Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hip Getaways - Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

So you've been to Cuba, The Dominican and Mexico. Maybe you're sick of the all-inclusive scene, the sketchy food, the watered-down drinks and all the frat boys. I'm sure that was all great during Reading Week, but you're ready to step-up the swank factor. The Hip & Urban Girl checks into the gorgeous island of Providenciales in Turks & Caicos located just east of Cuba and south of The Bahamas.
Turks & Caicos is quickly becoming one of the hottest destinations in the Caribbean. The Ritz Carlton Hotel & its accompanying airstrip are already under construction in West Caicos. Hip and young hotels like The Gansevoort have already opened an outpost and are hoping to draw in the winter weary crowds from places like New York City, Chicago and Toronto. The popular island of Providenciales is only four hours away by direct flight from YYZ, making it a perfect long weekend getaway complete with a wallpaper-worthy beach. I went during shoulder season in April close to this same time and the hotel prices and flights were much more affordable.
Grace Bay offers some excellent windsurfing conditions
What To Do: The soft white sand and clear blue waters of Grace Bay have been voted one of the best beaches in the world. It's perfect for anyone who wants to snorkel around some of the most pristine reefs in the world, just a few feet away from the beach of your hotel.

The Gansevoort Pool
Getting There: West Jet has started flying to 'Provo' and Air Canada also offers vacay packages with hotels that they have partnerships with. The most flexible option is to 'build your own trip' on Expedia and get the hotel you want. They will give you flight options through US Airways and American Airlines.

Where to Stay: We loved The Windsong Resort which is a brand new condo hotel on the beach. Studio units include a kitchenette while one bedroom units include a full kitchen.  Prices are from $350/night and include a car service that can take you to the local IGA to stock up on booze and groceries. The room included luxurious Frette linens and Bvlgari bath & body products. The kitchen is all granite counters, marble floors and KitchenAid appliances.  I know it's all so hard to deal with at first, but I'm sure you'll settle in nicely (*wink). The hotel also has a small gym and bikes that you can borrow. A delicious continental breakfast is included with your rate. 

The Kitchen at Windsong Resort
The Living Room
Other Resorts: If you are a Hip & Urban Mom, travelling with kids - you'll want to check out the Beaches Resort. They have lots of activities for children, the resort is all-inclusive and leaves you with little to worry about. If you are travelling on a VERY tight budget, you should check out The Comfort Suites at $150/night. It's not on the beach, but it is in walking distance and they do have an area set-up for hotel guests only on Grace Bay. If you are in the mid-range, your best bet is a vacation package with flight at The Royal West Indies or one of the Ocean Club resorts at around $250/night. Meals are extra.
The Windsong Resort
Where To Drink: I do recommend bar-hopping to the various beach hotels so you can explore what each has to offer. One of the coziest spots are the lounge chairs at The Grace Bay Club. The beachfront bar offers lots of sail shades and one of the prettiest views of the bay.
Grace Bay Club
Where to Eat: Cab it out of the Grace Bay area ($20) and over to Da Conch Shack in The Blue Hills to watch them throw on a snorkel, dive for a big ass shell and scoop out the conch to make deep-fried fritters and cracked conch (like calamari). Enjoy your conch with a side of rice and a view of the ocean. The fine dining options are endless, though a bit pricey. Make sure you pick-up a restaurant guide with all the menus listed (it's free) when you get there. We also really enjoyed Hemingways and The Jerk Platter at Tiki Hut.
Fried is always good
Yes this place is going to cost more than your average all-inclusive. But, it is a whole lot quieter and completely worth it. Who wants to go back with me?

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