Spa

Beaches also touts a "European Spa." Deb had a swedish massage, but reports that it was fairly superficial. She says she's had much better ones back home.

Beaches Resort
Providenciales
Turks and Caicos
British West Indies

...a visitor's review

by Carl Wozniak
cwozniak@nmu.edu

My family had the opportunity to visit Beaches Resort on the Island of Providenciales ("Provo") in the Turks and Caicos Islands at the end of January, 2001. Beaches is owned by the folks who run Sandals and, unlike the adult-only nature of Sandals, Beaches accomodates and welcomes children.

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About us

I guess we're the typical family who pays the steep price that Beaches commands. We're forty-something, Deb is a physician, I'm an educator at a university, and Ben and Erica are 11 and 9, respectively.

We like the advantages that all-inclusive vacations offer, primarily not having to walk around with a bunch of cash and getting nickel-and-dimed for every ammentiy. It's also nice that the kids can grab a drink or something to eat when they need to, without having to pay cash for every transaction. I'm sure we could have a cheaper vacation if we stayed at a lesser establishment and paid for every individual meal... but it's not worth the hassle to us.

Carl

Why Beaches?

We live in the frozen wasteland of northern Michigan, on the shores of Lake Superior. Summer is beautiful here, but winter can get a little long. It's nice to take a warm-weather vacation once a year to break the monotony of the snow.

Deb and I stayed at Sandals Negril a few years back and had an enjoyable time. Beaches is run by the same people, and their website indicated a fair number of kid-friendly ammenities. I'm also a scuba diver, and had heard that the Turks offered some of the best diving in the world.

So we popped the multiple grand for the trip, drove to Chicago (a seven hour ride), and caught a Miami Air flight to Provo.

So where are the Turks and Caicos Islands?

The Turks and Caicos Islands lie at the southeast end of the Bahamas chain of islands, north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The islands are a British Dependent Territory. Providenciales is the westernmost inhabited and most-visited island.

Getting There

Provo is readily accessible by American Airlines, which has several flights a day from Miami. Delta and TWA also have service. Miami Air provides charter service from selected cities.

Deb and Ben on the beach.

Beaches Beach

The Island

Provo is a small island with a limited and bumpy road infrastructure. The island is not classically pretty. There are low-lying hills covered with low (10 ft.) impenetratable leafy plants and cacti. The soil is rocky and poor, and rainfall is minimal. All in all, the island reminds me a bit of Aruba.

There is a steady easterly trade wind that blows across the island, making the 80+ degree heat bearable. Most of the resorts are located in the sheltered Grace Bay area on the north side of Provo.

The beaches of Provo are beautiful... covered in soft white sand, and the water is a lovely turquiose. Coral reefs come near shore in many places, and an underwater snorkeling trail is a short walk down the beach from the resort.

People on the island are very friendly and crime is minimal. There are none of the "higglers" so common to the beaches of Jamaica, so you're not being constantly bombarded to buy things. Poverty is certainly evident, but not to the degree found in many of the Caribbean islands.

This view of "Shell Island" shows the low-lying vegetation typical of the islands.

Erica in the water.

Beaches Beach

Resort grounds

The Resort

Beaches Resort is a beautiful oasis of tropical plants, flowering plants and grass... quite a dichotomy from the surrounding hills.

The resort maintains nine restaurants which range from casual to elegant, and continental to asian to southwestern. We found the food to be quite good, with a good variety... but none of the meals were exceptional. The Alaskan King Crab at Schooner's is a must, however. Kimonos, a Teppanyaki-style Japanese restaurant, lacks the showmanship common to these eateries. Bobbie D's was a favorite of our kids. They could grab a quick slice of pizza, an ice cream cone (when the machine worked), a cookie, or other snack whenever they felt like it.

Outdoor chess

Diving Provo

Riviera Pool

Gameroom

The French Village

Standard Room

Sega Center

The pools are beautiful but, in the Sandals tradition, a little too cool. They were not utilized as much as they would be if they had only been 5 degrees warmer. The waterslides were fun, and enjoyed by our entire family. The swim-up bars are a nice touch.

The standard room we stayed in was functional, but unexceptional. One of these days a resort will figure out that the typical American family of two adults and two children requires three beds. The room has two double beds, which necessitated a rollaway for one of our kids. After years of sleeping in a king-sized bed we find that a double bed is significantly cramped. The room could have easily accomodated a queen-sized bed and two twin beds, which would have worked marvelously. Let's face it. No one ever uses the sitting area of these rooms. Everyone hangs out on the beds. It would be easy to lose the chairs and add another bed. It is possible to upgrade to suites, which do provide more room, but the amount of time one actually spends in the room doesn't warrant the added cost.

Waterslides

Ben on the reef

Kid Friendly

Beaches is very kid friendly. Our two loved the gameroom. While Ben is an avid Nintendo player back home, he wasn't all that interested in the large Sega Center at the resort. I guess there are better things to do when the weather is beautiful.

The resort has full days of activities for kids from toddlers through teens. Ben and Erica are a bit independent, so they didn't take part in those activities, but a lot of other kids seemed to be enjoying themselves.

 

And the Answer is....

The kids have voted to go back again next year. Deb wouldn't mind it either. I'm not so sure... I guess I'd like to see all the Caribbean islands before I settle on just one. But I can say that it was a pleasant stay. We were treated very well and the people are friendly. If you're expecting a more typical adults-only Sandals environment, however, be forewarned: there are a lot of kids here.

Still, I had a good time. The diving was fantastic, and the ocean and beach are beautiful. I'd rate it:

8.5 out of 10.

"Iquana Island" resident

Deb on the reef

Deb on the beach