An All Inclusive Resort with Vacation Nannies! :: A REAL Vacation for Mom at Franklyn D. Resort and Spa in Jamaica

An All Inclusive Resort with Vacation Nannies! :: A REAL Vacation for Mom at Franklyn D. Resort and Spa in Jamaica

Moms of small children can tell you that vacations are often just opportunities to do the same thing one normally does, just in a different location. If you’re in a hotel or resort, you’re often sharing a room, eating dinner at 5:30 at a kid-friendly place, and managing overtired kids who will not remember the gorgeous location you’ve selected.

After our second kid, I was desperate for a real vacation: one with ocean breezes, good food, and the ability to enjoy it. I found the ideal place in Jamaica at the Franklyn D. Resort and Spa (FDR for short)! You see, at the FDR, it’s not just meals and drinks that are included in the all-inclusive price; you also get your very own vacation nanny for the duration of your stay!

Having never had a nanny, I had no idea what to expect. We arrived with our four-year-old and 9-month-old. As they prepared our room, our nanny greeted us and literally took the baby out of my arms. I was a bit freaked out at first, to be honest. We went to the restaurant and ate lunch, had the first of many frozen drinks, and quickly got used to not overseeing our kids.

The Basics – What to Expect:

First, the FDR is NOT a luxury resort. The play equipment is older. The rooms are basic, but they are clean. They have air conditioning, and many have kitchens, but you won’t find Aveda products or 10,000-thread count sheets. The management is decidedly Caribbean – things operate at a slower pace even than we in New Orleans are used to.

There are many pros: First, the resort is small. This is not one of those sprawling resorts where you need shuttles to get from one end to the other. Even if your room isn’t facing the ocean, you can walk to the ocean in about 2 minutes from wherever you’re staying. There is a small cove with a sandy beach on the property, and a larger beach with slightly bigger waves at the adjacent property.

If it’s not obvious with the nanny, the resort caters to families. There are three pools on the tiny property: an itty-bitty baby pool, a large main pool with a small slide, and a large water slide (known as “Big Blue”) with a pool.

Pools are great, but how is the food?

There is a main restaurant with buffet-style meals. You’ll find the usual resort fare, but you’ll also be treated to real Jamaican food. Over the course of the week, you’ll see curry chicken or goat, beef patties, rice & peas, festival, ackee and salt fish, brown stew chicken, porridge, delicious breads and pastries, and more. Do not fail to try this! At many all-inclusives, you get the lowest common denominator of food, but not here.

On the other side of the beach, there are two additional restaurant spaces that have rotating international cuisine. You’ll find Indian, French and Italian nights at these places, and a more upscale Jamaican option as well. These places don’t have Michelin stars, but the food is good and they are a great option for Mom and Dad to enjoy some alone time after the kids have been fed. In fact, the FDR expects this and has an early Kidz Buffett with mac-n-cheese, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, and other kid-approved favorites. Finally, there is the Sea Cotton Tree Grill that operates throughout the day. It has hamburgers, pizza, panini, and wraps. Our favorite was the Jerk Chicken Nachos!

Once per week there is a feast on the beach, where the kids are invited to put on a talent show. My older daughter *loved* this, but it is completely optional, if your child doesn’t relish being the center of attention. There is a teen “nightclub” (no alcoholic drinks) to give older kids some chance to get away from the littles.

A Typical Day at FDR 

Your nanny is available to you from roughly 8:30am-4:30pm. During that time, she is in charge of your kids as much as you want her to be. She’ll take them to the pool, the beach, the playground, and to the rotating schedule of activities each day. Each day there is craft time, with bracelet-making, tie-dye shirts, and more. There are traditional games and sports, as well as fun things like hermit-crab races, goat races and sandcastle building. There’s a small Kids Club with some older video games, a TV, and places for little ones to climb and play in the air conditioning.

Once the nanny is off the clock, you can generally coordinate with her if you’d like her to stay later, which most families do. You pay her separately for this service. Some rooms even have beds set up for nannies to spend the night, if you plan to be out very late. Most women commute to work and rely on public transportation that stops running at certain times, so we always used that as our cut-off time.

It’s not all about the kids! The schedule of activities always includes stuff for parents, too. There are hikes and bike rides, water aerobics, and yoga. My husband got into pool volleyball and beach volleyball games nearly every day. There is a spa with the usual services (costs extra). The resort also has a glass-bottom boat and the captain will take groups out throughout the day for snorkeling trips (included in price). The front desk will also help arrange all sorts of off-resort activities, such as Dunn’s River Falls or the Blue Hole. At night, there is karaoke, live music, magicians, and more.

The resort is moderately priced. The staff at the resort rely heavily on gratuities, so be prepared to acknowledge the work of the bartenders, wait staff, and those heading up the activities in addition to your nanny.

We have been four times. Vacations are less stressful now that our kids are older; but when they were small, our trips to FDR were the only real vacations we had.

J. Celeste Lay
J. Celeste Lay was born in New Orleans but moved around as a kid until finally growing up in Kentucky. After college and grad school, she returned to New Orleans in 2004 to become a professor at Tulane, where she teaches and researches U.S. politics and policy. Celeste and her New Jersey-born husband have two daughters, Lucy and Kimberly. She is delighted to be long past the baby and toddler stage with her kids and can genuinely say that parenting has gotten more fun every year. As the kids develop their own unique identities and personalities, her parenting has become less about meeting basic needs and more about learning who they are and how she can be helpful in ensuring they become kind, strong, independent women. In her free time, Celeste can be found at her kids’ dance competitions, but she also enjoys reality competition shows, scrapbooking, and travel.


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