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Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club

Photo Credit: Beaches Resorts

BK—before kids—we were snobs about travel. In those days, my husband was a foreign correspondent for BBC TV whose idea of a good vacation was going to a war zone. This, of course, had less to do with following a story than with the fact that it meant we could stay in very good hotels very cheaply. The week before we embarked on our first holiday together, to Sri Lanka, seven headless corpses—victims of the war between between the Tamils and the Sinhalese—washed up on the beach of our first stop, the Mount Lavinia Hotel. The manager dropped the rate for a king-size suite with an ocean view to $80. We had a fabulous time.

For ten more years, we went in search of what we proudly felt were “authentic” travel experiences. And then we went and spoiled it all by having two children.

Our first realization that “a holiday with children” was an oxymoron was on a week’s trip to Paris, where, on our first night, it took room service 45 minutes to deliver Thomas an omelet. By the time it arrived, the people in the neighboring room had complained about the screaming. To add to his fury, it was sprinkled with chives. “Green things!” What had we been thinking? The idea of a vacation as a way to catch up on sleep, sex, and each other went faster than our budget on hotel laundry for a 2-year-old. Now, finally, we understood why everyone we knew with kids went to the dreaded all-inclusive.

I had always wanted to visit Jamaica, so a package deal with a kids’ club thrown in seemed like a plausible compromise. “It’s very important that we leave the compound and show the boys the real island,” I blustered as we arrived at the Beaches Boscobel resort in Ocho Rios last August. It took less than a day for me to capitulate. What I hadn’t anticipated in my anxiety to keep it real was just how, well, ridiculously relaxing it is, when you do have kids, to stay at a place designed with them in mind.

The first obvious benefit to being on a child-friendly holiday campus is that there’s no traffic or roads to negotiate—you try keeping hold of two little boys on the Ile St-Louis. And when they do run off, the security staff seems always to be on hand. Even better, meals were surprisingly unstressful, because the buffet meant there was no wait and the children’s menus meant no suspicious green things. Children want only the company of other children, and the Kids Kamp ensured they quickly met playmates, so my husband and I, miraculously, could escape to have a nap or read by the beach.

It’s mortifying to report, but we didn’t leave the resort once. The guidebook went unopened, we never explored the coffee plantations or the Blue Mountains—we never even tried a local jerk restaurant. We didn’t take a day trip to go touring in Kingston, or even Montego Bay. Instead, we got up, had breakfast, hung out by the pool, dropped off the kids at their clubhouse, and played tennis with the resort’s pro, Neil, who, most days, we had all to ourselves. True, we made sure to escape from the restaurant every evening before the “entertainment” started, but what real parental fantasy doesn’t include bed every night by 9 p.m.?                                                                                                              NEXT >>

Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club (877-beaches; beaches.com) has packages from $5,600 for seven nights with two adults and two children.