With three all-inclusive Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean, and a fourth on the way in St. Vincent & The Grenadines, you may be wondering which property is the best one. What I’ve learned after visiting all three is that there isn’t one best Beaches Resort, but one that might be right for your family.
All of these resorts look out into the salty perfection that is the Caribbean Sea. They all boast Sesame Street character sightings and experiences. And they each carry the solid Beaches brand name.
But here’s the thing — I know you, Type A vacation planners. You’re never done researching. I know you because I am you.
No amount of Google research can come close to on-the-ground intel, though. And when you’re about to drop somewhere in the neighbourhood of ten grand for a weeklong family vacation, that’s what you really need.
Only you know what your family needs for a great vacation. But to help, I’m going to break down this comparison of Beaches Resorts in terms of their beaches, overall footprints, villages, rooms, food, activities, staff and overall cost. Because — make no mistake — even though they have a lot in common, they are all very different properties.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 1: the beach
While all of the Beaches Resorts sit on lovely beaches that’ll take your breath away, there are only two that are big enough for those quintessential long walks on the beach: Turks and Negril — both of which also boast powder-white sand. You can walk for days on Negril’s famous seven-mile beach and there are few beaches in the world that can compete with Grace Bay in Providenciales.
So if a big beachfront is a MUST in your vacation itinerary (and it is in mine!), congratulations — you just narrowed down your choices to these two Beaches Resorts. Because Beaches Ocho Rios does not compete here at all. It has a really tiny beach and you’ll be walking for minutes, not hours, to get from one side to the other.
However, if you have babies and toddlers and those long walks aren’t in the cards this early in your family vacationing, then Beaches Ochi is a great contender. You won’t lose sight of anyone if they happen to wander off.
The ocean water at all three resorts is turquoise perfection and really, really calm. If you’re looking for big, fun waves, then none of these beaches are going to make the cut for you.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 2: the FOOTPRINT
Beaches Turks & Caicos
Beaches Turks & Caicos is huge. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to walk its entire footprint — and that’s without stopping to smell the lilies. It feels like a miniature city and I love the bustling energy that’s palpable at every corner.
There aren’t golf carts toting guests around, though, so plan to do a lot of walking while you’re there. This means there’s someplace new to explore every day, and it also means that if you lose track of your kids, it could be tougher to find them. If you have teenagers, this is going to be their dream resort of the three, because it’ll be easy to escape your watchful parental eyes.
More space also means more of, well, everything. More pools, more restaurants, more people. For some families, this will be exciting; for others, overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Beaches Negril has that quintessential tropical resort feel. It’s significantly smaller, too, taking a mere 5-10 minutes to walk from end to end. We enjoyed the slower pace and tranquility. And we felt comfortable letting our littles run off with their new friends — because we knew no matter how far they got, they really weren’t far at all.
The Negril property is cozier. More intimate. It has an almost familial feeling. But you’ll continue to see the same guests over and over again, so if you want to escape a particular group, it would be more of a challenge here. There are only so many swim-up bars at Beaches Negril, after all!
For those with tweens, this resort is a reasonable enough size that you can give them some freedom without messing with your helicopter settings too much.
Beaches Ocho Rios
You want tiny? Beaches Ochi will give you tiny! Not so tiny that it’s devoid of charm and amenities, but if you like to wander a property and really explore it from top to bottom, you’ll be done on the day you arrive. It’s also got the most vertical of the three Beaches Resorts, which means there are more stairs to navigate (or elevators to wait for) — but also some great views once you get to the top. It’s a pretty good trade-off.
But just as the Turks property may feel overwhelming for some families, the Ocho Rios resort may feel claustrophobic for others. You definitely don’t get the same sprawling resort feel and there is fewer of everything: fewer pools, fewer restaurant choices, fewer bars. But there are also far fewer guests, which will appeal to certain travellers.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 3: the VILLAGES
If you enjoy distinct theming at your tropical resort, you’re in luck at Beaches Turks & Caicos. With four villages (Key West, French, Caribbean and Italian) — each with their own authentic vibe — you know when you’ve left one village for another. With the exception of Key West, you could honestly spend all your time in a single village and never need to leave (though, with so much to explore, why wouldn’t you want to?).
Stepping into the French quarter, we always felt transported to Paris. From the architecture to the statues to the Café de Paris that’s modelled after a classic patisserie, this is but one example of how well Beaches created its authentic mini-villages in Turks & Caicos.
Although they’re called “villages” at Beaches Negril, the three designated areas at this resort are nothing like the villages at its sister property. The buildings are different colours, but they’re essentially the same aesthetic in different locations. As a result, the place feels holistic from front to back and left to right.
There are no real villages to speak of at all at Beaches Ocho Rios, even though the have a few village names; it’s more like a boutique resort with Beaches branding.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 4: the ROOMS
We had concierge-level rooms at all three resorts, and while our upgrade in Turks & Caicos got us a separate master bedroom, it wasn’t as beautifully appointed nor did it feel as contemporary as our room in Negril.
Overall, there are obviously fewer rooms at the Negril property. And the entry-level “deluxe” rooms are generally smaller, too. But we still loved the look and feel of our room here best overall; if we’d had a separate bedroom, it would have been vacation GOLD!
