by Lissa Poirot
My first introduction to Turks & Caicos’ Grace Bay was at the Sands at Grace Bay, and despite the number of larger properties along the beach, it remains a favorite. From the friendly, accommodating staff, to the home-away-from-home environment, the Sands at Grace Bay is a comfortable resort located directly in the beach and minutes from the island’s attractions.
The resort houses 114 ocean and garden view suites in six, three-story buildings, all encapsulated by lush tropical landscaping. Suites accommodating up to eight in one- to three-bedroom configurations feature modern, full-sized kitchens, dining areas, living rooms, oversized patios or balconies, and washers and dryers. (Smaller studio suites are best for only two travelers.) All suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, for fantastic views.
A central garden courtyard surrounds two free-form pools connected by canals, and a third pool beckons near the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, where most children want to spend their days building sand castles. The resort is not like its larger counterparts with kids’ clubs, but here families find comfort in spending time together in the pool and on the beach, enjoying a snorkeling excursion through the resort’s partner Ocean Vibes, swinging on hammocks with books, and just sitting around the table on the patio, taking in the views while eating fresh fruit and conch. The simplicity of the resort was not lost on me, as I prefer to avoid crowded pools and beaches and have more freedom for my kids to run free without fear of disturbing other guests. The Sands at Grace Bay will certainly remain a home away from home for us.
Our Editor Loves
- Condo-style accommodations
- Ability to accommodate large families
- Located on Grace Bay Beach
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
A condo-style resort with accommodations ranging from studios to three bedrooms, the Sands provide a home-away-from-home for families in a casual, beachy setting. Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors let in lots of Turks & Caicos light and provide views of the ocean and lush tropical gardens. Each room includes a washer and dryer (except Studio Courtyards), large balconies, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, TV with cable, and free Wi-Fi. One- to three-bedroom suites feature full-sized kitchens with pots, pans, dishes, glasses, silverware and more, while studios include a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator and sink. Suites offer separate bedrooms and oversized queen sofa beds provide plenty of sleeping arrangements and are best suited for families.
Views and Capacity
Gardenview suites feature views of the gardens, oceanview suites feature partial ocean views, and oceanfront suites provide unobstructed views of the ocean. One-bedrooms can accommodate four people in a king or queen bed and queen sofa bed; two bedrooms can accommodate up to six with a king master, queen sofa bed, and second bedroom with king, queen or two twin beds; and three bedrooms can accommodate eight with a king master, a king or queen second bedroom, a sleeper sofa, and a third bedroom with queen sleeper, murphy bed or king bed.
My thoughts in no particular order:
1. Hemmingway's restaurant: Very good food and service. Definitely worth trying.
2. The beach: Grace Bay is outstanding and the beach at the Sands is as well.
3. The grounds: Well maintained.
4. The pools: Very nice but in need of refurbishment. I understand the lazy river pool is about to close for this purpose.
5. The room (5303): Very dated and badly in need of refurbishment. Many floor tiles were mismatched, chipped, and/or broken. Appliances were very dirty and worn. The furniture was very old, damaged and stained. The room was advertised as "ocean view" but while standing in the condo, you couldn't see the ocean at all. If you went out on the balcony, you could see a glimpse of the ocean. This unit should be rented out as garden view.
6. Housekeeping/staff: Very attentive and did a good job. The staff was very outgoing and always willing to help or just say hello. One small issue though: when we arrived we only had 1 washcloth. This disappeared after the first cleaning and when we asked for them we were told they were out. A minor detail, but really? Out of washcloths?
Overall, with so many resorts to choose from, I would probably try someplace different on my next visit.
This was our second family trip to the sands in the past 2 years. My wife and our daughters ages 3 and 5 traveled with our friends and there son age 10. We had a 1 bedroom garden view unit in building 5 as we did last time. Check in was very simple and the staff is very friendly. Great customer service as they gave us an option of first or second floor . We took the second floor due to the building we preferred. The room was clean upon arrival except that we found the floor extremely dirty. All of our feet turned black. I notified the front desk and they immediately had housekeeping come and mop the floor. The 1br unit has a full kitchen so we ate breakfast in the room before heading to the beach each day. The beach attendants will set up chairs and an umbrella for you each morning . They were good most of the time remembering to set us up before we got there and if not they did right when they saw us. The Beach is amazing so that is the highlight of he resort and never felt crowded. The Pools are also great but we go for the beach. They are renovating the waterfall pool this month so I’m sure it will be even nicer. Food and drink service is available on the beach from Hemingway’s or you can go sit in restaurant. Pack a cooler for the beach and eat breakfast in the room to save some money.
Pools and Beach
The resort features three swimming pools, two of which are connected via canals (not really a lazy river). The oceanfront pool is a sunbather's hotspot, while the two garden pools feature palm trees and lush gardens to keep shaded while kids play. Most of the kids at the resort, if not on the beach, enjoy these pools. Steps away from the resort is Grace Bay Beach, where families can find plentiful chairs and umbrellas (at no additional cost), as well as complimentary non-motorized water sports such as Hobie cats, sea kayaks and snorkeling gear. An outdoor hot tub is also available.
This tour provider has a reception area located at the entrance to the beach, providing guests with snorkeling, diving and sailing excursions. Many families enjoy the half-day snorkeling trip, which departs at 8 a.m. for snorkeling on the Grace Bay reef, a visit and tour to Iguana Island, and diving for conch that the guides will clean and fix up for a fresh conch salad while relaxing on one of the deserted cays before returning to the hotel at 1 p.m.
Tucked away in a private grove are hammocks that become the perfect place to escape the world. Hidden behind palms, families can rock beneath coconut-filled palms. Perhaps best suited for mom and dad if they sneak away from the kids!
The resort provides complimentary bicycle rentals, and features a tennis court for anyone looking to get more active outside of the water.
Hemingway's is the resort's oceanfront restaurant, serving all-day dining and take-out service from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and dinner includes fresh fruit covered waffles, fresh seafood, and traditional favorites like burgers in a casual indoor/outdoor setting with friendly service. The restaurant provides cocktail service to guests on the neighboring pool and beach, too. A weekly manager's reception is held at Hemingway's on Tuesday evenings with free drinks, appetizers and live music. Tuesday nights are also Caribbean Barbeque Nights, and live music is offered on Thursday nights.
Most families bike, walk or take a short taxi ride to the local grocer to stock up their kitchens to make meals at home, as if renting a vacation home. The resort's Sand Dollar convenience store, open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sundays), also has minor provisions, including snacks and beverages.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting, rollaway cribs, Pack 'n Play and high chairs can all be provided through the hotel.
Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms, the restaurant and the lobby, and computers are available for guests in the Hospitality Suite.
The Art of Smart Timing
The resort is busiest during the holiday season, with many families booking in advance for return vacations. Spring break is also high season for the resort, and the resort is most available during the summer and fall months. Despite full bookings, the resort never feels crowded, but more deals may be available during the slower months. Turks & Caicos average year-round temperatures remain in the 70s and 80s, with summer providing afternoon rain showers.
The resort is serviced by Providenciales airport, located less than 15 minutes away. Airport transfers are provided via taxi for a fee.
Car rentals are offered in the lobby.
For Mom and Dad
Schedule a spa treatment at Spa Tropique and a professional technician can provide service in the dedicated treatment rooms or in your suite. Services include massages, facials, body treatments, and nail treatments. Services are available 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, but must be booked in advance, as walk-ins are not available.