A condo-style resort goes a long way toward making a family vacation successful. Self-contained lodgings—also marketed as apartments, villas, or residences—grant more space and convenience than traditional hotel rooms. Even at all-inclusive properties with standard rooms, you can often find units with kitchens that make daily life easier.
You can serve cereal to early-rising preschoolers and warm up the baby’s bottles while still in your pajamas. The extra bedrooms satisfy eye-rolling teens who crave privacy as well as their tag-along grandparents who came in search of quiet amid the bustle. And the living room affords a place to connect over jigsaw puzzles, games, and snacks. Many apartment-like accommodations come with in-unit washers and dryers, a bonus for families whose toddlers dribble through four shirts a day.
From plain to fancy, the following condo-style lodgings come with resort perks such as beach attendants, housekeepers, restaurants, room service, pools, children’s programs, and even butlers, depending upon the property.
Long Bay Villas, Anguilla
Long Bay Villas’ three homes in Anguilla, which share a semi-secluded beach with nearby sister villa Santosha, afford you the luxury of space, outdoors and inside. At 6,500–7,000-square feet each, the homes handily accommodate multi-generational gatherings. Each villa has its own private pool, multiple balconies, sweeping sea views, and free butler services for eight hours a day. Your personal helper can buy groceries, pick up take-out food from restaurants, coordinate kids’ activities, bring you drinks on the beach, and serve you complimentary fruit and croissants each morning—it’s an upmarket vacation fantasy. That nicety cuts down on the number of times you’ll have to climb the 40-65 steps to reach your rental from the sand. Paddleboards, kayaks, volleyball, and tennis courts are all free to borrow.
Options: three five- to six-bedroom villas with kitchens
Kids’ program: family activities (with a fee)
Ocean Club Resorts, Turks & Caicos
Sister properties Ocean Club and Ocean Club West are a find. The resorts are relatively affordable for their location on famous Grace Bay Beach, a miles-long stretch of sugar-soft sand on the island of Providenciales (a.k.a. Provo) that frequently ranks among the best in the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Given a choice between the two properties, some families pick Ocean Club West because it’s more centrally located and is within walking distance to a grocery. At both resorts, families can splash in the pool, try stand–up paddleboarding, rent bikes, and dine at on-site restaurants. The individually owned units vary in décor, and some were updated more recently than others, but each one has a large screened porch (pictured), giving every guest the perfect spot to sip coffee while listening to the lapping waves.
Options: 86 condos (studio to three-bedroom) at Ocean Club and all 68 condos (studio to three-bedroom) at Ocean Club West, all with kitchens/kitchenettes.
Kids’ program: none
Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort, St. Lucia
The Mediterranean-style villas at Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia, sweep up a bougainvillea-laced hillside above the turquoise sea. The perch comes with superb water views, but it’s also an uphill climb unless you hop on the resort’s complimentary shuttle. If that seems like it will be too much climbing, the mid-hill or lower locations (such as the two- and three-bedroom beachfront units with pools, which are the newest accommodations) may be better for younger kids. The resort has a full slate of perks: Windjammer operates five restaurants, offers an optional all-inclusive meal-and-drinks plan, and runs an on-site dive center that welcomes tweens and teens—choose from reef, drift, and wreck dives nearby.
Options: 216 units, 154 of which are one- to four- bedroom villas with kitchens
Kids’ program: ages 4-12, morning, afternoon, and evening (free)
Jewel Grande Montego Bay, Jamaica
At the Jewel Grande in Montego Bay, Jamaica, you can have your all-inclusive experience and your condo-style accommodation too. Jewel Grande’s three high-rise buildings front the ocean and with just 217 units, the resort doesn’t feel as overwhelming to kids—and adults—as sprawling mega all-inclusives do. At multiple restaurants, fussy eaters can find something to eat from a wide menu, from jerk chicken to seafood, pasta to steak, as well as smoothies and ice cream. Kayaks, paddleboards, and catamaran rides are free, and so is the kids’ club, but the program does not divide kids by age. The one- to three-bedroom lodgings have kitchens and living areas.
Options: of 217 units, 145 are one- to three-bedrooms with kitchens
Kids’ program: ages 3 to 12, morning and afternoon (free)
Harbour Village Bonaire, Bonaire
Bonaire’s reefs lure scuba enthusiasts who come for the island’s standout aquatic life and coral. So being able to stay on the sandy strip fronting Harbour Village is a nice bonus for families that include both divers and non-divers. While some members kick back on the beach, others can head to the on-site supply shop, which takes charge of dive equipment, loading, unloading, transporting, and preparing gear and tanks. The resort’s kid-oriented courses are geared to those aged 6 to 12: Kindergarteners get familiar with breathing through a regulator by floating in the pool while older children learn skills necessary for scuba certification.
Options: 47 units, with seven two- to four-bedroom units that have kitchens.
Kids’ program: none
Grande Isle Resort & Residences, Great Exuma, Bahamas
Great Exuma is a Bahamian outer island of pink-tinged beaches, turquoise waters, and light crowds. A mile-long beach and calm waters surround Grande Isle Resort and Residences, a community of smartly appointed one- to three-bedroom villas where tasteful décor and luxe touches such as Sub-Zero refrigerators are de rigueur. Meet up at the Beach Club pool, the on-site restaurant, or at the treasure hunts, horseshoe challenges, and kayaking organized for free by Hummingbird Hut, the children’s activities program for kids aged 5 to 12 to do together with their parents. Golfers play at the Emerald Bay course next door. From Grande Isle’s marina, it’s a quick boat ride to secluded cays and sandbars for picnics, snorkeling, and even a swim with pigs, a Great Exuma tradition.
Options: 71 one- to three-bedroom villas with kitchens
Kids’ program: family activities but no drop-off program
Mount Cinnamon, Grenada
Mount Cinnamon in Grenada stretches from its base on Grand Anse Beach, Grenada’s star strand, up a lush hillside. At the resort’s heart, a seven-acre garden surrounds the pool, dining area, and lodgings, and good-sized balconies frame sea views. The resort’s Hacienda Suites are like hotel rooms with added sitting areas and kitchens, but you can also bump up to full-size villas (one- to three-bedrooms) with separate living areas and kitchens. All the accommodations pop with bright Caribbean blues, reds, and yellows. The local-styled food is a highlight here—at the Savvy restaurant, the West Indian-enhanced menu includes Grenadian conch soup, Jamaican-style curried goat, and other regional dishes, as well as a free full breakfast. Families with young kids may find the steep walk from the beach difficult, but tweens and teens don’t seem to mind, and there’s lots to devote their energies to, from kayaking to paddleboarding to beach yoga to cricket on the lawn (staff will teach them the rules).
Options: 37 units: six one-bedroom Hacienda Suites with sitting areas and kitchens and 10 one- and three-bedroom villas with separate living areas and kitchens
Kids’ program: only in summer and around Christmas, based on demand (extra fee)
The Fives Beach Hotel & Residences, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
A huge all-inclusive, the Fives Beach Hotel & Residences in Playa del Carmen has the swagger of a sprawling resort tricked out with seven pools, 15 restaurants and bars, a 24-hour gym, a spa, and a kids’ club. What’s different from many such large properties is that the Fives Beach Hotel has a significant inventory of one- to three-bedroom residences with living areas and kitchens. After a day of sun, fun, and crowds, reenergizing in a spacious lodging is a treat. At the Fives, as at other large properties, it’s wise to book dining well in advance and to rise early to grab a beach cabana or a poolside lounge chair.
Options: 662 units, 189 of which are one- to three-bedrooms units with kitchens
Kids’ program: ages 4-12, morning, afternoon, evening (free)