My Love Affair with FDR

FDR, a.k.a. Franklyn D. Resort, is such a blessing for families. This tiny little gem of a resort is tucked into an area called Runaway Bay just outside of Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This is an all-inclusive resort for families that includes VACATION NANNIES.

All of the expected amenities can be found here, as well. The resort offers three meals a day, free drinks, water activities (glass bottom boat rides, snorkeling, fishing), organized activities for both kids and parents, an on-site nurse, and coordination for off-site excursions. FDR is not shiny. It’s not Vegas…or Sandals…or Disney. It’s Jamaican…and it feels like home.

FDR’s strength is in it’s warmth and hospitality. It’s small size promotes relationships with both the staff and other guests. The staff greeted our family with hugs and “Welcome Home’s.” Many of the guests had returned from last year at the same time so there were many familiar faces. This was our second trip to FDR, but asking around, we realized there are many returning families. One eighteen-year-old girl was there who has spent every every summer of her childhood at FDR!

We requested the same nannies. One nanny is included with the reservation, but a second nanny can be added for a very reasonable cost per day. Due to the size of our family and the age spread of our kids (11, 8, 3, and 1), we hired a second nanny to help out. The nannies are available from 8:30 AM-4:40 PM with an hour break for lunch. If you would like them to stay longer, like for an adult-only dinner and karaoke night, arrangements are made directly with the nannies.  Extended hourly rates set are set by the resort and are moderate. We love our nannies! The care that they give our family is top notch. They molded seamlessly within our family; we all cried when it was time to leave.

There are a lot of amazing travel experiences for families to share together, but this is truly the only RELAXING way to vacation with children. We went swimming with all of the kids in the pool. When the little ones were ready to get out, the nannies were ready to help with towels, dry clothes, drinks, and more sunscreen. We took our older boys to Dunn’s River Falls, while the younger two stayed at the resort and enjoyed the slower pace of the activities at the kids’ club. We were able to have one-on-one time with each child–which is hard to find when you have a large crew. I took my daughter, Lillian, to the small, on-site beauty shop where she had her hair braided and nails painted. My oldest son, Edwin, went fishing with my husband. My middle son, Montgomery, chose to go snorkeling with Kevin. My baby son, Morgan, didn’t want to leave his nannies. He was totally spoiled!

The food was very adequate. The truly Jamaican foods–coffee, fruit, anything jerked, and the fresh fish were exceptional. In an effort to please the diversity of guests, the chefs prepare a wide array of dishes from all over the world. They are also happy to accommodate dietary requests. I heard one Mom talking to a chef about her daughter’s celiac disease. She had brought gluten-free pancake mix for them to use to prepare her dishes. The mom requested clean pans to prepare her daughters eggs that hadn’t been contaminated with wheat and ice cream that hadn’t been touched by other children’s cones. I really feel like the kitchen staff goes above and beyond for their guests.

Most days there is one main dining option–a themed buffet or a dining room-with-menu option. The menu is limited, but I feel that all but the pickiest eaters could find something they enjoyed. The grill is also available for lunch and dinner with sandwiches, burgers, and kid staples.

The beach that is owned by FDR is a small, kid-friendly wading area. There is a mat a little way out from the shore where guests can float and sun-bathe. The larger, more traditional beach at the resort next door is only a couple of steps away and accessible to registered FDR guests. This was also the site of the photo shoot for our family pictures.

This is Harry, our boat captain. The kids loved his funny sayings. He was fearless, honest, and hard-working. He knew the best fishing holes and the best snorkeling spots. He patiently baited the kids’ fishing hooks over and over again.

Oh, how I cherished having the time with my husband and the other wonderful couples that we met at the resort. We were all from vastly different backgrounds, but we were all parents vacationing with our kids. That was a common bond, but, really, we didn’t talk about our kids that much!

The wonderfully diverse people that we got to know there were the highlight of our trip. I met a lovely woman who is a dentist in the D.C. area. She was born in Suriname, speed reads, speaks many languages, and lives life passionately. Kevin and I also connected with a preacher and his wife from England. We talked about Christianity in the UK versus our small town in Georgia. Both of our oldest boys are 11 and loved talking about culture. Another family from Long Island, NY, lived in a 750 square foot apartment. The dad, an iron worker by trade, builds sky scrapers for a living, but is scared to death of water. There was a group of Single Moms By Choice traveling together–six moms with eleven kids between them, searching for commonality and respite. Another family from Virginia traveling with five children, asked me about homeschooling. The mother is a lawyer; the father is considering quitting his job to teach their kids at home. A family from Queens encouraged their two-year-old son to greet my daughter every morning in French. I find it interesting how people from different areas feel the need to give their children different skills. They were teaching their child French. We were teaching ours how to fish!

I love people. I love to hear their stories. It was fascinating to me to get to know all of these people that have such different experiences from me. My kids got to play with their kids. This is one of the blessings that the small size of FDR promotes that is hard to describe. The staff knows everyone by name. It really feels like a family.

Everyone has a story. I loved my time at FDR and the people I met. I loved the time to connect with my tribe away from the schedules of everyday life. If you are looking for a truly rewarding family vacation, I encourage you to look into Franklyn D. Resort. It’s less expensive (and less hectic) then Disney World!

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