Now that enough time has passed since Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, it’s appropriate to begin showcasing the islands that were either completely untouched or escaped significant damage.
"You never want to kick a man when he's down, but it's time that we started promoting that our island is open for business since we need to make sure the region as a whole continues to get tourists," Ramon Andrews, director of tourism for Turks and Caicos, told Travel Agent in a recent interview.
As part of our new “Caribbean - Open for Business” series, in which we profile the hottest selling points for islands that were not majorly impacted by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, Travel Agent takes a look at Turks and Caicos and its luxury offerings.
Turks and Caicos is making a strong and speedy recovery following the passage of Hurricane Irma in September. With a more eastern track, Hurricane Maria did little to delay the rebuilding, and additional damage was minimal across most of the Turks and Caicos' eight inhabited islands.
Providenciales, which is the most developed of the islands and where 90 percent of the population lives, is leading the charge on a steady path to complete restoration in the coming days, with additional islands in the archipelago chain close behind.
Currently, water and power have been restored in Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and South Caicos, and workers are tirelessly addressing those pending on other islands. All roads on these islands have been cleared and as of September 23, Providenciales International Airport and Grand Turk International airport were back to full operation and all flights in and out have resumed.
Turks and Caicos was hit with heavy rain and high wind, causing some landscape damage to several of its resorts, but no significant structural damage was reported at any of its hotels, which are mostly open for business.
In an official statement issued to Sandals Resorts International’s travel partners, Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart said, “After a thorough assessment of the work that needs to be done, Beaches Turks and Caicos will be pleased to accept guests beginning December 14. The red carpet will be rolled out and Beaches Turks & Caicos will be better than ever.”
Guests with upcoming travel plans are asked to call 1-800-BEACHES to reschedule. Ocean Club resort is slated to reopen November 20; Ports of Call Resort is slated to open November 25. Point Grace Resort is slated to open in November 16. Sailrock Resort is slated open December 16.
Club Med Turkoise, which was originally slated to reopen November 30, announced on Wednesday that it will now be reopening January 31.
“I think people are going to be very happy with what’s going to happen to that property,” said Xavier Mufraggi, president and CEO of Club Med North America and Caribbean, hinting at some big plans for updates to the property while it is undergoing repairs, although no details are available at this time.
As far as the most recent cruise updates go, Carnival Cruise Line has announced that it will return to Grand Turk on some of its upcoming itineraries. The cruise line, however, is still modifying some itineraries through November due to damage the Caribbean sustained from both hurricanes.
For the most current Turks and Caicos updates, visit http://turksandcaicostourism.com/recovery-update/.
The Booming Luxury Scene
The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach
When it comes to luxury getaways, David Hu, president of Classic Vacations, told Travel Agent recently that Turks and Caicos tops the list and recommends COMO Parrot Cay and Amanyara for couples, while the Grace Bay Club and the newly-opened The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach are both excellent options for families looking to be pampered.
“Turks and Caicos, with its combination of world-class beaches and excellent five star properties, is one of our strongest destinations,” says Hu. “With direct flights from a wide range of U.S. gateways, and luxury properties that cater to practically any type of traveler, it’s truly a wonderfully multi-faceted island.”
In fact, Travel Agent recently took a trip to check out one of the hotels Hu mentioned, The Shore Club on Long Bay Beach, and thought the property represented an excellent option for Millennials with money, both couples and families. We also think this has a lot of potential for both girls’ getaways and couples' retreats.
The Shore Club is a $100 million property with 106 ocean-view suites and six luxury villas spanning along 820 feet of beachfront on the island of Providenciales’ Long Bay.
We stayed in room no. 2304, a Two-Bedroom Oceanfront Suite. The master bedroom has ocean views while a second bedroom located across the suite has views of the pool and includes a beautiful tub. Each room has 55-plus-inch, rotating, Smart TVs and balconies. The balcony in the master bedroom spans across the suite’s living room. The hotel also has a fully equipped kitchen.
In the middle of the two rooms is a lounge area with a pullout sofa, a small, flatscreen TV and its own bathroom. This room can be closed off as a separate kid’s room.
The room also comes with butler service, which was excellent during our stay. Our butler, Shakera Taylor, is highly recommended. We recommend a $20 to $30 daily tip, per day for the butler.
There are a total of four pools here, including an adults-only lap pool in the wellness area, located in front of the resort’s yoga pavilion. There is also attentive food and beverage service on the beach.
We should also note that Island Destinations recently added the hotel to its portfolio of luxury Caribbean resorts. And for Travel Agent's full breakdown of our stay at The Shore Club, click here.
In other luxury news, The Palms Turks and Caicos, a longtime Turks and Caicos luxury hotel, recently unveiled some additions to its wellness menu. Among the newest treatments now available at the 25,000-square-foot Spa at the Palms is the “Moonlight Serenade,” which takes place during sunset and involves deep meditation. Also new is the “Beyond Beauty” treatment, which was exclusively created by Natura Bisse and HydraFacial for The Spa at The Palms. This facial includes an advanced resurfacing treatment designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, as well as plump and firm the skin.
The Palms consists of 72 oceanfront suites on Grace Bay Beach, as well as high-end retail shops, an infinity pool and swim-up bar, the spa and Parallel 23 restaurant (one of Travel Agent’s favorite Caribbean eateries).
Travel Agent also recently toured the newly refurbished Sands at Grace Bay. Some of the upgrades included in this roughly $5 million renovation are custom-made patio furniture by Asmayda Furniture Group of Miami, as well as a new luxury bedding collection designed by Atlantic Hospitality.
