Lined up like chiles charring on the grill, our family of five — filling a row of famously gorgeous Grace Bay Beach’s equivalent of Barcaloungers — lazily sunbathes. Comatose from the heat and the mesmerizing tickle of the sea’s breeze, we barely note the activity around us. Somewhere far, far away children giggle with glee, the waves whoosh on the sand, sails whip in the wind, and paddles splash the cobalt water beyond. There’s plenty of noise to stir us, but we’re so relaxed not one of us can muster a movement. Suddenly, my youngest son, Nick, sighs the tiniest complaint, “I’m hungry, Mom.” I’m so far ensconced in dreamland that I can barely comprehend his words. Time passes and I sense him reaching for the cell phone I hold loosely in my hand. From the far regions of my consciousness I hear electronic beeps as he touch-tones a number. Just as I wonder vaguely who he might be calling, he says, “Hello Hilario. Can you please bring me a calzone?”
Instantly, we all spring to life. “And a Mai Tai,” I say. “A sandwich,” says my daughter. “Some sushi,” says my eldest son. Nick translates our chatter to Hilario, while the rest of us exchange embarrassed glances. We’re spending five days at Beaches Turks & Caicos, an upscale, all-inclusive resort, and Hilario is our butler. We’re not used to having a butler. But Hilario comes with the oversized beachfront suite we chose to stay in so we can spread out and manage not to kill one another while we attempt to have a family vacation. And Hilario’s cool — not like those formal, stiff, upper-lip butlers from Agatha Christie mysteries (though he did greet us upon arrival wearing white gloves). Hilario is a wry, funny fellow from the Philippines with a most infectious grin. When we arrive, he whisks us away for private check-in (after our Beaches indulgent welcome of Champagne). He appears with cheese trays, escorts us to dinner, unpacks our bags, (only Nick takes him up on that), makes our bubble baths — and ensures we aren’t disappointed with our stay.
Why Go to the Turks & Caicos and Where to Stay
A multi-island paradise composed of 40 low-lying coral islands, the British Overseas Protectorate peppers the Atlantic Ocean and is just a two-hour flight from Miami. A symphony of startling blues with seemingly endless bone-white beaches, the destination embodies graceful Caribbean culture while dancing to the beat of its own drummer — that is to say: ripsaw music which hails from the combine sounds of triangles, box guitar, accordion concertina — and yes, carpenter saw. Go for the friendly welcome, the diving, the stellar resorts, the food, the Humpback whales in season, and that crazy lizard-loaded Iguana Island (a.k.a. Little Water Cay).
If you love all-inclusive travel (especially a bargain if you have hungry teenage boys in tow), Turks & Caicos has some of the best. Read on for our definitive list.
More About Beaches Turks & Caicos
On Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos’ supreme beach location on Providenciales, Beaches was born from comments by guests of adults-only Sandals Resorts who longed to bring their children. Both capricious and luxurious, Beaches offers every member of the family a Huck Finn world of magic with oodles of activities. Kids and their parents can sail, scuba, spa, play tennis, and eat at an array of all-included restaurants. With five themed villages, the retreat features a jaw-dropping 45,000 square-foot waterpark, 21 restaurants, a 12-mile beach, Sesame Street characters, and 10 glimmering pools.
Pine Cay Resort
An 800-acre private island that emanates old money sophistication and classic Caribbean grandeur, this all-inclusive pristine retreat captivates nature lovers and those who yearn for a tropical vibe with a vintage tempo. As a member of Relais & Chateaux, the resort also brandishes a prodigious culinary focus. Intimately ensconced in one of 13 beachfront rooms and suites, guests partake in water sports, beach bonfires and star gazing, a freshwater swimming pool, a Tiki Beach Bar, and a sociable Clubhouse that underscores that bygone Caribbean enchantment.
Barefoot elegant, lavishly remote, Ambergris Cay provides the ultimate castaway hideaway experience. Just 600 miles south of Miami, Ambergris Cay unfolds to reveal postcard-perfect beaches at its edge and unspoiled interiors that extend 1,100 acres. Tucked amongst its splendor, ten suites and seven villas promise pampered days. Whether seeking active moments diving the reef or languorous days beside personal plunge pools, guests can expect an array of other options including sailing, snorkeling, SUPing, beach picnics, beach bonfires, and bone fishing lessons. A la carte gourmet meals with menus that change daily, room service, pool snacks, and premium drinks are part of the package.
Club Med Turkoise
Cast away your cares at this exemplar, European-spirited, all inclusive located right on Grace Bay Beach. An adults-only utopia, romantic enough for honeymooners and bustling enough to gather with groups of friends, the retreat not only offers the expected beach-y sports, but excels with its wellness program. Each week a plethora of yoga and meditation courses keep spirits calm, while healthy meals (including fresh juices, plant-based dishes, and detox waters and teas) supplement the over indulgence likely to happen at the resort’s six restaurants and bars. At Spa by Sothys, guests can renew with French-level spa services from scrubs to facials.
Kids 12 and under stay free at Blue Haven, a captivating resort on the water with suites and penthouses large enough for your coterie. An intimate haven and eco-retreat with just 45 studios, suites, and penthouses, Blue Haven delivers globe-trotter heaven with its peerless Blue Haven Marina, home to mega yachts and a portal to water play from scuba to snorkeling. Kitted out with six restaurants and bars of its own, the retreat allows all-inclusive access to its sister property Alexandra Resort, which boasts 12 additional hot spots to eat and drink.
Featured image courtesy of Blue Haven Resort