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One of the surest ways to judge if an all-inclusive Caribbean resort is truly family friendly is by the smiles on children’s faces. At Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa on St. Lucia, there are kid-smiles aplenty – and plenty of reasons why.

One huge, watery reason is the CocoLand Water Park, the main attraction for families here, the largest water park on the island, according to resort officials -- and from checking the place out myself, I saw no reason to doubt that.

It’s a good-sized water park with a pair of fun slides, a water-spritzing playground and the looping Lazy River, where you lounge on a tube and let the gentle current carry you on a big loop around the park.

The slides are terrific, one being the above-ground variety with enough twists and banked turns to keep you screaming on the slide down, but the other is the best, in my child-like estimation, because it is mostly underground.

For one thing, when you get to the top, you must sign a waiver to use the underground slide, with instructions to lay completely flat, feet first, arms crossed and never lift up your head -- which tells you, this is gonna be good. And it is. This baby twists and turns sharply above ground and soon you’re plunged into total darkness and it heads below terra firma,  snapping left and right in wickedly banked turns, leaving you screaming all the way down and wondering when the end will come. It does, too soon, and you’re jettisoned into a splash pool, eager to climb the stairs for more.

A major component of the resort’s family friendly nature is the fully supervised Kidz Klub, membership in which starts the second kids arrive and receive their free CocoPacks that include a special gift to help them remember their vacation. The Kidz Klub is based on what resort officials say is a proven educational curriculum and one with staff-to-child ratios of 1-to-3 for ages 3 and under and 6-to-1 for those ages 4 and older.  

Da Buzz Teens Club is where older kids can hang out, a popular spot stocked with video games and ping pong tables. When hunger hits (and what teen isn’t perpetually hungry?), the Catz Meow snack bar just for them serves pizza, nachos, cotton candy and other things they love.

Another component of family friendliness here is a most unique one: The Zone Paintball Field, the first paintball facility of its kind in the Caribbean.  Here kids 10 and older (yes, mom and dad, that means you, too) can try their luck at the field, hiding behind barriers while dodging flying paintball pellets and capturing the winning flag if they’re really good at it, splashes of yellow paint popping on camouflage jumpsuits as players are eliminated. For real competition, teams of five can do battle with each other.
 
Even the layout of the resort is family oriented, with two wings comprising the resort’s 250 rooms, half in the Harmony section for adults only, and the Splash unit for families, which overlooks the water park and where guests have the option of requesting connecting rooms to keep families together.

One day while walking the incredible beach at Coconut Bay, I spotted a small group of families, led by a hotel staffer, enjoying a game of horseshoes, with waves splashing nearby. There wasn’t a kid in the bunch – or a parent - without a smile on their face. As far as Coconut Bay’s family friendliness goes, that’s all I needed to see.

All-Inclusive Coconut Bay Beach Resort Information
Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa
Vieux Fort
St. Lucia, West Indies
Phone: 877-352-8898
Website: http://www.coconutbayresortandspa.com
Rates from $255


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