One problem with vacationing at a resort is that you don't always get an accurate feel for the part of the world you're visiting. There's an unavoidable suspicion that as you sit poolside, sipping some alcohol-infused slush, listening to carefully programmed steel drum songs (which could also be described as alcohol-infused slush) that the real culture is pulsating a few miles away. With the island of Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos, this is not the case, because the resort here is the culture -- and it's thriving.
The small island, owned by COMO Hotels and Resorts, is preserved in a state of natural beauty. Lush native flowers abound and there is hardly a place where you're not able to see the Technicolor blue waters of the Caribbean. At its peak population there will only be about 250 people on the island. Among those 250 just happen to be people like Keith Richards, Bruce Willis, Christie Brinkley and Donna Karan.
Wellness: Celebrity cachet is merely a byproduct of Parrot Cay's main
attraction:?the resort's focus on wellness. The owners have harnessed
the island's natural therapeutic powers -- and by placing spa buildings
on high vantage points that overlook the ocean, they celebrate its
serene landscape. Whether you're practicing yoga or indulging in a
massage -- the resort has elaborate choices for each -- your line of
vision is nothing but verdant mangrove and turquoise ocean. It's worth noting that the inside of every building smells like a combination of lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus. You'll want to inhale deeply each time you come inside.
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Cuisine: The wellness program also extends to the cuisine at Parrot Cay. In addition to a regular menu, which features plenty of decadent choices that you would hope for on your vacation, the restaurants offer what they call a Como Shambala menu. This alternate menu delivers healthy options that don't preclude deliciousness. For breakfast, try the sweet corn hotcakes with smoked salmon, avocado, roast tomatoes and cottage cheese. There's really no pressure to participate in any of the wellness programs though, they’re just means by which to achieve relaxation, which is easy to do here with or without the activities.
Activities: Whether it's the pervasive calming aroma or focus on wellness, most of Parrot Cay's employees exude a chilled-out vibe. You won't see any large signs with rules telling you what not to do, like at some other resorts. You don't even have to sign out the free aquatic gear you use -- but if you need instruction on how to use a paddle board, windsurfer or catamaran, the staff is there to assist.
Accomodation: As a very broad generalization, it's safe to say that many resorts are packed with jerks. We can say that, right? Fear not though, this is not the case at Parrot Cay. Even when this resort is at capacity, it still feels empty, as you walk mile-long stretches of sugary beach. This place is high-end without feeling elitist. That said, staying here is not exactly cheap, but the rates are at their lowest right now through November (triple-digit temperatures are the norm during this part of the year and hurricane season comes in the early fall). As for the prices, the lowest tier are the veranda rooms and suites. A gardenview room starts at $500 per night and can easily accommodate a couple and two small children. The next tier, beach houses and villas, start at $2,000 per night and as the prices go up, so does the size of your own private pool and the amount of privacy you have. With the accommodations in this tier, you also get a private butler. This perk is fun but it's not entirely necessary to have somebody be at your beck and call to drive you around in a golf cart, when the island isn't even big enough to allow cars on it. If you have children though, these staff members will definitely be helpful with the babysitting duties.