The smallest and most basic room we had during our Beaches Resorts vacations was at Beaches Ocho Rios. But it also had the best view, once you stepped outside your door and got onto the boardwalk. And though I don’t usually care about views, I do love a private balcony, which you don’t really get at Beaches Ochi. With only 223 rooms onsite, your choices are more limited than at the bigger resorts.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 5: the food
Here’s where Beaches Turks & Caicos comes out on top — without question — starting with sheer quantity. We’re talking 21 restaurants (compared to Negril’s nine and Ochi’s seven), including Bobby D’s, which serves kid-friendly food and awesome milkshakes nearly around-the-clock. The buffets offer far more selection than they do in Negril and miles more than in Ocho Rios, and there are simply more choices for a la carte meals at all hours of the day.
And while the buffet reigns supreme in Turks, I found the a la carte meals of pretty equal quality between the two resorts, with Negril falling only slightly behind for foodies.
Speaking of foodies… if fabulous food is at the top of your vacation must-have list, I’d suggest scratching Beaches Ocho Rios off of your list. I wasn’t too impressed with either the buffets or the a la cartes. The only restaurant that consistently delivered here was BBQ Park. Even the cocktails and kids’ drinks fell flat at Beaches Ochi, feeling much more commercial than artisan.
But let’s talk jerk chicken, because Beaches Resorts always gets it right! Turks & Caicos has the Jerk Hut, a dedicated restaurant on wheels that’s devoted to all things jerk, and we went every day because it was so good. Beaches Negril and Beaches Ocho Rios both have BBQ Park, both with seriously delicious jerk chicken. And, of course, done with Jamaican flair that simply can’t be duplicated elsewhere — including at the Jerk Hut in Provo.
But I have to say, the big jerk chicken winner among all three resorts is Beaches Ochi. Unfortunately, it means foodies will end up eating a LOT of jerk chicken if they choose to vacation in Ocho Rios since it’s the best food on the resort.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 6: ACTIVITIES + AMENITIES
Despite the vast size differences, there just as many activities to do at Beaches Negril as there are at Beaches Turks & Caicos, with Beaches Ocho Rios not lagging too badly behind them.
Whether it’s the XBOX Lounge, Scratch DJ Academy (Turks and Negril only), Kids’ Clubs, waterparks, water sports, Red Lane Spa, land activities or entertainment, there are two major differences between the three resorts:
- It’s a hundred times easier to get to activities — especially those scheduled back-to-back — in the smaller Negril and Ochi locations.
- Only the Turks property has a Flowrider wave simulator. (A fan favourite around these parts.)
Beaches Negril does offer something that hadn’t yet come to the Turks property during our last visit: SNUBA! That’s a sort of hybrid water activity that blends snorkelling with SCUBA diving, offered for the 8+ set — at least for the time being. It earned rave reviews from all the families who participated, giving kids a glimpse into what real diving would be like.
The character breakfast with Sesame Street friends, however, is vastly better in Turks & Caicos than at the Jamaican properties. It’s held privately in a restaurant closed to other guests, offers more character interaction (like a conga line and dance party) and no one scooped our food out from under us like they did in Negril. The Ochi breakfast was actually really good, too, but there was no outdoor seating available like there was in Turks.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 7: the STAFF
Negril wins hands down when it comes to staff. Period.
Not to say that we didn’t encounter many wonderful staffers at Beaches Turks & Caicos and a few gems in Ochi, but neither came anywhere close to the genuine warmth we felt among the staff in Negril. It always felt like they authentically wanted to be there and were happy we were there, too.
In Negril, you can barely get from A to B without being greeted by someone. We found that every person who worked at Beaches Negril went out of their way to engage our kids — even those who didn’t work at the Kids’ Club. And, at the end of the day, we’re there to help our kids create lasting family memories, so this went a long way.
The Kids’ Club in particular was significantly superior in Negril. And that’s because of its staff, with whom my kids were much more comfortable and happy.
There are a lot more staff at the Turks property, of course, so you don’t get to know them as well, and they always seemed busier and less interactive on the whole. But they were all quite lovely, with the exception of the kids’ club staff.
But when it comes to the Beaches brand, no resort does it more of a disservice than at Beaches Ocho Rios. Few seemed to want to engage and many went about their jobs without a smile. And I get it: it’s still work and everyone has bad days, but the service level was seriously subpar and the majority of our encounters just weren’t that pleasant or memorable. If we’d visited the Ochi property first, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed but having experienced the other two resorts and their exceptional service and general happiness among staffers, it was a stark contrast when we arrived at Beaches Ocho Rios.
Best Beaches Resort, comparison No. 8: the COST
In the grand scheme of a Beaches vacation, the savings may not seem like a lot, but they do need to be noted. On average, Beaches Ocho Rios will (and should) be the least expensive.
As expected, the midsized Negril property also offers consistently more savings year-round when compared to Turks & Caicos. Even a few hundred dollars for my family would help pay for extra activities that aren’t included with our stay or, say, a photo package.
Beaches Turks demands the biggest price, which isn’t surprising given how much more there is onsite.
Make no mistake: even the “cheapest” Beaches Resort vacation is going to be an investment. These luxury all-inclusive resorts aren’t for the budget traveller. But they do offer reasonable value when you take all of the inclusions into account.
For more information, visit Beaches Resorts’ website.
DISCLAIMER: We have been both paying guests and invited guests at Beaches Resorts. All opinions about the best Beaches Resort are my own.