Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grace Bay Club: Beachfront Bliss in Turks & Caicos

Turks and Caicos is more than just a tropical destination – it's a Caribbean dream sequence. Known as TCI to the Belongers (or locals), heaven is only an hour's flight from Miami and three hours from New York, which makes it that much more tempting to ditch the city for island life whenever possible. And while the allure of powdery sand beaches with sparkly turquoise water is enough to reel you in, staying at the perfect hotel can instantly turn your spontaneous getaway into the experience of a lifetime. Enter Grace Bay Club.

Founded in 1993, Grace Bay Club was the first luxury all-suite hotel in TCI and has went on to earn a host of fancy accolades, including Conde Nast Traveler's Reader's Choice "Best in the World" Award in 2010 and Travel + Leisure's "500 World's Best Hotels" Award in both 2010 and 2011. Residing on 11 acres of picturesque beachfront, the property prides itself on the fact that every suite has a top-notch view of gorgeous Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales. In other words, you'd be hard-pressed to find a less than stellar seat in the house. During my recent stay, the perks certainly didn't stop there.

As if being served a delicious glass of TCI's signature tropical rum punch immediately upon arrival wasn't generous enough, I also received this delightful welcome basket with an array of fine rum and truffles from Nikheel Advani, Chief Operating Officer and Principal of Grace Bay Resorts. This was after meeting my personal concierge, Vernon, who provided me with a dedicated cellphone to call him anytime I had a question or request during my stay. These are just a few examples of GBC's first-rate hospitality.

Here's a view of the spacious luxury two-bedroom suite in The Villas, which is the family-friendly section of the resort. At 2,238 square feet, the suite comes equipped with two bedrooms (king bed for master, two full-sized beds for second), two and a half bathrooms, a large oceanfront terrace, a full kitchen, and – brace yourself – a washer and dryer. Is there even a reason to return home?

Although the suite's impressive in-room accommodations will keep you indoors for hours, the calm ocean waters that are visible from the postcard-perfect terrace will eventually beckon you out.

Certain that I'd seen it all at the first suite, the resort's General Manager, Thierry Grandsire, introduced me to the Penthouse. This 3,650 square-foot suite is also located in The Villas and boasts three bedrooms, a media room, living room, washer/dryer, kitchen, dining room, and terrace with a personal Jacuzzi.

The penthouse also features one of the most spectacular views of the island.

If you prefer to vacation in a more private setting, The Estate is your secluded home away from home. I took a peek at the three bedroom premier residence, which is the only room with three king beds. While this 4,500 square-foot dwelling includes all the aforementioned amenities, everything is kicked up a notch. Case in point: this massive kitchen and dining room.

Here's the view from the residence's terrace, just before sundown. There's also an outdoor shower on this terrace, which I'm sure is put to good use after a few glasses of rum punch!

Besides unmatched courtesy, pristine accommodations, and scenic eye candy, GBC can also arrange off-site activities and excursions. I highly recommend asking about the snorkel cruise provided by Island Vibes Tours. Captain Shaun, Marvin, Evan, and Spike hosted a memorable day of snorkeling (amidst the third largest barrier reef in the world, no less), a fresh conch salad and cocktail picnic on a remote shell-laden beach, and an unforgettable water tubing session (check me out above, far right). Paradise found.

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