When you think of the ideal beach vacation the beaches of Grand Cayman, Jamaica or maybe Aruba might spring to mind. If you’re a lover of sun and sand, Turks & Caicos should be at the top of your list! On a recent visit to Providenciales (or Provo as its known locally), I had the opportunity to explore the island, it’s beaches and the wide range of accommodations on the island. The popular beach area known as Grace Bay Beach has some of the most pristine, soft white sand I’ve ever seen.
Accommodations range from modest condos to ultra-luxe hotel residences with a few mega resorts thrown into the mix. It can seem a little intimidating as one condo complex can look just like the next. You can easily go to each properties website, read the descriptions and see the photos but how do you pick the one that’s best for you? Talk to someone that’s been there (that’d be me)!
Ocean Club Resorts
Ocean Club Resorts is actually two properties next to each other. The original Ocean Club was built in the mid 1990’s and offers comfortable studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites. Onsite you’ll also enjoy Cabana Bar & Grill as well as the more sophisticated Opus Restaurant which is open for dinner and often has live entertainment in the evenings. Ocean Club West was added about 12 years ago and is quite similar to the original Ocean Club however the grounds are a bit more spread out so there is more space for the kids to play and the pool area is larger. Guests will also enjoy Seaside Grill offering a relaxed dining experience. Units are all individually owned and decorated and frankly a bit dated at both properties unless you get one of the updated units which are quite nice and feature new furniture, paint and bedding. It is one of the more affordable options on the island and great for couples or families looking for a laid back, relaxing stay. Best feature of the units is actually the screened in porch so you can enjoy the evening breeze minus the mosquitoes.
The Sands at Grace Bay — Perfect for families
This is probably where I would choose to stay when bringing the family especially as I have several little ones. The 114 units are divided into six, three story buildings. Ranging from studios up to 3 bedroom suites, I found these Caribbean inspired, beach themed units to be casual and comfortable. Many of the rooms can connect so this is ideal for larger families that want to stay together but not necessarily in the same bedroom. Kitchens are more modern than some of the other standard complexes on the island. Note however that because the units are individually owned and decorated, some are more updated than others. All of the units I saw had granite countertops in the kitchens, comfortable furniture and most had updated bathrooms as well. You can select garden, ocean (which is more like partial ocean) or oceanfront units. It is definitely worth doing an oceanfront unit if it’s within budget so that you’re closer to the beach. The screened in porch or balcony are also a fantastic feature of the units. There are several pools and a lazy river the kids will enjoy. Onsite is the popular Hemingway’s Restaurant with a lovely outside deck for alfresco dining.
The Beach House
Formerly known as the Turks & Caicos Club, The Beach House has re-launched in July 2012 with new management, a new name and a face lift. With just 21 suites this is the ideal property for a family group, corporate incentive or private event. Book the entire property and enjoy spacious accommodations, beachfront access and an onsite restaurant with menus that can be tailored to your needs. The units here are large but basic offering comfortable (but minimal) furniture with soothing Caribbean blues on the walls and tiled kitchens & baths.
This is a true condominium property with limited onsite services. You’ll find the 28 one, two and three bedroom suites spread out in three buildings with a central pool area in the middle. This is a small, quiet complex ideal for those looking for a relaxing holiday in a fantastic, central location. The Salt Mill shopping area is literally on its door step so you’re just a short walk to several restaurants & shops. You can borrow one of several bicycles on site to explore the town at your leisure if you wish. Onsite Teona Spa is small but offers a good range of treatments. The Vix Restaurant Bar & Grill is next door in RegentVillage offering a good selection of burgers, steaks & island fare. They’ll also deliver to both the Villa Renaissance and its neighbor Regent Grand. At night The Vix is also popular hangout with the ex-pats and a good place to meet new friends. All of the units here are individually owned and decorated but to a very high standard. Granite countertops in the kitchen & baths, large bedrooms and living spaces. My particular unit was a 2 bedroom Oceanfront suite on the third floor of the main building with stunning views of the beach & ocean and a very large balcony. Complimentary WIFI is available in each unit for those looking to stay connected as well as a comprehensive home theatre system in most units. Breakfast is included in the rates and delivered to your suite each morning in the off season or set up as a buffet at the pool bar for you to enjoy at your convenience during high season. Seriously, nothing better than enjoying breakfast on the balcony and enjoying the views! (For a step up in accommodations, check out the Regent Grand which is right next door. Similar size and layout but the units are a bit more luxurious)
Seven Stars — luxurious getaway
A very modern, upscale complex with 107 suites in three highrise buildings. From the outside it feels more like a group of apartment buildings in Florida. Inside, the units all have kitchens and are quite spacious with tall ceilings and British Colonial décor (think four poster beds, tile floors, flowy white drapes). The smaller junior suite units overlook the backside of the resort (road) while the 1 and 2 bedroom suites offer either pool or ocean views. It’s definitely worth booking a suite with a view. Suites can connect creating much larger units which are ideal for groups traveling together. Several pools are spread out through the complex as well as 3 dining venues featuring island-inspired cuisine. For those looking for a fine dining experience definitely check out Seven Restaurant. We ate at The Deck overlooking the sea which served local Caribbean fare and was quite tasty. Seven Stars is a really lovely choice for those looking for larger, upscale accommodations with hotel amenities – without the higher price tag. The in house spa is ideal for a day of pampering and the water sports hut on the beach can assist with hobie cat rentals, sailing lessons, scuba trips and more.
