Way back in the 1980s I saw my first photographs of Turks and Caicos’ Grace Bay Beach, where Ocean Club Resorts is located. I couldn’t believe that the sand could be that white and that the water could be so many shades of turquoise. Finally, more than 30 years later, I got to put my feet in that sand, swim in that water, and see the beauty with my own eyes.
You’ve probably seen photos of Grace Bay beach too. Turks and Caicos’ famous resident dolphin, Jojo, has a habit of showing up here. His “smiling” face in the clear waters off the beach has graced the covers of magazines and newspapers around the world. Plus you’ve likely seen Club Med’s splashy ads, as the resort is right next door to Ocean Club and shares the same gorgeous beach and views.
Ocean Club Resorts is the first condo resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands, on the island of Providenciales, and the model for many that came after. Thanks to the recent arrival of Managing Director Wilbert Mason, Ocean Club is likely to set new trends for other T&C resorts to follow.
Ocean Club is split into two resorts. I stayed at Ocean Club East, on the quieter part of Grace Bay Beach. It has 114 rooms, 102 of which are available for rental. Slightly smaller is Ocean Club West with 66 of their 89 rooms available for hotel guests. The West complex is a leisurely 20-minute stroll (or a complimentary shuttle bus ride) down the beach from Ocean Club East and closer to shopping. It’s funny to say the West side is the less-quiet part of the beach because, by the standards of most destinations, the whole beach is quiet.
Dining at Ocean Club Resorts is a highlight. Ocean Club has several independent restaurants that you’d want to eat at even if you weren’t a hotel guest. Of particular note are Opus at Ocean Club East and Solana at Ocean Club West. Opus has elegant dining both indoors and outdoors in their treed courtyard. They work with local fishers to provide the best of what’s under the sea, including Caicos lobster tail and the islands’ famous conch, as well as the best from around the world such as New Zealand rack of lamb and Black Angus beef. Opus also offers rum flights and the largest wine list on Provo. Solana, next to the beach at Ocean Club West, has a wide menu too but specializes in sushi and teppanyaki. The kitchen is extremely accommodating to allergies, especially with advance notification.
At Ocean Club Resorts you stay in an independently-owned condo. Each is decorated differently but all are required to have the same amenities, including lush L’Occitane verbena bath products. Just as in a hotel, you’ll have daily housekeeping service. Unlike in most hotels, you’ll have a full kitchen, laundry, living room, dining area, and a large screened-in porch or balcony with a view of the beach, gardens or pools. Suites come in one-, two- and three-bedroom sizes, and there are also smaller studios with kitchen or kitchenette. The resort has wifi throughout and it stretches not only to the beach but, I was surprised to discover, even into the gentle turquoise waves.
Suites are distributed in three-storey buildings clustered around the pools and gardens. Note they don’t have elevators, but there are some suites designed to be wheelchair accessible, including with larger showers. Suites are in great condition and have the new addition of hurricane-proof aluminum louvres on the windows and patio doors.
On-site you’ll find pools, tennis courts, meeting rooms, a guest barbecue, a gym, and spa. Though there’s no kids’ club, children can participate in a Seafari scavenger hunt adventure and learn about Jojo the dolphin and Provo’s flora and fauna. There are complimentary bikes, paddle boards, and kayaks to borrow. Activities and live music are scheduled frequently.
Turks and Caicos has plenty of activities on offer. Try kayaking in the mangroves of the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve with Total Adventure Co., or Island Vibes Tours’ snorkelling trip in Turks and Caicos’ crystal clear waters and to see the deserted isle of Half Moon Bay. It will be hard, though, to tear yourself away from Grace Bay’s spectacular beach.
Note that the islands almost always have a gentle trade wind blowing, but bring bug spray just in case it dies down. The wind keeps tiny no-see-ums away, which can bite and give some people an itchy allergic reaction.