What’s three hours from New York City, brimming with beauty, delicious dining options, and beaches that take your breath away? No, it’s not The Hamptons! But because we at the Daily do spend our summers keeping busy on the East End, it’s only fair that we take our sojourns in the fall and winter. I recently had the unbridled delight of taking my first trip to the Caribbean; hot-footing it to the world-famous Turks and Caicos, specifically Providenciales, where the only time you’ve seen water, sand, and horizons that pristine are on the screensavers that come with your computer. Furthermore, I can’t confirm for certain that this is the birthplace of the saying “good vibes only”—but it sure felt like it. Staying at Grace Bay Club, the first luxury all-suite resort in Turks and Caicos which set the standard both back then and now, is, I imagine, how divine a honeymoon feels like. No husband required! Back in the real world (booo) post-heavenly trip, I caught up with Nikheel Advani, chief operating officer and principal of Grace Bay Resorts, to hear all the reasons why the group’s various properties and villas are the perfect break from the madness of the city at any time of year and how the company keeps the magic alive after three decades.
How would you sum up the appeal of Turks and Caicos as a destination in one sentence?
Turks and Caicos is made up of 40 islands, each surrounded by cerulean seas yet unique with their own individual natural beauty and character—there’s simply no other place like it.
Grace Bay Club was the first luxury all-suite resort in Turks and Caicos—how has Grace Bay Club always defined ‘luxury’?
Grace Bay Club is the original, flagship property of Grace Bay Resorts that has paved the way and served as inspiration for the resorts that followed. Grace Bay Club has it all: seven restaurants, spa, fitness center, three swimming pools, and a variety of water-based activities. It is perfect for families and couples, anyone looking for a luxurious Caribbean getaway promising a superior level of service with ultra-luxury resort amenities. Grace Bay Resorts has always been at the forefront of what the next generation of luxury travelers wants. This foresight has enabled us to become an enduring presence and trendsetter in the Caribbean, particularly with our creation of handcrafted experiences that has never been more desired by guests than now.
Give us an example!
Guests can be whisked away to a secluded beach or uninhabited island—secret spots that can only be located by those in the know—on a private boat chartered by Grace Bay Resorts. Each experience includes activities tailored to the interests of guests. Those interested in wellness may be accompanied by David Bowen, director of wellness and culture for Grace Bay Resorts and a native of Turks and Caicos, who can lead a private beachfront meditation and yoga session followed by an island-foraging experience to find medicinal herbs on the uninhabited island.
What other factors and standards do you think contributed to the success of Grace Bay Resorts?
Our people. It’s really the people that are the heart of what we do. We have a very high repeat guest rate because guests continue to come back to see their favorite team members and they are made to feel like they are a part of our family. We are also constantly evolving—from adding new experiences to continually improving our guest room product and amenities, we want to ensure we are exceeding the expectations of every new generation of traveler.
You’ve transformed Grace Bay Resorts in many ways, since joining in 2004. What are some fundamental differences between now and then?
Over the past 20 years, the growing confidence of our guests and our investors has empowered us to make bold expansions that have continued to set us apart from our competitors and even other Caribbean destinations. Throughout the years, we’ve also been able to cultivate talent here in the islands that is today reflected in our legacy team members as well as those who have gone on to become entrepreneurs and still have a presence at our resorts through their products and services. We have also recognized the growing importance of protecting the natural beauty of Turks and Caicos. One of our newest experiences invites guests to spend an afternoon with the Turks and Caicos Reef Fund replanting coral that is vital to maintaining one of the largest and healthiest reef systems in the world.
How do the properties differentiate from one another? How do they compare?
Each one of our properties has its own distinct personality—for example, Rock House has a glamorous Mediterranean-inspired feel while Point Grace evokes British West Indies sophistication. Our collection also accommodates a variety of different travelers, from families at West Bay Club to high-profile guests who prefer the privacy of our Private Villa Collection. No matter which Grace Bay Resorts property our guests choose, they are always met with our brand’s unique caliber of luxury service and handcrafted experiences that help create memories that last a lifetime.
