When I was a girl living in the Dominican Republic, I spent a lot of my weekends in all-inclusive resorts. These resorts are not just tourist havens, but also weekend getaways for many wealthy Dominican city dwellers looking for beach time without the fuss.
My father, who works in the hospitality industry, worked often with management and executives of these resorts and so I became familiar with them, how they run, and what to expect.
I also noticed how often times the very people who work so incredibly hard to make sure that every guest had all they could ever need during their stay, were often invisible.
The groundskeepers and servers. The pool guys and life guards. The cleaning staff and engineers. The army of people, many of them members of the underserved communities that often surround these resorts, quietly and diligently, working to make everyone’s experience in the resorts the best that it could be.
When I was invited to Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos as a speaker for the Social Media on The Sand conference, I was curious to see how this experience, being my children’s first all-inclusive resort stay, would be. I am not usually an all-inclusive kind of girl, but what I would learn from my stay at Beaches would broaden my outlook and perspective and inspire me to share the faces of the people who helped to make our experience such a great one.
Welcome home. These are the first words that greet you when you check in to any of the hotels at Beaches. It is heart warming and comforting. It’s the people like Noel Issacs, Executive Manager for Italian Village, that make sure that this first impression stays with you throughout your stay.
Note: Sandals and Beaches Resorts have a “no tipping” policy. Over the years I have seen how services in exchange for a tip actually negatively affect the overall experience and impact the quality of service before and after. It FEELS different to receive the top quality and friendly service one does at Beaches, knowing that when they walk you to your destination when you feel lost, or help you carry your bag, or serve you, or stop to converse, they are doing so because it is the culture of the resort, not because they expect a tip for it. I think this is probably one of the best executed approaches I have experienced in an all-inclusive resort, or any resort. And it really complimented the experience overall. If you want to give back to those who helped you, make sure to get their names, where they work, and leave a note at the front desk asking that it be delivered to the head of their departments. Also, a positive review, if that was your experience, on one of those consumer rating sites is a nice gesture.
Antonio (from the Philippines) and Andrew (from Jamaica) are two of the many butlers at Beaches who make sure that their guests have everything and anything they may need before and during their stay.
Andrae, Nadia, and Derron (from Jamaica)
All butlers are trained and certified by the The Guild of Professional English Butlers. This service is a top-tier service, which is one of the highest categories available at the resort.
Bartenders Judy (Dominican Rep.) and Leighton (Jamaica) were always smiling when I saw them around the resort.
Carline (from Haiti) and Heidy (from Dom. Rep.)
Bartending to both adults and kids (nonalcoholic beverages of course) is an exhausting job, but they and the many other bartenders I came across did it with professionalism and friendliness, no matter how big or small the order and the guest was. All drinks, except for some wines, are included in your stay.
I went out to the beach for a sunrise shot and there was Dwayne, from Jamaica, who also works as a life guard for the resort, raking away the seaweed that had washed up over night so that the beach would be clean by the time guests started arriving to enjoy it. You have to get up early to even see them doing this, and it is no easy task as the beach itself is 12 miles long, but they get it done, making sure that all of our sandy shots are as beautiful as this one below:
The resort covers 50 acres of land, with a wide choice of villas, cottages, and hotel-style rooms to choose from, not to mention pools, restaurants, and other fun spots. It is no wonder that one of most important people to know is Adrien, who drives guests from one area of the resort to another in a golf cart making sure you don’t miss out on a second of fun. It is easy enough to walk around, but even I will tell you that when you have a bunch of tired kids by your side, having Adrien or any of the other golf cart drivers get you to your room faster, is a really nice service to have!
Our favorite restaurant at the resort is the Soy Sushi Bar and we especially loved the staff there. Everything we ate, which was nearly everything they had, was delicious. I giggled at how in awe the wait staff was with my children’s love for sushi as it wasn’t something they were used to seeing. I was impressed with the fact that I would find such good sushi in an all-inclusive resort!
It’s easy to overlook when things are running smoothly and looking great. When the grounds are pristine and the air conditioning turns on without a problem. When the beds are made after your day at the beach and those towels are folded into cool animals like swans and elephants ready to greet you upon arrival. I mean, we notice, of course we do, because the resort is gorgeous and seems to run without a hitch. But in our hurry to all the fun, it’s easy to lose sight of the many, many people making it all possible.
I wanted to make it a point to celebrate them, because a lot of what we love about the resort has so much to do with them and the work they do every single day so that we actually don’t notice, but just enjoy.
Jamaicans Devon and Bryan from Engineering
Beaches cleaning crew on their way to work one early morning.
Mickey from public relations is not someone we would all meet, but she is a part of the team that makes sure to get the word out there so that others know just how fun a family vacation at Beaches Turks and Caicos really is.
Finally, those who have read my blog for awhile or have ever heard me talk about the resorts that continuously pop-up on the island I grew up on and where my family is from, know that I am passionate about what they are or aren’t doing to give back to those communities. I grew up seeing how wealthy investors took over land that once belonged to a community of fishermen and farmers but never give anything back in return other than low-paying jobs and little opportunities to do more.
When I learned about what the Sandals Foundation is doing to not be one of those resorts, but instead to care for, educate, and recruit members of the community they are in, as well as help conserve and protect the land, I was moved to tears. Because so very little thought is often given, by both investors and visitors, about how much these resorts impact the communities around them, often times with walls built to keep them unseen and away.
Heidi Clarke, the Director of Programs for the Sandals Foundations, laid it all out for us. The statistics that have negatively been such a big part of the surrounding communities where Sandals and Beaches Resorts have opened up is not something they have chosen to pretend isn’t there, but instead have embraced as a cause. I loved it, especially the part where 100% of donated funds go towards the many programs under the Sandals Foundation umbrella. We even got to talk to two young ladies from the area who are benefitting from the education being given to them and who came to thank us for taking the time to learn about the foundation. It was emotional.
Alicia Duncanson and Christina Stubbs beneficiaries of the Sandals Foundation educational program greeted us with song and smiles.
Beaches Turks and Caicos is a family friendly resort. There is a lot to do, though more effort is being made so that teens feel like there is more catering to them than some feel there is now (my teen thought things closed too early or there wasn’t enough happening for them at night, but he still made friends and went out on his own). So much is included, both on land and in the water, we felt that the price was worth it. I still encourage you to get off resort and explore a bit of the things happening outside of it. Have a meal at the local fish fry held every Thursday night at 6pm only a few minutes from the resort (ask the front desk for directions). Or go to a local eatery (I heard Da Conch Shack was very good).
And take notice and thank the people whose job it is to make your experience the best it can possibly be, just as they did for my family and I, warming up my heart to this all-inclusive, luxury resort for its excellent and friendly service and the endless smiles we met during our entire stay. To all of them I say, Thank you.
Disclosure: I was a speaker at the Social Media on The Sand conference held at Beaches Turks and Caicos. As part of my speaking agreement, I received a complimentary stay at Beaches Turks and Caicos. I received no request to write this review. All opinions are my own.