You might wonder if traveling with kids — especially little ones — is even worth all the hassle. Between the required gear, short attention spans and picky eating, taking the family routine to an unfamiliar place might seem like more pain than pleasure. Enter Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Between its children’s clubs, abundant dining options, kid-centric room amenities and nearly endless list of family-friendly activities, it makes jet-setting with the munchkins both fun and functional. Here are nine reasons why this extensive resort should be next on your family’s hit list.
Pirate’s Castle Mini Club & Baby Club
Wondering what to do with the kiddos while you’re blissing out at the spa? Check them into the Pirate’s Castle Baby Club (1 to 3 years; open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.) or Mini Club (4 to 12 years; open 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.). With toys, videos, push-and-ride cars, a play market and a craft area, plus theater costumes and a stage to enjoy, they will hardly notice your absence. The colonial fort–themed club — the largest in the Caribbean and Mexico — also comprises a 3,000-square-foot outdoor playground, as well as a shallow children’s pool with its own pirate-ship mini water park. Don’t even sweat nap time: A tot-sized dormitory provides cribs and toddler beds. Caregivers carry certificates in first aid and integral development of children. Individual babysitting services are also available for $10 per hour, per child.
Black & White Junior Club
If you’re traveling with teens (13 to 19 years), take advantage of the Black & White Junior Club, equipped with table games like pool, ping-pong and foosball, as well as a dart board, a soda machine, makeup kits, books, video games and computers. High schoolers can even experiment with DJ equipment and musical instruments. Loads of teen activities are also on tap, including outdoor movies, themed dance parties, karaoke, kayak racing, dodgeball, archery and more.
Play at Palladium with Raggs
The Play at Palladium with Raggs children’s entertainment program is a major hit with the little ones. Based on the kids’ TV series featuring colorful singing pups, Raggs characters roam the resort grounds, hosting story time at the Mini Club, breaking into song around the pool, and dispensing high fives and photo ops. They also perform at a pirate show and a surf-themed party, where kids don leis, do the limbo, dance and generally go bonkers for these furry celebrities. Don’t miss the weekly character breakfast, which showcases an impressive smorgasbord of doggie-themed treats, as well as a guest appearance by the crooning pooches.
Family Welcome Kits
Talk about a major perk: For a fee, you can fill out a form listing your child’s needs, and your room will be pre-stocked with age-appropriate amenities in a customized family welcome pack. For babies, available items include diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, rice cereal, powdered milk and juice, as well as sunscreen, a T-shirt, a sippy cup and daily snacks. For older kids, kits come with a cap, a T-shirt, a backpack and snacks. You can also make special requests for an infant bathtub and a potty-training toilet seat. You’re welcome for the extra suitcase space.
Family Master Junior Suite
For 40 extra square feet of space, upgrade to a Family Master Junior Suite with a king bed (or two double beds), plus a sofa bed in an alcove. Your brood will feel extra-welcome thanks to games, movies, a kiddie table and a play tent waiting for them on arrival. Family suites also come with access to a special parents’ room with a microwave, refrigerator, sterilizer, bottle warmer, bottle brush, dishwashing soap and first-aid kit. Need a little mommy/daddy alone time? Put the kids down, then shut the door on the private enclosed bathroom and slip into the two-person jetted tub.
No matter what extracurricular your kid is into this week, Grand Palladium Bavaro Suites can accommodate. The resort’s entertainment team hosts a bonanza of free daily activities, including sports (soccer, basketball, beach volleyball), water sports (kayaking, windsurfing, catamaran sailing) and quirky classes (fruit decorating, towel folding, T-shirt making). Plus, kid-centric themed shows and games take place at 8 p.m. nightly in the disco. Families also have access to four pools, as well as white-sand Bavaro Beach, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Just opened in December 2016, the onsite Zentropia Spa pampers little ladies with hair braiding and Princess man-pedis in its airy, modern salon. But if you need some grown-up time, 11 air-conditioned treatment rooms beckon, along with stress-melting water zones that include hot tubs, a pool, a sauna and a steam bath. Four palm-roofed spa shelters also stand right on the beach; may we suggest a moonlight massage for two, complete with champagne?
Copious Dining Options
Stay for a week, and you can savor a different dining experience every night, from traditional Mexican and Spanish tapas to Japanese, Indian, Italian and Brazilian. If your children’s taste buds aren’t that adventurous, a kids’ menu is available at every a la carte restaurant, featuring staples like hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fish fingers, and spaghetti and meatballs. Five buffet restaurants, as well as a family-friendly sports bar, round out the offerings. Be sure to request crayons and a Raggs coloring book to keep the little ones busy while you wait.
A meet-and-greet with friendly, playful dolphins at the all-ages Dolphin Discovery facility is well worth the 15-minute drive from the resort. The center offers three levels of interaction; for young children, the basic Dolphin Encounter provides all the thrills your kiddos could want, including dolphin kisses, hugs, handshakes, petting and dancing. A guide also wows each group with dolphin facts and tricks. Upgrade to the Memories package to receive heart-melting photos of your family’s encounter — cameras aren’t allowed in the pool.
Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa is part of a sprawling, 2,000-room complex that comprises four Palladium properties. Families staying at Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites have access to the amenities at Grand Palladium Punta Cana Resort & Spa and Grand Palladium Palace Resort Spa & Casino. Since the grounds are so expansive, guests may call the front desk to request free golf-cart transfers between resort locations; allow extra time to get from point A to point B, as there may be a wait for the cart to arrive. A shuttle train with several fixed stops also circles the grounds. Expect friendly service but some language barrier, as many staffers speak limited English. If you’re traveling with a stroller or young children, request a room on the first floor, as there are no elevators. For the smoothest stay, bring your own feeding supplies, including favorite cups, bibs, bottles, divided plates, placemats and toddler utensils.