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Mix and Match in Turks & Caicos

Written by  Bob Curley

CaribbeanFor all the glitz and glamour of Turks & Caicos, where a gilded necklace of high-end resorts drapes the shoreline of gorgeous Grace Bay on Providenciales, the destination long had but one private island resort - the 61-room COMO Parrot Cay, located just off the northwest tip of lightly populated North Caicos island.
Now, there’s a new cay in town. In January, the Turks & Caicos Collection, which operates three resorts on the Provo mainland, opened Ambergris Cay with 10 stylish beach suites, 18 minutes by air from Providenciales International Airport.
The three-mile-long island - which has the longest (5,700 feet) private airstrip in the Caribbean and can easily accommodate private jets of arriving, well-heeled guests - also has a collection of luxury villas, some of which are part of the resort’s rental program.


Each of the 10 suites located on Monck Beach features a plunge pool, outdoor shower, and studio-style accommodations. Walls of windows surround the bedroom on three sides, with both shades and blackout curtains that can be raised or lowered via remote control for privacy, sleeping, or greeting the sunrise.

Lights and the TV also have a high-tech control system (the latter rises from a cabinet at the foot of the bed), and guests receive a cell phone that can be used to summon resort staff for drinks, in-room dining, or other services.

Units also include a small sitting area and wet bar, along with a refrigerator pre-stocked with drinks. Chances are, however, that guests will spend most of their time on the outdoor patio, which has shaded loungers, a dining table, and comfy chairs arrayed around the plunge pool.

Smart touches include a portable light for evening strolls to the resort’s nearby restaurant and bar, a Bluetooth portable Bose speaker for playing music from mobile phones or other devices, and - best of all - golf carts equipped with GPS that guests can use to explore the island.

Dotted with Turks Head cactus and populated by rare rock iguanas, Ambergris Cay has sand roads providing access to secluded beaches, high ridge lines with ocean views, the villa community and its tennis court, and an environmental education center that shares space with the island’s kids’ program and the resort’s water-sports center.

Room services and multi-course gourmet meals, as well as top-shelf drinks featuring local Bambarra rum, are part of the resort’s all-inclusive package. Also included are daily, 30-minute spa treatments, fishing excursions and romantic sandbar lunches for two, and on-call flights back to Provo for shopping or sightseeing.

Ambergris Cay guests also have free run of the restaurants and amenities at the three other Provo resorts operated by the Turks & Caicos Collection: the Beach House and the Alexandra Resort on Grace Bay Beach and the Blue Haven Resort in the upscale Leeward community.

Splitting a stay between the private island and one of the mainland resorts, as we did, allows clients to experience the serenity and personalized service of Ambergris Cay with the activities and nightlife of Provo. Shuttle service connects all three of the related resorts, although the Beach House and Alexandria Resort are within walking distance of one another via the beach.

The Beach House is a 21-room boutique hotel located at the western end of Grace Bay and a quick stroll to Bight Park, where Provo’s lively fish fry takes place on Thursday nights. Accessed from the beach by a short boardwalk snaking through the sand dunes, the tidy, adults-only resort has a beach bar, casual and fine dining restaurants, and a courtyard pool, and each suite gets assigned its own beach chairs for the duration of the guests’ stay. Set back from a quiet stretch of beach and bracketed by parkland, the hotel could easily be on Cape Cod or the Outer Banks - except, of course, for the powder-soft sand and turquoise water out front.

Like nearby Beaches Turks & Caicos, the Alexandra Resort is centrally located on Grace Bay and offers a raft of all-inclusive amenities and activities, including watersports, pool volleyball, four restaurants (including a buffet) and three bars, one of the swim-up variety. It offers a more laid-back experience than the neighboring Beaches.

The Alexandra is the largest of the three Turks & Caicos Collection properties with 90 rooms, and also has the greatest variety of accommodations, with studios, one- and two-bedroom suites, and a four-bedroom penthouse. If your clients want to be in the middle of the action, especially at night, this is the resort to book.

The four-star Blue Haven Resort, on the other hand, isn’t on Grace Bay at all; rather, it occupies a strip of manmade beach amid the canals and upscale homes of the Leeward community, abutted by a 78-slip marina that’s the launching point for watersports, ecotours, and fishing trips. The isolated location means lots of privacy for guests, and the shallow waters and large suites make this resort a top choice for families - plus, kids stay free. Blue Haven has the nicest pool of the three Provo resorts and a beach scattered with hammocks invites relaxation.

Rack rates at Ambergris Cay are $2,000 per person per night, low season, and $3,000 per person, per night in high season. Rates at the Alexandra resort start at $261 per person in summer and $542 per night in winter. Blue Haven Resort rates begin at $293 per person in summer and $613 per person in winter, and the Beach House rates for one-bedroom suites are $425 per person per night in low season and $665 per person per night in high season. Commissions to travel advisors are paid at 10 percent on the full rate.
www.turksandcaicoscollection.com

Always a favorite, family and couple friendly Beaches Turks & Caicos offers their guests an incredibly exciting and fun vacation with its five themed villages, 21 restaurants, a wide variety of kids programs including a teen disco, and 45-000 square foot water park - one of the biggest in the Caribbean. All these amenities are complemented by white-sand beaches and crystal clear seas. Beaches is currently offering several promotions with significant savings on family vacations in Turks and Caicos.
www.beaches.com

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