On the expensive island of Provo, it's great to hear about a reasonably priced resort that offers the same beachfront as its pricey neighbors.
Providenciales in Turks & Caicos, an island group off the eastern edge of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean, has seen rapid development in recent years. Tony resorts and fancy condos are springing up all over “Provo.” But despite the hefty price tags that such luxury commands, families continue to be lured by one of the world’s most breathtaking beaches: Grace Bay.
Families looking for a more relaxed price tag on Provo will delight in the Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, two of the original low-rise, condo-style resorts set a mile apart on Grace Bay Beach. The 78 comfortable, spacious units at Ocean Club West (where I stayed) range from studio suites to three-bedroom condos. All boast a large screened balcony or porch, a well-appointed full kitchen (an IGA grocery store is a short taxi ride away), a washer and dryer and tropical-casual dÃ©cor.
The two resorts offer reciprocal privileges to their guests and a complimentary shuttle. Instead of being subjected to poolside karaoke and other typical resort “entertainment,” families make their own fun on the jaw-dropping gorgeous beach or the tennis courts, or in one of three freshwater pools or the small fitness center with spa treatment room. A handful of complimentary bikes and a lending library of DVDs, board games and books also are available.
Ocean Club Kids Clubhouse welcomes ages 4- to 12-years for half- and full-day sessions, plus dinner and a movie some evenings. Call in advance to make certain the Clubhouse will be open during your stay.
For those not wanting to cook en-suite, both resorts have casual beachside restaurants serving mediocre breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Ocean Club offers the urbane, slightly upscale Gecko Grille, a more enjoyable dinner option that is suitable for kids. For an adult-only night out, nearby Coco Bistro serves excellent “continental Caribbean” fare under a lovely canopy of well-lit coconut trees. Before sitting down to enjoy their meal, parents can drop the little ones at Kids Clubhouse or arrange in-room babysitting.
Don’t miss a chance to take the family out to lunch or dinner at Da Conch Shack not far from the Provo airport, an open-air beachfront spot that draws locals and in-the-know tourists. The staff members crack open fresh conchs on the beach and turn them into yummy fritters, salad or curry. The menu also includes jerk chicken, mac and cheese, grilled lobster and fresh fish. Arrive early and bring the camera!
Close by is Big Blue Unlimited at the Leeward Marina, providing kayaking, snorkeling, biking, boating, and diving excursions, as Turks & Caicos is celebrated for its diving opportunities. Resort guests also have privileges at nearby Provo Golf and Country Club, where even non-golfers will enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner on the Fairway Bar & Grill’s balcony overlooking the 18th hole (Try the lobster melt). Or head over to the world’s one-and-only Caicos Conch Farm, where kids can meet Sally and Jerry, the resident-trained conchs and Jerry demonstrates graphically why he’s the male of the species.
Provo and the Turks & Caicos live up to the “Beautiful by Nature” motto. Ocean Club and Ocean Club West make it possible for families to enjoy all that beauty without breaking the bank.
[Note: Ocean Club Resorts was one of a number of resorts affected by Hurricane Ike in September 2008. Thankfully, the resort escaped with no major damage, as seen in these pictures here.]
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Ocean Club Resorts|
Turks & Caicos
|Seasonal Rates:||$$ – $$$$$|
|Choice of Activities:||B|
|Quality of Amenities:||B+|
|Bonus:||Daily, housekeepers make beds and replenish towels, toiletries and even laundry detergent for the unit’s washer and dryer, a step up from the typical beach rental.|
|Note:||If stairs are not a problem, request a 3rd floor unit for the best views and higher ceilings. Be sure to inquire about nearby construction to avoid noise.|
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