Ocean Club Resorts let guests 'double the fun'

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos -- The tiny terminal at Providenciales (Provo) was packed with kids -- the youngest of the bunch fascinated by the blue and white balloons that welcomed US Airways' first direct flight from Charlotte, N.C.

Older children and their parents focused on getting through Customs so they could hit the beaches or go diving or snorkeling in what are arguably some of the best waters in the Caribbean.

Many of the families ended up at Ocean Club Resorts on Provo, one of the eight inhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos archipelago.

Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, two separate but related all-suite properties, are located on a 12-mile stretch of Grace Bay Beach on the north shore.

Double the pleasure

With 86 suites at each property, guests stay at one but are entitled to the amenities of both. General manager Tom Lewis said families "double their pleasure" by having access to three restaurants, pools and fitness centers.

The resorts' new Ultimate Family Getaway, valid Jan. 3 through April 20, features an a la carte program, Lewis said.

Although family packages at resorts frequently include a structured children's program, Ocean Club Resorts "created a basic, value-driven plan that enables families to add on the activities they prefer -- or not, as the case may be," he said.

Experiences in, on and under the water are the focal points of family vacations at Ocean Club Resorts in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.Happy families

Agent Jack Kiburz, Coronet Travel, St. Louis, Mo., sends many families -- mostly repeat clients -- to the Turks and Caicos every year, particularly to Ocean Club Resorts.

"The resort staff actually calls to thank me for sending clients there," Kiburz said. "Families tell me they would be happy to pay twice what they paid for the family package at Ocean Club Resorts."

New direct flights to Turks and Caicos from US Airways and American Airlines this winter will increase family business to the destination, according to Kiburz.

Both the destination and the properties appeal to families who "love the absence of cruise ships and the lack of the straw market-type of attractions," Kiburz said.

Families also "appreciate that Ocean Clubs is eco-sensitive," he said.

"Parents tell me their kids had snorkeling and kayaking experiences there that they'll remember forever," Kiburz said. "That means a lot."

The four-night family package offers accommodations in junior suites and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites.

Each unit has a full kitchen (or kitchenette) and screened balconies; the larger suites have cathedral ceilings and sea views.

Lee Salawitch, manager of Mollett Travel in Baltimore, Md., said his family clients give high marks to the accommodations.

"The suites have washers, dryers and kitchens, so families can stretch their travel dollars," he said.

Families also appreciate the gradual slope of the resort's shoreline and beach, which makes wading and playing in the sand much safer activities for youngsters.

Options galore

Ocean Club Resorts offers a variety of add-on land and water activities, such as learn-to-dive programs from Provo Turtle Divers for children age 13 and older and introductory snorkeling classes for kids from the age of 4.

Provo Divers also has family sail adventures and cruises to nearby Iguana Island.

Other resort options are classes on how to kayak and canoe and maneuver Hobie Cats. Fly-fishing is taught, and fishing expeditions can be booked.

Spa treatments and golf on an 18-hole championship course also are available.

Lewis said he is "indebted to travel agents who are our important partners. We need, appreciate and want them."

Approximately 33% of Ocean Clubs' business comes through travel agents, who receive 12.5% commission.

Lewis updates agents on resort happenings through direct mailings as well as by posting deals and savings for the agent community in an agents' section on the resorts' Web site at www.oceanclubresorts.com.

Family Travel editor Kaleel Sakakeeny can be reached at [email protected].

Ocean Club resorts
Location:
Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Rooms: Ocean Club, 86; Ocean Club West, 86
Phone: (800) 457-8787
Web:www.oceanclubresorts.com
E-mail:[email protected]
Commission: 12.5%

The ultimate family getaway plan
Duration:
Four nights
Valid: Jan. 3 to April 20
Included: Accommodations; children age 12 and under free in room with parents; $55 per night for age 13 and up in room with parents; transfers; all meals plus wine at lunch and dinner for adults; meal plan for kids 12 and under, $99 for one child, $149 for two; happy hour; kids' games, beach toys and videos; tennis courts, fitness center; Internet access in the business center; tips and taxes.
Extras: Cribs, high chairs, strollers and car seats; $25 gift certificates for use in properties' stores and shops; babysitters available.
Rates: From $1,046 per adult, double, in junior suite.
Accommodations: Junior suite: 900 square feet; kitchen; dining and living areas; screened balcony; king bed, sofa bed; washer/dryer. One-bedroom suite: 1,200 square feet; separate bedroom; 1-1/2 baths. Two-bedroom suite: 1,600 square feet. Agent incentives: 20% discount on food and beverages; discount up to 50% on room, depending on season. Resort frequently offers one free night for every seven booked.

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