The term "all-inclusive resort" has never really screamed "family" to me -- I thought it was code for free drinks -- until I visited Club Med Sandpiper Bay.
The famous resort's only U.S. location underwent extensive renovations last fall and its new look more than lives up to expectations.
Sandpiper Bay is populated mainly by families. Located about an hour from Palm Beach, in Port St. Lucie, it's an easy trip to make with little ones.
Kids sing the praises of the KidzVillage, where they can practice sports and learn circus skills. At the end of the week, a show lets them demonstrate their new talents.
A partnership with the public television show "Raggs" brings characters to the resort to play.
Tweens and teens get their own hang-out spot with Latitude 27 degrees, a game-filled lounge exclusively for the 11-17 crowd.
If you have an infant, you won't have to lug all that baby paraphernalia, as guests 2 and under get VIP treatment with complimentary high chairs and strollers, as well as milk and baby food.
While the kids play (the Pyjama Club offers child care until 1 a.m.), mom and dad can too, with activities including a spa, tennis, golf and fitness classes, an adult-only infinity pool and drinks and dancing at the Slice Bar & Lounge. The no-tipping policy means you don't have to tote your wallet.
But it wouldn't be a family vacation if families couldn't enjoy it together. Boat excursions down the St. Lucie River offer the chance to see dolphins, and with a bit of a drive, you can take an airboat tour in the Everglades, where beady-eyed alligators size you up.
For the more adventurous families, Club Med's famous full-size trapeze gets the adrenaline pumping. And there's always traditional fun like the pools and chowing down at the extensive Marketplace buffet or outdoor Soleil restaurant. Evening events like a '50s dance party add to the comfortable family feel.
The international flair of Club Med makes it seem that you've stepped into another universe. And when you consider that the whole family is satisfied at Club Med Sandpiper Bay, it truly is an out-of-this-world getaway.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.