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Turks & Caicos Trip Report: Grace Bay Club & Amanyara

Turks & Caicos Trip Report: Grace Bay Club & Amanyara

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Old Jul 9, 10, 6:10 pm
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Turks & Caicos Trip Report: Grace Bay Club & Amanyara

Mr. Ericka and I were due for a weekend getaway, and being short on vacation time, we opted for the 4th of July. We were craving some beach time and thought of the Turks and Caicos as a way to stay close to home but guarantee ourselves beautiful beaches and water, and some nice off-season rates.

FLIGHTS
We flew US Airways first class from CLT to PLS. The service was good enough but the equipment was old, and the seats were uncomfortable and had no head support. Each first class passenger was given a blankerchief (a see-through blanket of questionable cleanliness) and was allowed to select a packaged snack item from a passed basket. The flight was basically a very sad version of domestic first, but it got us to our island paradise on-time so there wasnít too much to complain about.

TURKS & CAICOS
We flew into Providenciales, the island with most of the major resorts (including Amanyara and the Grace Bay Club). For a small, 3-gate airport, it was efficiently run. Itís nothing fancy but fast enough to get through, making resort transfers that much easier. With USD currency, 110 AC voltage and daily flights from New York, Miami and Charlotte, itís no surprise that most of the tourists we saw were Americans.

The sand throughout Providenciales was the white talcum-powder consistency like that found at Amanpulo, and no matter how long the sun beat down on it, it never became hot. In July, the temperature topped out around 90 degrees but the ocean breezes kept us comfortable. We took all of our meals outside.

Heeding the warnings of fellow flyer-talkers, we packed two bottles of Deep Woods Off (the most serious, highest deet-containing mosquito repellant allowed in the US). But we never used them. Mosquitoes?.... What mosquitoes? Perhaps we were there during an unusually dry period, or maybe the resorts were spraying more aggressively than in the past.

Lastly, for those that like to plan trips last minute, itís worth mentioning that weather.com and wunderground.com forecasts for the island of Provo almost always show showers and storms (and are notoriously wrong). This is because there is rainÖ.somewhere. And it can rain for a few minutes and be over just as quickly as it started. Donít let the weather forecasts deter you from traveling.
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Old Jul 9, 10, 6:15 pm
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Grace Bay Club

Map| 1 Review | 100% Recommended

Grace Bay Club

Grace Bay Rd Turks and Caicos Islands, TC TKCA 1ZZ

Grace Bay Club (0 Photo)

Grace Bay Club

Ten years ago, we almost honeymooned at the Grace Bay Club. We ended up at the Hotel Bora Bora instead (which changed the course of our vacations for years to come). But for sentimental reasons, we decided to give the GBC one night of our stay. DavidO booked us under the Suite Deals and Virtuoso packages which was a tremendous value including an upgrade if available, full American breakfast, French sparkling wine, tropical fruit plate, early check-in, late check-out, and a $100 food and beverage credit. The property had tripled in size the last decade and while there were still adults-only sections, it seemed to cater mostly to families. We were met by the Director of Guest Experience, Prasad Sankaran, a very personable Aman-type manager who frequently checked in on us to make sure we were being taken care of.

Grace Bay One Bedroom Suite (Villas Building)

Our 1,748 square foot suite was beautifully appointed with an ocean-viewed living room and bedroom, a full-sized, fully equipped, modern granite kitchen, an expansive stone veranda, a large master bathroom with oversized tub and shower, a powder room, and even a washer and dryer. There was a butler team assigned to each building and we were given a cell phone to speed-dial the butlers directly.

Public Areas

The entire resort (including all rooms) took advantage of the oceanfront setting with views throughout. There was the Infinity Bar with live (but not loud) music for adult socializing and when we wanted more privacy, there were several little nooks with lanterns hanging from the trees.

Dining

We had dinner at the fine dining restaurant, Anacaona. The restaurant had a dress code, but for those wanting to dress more casually the menu (all menus, actually) could be ordered off of from anywhere on the property. We made our reservations ahead of time and requested a table on the edge of the beach which was very romantic at sunset. Service and food were excellent, with a special emphasis on locally-caught seafood. Breakfast was an oceanfront buffet with the usual eggs, meat, pastries, yogurt, fruit, etc. but they also served the local favorite (and Mr. Ericka’s new favorite) conch and grits.

Opportunities for Improvement

Grace Bay is a several-mile long beach that is strikingly beautiful, but it is home to many resorts and condominiums which means there is a lot of foot traffic and families. If you don’t like this level of activity, this might not be the resort for you. Beach service was also a little off. We decided to enjoy a beach bed at about 4:30pm and didn’t receive any water or towels until we asked for them. We were supposed to receive a flag so that we could order drinks, snacks, etc. but that never happened. It seems the beach boys had mentally shut down for the day. We also noticed a GBC worker dragging a large garbage bag along the beach picking up dozens of bottles. Why hadn’t those been picked up earlier?

