Last week we were invited down to Jamaica to check out a family vacation destination called FDR Resort. It is a lesser known boutique location, privately owned for 26 years by a local named “Frank” who you will often see drinking cappuccino at his favorite table, while making sure everything is running okay around him. It is an unexpected little gem nestled in an aptly named portion of the country called Runaway Bay. Even though it is gated and secured with private guards on all sides, nothing stands between you and private beach access to the beckoning blue Caribbean.
I’ve been to Club Med’s in France and in Punta Cana. I’ve gone to Sandals resorts all over the islands . I’ve been on countless all-inclusive cruise ships in multiple parts of the world. And every time I now realize I had an American experience in a foreign country. At FDR Resort, you learn the Jamaican way of life through the staff, food, and activities provided. Our kids got a true sense of culture, while having the time of their lives…
A Truly Unique Experience
FDR is the ONLY resort that offers a vacation nanny with your all-inclusive stay. She will get snacks for your room, clean everything from top to bottom, and help make arrangements for things like hair braiding, breakfast in the room before our early flight, and off-resort excursions. Our kids immediately took to their “new friend” and formed a close bond with her throughout our trip. I’ve never used a nanny before in any situation so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having one around. But by the end of the trip I was trying to figure out how to sneak her back home in my suitcase. She did little things like apply sunscreen and big things like allowing us to have quality time with each kid. The best part for me was at nap time – instead of being stuck in a room for 2 hours, we were free to sit on the beach, work out in the open air gym, or have a delicious rum drink at the bar. In other words, we could do whatever we want. (I’ll admit this took some getting used to.) Here is my son curled up and comfortable against “my Kar-leney” on a glass bottom boat ride. He had just met her that morning…
Who Had More Fun?
Not sure if it was us or the kids. We loved watching them take tennis lessons from a woman named “Venus” and playing endless rounds of jungle mini golf in pajamas before dinner.
We kayaked in the morning and paddle boarded in the afternoons…
We went down a 100 foot water slide at least 100 times. The view from “Big Blue” certainly never got old:
There were rain dance parties, movie nights, jewelry making, adult trivia, soccer games, sand castle contests, and goat racing. That’s just to name a few of the activities lined up for both kids and adults. You could do as much or as little as you like. We loved petting the giant bunnies, gazing at little turtles and feeding hungry fish…
When the kids needed to cool off they hung out in their own play area that could have doubled as a Jamaican preschool… …while we chilled out in the quiet area; listening to nothing but the sound of the waves and the clink of ice in our glass…
The 2 bedroom suite we called home for the week was steps away from everything; our 5 year old daughter was able to walk back and forth without concern. The room came complete with a cozy crib and bumper. Bed rails were up in advance of our arrival. All of the outlets were child-proofed, a very thoughtful detail I did not overlook. The entire resort was stroller accessible (read: “There’s a ramp for that.”) We had ample AC and a refrigerator full of snacks with beer upon request. When I ran out of (yes both) regular and swim diapers I hopped right on over to the gift shop to purchase more. Anything you could need is available to you within the walls of this quaint resort.
This review would not be complete without a comment about the food because it was some of the best I have ever tasted. Even though there were very few families vacationing at the time we went, no shortcuts were taken in the kitchen. Plenty of kid-approved options were available including bowls of fresh fruit and veggies. The service was impeccable. Plates were always cleared from the left while a smile and playful high-five were always at the ready. Our nightly meals were held in a different location with a different theme every night with the only constant being the magnificent sunset over the Caribbean Sea. Pajamas always optional. iPads never necessary.
Vacations are important. Not only do they help families bond, they remind us that there is a world outside of our own. FDR is a place where the local staff will sit down and ask you about the Red Sox after describing how to play cricket. They will scoop up your son and sway to the live Jamaican music on the beach. They will laugh when the silverware gets thrown off the table for the 5th time then fill up your wine glass with a wink.
FDR is a place where you can’t help but feel at home when you are there, and where you’ll leave a little piece of your heart when it’s time to go.
DO’S AND DON’TS FOR FDR RESORT: INSIDER TIPS
Don’t: Make our mistake and haul your kid’s puddle jumpers on the plane! There are plenty of them at the ready by the pool areas.
Don’t: Spend money to change money at the airport. FDR will do it for you at the front desk (or you can use American money.)
Don’t: Forget to give the kids a break. It’s a stronger sun than they are used to. Hats are absolutely mandatory.
Do: Look into the multiple excursion trips offered outside the resort. We had a blast at Dolphin Cove and it was really fun to see different sections of the island.
Do: Bring your parents! Grandparents stay free during the months of January through March as long as a paying family goes with them.
Do: Remember to request a room with a bathtub if you need one.
Do: Remember to read my post about getting passports for kids.
Do: Mention Kristin Quinn of Misadventures in Mommyhood when you book and say hi to our good friend (and please-don’t-stand-too-close-because-you-are-incredibly-beautiful) and Sales Manager, Trish:
Franklyn D. Resort
P.O. Box 201, Runaway Bay
St. Ann, Jamaica
P: Tel: 1-800-654-1337