Also, The Sand’s restaurant, Hemingway’s, developed new menu items and new recipes to be offered seasonally. Enhancements to the restaurant's facilities included expanding the kitchen.
In luxury family resort news, Beaches Resorts, Sandals Resorts International’s family-focused brand, has partnered with Canadian-based production company Creativiva Caribbean Inc. to introduce “Voilà”, a series of live cinematic entertainment shows, at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort, Villages and Spa.
Launching this month, Creativiva Caribbean Inc. will perform four weekly live productions on the resort’s main stage: Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, Jungle Book Live and Dolce Vita.
Created and produced in Creativiva’s studios in Canada, the multi-genre shows offer innovative set design that includes projections, intricate costumes, vibrant makeup, talent, witty dialogue, catchy songs, choreography, and circus acts.
In addition to the four shows, a family favorite and Beaches’ staple event, Beach Party Night, will be completely revamped by Creativiva’s cast of entertainers from across the globe. The Creativiva entertainers will add onto the extravagant celebration with a whirlwind of carnival vibes, folklore dance and cultural performances. Again, Beaches Turks and Caicos is expected to reopen on December 14.
Surrounded by Grace Bay Beach, Seven Stars Resort & Spa is well suited for multigenerational families with adventurous children. This all-suite resort has an array of suites for families of all sizes and numerous activities for everyone.
The resort provides kid-friendly services such as the complimentary Shooting Stars Kids Camp and private babysitting services, as well as a variety of full- and half-day excursions.
Offering customized programs for infants to pre-teens, Shooting Stars includes supervision by trained caretakers, sailing lessons, scavenger hunts, kayaking, snorkeling, marine life walks, sandcastle building, volleyball and soccer.
While the kids are away, the parents can visit the Seven Stars Resort & Spa, get an in-suite or beachside couple’s massage, partake of poolside amenities and adult refreshments, or have a private “Toes in the Sand” dinner for two on Grace Bay Beach.
Looking ahead, the Beach Enclave North Shore, which began offering short-term rentals in November, is expected to be joined by Beach Enclave Long Bay in later this year. The new Sail Rock Resort on South Caicos plans to open the Na Spa and a new bar and grill in 2018. The property currently has the Great Restaurant and Bar and some spa treatment rooms.
Grace Bay Beach
Considered by many travel experts as the best beach in the Caribbean, Grace Bay Beach always find its way on the list when Travel Agent is breaking down the best beaches of the region.
Here's why we love it so much.
What Makes It Great: Grace Bay may be the most gorgeous beach that Travel Agent has ever seen. All the attributes you would expect the best beaches to have are found here: white sand with the texture of sugar, blue-green water, and a dash of local culture such as spotting local conch fishermen catching fish and cleaning shells.
So besides getting a bragging-rights-worthy tan, clients can get a dose of experiential travel to boot. It doesn’t get any prettier here than it does around sunset, so we recommend taking a stroll (with a loved one, perhaps) at that time. Grace Bay Beach is also home to excellent snorkeling and is never overly crowded. Note, however, that this beach can get pretty windy at times, so be sure to have your clients check the weather before planning a picnic here.
Best Hotels Nearby: For affluent clients, or those willing to spend a little more for that long-awaited getaway from the workaday world, we recommend the Palms Turks & Caicos, which hosts a nice mix of families and couples. The resort recently added butler service for clients staying in the Penthouses. This year, it also decided to stop charging fees for kids’ use of its Conch Kritters Club.
There’s also the Grace Bay Club’s Turks & Caicos Hotel. This hotel has a range of accommodations from Junior Suites to Two Bedroom Suites that offer up to 2,200 square feet of luxurious appointments. Each suite has at least one private balcony or patio, along with a kitchenette and twice-daily maid service. While Grace Bay Club does have an adults-only section, the resort also has family friendly villas.
Coolest Pool Runner-Up: The Somerset on Grace Bay
The centerpiece of The Somerset on Grace Bay is the resort’s pool experience, comprising a reverse current lap pool that leads to its zero-entry, infinity-edge pool.
The latter gives way to ocean views of Grace Bay. A collection of padded lounge chairs with umbrellas are available to relax on while taking in the view of the pools and the beach. The lap pool, which at 138 feet is the longest in Turks and Caicos, has an underwater sound system and shallow children’s area separated toward the end by a gentle waterfall.
In December of 2012, The Somerset completely renovated the pools to install custom recycled glass tiles. The LEED-certified tiles, which are imported from Spain and designed specifically for The Somerset, absorb sunlight during the day and emit a soft glow at night. The Somerset on Grace Bay is the only resort in the Caribbean with these unique tiles.
Advisors should note that the pool area can be rented out for private events. There isn’t a set amount of time in advance they need to contact the resort in order to rent out the pool area.
The Somerset on Grace Bay has 53 one- to five-bedroom villas and suites ranging from 1,400 to 5,300 square feet, as well as two restaurants and bars, two freshwater pools, a fitness center, a full-service spa, a range of activities on land and sea, concierge services and a complimentary Caicos Kids Club.
Quick Turks and Caicos Facts
The Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory, located in the Atlantic Ocean and considered a part of the Caribbean region.
With more than 40 small islands and cays, the eight inhabited islands are separated into two island groups; to the east of the Turks Island Passage are the Turks Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay and the west are the Caicos Islands of South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Pine Cay and Parrot Cay. The islands are located 575 miles southeast of Miami, south of the Bahamas and east of Cuba and the country of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti).
The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.
Visit www.turksandcaicostourism.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.