Grace Bay Club

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Old Jul 9, 10, 6:17 pm
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Amanyara

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Amanyara

Northwest Point PROVIDENCIALES, TC 0000

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Amanyara

Amanyara was of course the real reason for our trip. DavidO booked our reservation under Virtuoso which included an upgrade if available, continental breakfast, and one lunch. Where Mr. Ericka and I would normally decide what room category we wanted and book it, we have been trying to take advantage of the recession this last year by allowing the Virtuoso upgrades to work for us. Being a holiday weekend, this was quite the gamble. We were convinced we would be staying in a pond pavilion when we noticed one week before our trip that every higher room category was sold out. But as with everything Aman, GMs Tania and John somehow managed to pull it off and we found ourselves in a lovely oceanfront pavilion. The resort, perhaps because of its architecture, Aman standards or the number of former Amanpulo staff, felt farther away than just a few hours flight. If we had any doubts about whether it would truly feel like an Aman, those were put to rest almost immediately. The airport transfers, cool towels, GM meet and greet, complimentary water bottles throughout the resort and in their usual “assigned” places in our pavilion, hand crafted key rings, matching Yara-specific signature room accessories…they were all consistent with the Aman brand.

Oceanfront Pavilion #129

We accessed our pavilion via a private, winding path. Once inside, we found a bottle of champagne, fruit basket and personal welcome note. The room layout was very Aman and since the website does a great job describing it, I will only comment on those things specific to 129. The views were panoramic (thanks in part to the all-glass walls) and there was only low shrubbery between us and the water. The pavilion was very close to shore with a path leading down to a small sandy beach (though I wouldn’t call it swimmable as I understand 115 to be - there were rocks just inside the water that would be challenging to navigate at low tide.) Thick shrubs were left on the remaining three sides of the pavilion making the rest of the room and outdoor spaces completely private. We enjoyed breakfast in the sunken table facing the ocean and liked to use the sun pads to gaze up at the stars at night.

Public Areas

The tall, circular bar acted as the social center of the resort. Besides giving direct access to the pool, there was always someplace nearby to relax including lounge chairs, day beds, and tables. Most of the guests spent at least some time here since only the villas had private pools. In the evening, an electric piano played live music. There was also a boutique and library. And the new Serenity Villa dedicated spa sounded lovely but we decided our short time was better spent in the ocean.

Snorkeling & Diving

Since visiting Amanyara, we’ve learned that the Turks & Caicos is not really a snorkel destination. While the water is very warm and currents are few, the best aquatic life here is deeper than 40 feet. We did snorkel though - just off the Beach Club rocks and out on the Northwest Marine Park reef with the complementary snorkel boat. Both locations were OK but it’s really hard to get excited after recently returning from Amanwana. The diving proved better, particularly for Mr. Ericka who is fully certified. I took the Discover Scuba course with Chester, a funny and patient guy that runs the dive shop. Chester is now a Big Blue employee who used to work for Amanpulo (long story). Mr. Ericka did some of the nearby Marine Park wall dives, of which his favorite was the Amphitheatre. He tells me the dive had good marine life diversity with different fish at different levels and lots of healthy corals. Best of all, each guest was given a dive computer to monitor depth, bottom times, decompression status, etc. And to dispel the myth that Amans are stuffy…as we were pulling out for a dive one day, Chester noticed two heads bobbing in the water in front of the Beach Club. He hollered, “Hey Fritz, wanna go diving?” Fritz quickly collected his gear and jumped on the boat, and that’s how we ended up diving with the head chef. The other bobbing head was John the GM, so they were probably having a meeting…only at an Aman. LOL

Dining

Now I’m not just saying this because we went diving with Fritz Wahlen, but seriously…the food was outstanding. We always like the food at Amans, but we’re not really foodies and we were a little disturbed reading about how expensive everything was before our trip. But the meals were great and the price just didn’t seem to matter …the Indonesian and Thai dishes, the jerk chicken, and the seafood (which comes out of Miami – they don’t serve local fish). We ate one night at the Beach Club where they served a different menu of grilled meats. The rib eye really stood out. Favorite desserts included the “deconstructed” key lime pie and the homemade banana ice cream. The Virtuoso breakfast was American continental. It included a choice of juice, cereal, basket of pastries (yes, very good), and choice of coffee. After 12 Amans, I don’t recall ever being restricted to what we could or could not order for breakfast, but then again, we usually stay longer than a weekend and take advantage of some other property-specific package. Nickel and diming? Well, it just didn’t feel very “Aman”.

