by Susan Huber
Turks and Caicos actually refers to a group of more than forty islands, cays and inlets, located in the British West Indies, approximately 30 miles south of the Bahamas. The most popular destination is the island of Providenciales (Provo), one of the Caicos Islands. But popular doesn’t mean crowded or noisy. This island is blissfully quiet, lacking the hum of jet skis, traffic and loud nightlife. Instead, be prepared to enjoy the most gorgeous beaches and coral reefs in the world, presented with a decidedly laid back attitude.
A visit to these islands is relatively straightforward. The U.S. dollar is the currency of Turks and Caicos and English is the spoken language. There is no time change if you are traveling from the East Coast and the weather is gorgeous all year with temperatures ranging from a low of 82 degrees in January to a high of 91 degrees in August. Visitors will need a passport and cars do drive on the left side of the road, but other than those factors, your trip will be a breeze.
Upon arrival at West Bay Club, be prepared for a delicious rum punch greeting in the open-air lobby. A chandelier crafted from shells hangs over the entry portico and the serene pool immediately beckons and welcomes guests to a true vacation. The landscaping is not only filled with attractive tropical flowers, shrubs and trees, but is also well planned to offer privacy and scenery including an unusual oversized, rolling-ball fountain featured on the beach side. West Bay has all you would expect at a topnotch resort — lovely grounds and landscaping and a fabulous pool and restaurant, but what sets this destination apart are the unusually spacious suites (some up to 3,100 square feet) that are outfitted with every luxury.
Our Editor Loves
- Beautifully decorated and well equiped condominiums
- Complimentary water sports equipment, pool toys and beach amenities
- Advance grocery provisioning
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At this small, boutique resort every one of the 57 rooms and suites and penthouse is beautifully furnished and equipped with many amenities such as high ceilings, marble floors, kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, Bose stereo systems and ocean front terraces; this is where the resort has made its investment and where it truly stands out. Built only in 2009, the accommodations include one-, two- and three-bedroom options along with several penthouse units -- the largest measuring more than 3,600 square feet. The choice that each family will need to make is just how much space they'll need to relax and be comfortable.
Every type of room includes a king-sized bed, air conditioning, ceiling fans, some type of kitchen space, marble bathroom and floors, complimentary Wi-Fi, TV's, an iHome dock and a safe. With the selection of a more spacious unit, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms increases, as well as the size of the kitchen and dining areas. Rooms that are larger than the studio style include furnished terraces and balconies, bathrobes, flat-screen TV's, as well as washers and dryers. Aside from the studio room, square footage can range from 1,099 square feet (one-bedroom unit) to 3,100 square feet (four-bedroom luxury unit) to 3,600 square feet (three-bedroom penthouse).
One of the nicest features of this resort is that regardless of the size of your accommodations, each unit is decorated in the same understated island elegance.
At the beach, helpful staff will set up beach chairs and umbrellas, while offering complimentary bottled water and fresh fruit. Beach attendants will also take orders for cocktails and snacks, serving guests at their beach encampment! Your family will also be able to choose from a wide variety of water crafts and sports, and can receive instruction for use. Whatever your pleasure, the equipment and instruction are there for you as long as needed. Whether it is snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding or beach volleyball, you'll always have something fun to do on the beach.
Perhaps your biggest decision of the day will be whether to spend your time at the pool or on the beach! At the pool, there are plenty of teak lounge chairs beckoning, so you don't have to rush down in the morning to reserve your spot for the day. For those wishing to avoid the direct sun, there are umbrellas scattered among the chairs, and there is also a covered cabana area on one side. For little ones, the pool offers a shallow end as well as pool floats, toys and plenty of towels.
If your family is interested in a boating adventure, West Bay Club will arrange for full- or half-day charter boat trips to off-shore snorkeling spots. Your excursion can include snorkeling; diving for conch and then enjoying conch salad made from your catch; or a trip to Little Water Cay, home of Iguana Island. Boardwalk pathways crisscross this island, allowing visitors to spot dozens of these native creatures whose population numbers in the thousands.
Silver Deep Tours
Silver Deep is one of the tour companies departing from the beach at the West Bay Club. This outfit offers a wide variety of choices including those mentioned above, as well as evening glowworm tours, scuba diving, picnics and barbeques, cave exploration and all sorts of fishing.
One of the best reefs for snorkeling is found just a short walk from The West Bay Club. Bight Reef, part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, is just off of the beach area known as Coral Gardens. The reef is marked above water with buoys and below water with signs that guide snorkelers around the trail and offer information about the types of coral and how they grow. The water depth around the reef ranges from approximately three-and-a-half feet to 16 feet, allowing for exploration by kids from young ones to teens.
The resort offers families movies, books and board games for rent. Have a family movie or game night or ask the resort to help arrange for a babysitter and rent a movie for the kids while you and your significant other escape for some along time at the bar.
Provo has other activities for families when they need to escape the resort for a little -- though we can't imagine why you would! Head in to town for mini golf, tennis or go karts! TCI Fun World has a go kart track for kids and adults to zip around on, plus an arcade!
Casual Restaurant Dining
The Atlantic Bar and Grill
A typical day at The West Bay Club begins with a leisurely, and complimentary, breakfast served at the resort's own restaurant, The Atlantic Bar and Grill. This small, nine-table eatery is a gem! All meals are prepared in an adjacent open-air kitchen with fresh food that is delivered daily. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served and a children's menu is available.
