Stephanie Miller-Murphy is the owner of Travel With Stephanie, and helps clients in Mandeville, Covington, and New Orleans, LA plan their perfect luxury vacation.
July 22 – 28, 2103
I just returned from a week long journey to the magical Caribbean destination of Turks and Caicos. I had the pleasure of experiencing many different types of resorts and unique experiences. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy.
First, a quick overview about the destination…….The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony and consist of 40 islands and cays (pronounced keys), eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the Island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti). The islands are home to roughly 30,000 full time residents and welcome more than 200,000 tourist annually. The islands of the Turks and Caicos are almost as diverse as its people. From the main tourist center of Providenciales (Provo as called by the locals) to the quiet and tranquil islands of North and Middle Caicos to the historic Capital Island of Grand Turk; each one offers a different experience and a unique character. I will have to go back to experience to other islands. Oh darn!
The primary language is English and the currency is the US dollar. They are in the Eastern Standard time zone. The climate has average temperatures ranging between 85 – 90 degrees from June – October, sometimes reaching the mid90’s especially in the late summer months.
My first stop was to the remote, private island that houses Parrot Cay Resort. Upon arriving at the Providenciales Airport I was whisked away by a private resort van and traveled a quick 15 minutes to the resorts private dock and lounge. After being greeted with a nice beverage and a cold towel we boarded one of the resort boats and headed towards the island. The boat ride was a quick 35 minutes and the surroundings absolutely stunning.
Parrot Cay is one of the most secluded and exclusive resort islands in the northern Caribbean. This private island has over a thousand acres of pristine white-sand beaches and lush tropical natural landscaping. This place is much more than a resort, Parrot Cay is a retreat and a sanctuary. I somehow managed to renew my spirit and discover bliss in my short 24-hour visit.
Parrot Cay’s award-winning Shambala Retreat is one of the most impressive spas I have ever experienced. The stand-alone building has stunning views of the wetlands. My Massage Therapist Emma was truly skilled at her craft.
The resort offers world-class cuisine at four different food and beverage venues. We started out with a refreshing Mojito at the open-air Lotus Bar followed by dinner poolside at Lotus Restaurant and enjoyed an amazing sunset over the water.
Parrot Cay’s guest accommodations have an understated elegance and extra-large balconies with comfy furniture to take in the views.
A short walk from the cottages, Parrot Cay’s studio beach house suites and two-bedroom villas offer enhanced privacy and seclusion.
For guests seeking the ultimate escape, luxury and service, six private homes offer large private pools and beach area with ocean views, spectacular sunsets, private butler service and amenities for an island getaway like none other.
The resort has a wonderful walking/running trail that after backtracking is a total of 3 miles. It is a gravel trail taking you through the tropical natural landscaping and you truly become one with nature. It is beautiful.
Parrot Cay Resort winds down rather early in the evening and does not provide evening entertainment. I would not recommend it to my clients who live for the nightlife.
The next afternoon I continued my journey to the uber-luxurious remote Amanyara Resort. The resort has an impressive car portfolio that includes several new Range Rovers. Clients are met at the airport by their private driver and car and this amenity is at their disposal for the day in the event they would like to shop or dine at a local restaurant such as Bugaloos or Da Conch Shack prior to their arrival at the resort.
Amanyara (peaceful place) is located on the coast of Northwest Point adjacent to Malcolm’s Beach on the island of Provo. The resort derives its name from aman, the Sanskrit word for ‘peace’, and yara, the word for ‘place’ in the language of the Arawak Amerindians, one of the region’s first indigenous peoples. Its location is well removed from much of the development on the eastern side of the island. This luxury resort is perfect for the couple or family that is looking for a true retreat and wants to get away.
Entry to the resort is through a large reception pavilion that opens onto a central reflecting pond. I was greeted once again with a smile, a cold towel and refreshing beverage.
I was introduced to my personal host and escorted via cart to my Pavilion. All Pavilion accommodations are identical in layout and design yet differentiated by location and view. I was assigned Pavilion #130 which is an Ocean Front Pavilion which just happened to have its own private swimming cove in the ocean.
The entry-level Pavilion is simply called “Pavilion” and has Lagoon/Pond views.
The top tier Pavilion is a Pool Pavilion and has a 40 ft. private infinity pool and grassy yard.
Amanyara offers a select number of private Villas. The 3, 4 or 5 Bedroom Villas are centered by either a rectangular or square infinity-edged swimming pool in black volcanic rock surrounded by extensive hardwood decking. The free-standing bedroom pavilions are similar to those of the resort, some with outdoor bathtubs and showers. A few Villas have an additional bedroom suitable for up to four children and a nanny. A large living and dining pavilion, outdoor dining table and fully-equipped kitchen are included in each Villa.