Point Grace — romantic and quiet
Point Grace is a charming boutique hotel offering 28 one, two and three bedrooms suites on famousGraceBaybeach. Guests can be picked up at the airport in the hotels Rolls Royce and whisked straightaway to paradise. Point Grace would be ideal for couples and honeymooners that are looking for an intimate environment and relaxing hideaway. The one bedroom Cottage Suites overlook the pool & garden (Tip: request a room on the top floor as these have vaulted ceilings and in general feel a bit more open). The suites have a very exoticCaribbeanvibe with dark mahogany floors & teak furniture, crisp linens and granite countertops in the kitchen and bath. Very nicely done but not over the top. The bathrooms feature claw foot tubs and size wise bathrooms can vary depending on the position of the suite. The 2 & 3 bedroom ocean front suites are in a separate building facing the beach and are quite spacious and beautifully decorated. The suites we saw were very bright, airy and displayed personal touches by the owners. There is a central pool area with bar as well as an onsite restaurant that includes breakfast daily and has options for lunch & dinner as well. While they said they do get quite a few families here, there are no facilities for children so I would probably only recommend this to those with older children, family groups and couples.
Amanyara — WOW
Exclusive. Romantic. Exotic. Unique. Luxurious. Surprisingly unpretentious.
Far removed from the rest of the island located in the north westpoint of Provo, Amanyara is a true retreat from every day life. Each of the Indonesian inspired pavilions offer a minimalistic but luxurious and zen-like décor. Each pavilion is the same layout and size. The difference is going to be your view (garden, pool or ocean) and location within the property. They also have much larger villas from 2-4 bedrooms for larger groups or families traveling together. Amanyara is ideal for couples looking for a romantic hideaway but also an excellent choice for well traveled families. I was really impressed with the NatureDiscoveryCenterwhich is a special educational kid’s zone which is tailored to the number of kids on the property at any given time. They might do “critter safaris” to explore the many lizards, birds and marine life. Do arts & crafts, enjoy smores over a bonfire, make pizza and much more. There is a naturalist on site so your kids will have a blast and learn at the same time. Several fantastic dining choices including the Restaurant at Amanyara located in the center of the property facing the sea. Offering Thai cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere you can enjoy dinner at sunset with amazing views or order in and have dinner in your pavilion. For a casual lunch, head down to the beach club and enjoy fresh seafood on your beach chaise.
Regent Palms — spectacular spa
If you’re looking for luxurious villa suites with full resort amenities, the Regent Palms may be your answer. Even though the hotel is only 7 years old it looks like an old world hotel that has been lovingly preserved. When you pull up to the Regent Palms you’ll notice a grand veranda overlooking an inner courtyard and “The Mansion” which is at the heart of the resort and home to Parallel 23 (or P23) which offers a casual breakfast in the morning and then transforms into a fine dining restaurant in the evening. The 72 suites are a mix of junior suites (garden view), 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites with magnificent ocean views. While each suite is individually owned they are all decorated to a very high standard and quite luxurious with either kitchenettes or full kitchens and plenty of living space. The Regent Palms attracts both couples and families. Adults will enjoy the adult-only beach decks along the dunes with loungers and bar service. Children will love the kid’s club offering a wide range of activities. If you enjoy a day at the spa, this is where you want to stay and at a minimum visit. The 25,000 square foot spa consistently ranks in the top # 2 as the best spa in theCaribbeanand had I the time I would have planned an entire day of pampering here! The Regent Palms also has some of the only indoor meeting space on the island so it’s ideal for a wedding or special event.
