We stayed at the Villa del Mar from Feb 6-13, 2012, flew direct from Toronto.
My husband and I travelled with our 10 month old son and my parents. We rented a 2 bedroom condo (I believe it was A101) and it was perfect. It was in the building furthest from the reception, it was on the ground floor by the smaller (baby) pool. We loved being on the ground floor because we could be outside enjoying the pool/heat while the baby was sleeping (and we watched the monitor) and it was lovely to walk over to the breakfast bar, grab food and come back to eat on our verandah and not have to climb stairs or go up an elevator. When we arrived, the hotel was not very full and for a few days, we were the only people by the baby pool which was perfect for our son who loved it. By mid-week, the hotel was filling up and by the time we left, the pool area was full of people and it was hard to get a lounger. I preferred being there when it wasn't so busy. The pool was heated to a perfect temperature for kids but it wasn't super refreshing if you were too hot, but I prefer warm pools to cold ones. And the smaller pool is very shallow so babies/kids can sit in the shallow end and play (supervised of course) and then...We stayed at the Villa del Mar from Feb 6-13, 2012, flew direct from Toronto.
My husband and I travelled with our 10 month old son and my parents. We rented a 2 bedroom condo (I believe it was A101) and it was perfect. It was in the building furthest from the reception, it was on the ground floor by the smaller (baby) pool. We loved being on the ground floor because we could be outside enjoying the pool/heat while the baby was sleeping (and we watched the monitor) and it was lovely to walk over to the breakfast bar, grab food and come back to eat on our verandah and not have to climb stairs or go up an elevator. When we arrived, the hotel was not very full and for a few days, we were the only people by the baby pool which was perfect for our son who loved it. By mid-week, the hotel was filling up and by the time we left, the pool area was full of people and it was hard to get a lounger. I preferred being there when it wasn't so busy. The pool was heated to a perfect temperature for kids but it wasn't super refreshing if you were too hot, but I prefer warm pools to cold ones. And the smaller pool is very shallow so babies/kids can sit in the shallow end and play (supervised of course) and then it gets a little deeper but adults can touch. I didn't even go into the larger pool but it looked lovely also.
The best thing about Villa del Mar is that it is so much less expensive than the condos across the road (on the beach) but it's just as nice (if not nicer, it has a boutique hotel feel) and it is about a 3 min walk to the beach. I have stayed in resorts on the beach where our building was further away from the beach and more expensive.
Our condo was lovely. It looked exactly as pictured on the website. We decided to rent a condo instead of an all inclusive because we wanted to be able to buy fresh groceries and have access to a full kitchen to make baby food and keep baby food, bottles, etc in the fridge. It also helped out with the cost of food, we would eat the hotel breakfast (cereal, bagels, we don't eat much more at home but we did buy our own milk because their milk was not cold enough for me) and then we would eat lunch in the condo (sandwiches, pasta, salad, etc) and then go out for dinners. The beds were very comfortable, the king bed in the master bedroom was so comfy, I didn't want to get out in the morning.
Things we brought from home which were helpful: ziploc bags, saran wrap and aluminum foil, garbage bags and tape, (for taping to the window in the bedroom to darken the room), bounce sheets and baby detergent for the washer.
Our only complaint about the room was that our dishwasher was not working so they sent someone in to look at it/fix it. When they came around, the baby was sleeping and I didn't want them making lots of noise so asked them to come back. This was not received well. Eventually they had to come back 2x on 2 different days and spent hours trying to fix the dishwasher (and these were 2 guys who did not work at the hotel but were outside contractors) and there was 1 hotel worker watching over them but we didn't feel comfortable leaving our room with all our valuables there until they were done their job and we wanted to get out to the beach, etc and we had to wait for them to get this done. I was pretty annoyed and told the front desk staff but they said that there should be a hotel worker with them (he would come in and out sometimes) so I was pretty annoyed. The front desk staff thought that it was okay for us to leave our room but we just didn't feel comfortable. When you're only on vacation for 7 days, having to put your relaxing time on hold for a few hours for 2 days, just isn't ideal. And when I would ask them how long it would take because we wanted to get on with our day, I got major attitude from the workers (not the hotel worker) but I found it very annoying. I would have preferred to just wash our dishes than waste our time waiting for them to finish.
Property: The hotel itself is very clean and the pools are lovely. It it not a huge property but that is what we loved about it. It was quaint and everyone (staff and guests) were very friendly.
