The Independent Parent: Where can we go in the Caribbean for a villa-style holiday?

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The Independent Travel

Q. We're a party of two couples and two children under five hoping to go to the Caribbean early next year.

Q. We're a party of two couples and two children under five hoping to go to the Caribbean early next year. We want the privacy of a villa-style holiday with access to an organised children's club. We'd rather all stay in the same place, so a three-bedroom villa/apartment would be perfect. Does such a thing exist?
K Williams, London

A. It certainly does, as the Caribbean is full of all-inclusive, never-leave-the-premises resort hotels, several of which have apartments or villas. Many tend to offer a decent range of children's activities - though you should check first as even luxury hotels are not above calling an unstaffed room with a table tennis table and a video a "kids' club". Better-run clubs accept children from the age of three or four, but nannies can be hired for £5 an hour.

Winter is peak season in the Caribbean, and the resorts that offer three-bedroom villas are all at the upper end of the market so travelling during half-term and Easter will be expensive. One way of keeping costs down would be to rent a self-catering property independently, and then arrange for a local nanny to take the children off your hands for a set number of hours a day. Try the Caribbean Villa Owners Association (001 877 248 2862; www.cvoa.com), which has three-bed villas across the Caribbean, with prices starting at £800 per week in high season.

Alternatively, you could consider renting a larger private villa with a travel company that includes membership of a local country club in the price. Prestbury Travel (01625 858158; www.prestburytravelgroup.co.uk) offers the five-bedroom Cliffside Cottage on the north coast of Jamaica, with a private pool and terrace overlooking Montego Bay. Rent this and you get a chambermaid, cook and gardener, plus guest membership of the Round Hill Beach Club, which offers a private beach, tennis, water sports, and children's club. The total for all of you for a week would cost £5,280, which includes direct flights. For similar villa/country club packages, but with the option of arranging your own flights, you could also try Caribbean Villas (0800 093 9468; www.caribbeanvillas.org).

For all-inclusive resorts, a popular mid-range price option is Windjammer Landing (0800 316 9797; www.windjammer-landing.com) on St Lucia. This resort offers a mix of room and villa accommodation, a great beach and decent restaurants. There are four main pools, free water sports and tennis, and an excellent children's club included in the price. Parents of under-fours can use the nanny booking service. If you do book direct, a three-bedroom villa will cost £3,884 on a B&B basis from 28 February to 7 March - which avoids the half-term week. You could fly with Virgin Atlantic to St Lucia from London Gatwick from £665 per adult, and £459 for children. Or, if you book a package holiday flying via Jamaica with Virgin Holidays (0870 220 2468; www.virginholidays.co.uk) the total cost would be £5,394 for all of you. This price is valid for travel between 31 January and 10 March and includes seven nights' room-only accommodation in a self-catering two-bedroom villa (children can sleep on roll-away beds). These flights are with Virgin Atlantic from London Gatwick to Bridgetown with transfers to St Lucia.

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