Da Conch Shack
This nearby whitewashed beach shack, decorated (of course!) with thousands of conch shells, serves every form of conch on picnic tables by the sea. The casual, friendly atmosphere, along with conch harvested right in front of you from a sea pen and paired with Turk's Head Lager, makes for a perfect meal. One of the most popular items on their menu is the conch fritters. This island specialty is prepared in so many ways that it will be almost impossible to avoid giving it a try on your trip. Look for conch fritters, chowder, salad and curries and if need be, bribe your children to join you in enjoying this incredibly fresh and delicious shellfish. Next door, is Horse Eyed Jack's -- also a beachfront restaurant with a great deck and Jamaican style cuisine.
Somewhere on the Beach
Within walking distance from The West Bay Club, this beachfront restaurant has it all -- fun food, great drinks and a gorgeous setting overlooking the ocean. The menu has a decidedly Mexican flavor and the bartenders make four distinct version of the Mojito. We particularly enjoyed the fish tacos and tequila marinated carne asada. Laid back, barefoot and bathing-suit friendly, don't miss this spot!
Bagatelle Beach Bar & Grill
Located in the Gansevoort resort, which is adjacent to West Bay Club, this casual eatery sports a decided modern feel and an ocean view.
Formal Restaurant Dining
Given the easy, island atmosphere of Provo, it is hard to classify any restaurant as formal, but if you are looking for a true dining experience where well-behaved children are welcome (or perhaps for a parents night out), here are a few stand-out choices.
This charming, picturesque restaurant is located in a yellow Victorian cottage complete with gingerbread trim. Terraces and patios for dining are nestled among tropical foliage lit with twinkling lights and candles. The menu is decidedly Caribbean with a gourmet touch, and a children's menu is also available. Reservations are a must.
This unique restaurant was built on the grounds of a former plant nursery, which is currently the largest palm grove on Provo. Dining here is a one-of-a-kind experience, including swaying palms and delicious food. Reservations are recommended, children welcome.
While this restaurant isn't situated on the beach, it is conveniently close to one of the island's shopping areas. The decor here is closest to what one would expect to find at a Provo dining spot. Gingerbread, colorful twinkling lights and bright local artwork add a true island touch. The menu is typically Caribbean with an emphasis on seafood. Reservations recommended, children welcome.
Located in the Gansevoort Hotel, it's clear that this hotel and restaurant have their roots in downtown NYC! The atmosphere is glamorous but relaxed, if that seems possible, and even children feel at home in this all white enclave. A unique combination of French bistro and modern Caribbean best describes the menu, and guests will enjoy the chef's creative interpretations. Reservations suggested, children welcome.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
A special opportunity offered by The West Bay Club is the chance to schedule a professional portrait of your family on the beach during your vacation. Photography sessions are promised to be fun, relaxed, quick and easy. If you're considering, be assured that photos taken at this tropical destination on one of the world's most beautiful beaches are sure to be fabulous.
Guests who are interested in taking advantage of West Bay's high-end kitchens can send a simple e-mail to the resort and request that their cabinets and refrigerator be stocked with all of the family's favorite foods and drinks; imagine arriving at this beautiful destination and finding favorite snacks and beverages lining the shelves and filling the pantry! (Note that an additional fee charged for this service.)
Cell Phone Loaner Program
Consider utilizing West Bay's cell phone loaner program. Instead of accumulating enormous roaming charges on your own cell phone, West Bay will provide a complimentary cell phone offering very reasonable rates for international and domestic calls and texts. Prior to arrival you'll be advised of your island cell phone number, enabling you to receive calls from family, friends or work (only if necessary!) while on vacation. The phone also includes a preset speed-dial that connects you to West Bay from anywhere on the island. Costs related to your calls are charged to your room through the Front Desk. Do not hesitate to utilize this invaluable service; we took advantage of the cell phone program and found it to be a very reasonable alternative to using our own cell phones.
The Art of Smart Timing
The weather in Turks and Caicos is beautiful, warm and sunny all year long, but the island does have its high and low seasons. The most popular and also most expensive time to visit is over the winter holidays, specifically from December 21st to January 2nd. The months from January to June are considered the high-season, and this is when you'll find the driest and most moderate temperatures. June to mid-November is considered the off-season, delivering the highest temperatures, but also offering the most reduced travel rates. The island is so peaceful and quiet that crowds or traffic are never a problem any time of year.
Getting There and Around
The West Bay Club is a short, 15-minute cab ride from the Povidenciales International Airport. Cabs are readily available at the airport, as well as rental cars, which will allow you more freedom to roam the city as you like.
For Mom and Dad
If you are traveling with children and can arrange for some "couple time," fine dining or a joint spa treatment would be a fabulous way to relax and enjoy each others' company. Babysitters are available -- just ask the concierge to help you arrange for one.
The Spatropique at the West Bay Club has a choice of two spa experiences for couples. The first package is dubbed "Afternoon Delight" and includes 50-minute Swedish massages and mini-foot massages, and the second is "Ahhh Bliss," including 70-minute aromatherapy massages and spa pedicures.
Anacaona is a special restaurant well worth a splurge. Located directly on the beach at the Grace Bay Club, diners are seated in a gorgeous, round open-air dining room with a dramatically tented palapas ceiling topped with conical thatched palm roofs and nestled amid beach foliage in seaside pods. Couples looking for a romantic evening should have no fear of disruptive children at the next table as this is an adults only restaurant.
The Lounge and Infinity Bars are chic bars located at the Grace Bay Club and are two of the hottest spots on the island. The Lounge features white-cushioned seating around glowing fire pits under sail-type canopies. The Infinity Bar is the longest bar in the Caribbean, with a 90-foot-long, sleek black marble bar inset with blue lights. The bar also features an infinity edge that is incredibly unique.