What’s new at Grace Bay Club for the upcoming season?
At Grace Bay Club, we recently revealed a completely renovated lobby, new open-air yoga pavilion, and a refresh of our Villa Junior Suites including updated bathrooms. Early next year we will introduce South Bank as the newest addition to the Grace Bay Resorts portfolio along with all-new villas for our Private Villa Collection. We’re also thrilled to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Grace Bay Resorts in 2023 with year-long celebrations including monthly culinary pop-ups across the entire portfolio from award-winning restaurants and chefs and a blowout celebration for the annual Caribbean Food & Wine Festival in October.
What time of year is busiest?
It’s always a good time to go to Turks and Caicos—the destination really has become year-round. If I had to choose, I’d say November. Temperatures are warm (averaging a high of 84 degrees) and there is very little rain.
What have been some milestones post-COVID that you are most proud of?
With Rock House, we became the first and only developer to take a chance on Providenciales’ rocky north shore—and it lives up to its name of being the Caribbean Capri. Rock House brings an entirely unique experience to those seeking an alternative to the beachfront resorts typically found in the islands, given its scenic cliffside location. It’s only three hours from NYC, rather that six, so saving those the transcontinental trip to Europe. It is also for wellness enthusiasts, with its 100-foot infinity pool; the largest in Turks and Caicos. While there’s plenty of privacy if that’s what you want, this is also a place for the traveler who likes to see and be seen. This year we also brought back the beloved Caribbean Food & Wine Festival, which is a culinary celebration of the best of Turks and Caicos that brings together best-in-class chefs and winemakers from around the world. This was our 12th year, and the festival has successfully increased our culinary prominence on an international level and put Turks and Caicos on the map as an epicurean destination worth traveling for.
Rock House is your exciting new jewel in the crown. What type of guests is it attracting?
In addition to existing Grace Bay Resorts guests who have returned to experience our newest resort concept, we are getting bookings from travelers who want a closer to home alternative to far-flung European destinations like the Amalfi Coast and South of France that doesn’t sacrifice luxury.
We know the culinary programing at all the properties draws a high profile crowd. What are some highlights for the upcoming season?
Next year we will open a new restaurant at Rock House themed around nature with treetop views. And while we can’t divulge any names yet, we will be partnering with some fantastic chefs in 2023 as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations. Guests can expect exciting pop-ups and new private dining experiences all year long.
What’s a perfect day itinerary in Providenciales in your eyes?
Infiniti Restaurant & Bar at Grace Bay Club has the best sunset watching on the island. It’s an ideal place to grab a glass of champagne, eat some delicious sushi, hangout with your friends and family, and listen to the sound of waves from the nearby Grace Bay Beach. What’s really special is that Infiniti features the Caribbean’s longest bar—stretching 90 feet toward the ocean. Once the sun goes down, the whole venue comes to life and feels like a party with all of your friends. I love to explore the islands and cays with my family—Turks and Caicos has 40 of them—each with their own natural beauty and unique character. We’ll find everything from conch shells to sand dollars. The best way to explore the islands is by boat, where you can observe the crystal-clear turquoise waters and wildlife. There is even a friendly dolphin named JoJo, who is notorious for greeting boaters and playing with them! A must-do when visiting Providenciales is spending a long lazy lunch at Da Conch Shack. It is one of the most popular restaurants in Turks and Caicos with its beachfront location and al fresco dining. The menu is heavily influenced by conch…be sure to try the conch fritters! It’s a fun place to dine with your toes in the sand and listen to island vibes.
What still takes your breath away about the destination after all these years?
You can take a photo, but you’ll never be able to capture the same vibrant blue on camera that you can see with your own eyes in Turks and Caicos. It takes my breath away every time.
All images: Courtesy