Turks and Caicos: Quiet Caribbean paradise
Looking for an action-packed adventure with ruins to hike, historic towns to tour and tons of local culture? You’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’re dying to escape this year’s vicious winter for a few days and laze on a beautiful beach, with no pressure to do anything but work on your tan, head to the Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales.
Just 3.5 hours flying direct from New York, Provo, as those in the know call it, is the most developed of the country’s islands, located in the Caicos part of Turks and Caicos. But that’s still not saying much in this sleepy chain.
Grace Bay, one of the top-rated beaches in the world, is home to a handful of high-end hotels, including the Gansevoort, a sleek option with an urban vibe different from many other Caribbean resorts. “We try to stay away from wicker,” joked Jorge Collazo, regional director of sales and marketing at Gansevoort Hotel Group.
Instead, you’ll enter the hip hotel via a minimalist open-air lobby and walk through to the 7,000-square-foot courtyard pool, flanked by lounge chairs and “lounging islands” set out over the water. The gym and spa are to the right; the restaurant, Stelle, is on the left.
Up ahead is the beach, which is open to the public. But since the hotel is set slightly apart, there’s less foot traffic. The sand is white, soft and clean — hotel staff sweep the beach in the mornings, and there’s even a wooden rack just before the beach where you’re expected to stash your flip-flops.
If the thought of more than a couple of hours lazing under an umbrella in the sand makes you antsy, sign up for a boat trip to check out the snorkeling over Bight Reef in Princess Alexandra National Park, just off Provo. If you’re lucky, one of the crew will dive down to score a few conch (pronounced “konk”) and slice off a bite for you to try.
For those who prefer food prepared in a kitchen, behind the scenes, head to Da Conch Shack, where you can order conch frittered, fried, curried, ceviched or tossed in a stew or salad. The mollusk is considered an aphrodisiac — so watch who you eat it around.
Where to stay
The Gansevoort Turks and Caicos definitely isn’t cheap, but with impeccably maintained rooms, top-notch service (including pillowcases embroidered with your initials), exquisite views from oceanfront balconies and the onsite Exhale spa, it’s worth the splurge for a long weekend.
Age: 5 years
Number of rooms: 91 (84 front the ocean, seven face the pool)
Room types: Studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and penthouses with full kitchens
Dining: Upscale Mediterranean restaurant and casual beach bar. The hotel can also set up a private table on the beach or by the pool.