A personal cook and housekeeper take care of all guest needs. Villas come with two four-seater golf buggies, and guests may enjoy access to the resort’s facilities and services.
The Restaurant provides a choice of dining settings. It is divided into two areas, one open to sea breezes and the other air-conditioned. The open setting leads down to a terrace with outdoor seating scattered beneath two large trees. The cuisine focuses on classic Asian and modern Mediterranean dishes with an emphasis on fresh seafood.
Beyond the Restaurant and leading to the swimming pool is The Bar. The structure is circular in design and features a soaring ceiling. It includes a central service bar with a number of oversized lounging daybeds on its perimeter. Afternoon tea is served daily.
The beach is very private and provides a truly natural setting without activity in the water from other resorts.
The next morning I began my day with a massage followed by a snorkeling excursion with the resort naturalist.
After lunch it was time to say goodbye after my brief yet relaxing 24-hour stay at Amanyara. This peaceful, remote place is for the affluent couple or family that wants a true retreat and privacy.
My next two stops were for site tours as I worked my way to my next overnight stay at Grace Bay Club. The first stop was The Beach House. This property can be described as a playful, small, mid-range boutique hotel. The reception area is located in a stand-alone building. The main building has the majority of the suites located in it and provides wonderful beach views.
The property offers complimentary chairs and umbrellas on the beach on a first come, first served basis and does have a beverage service on the beach.
It has 21 suites, all with full kitchens – each assigned names instead of numbers. The property was clean but offers limited amenities. I would recommend this to couples and families on a budget. The suites are in good shape and have had been recently renovated.
Next stop – Gansevoort. Now this is the place to see and be seen. Gansevoort is urban chic boutique married to Caribbean cool. From the moment you step into the open-air reception area you feel the vibe while taking in view of the 7,000 square foot infinity pool.
The hotel has 91 guestrooms, including 32 suites and 4 penthouses. All accommodations have an Ocean View and some have kitchenettes and wrap around terraces.
After our Gansevoort tour I headed to Grace Bay Club for the night. That evening our property tour began at a completely different property all together…..West Bay Club. Grace Bay Club had just acquired this property one week prior to my visit. West Bay Club accommodations offer several options to suit most vacationers’ needs. The resort has 37ocean front suites with ocean views of Grace Bay Beach and 20 studio rooms with garden views.
We were treated to a very refreshing beverage while touring the property!
We then drove back to Grace Bay Club for what turned out to be one my favorite evenings of the week. Out of all of the resorts I saw this past week I believe Grace Bay Club offers the most amenities to the widest audience. This resort combines an adults-only Hotel and Pool with spacious, family-friendly Villas and The Estates residences.
After the resort tour we were in for a treat! Our evening started out with cocktails at The Lounge, a beachfront venue.
We then had dinner fireside and experienced the most fabulous culinary journey!
Grace Bay Club really wowed me in many ways! This resort is so versatile and can appeal to many different types of clients.
The next morning it was off to Beaches for a tour of two of their four villages – Key West Village and the Italian Village. We just did not have enough time to see the entire property. This family friendly, all inclusive resort offers something for everyone. Accommodations are available for all budgets and lifestyles.
Opened in May of this year is the Key West Village. This village is quite impressive and offers accommodations which include studios, 1 & 2 bedroom suites as well as 3 & 4 bedroom villas with private pools.
We next headed over to the Italian Village. Everything here has an Italian flavor, from the fountains and statues to the cuisine.
Beaches is beaming with fun activities for all ages everywhere you turn!
Last but certainly not least my journey brought me to Regent Palms – Turks and Caicos where I actually unpacked for the first time all week! This lovely resort is the reason I was on Turks and Caicos as they were hosting a three-day Brownell Exclusive FAM.
Regent Palms exudes luxury at every turn! The grounds are stunning with landscaping unlike any of the other resorts I had seen this week. Upon arrival we were greeted once again with a cold towel, a refreshing beverage and lots of smiles.
Regent Palms offers 72 suites with ocean, garden and pool views. The entry-level category is a Junior Suite. All Junior Suites have a garden or pool view and a mini-kitchenette and patio or balcony.
The one, two and three bedroom suites offer pool views and ocean-front views and are very luxurious.
The pool and beach offer everything you would expect from this luxury resort.
The award-winning spa has a gorgeous outdoor relaxation lounge although it was a little warm. All of the treatment rooms are stand-alone buildings.
Saturday our hosts chartered a boat from Caicos Dream Tours and we headed out for a half-day excursion complete with diving for conchs, snorkeling at the barrier reef and hunting for sand dollars. It was a fun outing!
Our last night was the best experience yet as we were treated to a private, beach-front dinner. It was a lovely evening!
I am thrilled to have had this experience and look forward to sharing it with my clients!