Service

Overall, service was very good. Wherever we went, we were quickly followed with water and towels. The guest services staff was always on top of things, knowing what we were doing and when. Best of all was the golf cart service to and from the pavilions. The first time we called for a golf cart, we were on Four Seasons time, recalling how long it took to get picked up at the FS Kuda Huraa. We were expecting a wait of 10-15 minutes, not the immediate service that Amanyara consistently provided. The time it took for them to bring the cart was the time it took for us to walk out of our pavilion – basically immediate!

Opportunities for Improvement

We were asked for our room number more than once. This seems to be an Americas issue. The library could have used a few more books on the Turks and Caicos (or at least the Caribbean) and fewer books on Indonesia and Morocco. I always enjoy reading about the flora, fauna, history and culture of where I am. We felt badly for the couple that booked the $500 Ocean Cove dinner on Saturday night. The Ocean Cove sat on the path to the Beach Club and since that night was also the night of the barbeque; their dinner was not at all private.

Photos

Amanyara #129

Amanyara gecko

Amanyara bar

Amanyara #129

GBC

GBC villas one bed suite

Amanyara file fish

Amanyara fireworm

Amanyara

Would you like to write a review on the Amanyara?

No, thank you.
Yes

Last edited by IBgkim; Nov 13, 14 at 5:16 pm
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Old Jul 9, 10, 6:55 pm
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Ericka--
What a great report. Thank you for not only describing the destinations, but the essence of those destinations.
I am now, very interested in the Amanyara..prior to your report; never even on my radar.
Thanks, Ericka.
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Old Jul 9, 10, 7:30 pm
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Ditto: I always get excited when I see a new thread with "Trip Report" in the title and Ericka as the initiator. I've referred to your India and Indonesia reviews quite a bit when planning my trips there later this year. Thank you!
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Old Jul 9, 10, 9:16 pm
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I echo the sentiments above!! Bravo, and thank you, Ericka!!!
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Old Jul 10, 10, 12:57 am
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Also stayed at GBC last year

We stayed at Grace Bay Club last year, and agree with your assessment. We also were in the villa section.

Great property and service. A little too much activity in front of hotel in terms of walkers, etc. But all in all a nice stay. Heard weird things about Amanyara being near the trash burning facility during the island prior to our stay to prevent us from paying the $$$ for that property.
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Old Jul 10, 10, 7:11 am
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Thanks guys. Always my pleasure.
By the way, we did not experience any trash burning around Amanyara.
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Old Jul 10, 10, 9:21 am
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Great report! Thanks Ericka!

Did Mr Ericka find the diving better than in Amanpulo or Amanwana?
Which of the three Amans have the best diving (in his opinion)?
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Old Jul 10, 10, 11:32 am
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Mr. Ericka believes Amanwana has the best diving and I have to agree with him based on my experience taking the Discover Scuba courses at most of these locations. Not just compared to other Amans but to other resort areas worldwide. Better than the FS Maldives. Better than the Great Barrier Reef. They shot the underwater scenes for Planet Earth (Coral Seas????) on the nearby reefs of Indonesia.

He has experienced very good diving at Pulo, Yara, and Hotel Bora Bora but Wana was the best.

Last edited by Ericka; Jul 10, 10 at 11:40 am
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Old Jul 11, 10, 12:57 pm
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Thanks Ericka!
That's what I thought. We've been three times to Maldives (FS Explorer Cruise, Soneva Gili, W Retreat and Island Hideaway) and also have dived in Indonesia and I think the most beautiful soft corals are in this country, though Maldives have good ones too and you can see more pelagics.

We may go next year to Amanwana. Thanks again

Last edited by Macarena; Jul 11, 10 at 4:13 pm
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Old Jul 11, 10, 1:59 pm
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We'd love to hear more about your FS Explorer experience. That is obviously the FS best diving - we had a reservation and chickened out, thinking we might have trouble with seasickness. We toured the boat though. When you have some time, please PM me with details.

Amanwana has a fabulous new boat for week long dive and Komodo trips as well. Much more expensive than the FS though because it is smaller and they rent to two couples max. More economical is a day trip to Satonda.

Anyway, PM if you have specific questions about Wana.

Back to Yara......
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Old Jul 11, 10, 4:29 pm
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Ericka, I read about your cancellation, I read your trip report about both FS (Great report by the way )

I will send you a PM with some pictures.

Yes back to Yara.....

Last edited by Macarena; Jul 11, 10 at 5:09 pm
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Old Jul 11, 10, 6:11 pm
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Thank you for this report, Ericka!
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Old Jul 12, 10, 4:09 am
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Very nice report Ericka and it makes me want to check out the Caribbean a bit more. And I agree, the breakfast restriction doesn't feel very Aman like.
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