f you go to the Bahamas and head another 39 miles or so southeast, you’ll run into the Turks and Caicos islands, a British Commonwealth Colony that is one of the best kept secrets in the Caribbean. Proclaimed “Beautiful by Nature” by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage of discovery in 1492, this archipelago of eight major islands and 30-plus uninhabited cays is mostly flat land with exceptionally beautiful beaches. The highest elevation is found on Grand Turk at only 163 feet.
The name of these islands is derived from the indigenous Turk’s Head (“fez”) cactus, and the Lucayan term “caya hico,” meaning string of islands. The eight inhabited islands are: Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Parrot Cay and Pine Cay. East Caicos and West Caicos, along with several other fascinating cays, are uninhabited. People on the islands are known as “Belongers”, and many visitors long to become Belongers themselves.
Providenciales, better known as Provo, is the focal point and cosmopolitan center of those beautiful islands and also the most populated of the group. Only 37.5 square miles in size, it has some of the most pristine beaches in the world stretching for miles against the jewel-like water of the Caribbean Sea. This is the perfect place to get away from it all and relax, without giving up the modern conveniences.
As recently as 1964, Providenciales did not have a single wheeled vehicle. Following in the footsteps of Club Med, the island’s first large hotel and casino complex opened in 1984 and touched off a development boom. Provo is now the most tourist-oriented and developed of the Turks and Caicos Islands, boasting many resort hotels and an 18-hole golf course. The island has recently become popular with retirees from around the world, kindling a boom of residential development. Grace Bay has seen many luxury condos built on its shores, however the settlements of Turks Islanders still provide a local flair to the island.
Apart from the beaches, the island’s charm lies in its rugged hills and ridges, which are carpeted with prickly pear cactus and scrub. The trump card, however, remains the world class diving: miles and miles of coral reefs are close to shore and the island is close to a common migration route for the Humpback whale. Providenciales is surrounded by uninhabited cays that are easily reached by chartered boat or excursion.
Though a little shy on nightlife and exciting things to see and do relative to some of the better known vacation destinations, Provo has a golf club (the Provo Golf & Country Club), a casino (the Casablanca Casino), shopping centers, two marinas and a number of bars and excellent restaurants.
Provo is also a divers’ and water lovers’ paradise. Beautiful beaches are scattered all over the island, the most spectacular of which is a 12 mile stretch bordering Grace Bay, which is protected by a healthy barrier reef. The water here is so clear that it shimmers even by starlight.
To help boost tourism during the Caribbean low season of late summer, the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board have organised and hosted an annual series of concerts called the Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival since summer of 2003. Held in a temporary bandshell at The Turtle Cove Marina in The Bight on Providenciales, this festival lasts about a week and has featured several notable international recording artists such as Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, Anita Baker, Billy Ocean, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Kenny Rogers, Michael Bolton, Ludacris, Chaka Khan, and Boyz II Men. More than 10,000 people attend annually.
Provo is protected by a government that is dedicated to preserving the islands’ uncomplicated lifestyle and natural beauty. This is truly a water and beach lovers’ paradise. Investors, scuba divers, nature lovers, vacationers, fishermen…
Like bone fishing or billfishing? This is your spot. Love to scuba? This is your spot. Like to throw in a little casino gambling when the day is done? This is your spot. Like friendly people, lots of birds and other wildlife, ecotours, watersports, sailing, golfing or exploring old ruins? This is your spot.
Like to just laze around doing nothing but soaking up the sun, swimming a little, eating till you bust— and not feeling guilty about it? This is definitely your spot.
What to see in Provo? Grace Bay is home to most of the tourism infrastructure, the Princess Alexandra Marine Park, and the playground of “Jo Jo” the famous bottlenose dolphin who one day decided to visit and then decided to stay. Visitors to the Island Sea Center, the world’s only conch farm, discover how to grow conch from tiny veligers to four year old adults. The island is also home to the Bamboo Gallery, the art center of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Stones engraved by pirates and shipwrecked sailors can be found on the hill top overlooking the Marina Inn near Chalk Sound and Sapodilla Bay. If you like old ruins that are not to difficult to get to, visit a pair of plantation houses built by Loyalists, Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill.
A wonderful place to stay is at the Alexandra Resort & Spa, a beachfront resort located on world acclaimed Grace Bay Beach. Named after the Princess Alexandra National Marine Park, which the resort fronts, the resort’s suites features kitchen facilities, large decks or patios, flat screen TV’s and contemporary design. Guests can enjoy a large free form swimming pool, non motorized water sports, grocery store shuttle, tennis courts and fabulous cuisine at the on-site restaurant, Mango Reef.
The Alexandra Resort offers the only vacation ownership program in the Turks & Caicos islands. There are 32 timeshare-designated units in the recently renovated beachfront Chelsea Building, which underwent a $4 million renovation that was completed in 2010. Kitchens received a complete package of new GE Select stainless steel appliances, to complement the new granite counter tops. Bathrooms were upgraded with granite tops, new double sinks, and soaking enclosed shower/tub units. The balconies were outfitted with new cushioned teak furniture. New designer furniture and Serta Platinum pillow top mattresses replaced all the original furniture and bedding.
The building offers eight studios, 16 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units. It is affiliated with Interval International for exchange purposes.
Located in the heart of the Grace Bay resort district, the Alexandra Resort is within walking distance of shopping and other resorts and restaurants, and just a 15 minute drive from the international airport. It mixes old world charm with twenty-first century comforts that all come together to set an elegant standard in timeshare homes. Resort amenities include:
- Ocean view from all suites
- A large swimming pool with swim-up bar & grill
- Lighted tennis courts
- Gift shop
- Auto rental services
- Laundry facility
- Children’s activities and child care
- Scuba diving & water sports
- Tours and other activities
- Health spa and fitness center
- Full-service beauty salon
Many restaurants and bars are within walking distance or a short taxi ride to the resort, as well as water Sports, Golfing and an abundance of other activities.
You should note that many guests who stay in this first timeshare resort in the Turks and Caicos have a difficult time leaving. There’s that perfect beach, and the perfect service, and the perfect ambiance. You may want to try out its “tropical therapy” for yourself, and then you can tell us all what a wonderful place this is.
As if we didn’t know…
Some Web sites you may want to visit for more information:
- http://www.alexandraresort.com –The resort’s website
- http://www.turksandcaicos.tc/ –Turks and Caicos gateway site
- http://www.turksandcaicos.tc/fishing/index.htm –Fishing in Provo
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
The purpose of “On the Road” is to showcase some of the magnificent places in the world to visit, to give you an idea for someplace to go that you might previously not have thought of or known about. In most cases, but not all, we have provided a brief overview of a timeshare resort in the spotlighted area. Most of those resorts are either RCI Gold Crown or I.I. Premium quality. However, these resorts are not usually theonly timeshare resorts in the area; be sure to check in your exchange catalog for a complete listing of available resorts. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!
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