdoor dining; and Cricketer’s Irish Pub for drinks and bar snacks. My daughter’s favorite was Barefoot By The Sea, where she was encouraged to dig her bare feet into the sand as she ate. These new venues join the wide variety of choices currently at the resort, including French, Asian, Caribbean and more, for a total of 16 restaurants on the property.

Regardless of the restaurant, another noticeable change throughout the resort was the wine selection. In the past, the selection of complimentary wines was adequate but nothing special. Now, a new partnership between Sandals/Beaches and Beringer has vastly improved the wine selection — at a significant cost increase to the company, too. This commitment to quality is just another example of how the company is trying to differentiate itself in the mainstream all-inclusive market.

“When we ask focus group after focus group ‘Does this place meet expectations? Are you getting more than you expected?’ The answer is always ‘Yes, definitely,’” Sandals founder and chairman Butch Stewart told TravelAge West.

“Our biggest challenge is getting travel agents to see the difference,” said Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations, the parent company of Beaches and Sandals. “It’s easy to just sell on price. The customer is always going to ask for the cheapest product but, if you sell that, and they don’t like what they get, they’re not coming back. And, they’re going to blame the person who booked it. If we can make agents understand the difference between us and our competitors, they’ll see that we have a completely different product.”

While Beaches continues to evolve, focusing on building more suites and adding luxury touches, the company continues to maintain features that have helped make them the most popular resorts for families — including partnerships with Sesame Street, Crayola and the Electric Company. Beyond these longtime favorites, the new Italian Village signals the company’s future direction, as it separates itself from competitors by offering an upscale experience at a moderate price. It’s a formula that will no doubt find favor with today’s increasingly demanding travelers.