Beaches Resorts is a well-established brand of all-inclusive family resorts with properties in the Caribbean. Formerly known as Beaches Boscobel on Jamaica's north coast, Beaches Ocho Rios Resort & Golf Club is an all-inclusive resort that offers plenty for families to love. Beaches is an expert at family resorts, and all-included golf is a bonus here. Note, however, that Beaches Ocho Rios has a small beach area, and is a two-hour drive from Montego Bay.
Beaches is the family resort brand of the Sandals chain of all inclusive resorts; Beaches Ocho Rios is on the north coast of Jamaica, 10 miles east of Ocho Rios. The resort has guestrooms and suites on 22 acres.
The drive from the Montego Bay airport took two hours, during our visit; check recent visitor comments, as time varies with the state of the road. Flying to Ocho Rios is also an option.
The resort is built steeply up from the beach: an elevator serves the beach and rooms. There's no need to take stairs unless you want the exercise.
Beaches Ocho Rios has a large main pool and a kiddie pool, and also has the Pirates Island Water Park, with eleven waterslides and more. There are also tennis courts, outdoor pool tables, fitness classes, and a spa.
The beach is pretty and has shady palapas but don't expect a grand sweep of ocean. (Beaches Negril, in another part of Jamaica, offers that.) Still, for young kids the beach is fine.
Strong swimmers may be frustrated that swimming is confined to a small cordoned area. Also, during our visit, outside the cordoned swim area, vendors floated all day in small boats. Thankfully, they were low-key; check recent visitor comments for updates about the beach scene.
For those who love underwater-life, Beaches Ocho Rios offers not only free snorkeling trips but free scuba.
Sign up early at the watersports desk. Kids 10 and up can try scuba. On our visit, neither the snorkeling nor the scuba sites were terrific, but weather kept us from reportedly better areas; and anyway, the first-time-snorkeling kids were thrilled. Younger kids can try the glass-bottom boat.
On the beach, guests can have fun with Hydrobikes (water tricycles), kayaks, and Hobie Cat sailboats. There's much to do but rise early to sign up for watersports, and read activity schedules closely to make sure you don't miss your preferred activities.
Beaches Ocho Rios has typical activities such as billiards, ping-pong, volleyball, shuffleboard. Check the daily schedule for activities such as treasure hunts, basketball, fitness classes, and more.
All inclusive golf is a deal for golfers, but note that you have to pay for a caddy (and tip as well), and the golf course is at another Sandals resort, 20 minutes away by shuttle bus. Junior golf is a bonus too, with golf clinics for kids and clubs provided.
Beaches Ocho Rios shines with its kids' programs, starting with infant care. 2- and 3-year-olds had their own group, and after 5 pm, nannies were available. Older kids' programs had evening hours.
In the kids programs for ages 4 to 7, activities included arts and crafts, tennis, pool games. For kids ages 8 to 12, there's also snorkeling, bike tours, bonfires, and more.
Beaches Ocho Rios has rooms and suites; some suites sleep five. Note that family "suites" have a half-wall, not a full partition. Our terrace "suite" was one large room, with king-sized bed and sofa bed: attractive and roomy, with a large patio area outside. All units have fridges. Many units connect if you want two rooms.
The poolside Bayside Restaurant was a roomy open-air place with buffet fare perked up by occasional local dishes and lots of cheese and fruit. Kids have their own section and kiddie seats. We sampled the very nice Venetian restaurant; other guests praised the Tex- Mex Arizona, perched above the beach.
The BBQ by the kiddies' pool served good barbeque, quick.
Many guests book tours off-property, such as a Jeep Safari, river rafting, river tubing, Blue Mountain Bicycle tour. Shopping outings are offered too, though some guests simply take a cab to Ocho Rios.
Beaches has declared May, Sept., and October "Single Parents months": solo parents won't be charged the "single supplement" that raises the price of a room to what a couple would pay, and special events create a friendly ambiance.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher