By Allison Tibaldi, Taking the Kids correspondent
It seems like just yesterday my daughter was graduating from pre-school. Now, she’s a recent university graduate with a Major League Baseball internship. She has learned so much during the past few months but the long commute and 70-plus hour workweek have taken a toll. Madeleine was in need of some rest, relaxation and recalibration.
When Taking the Kids asked me to cover a press trip to the Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa in Punta Cana, I thought a few days of sun and surf would do her a world of good. I was encouraged by recent reports claiming that Millennials actually like to travel with their parents, so I invited her to come along.
She jumped at the chance. I am pretty sure it was the allure of palm trees and aquamarine waves that enticed her but I was thrilled to be getting away together.
The all-inclusive, family-friendly Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa is very large, but we’re New Yorkers, so we’re not intimidated by big. With 2,000 guest rooms, eight pools, over a dozen dining experiences and scores of bars, you’ll never lack options. The resort is cleverly divided into four different hotels, so it’s quite manageable. The lush vegetation and palm frond-covered walkways add a lovely note.
The Ultimate Family Friendly Resort
Palladium offers one of the largest tiered kids’ club in the Caribbean. There’s a baby club for tiny tots ages 1-3, a mini club for children ages 4-12 and a teen club. I toured the facilities and was struck but how engaged the children were. I’ve been to many resorts where youngsters are plopped in front of screens, but this was genuinely kid-centric. Arts and crafts, a dress-up center, a large stage to perform shows and a landscaped tropical playground complete with a climbing wall are just a few of the highlights. The club opens early and closes late, so parents who want to spend some kid-free time will have lots of options. The highly trained staff was appropriately focused on their young charges, not on their cell phones.
If you’re children are fans of the Emmy-award winning Raggs television series, these colorful pups are the resort’s mascot. You’ll spot colorful Raggs characters strolling the grounds and hosting a variety of activities including a weekly pirate-themed show and dance party. At the weekly breakfast with the Raggs characters, the chef even prepares edible Raggs-themed breakfast treats.
Our main goal was to spend as much time submerged in the warm Caribbean Sea as possible. The property is located on a particularly lovely swath of beach so we really hit the jackpot. There are many water activities available, including kayaking and windsurfing, but relaxing with a book in a chaise longue held tremendous appeal.
We spent hours submerged in the gentle waves.
When we finally exited the water, it was quite late and the family pools in our resort were closing. Luckily, we were able to stroll over to the adults-only pool in a different section of the property and continue swimming. This time, there was a swim-up bar and my “baby” and I enjoyed a festive rum punch together.
Athletic enthusiasts can enjoy activities including volleyball, basketball, aerobics, archery, mini-golf and dance lessons. Adventurers will enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing and more.
Our room was spacious with a big Jacuzzi tub on one end. Luckily, neither of us is modest so we took turns luxuriating in the bubbles. Beds were comfy, Wi-Fi worked like a charm and everything was as clean as a whistle.
For families with young children, Family Master Junior Suites come complete with everything any family could desire. Guests have the option to send in a list of their child’s needs (formula, diapers, a changing table) and upon arrival the room will be outfitted with age-appropriate welcome packs. There are a variety of connecting rooms and spacious configurations to suit specific needs.
Service is a real standout. Everyone we encountered was helpful and warm. Madeleine speaks excellent Spanish and the staff seemed thrilled that she made the effort to converse in the local language. Whatever we asked for, from towels to extra water in our room, the answer was always sí.