21. February 2013

5 Things to Look for in a Resort or Villa Rental
Great Exuma in the Bahamas is a sunny, relaxed place for a family vacation. Away from the urban atmosphere of many Caribbean islands, you can enjoy the on-site activities at the rental location of your choice and also feel comfortable getting out and exploring. Animal lovers can swim with friendly rays and snorkel with fish, turtles, and sometimes even dolphin. There are caves to explore, and tours to see swimming pigs. The atmosphere is casual and unstructured, and the Bahamians, as a rule, absolutely love children.

It’s easy to get it right on Exuma, but finding the best base of operations can make your family vacation unforgettable. Here are a few things you might want to search out when choosing a resort, villa, or house rental:

1. Pools. Visitors are often surprised to find that pools—ubiquitous at hotels back home—are not always featured here. And depending on the resort, the pool may be adult-oriented with seats at the bar and patrons who exhibit little tolerance for Marco Polo and belly flop contests. So if your younger ones are apt to swim until they’re blue, find out whether your accommodations come with access to a pool where a bit of underage rowdiness is welcome.

2. Kid-friendly beach access. There are a lot of sharp, rocky shorelines here, and some beachfront hotels are located along the Exuma Sound, where waters can be rough for tiny swimmers. A protected, sandy beach makes water activities—from castle building to paddle boating—easier to partake in.

3. Water toys, games, and equipment. The more stuff your rental comes with, the less you’ll need to bring. We can’t speak for every resort, but Hideaways, for example, offers basketball in the pool, a ping pong table, billiards, a Kinnect video game system, and all the water sports equipment (including life vests in children’s sizes) you’ll need to keep the kids entertained all day.

4. Kitchen facilities. Sometimes pouring a bowl of cereal or packing familiar foods for a picnic beats dragging the kids to a restaurant for every meal. Even a well outfitted kitchenette is a real plus on these occasions and can help keep costs down.

5. Central location. Exuma stretches more than 50 miles, and dining establishments, shopping, and tour providers are clustered around Georgetown. You’ll have more entertainment options with less time in the car or taxi (and fewer rounds of “Are we there yet?”) if your rental is nearby.

Especially when compared with commercialized, packaged vacations, Exuma offers numerous choices for less structured getaways in a beautiful, safe, welcoming location. So if you’re looking to give your kids a chance to run free and experience new things, this island might be the perfect place for you.

We say this from firsthand experience. Three generations of the Francis family came to Great Exuma, loved it, and never left!