Question: I am interested in going to Provo in June 2011 to take in 6 days of diving and sightseeing. My wife is a shopper and beach/pool person. We would like to stay at Ocean Club West, but would like something a little nicer but not over $1500 per person for the week. Can you recommend something or do you think that the Ocean Club will be more than adequate for our needs? We are not night life people, but like good food and friendly people and a good poolside bar. Thanks.
P.S. Where do the “stars” like to stay? – Bill Minyard
Answer: No doubt about it, your vacation budget doesn’t go too far on Providenciales, the main tourist island in the beachy Turks & Caicos chain. Blessed with perfect sand and turquoise water, Provo has drawn the attention of major luxury chains, including Regent, Amanresorts, and the Gansevoort, as well as numerous luxury resort condo companies.
During the recessionary times of 2009, prices dropped and almost all of the expensive hotels and condo resorts that dot gorgeous Grace Bay were offering value-added packages and free nights.
Apparently something clicked; a local newspaper reported this week that tourist arrivals in the Turks and Caicos Islands increased by 25% for the first half of 2010 compared with the same period last year. The same article points out that occupancy figures among hotels show average increases of 11% for the first half of 2010, due partially to reduced room rates.
Which means that you may have a good range of options. June is a good month to go, as the crowds fleeing winter weather have died down and it’s early enough in hurricane season to risk a trip (although you might want to get travel insurance, just in case). I’m not sure if your $1,500 per person per week budget is just for lodging or if you want that to include food and tours. In either case, Provo is full of condo options that do help you save some money by having a kitchen in the room (while grocery prices are higher on the island than they are in the US, you can definitely save if you eat a few meals in your room instead of at the island’s restaurants, which lean on the expensive side).
Looking at Kayak, you can get seven nights at the Somerset on Grace Bay, a luxury condo resort with fabulous rooms and grounds, just under your price requirements. The Sands at Grace Bay is a little more expensive than Ocean Club West (about $221 per night), but I liked it better than OCW, primarily because of its restaurant, Hemingway’s, which is set on a romantic beachside pier.
If you are comfortable booking closer to the date, you might want to try LuxuryLink or SkyAuction, two websites that allow you to bid on luxury vacation packages in the Caribbean. I found some great deals on SkyAuction on recent trips to Grenada (make sure to take taxes into account). And click here to get (10% off your first purchase at Luxury Link with code LUX10OFF.
As for the celebs, well, they tend to go a little more private than Grace Bay. Parrot Cay, a resort on its own island in the chain, is a popular destination that draws the A list crowd. And when I was last on the islands in late 2009, Denzel Washington had been among the notable guests at the secluded Amanyara, located on the remote western side of Providenciales. But your $1,500 per person budget may only last one night there!
Been to Turks & Caicos recently and have more advice for Bill? Tell us below in the comments!