The staff at Villa del Mar were very friendly and couldn't do enough to help you. We needed a crib for our son and the crib would not fit into the master bedroom and we did not want him to sleep in the 2nd bedroom because it was very close to the kitchen and we were afraid he'd wake during naps/nighttime when we were in the living room/kitchen. So someone came and took the crib apart and put it back together for us inside the bedroom. The crib is very sturdy but the mattress did not fit the length of the crib so they had rolled towels and stuffed them at the end and put the mattress cover over that. This wasn't a huge issue for us because our baby doesn't roll around too much at night (at the time!) but if your baby does move around a lot, I would be worried that they could get stuck by the towels. We also brought breathable bumpers from home which were perfect. In order to fit the crib into the master bedroom (the rooms are a good size but add a crib in there and they're cramped), we had to move the TV into 1 of the closets and move the crib right up against the 1 closet (we didn't really need access to it because the other closet was enough for our stuff) and we used the TV stand to set up the baby monitor to see into the crib. Also note, the shutters do not darken the room enough for our son, so we brought garbage bags and tape with us and taped up garbage bags to cover the window which kept the room dark for nap times.
The front desk staff were always friendly and lovely, helping us with restaurants, excursions, etc.
The cleaning stuff were great, there were 3 ladies that came in and zipped through the condo in no time. They provided us with lots of towels and even folded our clothes that were strewn all around.
We did meet the general manager a few times who was always friendly and ensured he spoke to us and got to know us. He knew Toronto/Canada very well which was lovely. We were also told on our check-out that return guests save 15% I believe which is really nice, it doesn't quite cover the 21% tax/service fee but it helps. Some of the staff climbed a coconut tree before dinner and broke open a few coconuts so we could try the milk. It was lovely.
The property is not "on the beach" but it is close enough and the path to get to the beach is lovely and only a few mins walk. We spent a lot of time by the pool with the baby but when we wanted to go to the beach, it was not a chore at all. The hotel is also not far from the restaurants/shops.
Our favorite restaurant to eat dinner at was the Seaside Cafe. It was just down the road at the Ocean Club Resort (also accessible from the beach) and it was lovely to be able to sit on the patio overlooking the ocean watching the sunset at night. The food was great, the service was amazing, our waitress (who I can't remember her name now!?) remembered us every time we went (which ended up being a lot), she knew I had to heat up baby food and would always ensure that my baby was well taken care of. We kept going back time and again because it was hard to find other restaurants on the beach that weren't very expensive. There are lots of nice restaurants in town but we wanted to see the beach and this place was perfect.
We did try a few other restaurants in the area, we went to the Irish Pub (Danny Buoys) by the shops, very good food and I believe it was on a Wednesday night they had some live music which was very nice (not too loud for the baby) and we sat outside (just watch for mosquitos!)
We also had a date night (my parents watched the baby) and went to the Grill Rouge at the Grace Bay Club for their buffet (my parents tried Anacaona another night) and while they were both expensive, the food was amazing and the atmosphere couldn't be beat.
The IGA that is within walking distance to the hotel is really all you need. We rented a car for a few days and drove to the IGA near the airport because we were told that the prices/selection was better and while the prices may have been a bit cheaper and the selection was better, for the cost of gas/time, I think the closer IGA was perfect.
The beach is beautiful but the island itself does not have much to do, in our opinion, based on our travels around the Caribbean. There are lots of beaches but not a lot of activities with babies, I didn't find anyways.
There is the conch farm which is very rustic but very interesting to see, I would definitely suggest going here. We went snorkeling which was amazing (diving is supposed to be great too), we drove to a small beach on the south shore (Sapodilla Bay) which is lovely but we didn't have any shade with us for the baby so we didn't stay long (someone should rent beach umbrellas there, they'd make some $$).
We tried to find Cheshire Hall which is supposed to be a historical site of a cotton plantation (in ruins) and the map was either NOT correct or the ruins were hiding somewhere. We drove around for awhile and I am very good with maps/directions and we could not find it anywhere and ended up on some very rugged back roads which were a little scary.
We also did the semi-submarine tour which was interesting, you go into the belly of a ship with glass all around and tour the reef, it was not ideal for my mother and I who felt "seasick" for most of it and my husband and I saw more when we were snorkeling, but it was good for people who don't snorkel/dive (and for kids).
Overall, we had a lovely vacation, a week was just not long enough. If we ever do return to Turks and Caicos, I can see us staying at the Villa del Mar again. However, when our children do get bigger, we would think about the Beaches resort since there are so many more things for kids to do. I think that this resort is perfect for families with small children/infants and for older couples. If you're looking to "party", this hotel isn't for you.More
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