Those images you see in print and television ads for Turks and Caicos aren’t doctored (much, anyway). The ocean is that gorgeous turquoise. The sunsets on the west coast are that striking. The beaches are filled with sand that white. And the rum punch is definitely that strong.
Indeed, Turks and Caicos absolutely lived up to my expectations during a girlfriend getaway to The Somerset on Grace Bay in Providenciales, the area of Turks and Caicos that draws the most sun-and-sand-seeking tourists, mainly from the East Coast of the U.S and Canada. But I made the (long) trip from the Colorado mountains for just a short four-night stay at The Somerset with R&R on my mind. The laid-back pace of the small island (just 16,000 residents), coupled with quiet shoulder season of September set the perfect scene for a couple of tired moms to just bliss out in tropical weather. And The Somerset — individually owned luxury condominiums rented to guests — was the ideal home base. Here’s why:
A brilliant location on Grace Bay
The long strip of white sand that comprises Grace Bay is lined with resorts. It’s certainly the most popular area of Turks & Caicos for visitors — for good reason. The mellow beach is absolutely exquisite. The waves are minimal (nice for young children, as well as these moms who just wanted to cool off in the ocean water without dodging surf). It’s easy to walk down the beach for exercise, and also to check out neighboring properties for a bite to eat at another resort’s restaurant (we liked Mango Reef at the Alexandra Resort).
Plenty of space to spread out
My girlfriend and I stayed in a second-floor, two-bedroom villa suite with an ocean view. As much as I adore my pal Kristina, I’m always happy not to share standard hotel room with her. Each of us had our own bedroom, as well as our own full bathroom. Our accommodations also included a full kitchen, dining room, living room, powder room and good-sized balcony, where we took our morning coffee. Lovely.
If I were to return, say, with my husband on a romantic getaway, I’d consider one of the one-bedroom options. Budget-conscious guests might want to stay in the Garden Villas, but it’s removed from the ocean. Honestly, when I go to a beach destination, I want to see that ocean from my room!
Nice on-site amenities (many complimentary)
Any properties that offer quality bikes for guests to borrow get a big thumbs’ up from me. I appreciate the ability to get some exercise and have some freedom to explore the area, especially when I don’t have a rental car at my disposal. The one-speed cruisers at The Somerset are great for riding into Grace Bay village to do a little grocery shopping (bring a backpack; the bike baskets are small) for nibbles to store in your condo.
The Somerset guests can also borrow snorkel equipment, kids’ sand toys, pool floats and ocean kayaks for free; stand-up paddleboards, windsurfers and sailboats are available for a minimal fee.
The oceanfront infinity pool is gorgeous; it does have a zero-depth entry, which is great for toddlers. There’s also a children’s pool area, and an incredible 138-foot lap pool, which I did use, thank you very much (I so often pack my swim goggles, but rarely don them for exercise on vacation).
Other complimentary amenities include a small fitness center, a croquet lawn and a book-lending library. The Caicos Kids Club, operating seasonally and with advance notice, is available for children ages 5 to 12 and totally free to guests.
On-site restaurants here include a casual poolside bar and grill and a fine-dining restaurant that was closed for the off season when we visited. I hear the resort’s Tuesday night beach BBQ, available for a fee, is quite the party; a complimentary cocktail reception is offered Monday evenings.
Easy access to outdoor adventures
I highly recommend the half-day snorkeling and conch-diving excursion with Caicos Dream Tours, offered twice daily, seven days a week. Tours depart from the beach in front of the Alexandra Resort, just two doors down from The Somerset. On this tour, we boarded a brightly colored catamaran to tour Grace Bay a bit, then stop in a shallow area to dive for conch shells. We also went snorkeling along the third-largest barrier reef in the world, where we spotted some very colorful fish. The tour ended at beautiful Half Moon Bay, where the rum punch (and Turks’ Head beers) were plentiful, and where one of our guides opened up the conch shells we’d found to make some savory conch salad.
In all, my friend and I very much enjoyed our stay at The Somerset. The property was great for our low-key girls’ getaway, but the majority of the other guests we encountered were couples on romantic trips (one was on their honeymoon, two were on a babymoon). With its kid-friendly Caicos Kids Club and pool area, it’s a fine spot for families, too. (Check out kid-centric reviews on Luxury Travel Mom and Child Mode.) But if I had my druthers, I’d return with just my husband for a romantic getaway. Perhaps someday!
A huge thank you to The Somerest for hosting my stay.