The Other Side of Turks & Caicos

Think of this alluring group of small islands in the Atlantic and resort-rich Grace Bay Beach on the island of Providenciales (Provo, to locals) likely comes to mind. But two off-the-beaten-path properties that debuted over the past year have opened up less-developed parts of the islands for those seeking quieter getaways. After brief closings for cosmetic cleanups post-Irma and -Maria, both have now hit the reset button — plus both will soon unveil additional facilities.

BY LOUIS MARROQUIN — Winter 2018

The Shore Club

Close to Grace Bay but so private

his casually elegant resort opened up a different side of Provo when it started welcoming guests about a year ago on Long Bay Beach. Although just a 10-minute cab ride south of Grace Bay, the beachfront property offers a more secluded getaway for couples and families. The moment you step into the welcoming open-air lobby and get offered a desk-side seat for check-in, you know you’re in for something relaxed and special. The winding trails to the rooms and restaurants and the beach create a gentle maze, with each stop providing a distinctive ambience. After repairing its minor hurricane damage, the 110-room, 38-suite resort reopened late last September. It currently offers only in-room spa treatments but plans to open a full-service spa late this year. Also look for the addition of six six-bedroom villas. Read on for four things that will surprise you about this intimate escape.

You’re away but connected. The islands are a British Overseas Territory, so English is the language of choice. Plus, the U.S. dollar is the official currency. With strong Wi-Fi reception and a multitude of American TV channels, you’ll feel remarkably close to home while gratefully away from the hubbub — and free in-room calls to the U.S. up the comfort factor and the convenience.

Japanese food? In the Atlantic? You wouldn’t expect to find Japanese food — especially of this caliber — so far from Asian shores, but the resort’s standout restaurant, Sui-Ren, overseen by executive chef Daniel Delgado, excels at tasty fare blending both Japanese and Peruvian influences. My favorite: a tender Tokyo Broil Wagyu Rib-eye served with sauteed broccolini and charred Brussels sprouts. If that’s not your cup of tea, you’ll find plenty of other food options throughout the day here.

You can walk a mile out in the ocean. Step into the clear, turquoise water off of the vast undeveloped beach and you expect at some point to swim, float, or submerge. But here you can venture out a mile and never hit water deeper than 3 feet. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even walk that distance to a ship that’s been grounded there for more than a decade. Take caution though: The walk takes awhile and the afternoon waters can get rough.

You may never want to leave. With the private beach, complimentary watersports, multiple food and drink venues, and an assortment of four pools (my go-to: the peaceful adults-only pool where music skews more esoteric than pop and the beachside view provides ample panoramas of the gravity-defying windsurfers), you’ll quickly forget there’s a world beyond the resort walls. But if you do get tired of having your own slice of paradise, you can grab one of the shuttles that transports guests every hour to the resort’s sister properties, the Palms and the Sands, on Grace Bay Beach.

Details: From $700. 888-808-9488; theshoreclubtc.com

Beachfront Villa living room at Sailrock Resort. PHOTO BY STEVE PASSMORE.

Sailrock Resort

A plane ride away

ou hear the word “simplicity” a lot at this charmingly remote escape on South Caicos, a 30-minute puddle jump southeast of Provo. You hear it from executive chef Jose Francois Alias, who focuses his monthly-changing menu on simply seasoned fresh fish sans overwhelming embellishments. You hear it from spa manager Juni Erawati, who extols the use of unfussy lotions and a minimalistic approach to massages conducted in open-sided huts with the ocean and wind, not piped-in music, providing the soothing soundtrack. That simplicity theme extends throughout the property — from the blink-and-you-miss-it marker that directs the airport shuttle to the front door to the subdued furnishings in the villas and suites. The result: a therapeutic respite from everyday cares. Sailrock reopened in mid-December, adding a second restaurant with a sports bar vibe. Expect a more extensive spa to open late this year. Here, a few hints for your stay.

Book a villa  Though you’ll get plenty of pleasure from any of the resort’s 12 one- or two-bedroom Ridgetop Suites, splurge on one of the five three- or four-bedroom Beachfront Villas. Slide open the floor-to-ceiling glass patio doors to your own personal paradise. After a daily plunge in my private villa pool, I walked the short pathway from my terrace to the secluded beach for a swim, then rinsed off back at the villa in the tranquil outdoor garden shower before heading to dinner.

Eat the fish  Villas feature kitchens, so you can stay in and cook if you order groceries in advance. You can also order room service or arrange a private chef. But I preferred strolling up a hill to the open-air Great House restaurant, a one-stop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dining against the backdrop of both the Atlantic and Caicos Bank enhances the peaceful ambience, and Chef Alias makes rounds to answer questions and make recommendations, such as always go with the fresh fish here; you can get beef back home. My favorite: a smoked-bacon-wrapped wahoo fillet served with Asiago cheese and lemon polenta. Delicious!

Make your preferences known  The friendly but unobtrusive servers quickly pick up on your tastes and needs. If you like an English tea for breakfast rather than coffee, you only have to tell them once. The next day it will be at the ready. They’re instinctive, too: For instance, after my server saw me struggling to take down a few notes in the candlelight my first night, he intuitively brought me a portable table lamp that appeared on my table each subsequent night.

Just chill  Sure, there are plenty of opportunities to break a sweat here, from kayaking to Hobie Cat sailing to biking, but the resort’s true appeal is its total removal from daily stresses. So do like I did and book a massage in one of the elevated huts; take a long, reflective stroll on the beach, perhaps not crossing paths with a single other person; and pleasure-read a few chapters in a private-pool lounge chair. Or follow the lead of a fellow guest: When asked what he had done that day, he quickly offered he had taken two naps and seemed quite proud of it.

Details  From $575 for Ridgetop Suites and $2,750 for Beachfront Villas. 855-335-2513; sailrockresort.com

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