The Gansevoort — vibrant and trendy
Otherwise known as – where the cool people hang out. While many resorts on the island have the British Colonial vibe, here it’s young, fresh, hip, modern, contemporary – you get the idea. It feels like a swank South Beach hotel. The 91 rooms & suites are located in two identical buildings which face the ocean. Whether you book the lowest room category or the highest you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the ocean. The main difference will be the size and location of the rooms. Rooms & suites feel crisp, cool and refreshing in soothing aqua blues, grays and white everywhere. For couples or honeymooners I’d recommend the luxury oceanfront terrace studio which features a king size bed, kitchenette and stunning beach views. The onsite spa is run by popular Exhale Spa with scheduled fitness classes and a wide range of services. The Stelle Restaurant & Beach Bar is a popular place in the evenings for hotel guests and even other guests if you’re looking for a little action in the evenings. It’s a fun, urban place to hang out, enjoy great food and meet new people.
Beaches Turks & Caicos — Ultimate family friendly resort
If you’re a fan of big ship cruises, you’ll probably like Beaches Turks & Caicos. This massive resort is split into 5 villages and at capacity can have 2,000+ people running around at any given time. The Beaches brand is incredibly popular with families and almost always full, even in the off season. Kids will love Camp Sesame with a wide range of activity for all age ranges. Older kids will love the onsite water park with slides, pirate ships and several pools to play in. Located on the beach with its own dock and beach club you can use the non motorized water toys as part of the all-inclusive package or book a snorkel trip right from the beach. Regardless of which village you stay in you can eat at any of the 16 restaurants & bars onsite. The Caribbean village is the original village and a bit tired. Suites are nice but basic. In the same area you have the French and Seaside villages. On the far end away from the main resort is Key West village (formerly The Verandah Resort). This side is ideal for those looking for more peace & quiet as it’s a good walk to get to the heart of the resort with all the kid’s club. In my opinion, the only place to stay is in the newer Italian village which feels more like a resort within a resort. Still within easy access to all that Beaches has to offer, the Italian village has its own pools, restaurants and bars so it’s a great option for those looking for an all-inclusive vacation but with upscale accommodations. A wide variety of suite choices are available depending on how much space you need some even with butler service which comes with your own private pool cabana.
Club Med Turkoise — Budget friendly adult only resort
The 290 room Club Med Turkoise is one of the original resorts on Providenciales and because of that has probably the best spot on Grace Bay Beach. This adults-only Club Med is ideal for singles or couples looking for a lively vacation. There is always something happening at the resort. Join in a game of beach volleyball or learn to swing from the trapeze during the day to live music, dancing and mingling at the bars in the evening. Other amenities include 3 restaurants, 2 bars, a wellness center offering spa treatments & a fitness room as well as an onsite scuba diving school (additional charge).
Things to do:
There is a wide range of water activities available from snorkeling & diving to parasailing, catamaran cruises, submarine adventures & much more. If you’re a water baby, you won’t be disappointed. Land activities are a bit more limited. There is an island tour that will take you to the famous Blue Hills and Da Conch Shack (warning: once you see what a conch looks like you may not want to eat it!! Think giant snail). The Casablanca Casino on Provo offers 12 gaming tables and is open until the wee hours of the morning for those looking for a little excitement. For golfers, you’ll enjoy the 18 hole championship golf course at the Provo Golf Club. Both Villa Renaissance and Regent Grand offer golf discounts (and sometimes free golf in low season) when staying at their properties. Depending on how much time you have you may also want to take a trip to Grand Turks which is not only home to the main cruise port for the Turks & Caicos but you’ll also find many Colonial style buildings & ruins along with several interesting historical sites.
Things to note:
- Airport transfers are not included or provided by most properties. Taxis are regulated on the island with flat rates up and down Grace Bay Beach. It’s important to verify the cost however prior to getting in the vehicle as some drivers pad their rates. It should only cost $15 to get from one end of Grace Bay beach to the other (plus gratuity).
- Upon arrival at the airport, many hotels have a welcome kiosk with a hotel representative which will assist with pre-check in and get a taxi for you. It’s appropriate to tip not only the hotel representative but also your taxi driver. The airport is tiny and rather chaotic. Just remember you’re on island time!
- Valid US passports are required for travel
- They drive on the LEFT side of the road and it’s not as intimidating as you might think. There are no traffic lights or signals on the island. Just go with the flow and stay calm. If you’re staying longer than a week, renting a car is a good idea if you plan to explore the island. You can also hire a driver for the day through the concierge.
- Be at the airport at least 3 hours prior to your return flight home. The airport is small and the check-in process long and crowded. I found out (too late) that there is a second floor to the airport with a bar and lounge so definitely check it out if the downstairs is jam packed.
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Why should you book your Turks & Caicos vacation with me?
I’ve been there! I can recommend places to eat, shop & explore. I’ve personally inspected each of the properties on this list and will match you with the right option for your stay. Plus, I personally know management at each of the hotels to ensure you have a vacation experience that will exceed your expectations.