Turks & Caicos: Where to Stay: Family Friendly: Grace Bay Club
Grace Bay Club
Opened in 1993, the Grace Bay Club is considered the first hotel to introduce five-star luxury to this pretty stretch of powdery beach. Set on eleven acres of beachfront, this property is not as overbuilt as some resorts farther south (though the newly opened, Seven Stars nearby has somewhat marred the glorious views). The heart of Grace Bay Club is the so-called Hotel, with twenty-one guest suites in a Mediterranean Spanish-style mansion. The decor is tasteful and elegant, if not particularly memorable, with alternating stone and dark-wood floors, king-size Balinese beds, mahogany furnishings, white ceiling fans and an earthy color scheme. Bathrooms were recently gutted and enlarged. The hotel and the surrounding property, including a pool, Anacaona restaurant and the ultracool Lounge, are for adults only.
In 2001, Grace Bay Club was bought by Mark Durliat, a former co-owner of acclaimed Mexican resort Esperanza, and has since seen a rash of exciting additions and renovations. First came the (somewhat misleadingly named) Villas: thirty-eight family-friendly residences housed in a cluster of four-story buildings in the same cheerful Mediterranean Spanish-style architecture as the rest of the resort. The one-, two- and three-bedroom suites are spacious—the smallest measures 600 square feet, the largest Penthouse is 4,800 square feet—and come with state-of-the-art open kitchens (a private chef can be arranged) and washer-dryer units. Priced starting at $1.25 million, they sold out before construction was even complete, and all are now in the rental pool of Grace Bay Club. The family-friendly side of the resort has its own pool, restaurant and swim-up bar (“to keep parents happy as well,” I was told). Located in yet another separate cluster of buildings, the Estate functions as a hotel-within-a-hotel (à la Jade Mountain on St. Lucia) with twenty-two 4,500 square-foot, four-bedroom residences, each with its own entrance and smashing ocean views.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, its separation between adults and children, Grace Bay Club has long been known as one of the most family-friendly resorts in the Caribbean. Morgan Luker, who runs the kids’ club, is energetic, fun and not afraid to take children off the property for such tours as visiting nearby ruins and snorkeling excursions, though she says that camping on the property is among the most popular activities (complete with a campfire and s’mores, of course).
Even if you’re not staying here, beachside Anacaona has one of the most romantic settings on the island, and the Lounge, with its new Infinity Bar, draws guests from other Grace Bay resorts for cocktails during sunset. Rooms from $950.
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Read a member’s postcard from her recent trip to Grace Bay Club.— Simone Girner 09/30/2008