Ask the majority of parents about their last family vacation and chances are you'll hear that they had a great time. The kids had so much fun. They swam, they played, they ate out.
And the parents came home more exhausted then when they left.
While more and more resorts are catering to families by offering kid's clubs and babysitting services, a handful of luxury properties include a full-time nanny for the kids in the cost of the vacation. At first, it sounds like a parent's dream come true: someone to feed, sleep and amuse my children while you actually take a break? You know, like a real vacation?
But what does a parent gain and lose when handing off the parenting to someone else on what's designed to be a family experience?
"A parent might say they want more time with the kids one day or to have a family beach day, and that's fine" said Alexander Weiss, General Manager of Fiji's Turtle Island, a resort where during family weeks the ratio of nannies -- or Bula Buddies, as the resort calls them -- is one-to-one. The Bula Buddy looks after the child 24/7, Weiss said.
"If one child wants to go snorkeling and one wants to go swimming, you can't do both at the same time." Having one nanny per child avoids a conflict, he said.
Ahh, conflict. Isn't that part of the beauty of the family vacation?
Also in Fiji, on the island of Vanua Levu, the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort assigns a nanny to every child under age five, no extra charge. Parents brief the nanny on feeding and sleeping schedules upon arrival. Parents are also encouraged to include their nanny in family activities for an extra set of hands.
"Resorts offering nannies are going to be more expensive than the resorts that offer supervised kids’ clubs and nurseries because these nannies stay with your children and come to you," Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of FamilyVacationCritic.com.
Indeed. Rates during the family weeks at Turtle Island are about $2,500 per couple, per night and then between $400-$800 per child. The price, however, includes everything imaginable during the length of your stay. Weiss said to be sure to ask about specials before booking to bring down the cost of the trip.
In Jamaica, the all-inclusive Franklyn D. Resort claims to be the country's only resort that offers a "free" nanny to each family.
"She is our gift to your family while you are on vacation. She is a qualified member of our staff, specially trained and assigned to only your family," the web site reads.
In Mexico, visitors to the all-inclusive Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun who book the Family Connection Luxury Suites with Nanny Service get three hours of nanny service per day included in the rate. More hours, more money. An added bonus is the walkie-takies given to the kids that allow them to speak to their kids at anytime. And at the Cotton bay Village on St. Lucia, two hours of nanny-ing is included per day.
"Most parents don’t leave their children in the care of nannies for the entire trip," said Poirot, "but just have the comfort of knowing someone is there to help when they want to enjoy some personal time, romantic time, or something that little ones just cannot do."