Hey guys! Sorry it’s been like 5 million years since I wrote a blog post, I’m still alive! Things are going great, the boys are at such a fun age right now (15 months), holy crap how did that happen? They are legit almost toddlers now. I know, it’s so cliché but seriously, where does the time go? I’ve been busy with work and when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend every second soaking in time with the boys. The truth is, I just don’t have a lot of recipes to share with you these days. I still cook dinner most days of the week but as I cook I’m usually running back and forth between the counter and their high chairs, chopping veggies, throwing more food on their trays, getting their cups from the fridge, heating the pan up, forgetting about the pan, picking up all the food off the floor, getting more food for them, you get the point… My ability to be super creative or the time to photograph as I go just isn’t there at the moment. I’m going to try to post more often though, even if I don’t specifically have any food stuff to share.
Today, I figured I would write a detailed review on our recent stay in Jamaica because a bunch of friends with kids are interested in booking a trip for themselves and keep asking me about it and I have SO much to say, it’s probably better to do it here than to write an hour long Facebook post.
We stayed at Franklyn D Resort in Runaway Bay Jamaica. This is the ultimate place to go if you’re looking to vacation with your kid(s). If you’re looking for the short of it and don’t want all of the details. JUST GO. Click on it, book it and GO. Seriously, if you think too much about the logistics of traveling that distance WITH the kiddos, you won’t do it, just don’t think about it and do it. FDR makes it possible. And not just possible, but enjoyable, fun, and wait for it…. RELAXING.
Basically, we were in desperate need of some sun, relaxation & some time away. Getting away for that long without the kids wasn’t really an option and we actually kind of like spending time with them so we figured there had to be an option where we could get all of these things AND bring the kids with us. How you wonder? How can you travel and stay in a hotel with two 15 month old babies who cry and need to be changed and nap twice a day and go to bed at 7pm? And still relax and enjoy yourselves?
This is how…
At FDR, every single room automatically comes with a personal vacation nanny! Yes you read that right, you get an amazing, experienced, caring person that will love and care for your children while you read by the pool or go climb a waterfall, or enjoy a nice dinner out with your husband. They are all amazing women who have cared for children for many years and want to make your children happy and your vacation awesome. Our nanny Tamara has been working at FDR for over 15 years (if you book a trip, make sure you request her). They even cater to children with special needs as well.
Wondering exactly how it works? Your nanny will meet with you when you arrive and you can go over your plans/needs/wants, schedules, allergies, etc… She will arrive every morning at 9:00 and is done at 4:40. They get an hour lunch break from 12:30-1:30. If you would like her to stay late or come back later so you can go out to dinner, you pay her $7/hour for any time beyond that (although they’re amazing so you should definitely pay them more than that). If you’re not at your room, they’ll come find you on the beach or in the restaurant. You can choose to have them take the kids that entire time, or you can pick and choose when you need them. Maybe you want to hang out on the beach with the kids but want an extra set of hands around if you need to go get something (like a drink) :). During the time that they’re with the nanny, they will hang out in the kid’s club where they have tons of toys & activities or play at the beach or in the pool. For the older kids, they have activity schedules every day with fun events for all ages. If you need an additional nanny, you can request one for $25/day.
I was worried that the boys would be so out of their element and the trip would be so rough that they were going to be super grumpy but they settled right in. They loved Tamara and all of the wonderful staff that so obviously care about the children. I’m not going to lie, the flights were not super fun as you spend the entire time trying to keep a squirmy child on your lap and not climbing on top of the people next to you. Next time we will get a direct flight and buy extra seats for them, it would be SO worth it! The transfer from the airport is about an hour to an hour & a half. I didn’t mind it as the scenery was beautiful. They have a complimentary shuttle from the airport which was fine but they stop at a few other resorts on the way. We chose to pay $100 for a private transfer on the way back and it was great. No extra stops and they have car seats available. We lugged our 2 car seats all the way there and back (gate checking them) which was a little stressful so it’s nice to know this for next time.
We arrived after delayed flights at 11:30pm with 2 screaming babies. The staff were waiting for us when we arrived and quickly whisked us & our bags right to the room. They had 2 plates of dinner ready for us which we gobbled down ravenously the second we got the kids to bed. We were about to go to bed when we realized that we were going to need to go find some milk to have for the kids in the morning but when we checked the kitchen, it was completely stocked with milk and Cheerios. Seriously. These people know kids.
The beach was very nice and completely set up for the kids with plenty of shovels, buckets & sand toys. It isn’t very big but you have access to the long beach next door at the Jewel Resort. It’s perfect for the kids and completely acceptable for lounging on the beach for the day.
They have a big waterslide which is a ton of fun for the older kids (and adults), we had a blast on it. There are also smaller slides at the pool for the younger kids along with a few shallow pools for splashing around. On Wednesday night they had a Jamaican beach BBQ with an impressive array of food & night entertainment which was a lot of fun. It’s an all-inclusive resort so your room price includes all the food & drink you want. Your nanny is also your housekeeper so she will tidy up while the kids nap and keep the fridge stocked with whatever you request.
The bar was pretty basic but they make a mean Dirty Banana and any other tropical drink or smoothie you might want. The only beer they had was Red Stripe but I was fine with that. I didn’t have high expectations for the food but I have to say that it was solid. Nothing incredible to write home about but very tasty, plenty of variety and lot’s of great authentic Jamaican food which is exactly what I want in a place like that. Breakfast is served as a buffet with an omelette station, oatmeal & cereal station, lots of fresh tropical fruit and plenty of sausage, bacon, pancakes, etc…
Every night they have a kids dinner starting at 5:30 where they serve up a bunch of kid-friendly meals while playing kids songs & movies. Usually people would feed their kids at this time and then their nanny would come back after so they the adults could enjoy a nice quiet dinner by themselves. There are 2 restaurants to choose from every night, they post the menus so you can make your decision. They alternate between Indian, French, Italian, American & Jamaican. You don’t come here for the food but we were very happy and satisfied with everything we had.
The resort is not new by any means but it is very clean and well-maintained. The rooms are simple and a little dated but clean & comfortable. We weren’t looking to spend much time in the room so this didn’t really matter to us. We got a 2 bedroom suite so they could put the cribs in another room. I’m glad we did as it would have been extremely tight with 2 cribs in a single bedroom. We had a nice patio with a view of the water and some adirondack chairs to sit & enjoy the breeze in the evening.
SO, if you’re looking for a glitzy tropical vacation in a big fancy resort, you may want to look elsewhere. And in that case, you’ll probably want to leave the kids at home. But if you’re looking for a great vacation WITH your kids, in a place that feels comfortable and like home, FDR is the place. It just boils down to the fact that they care. They care that you enjoy yourselves, they care that the kids are happy and entertained, and they care that you’ll want to come back year after year. They made something that seemed like an unfeasible task totally possible. I got some sun, read a few books by the pool, climbed a waterfall, got a massage, flew down the waterslide, played beach volleyball, participated in aqua aerobics and met some great really great people, all while getting to enjoy these 3 smiling faces of the people I love.
What are you waiting for? Go book your vacation people!
(Feel free to reach out if you have any questions that weren’t covered in this way too detailed review)