Our stay at Villa Del Mar in TCI (Turks & Caicos Islands) was a departure from our typical Spring trip. For our "fun in the sun" Spring vacations, we typically do all-inclusive style resorts, like Disney World or Atlantis. Also, TCI is not as developed as what you might find in other Caribbean destinations like The Bahamas, St. Barts, Bermuda, Jamaica, etc...
We booked a standard room which was a bit larger than a typical hotel room. There was added space for a kitchenette which featured a sink, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave. Dishes were provided. The in-room washer/dryer was a nice convenience. Floors are all tile. All the rooms have large balconies. Separate shower and tub in the bathroom. Our room featured a queen sized bed and a pull-out sofa. The rooms are clean and still look relatively new. Free wireless internet was available in the room. I had no problems with Wi-Fi reception. Cable television with standard channels - no DVD player, movie channels, or movies for rent. My one criticism of the rooms would be a lack of storage. There are no large dressers in the room. We had to store most of our clothes in our suitcases.
The grounds are nice and well taken care of. This is not a large resort hotel, but rather condo's (which probably didn't sell due to the recession) that are currently being marketed as a hotel property. Thus, there are no-frills here. The two pools are nice, but small. If you're traveling with small children, there is not a lot for the kids to do at the pool. No water slides or pool toys. We brought our own pool tools and an air pump for my six year old.
Like most tourist hotels in TCI, Villa Del Mar is located in Grace Bay. The Grace Bay area is just starting to be developed as a tourist hotspot. The location is an excellent value for the money. Villa Del Mar is not directly on the beach, but guests can literally walk across the street and find themselves on the beach. All beaches in Turks and Caicos are public, so access is not an issue. Villa Del Mar, like all hotels in the Grace Bay area, has a section of the beach set aside for it's guests. Once we walked down to the beach, we never had any difficulties getting chairs, towels, and water from the Villa Del Mar cabana boys. The cabana boys will also bring you lunch from one of the nearby restaurants on the beach. We ate at Anacaoan, which is located at Grace Bay Club, right on the beach.
Dining / Food:
Since Villa Del Mar is a "no frills" hotel, there is no dining on-site. However, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. We walked-to/dined-at Fresh Bistro ($), Mango Reef ($$), Anacaona ($$$) and Coco Bistro ($$$$). Dining in Turks and Caicos is expensive. There is no way around that. The only consolation is that food in TCI is costly for everyone, so you're not getting ripped-off. A trip to the grocery store reveals that food costs about double what it does in the United States. We had our taxi driver stop at the IGA so that we could pick up a few groceries when we arrived. There is also the Graceway Gourmet Grocery located in the Grace Bay area (about 1/2 mile from Villa Del Mar). A bank with an ATM is located next to the Graceway Gourmet Grocery. We definitely saved money by buying our own food.
Of course, there is the beach across the street from Villa Del Mar. The water/beaches in Turks and Caicos are among the most beautiful I've ever seen. The beaches were never crowded. Several of the beaches we went to, which were off the beaten path, were literally empty. Not many times in life when you get a whole beach to yourself!
The area of entertainment is where a hotel like Villa Del Mar requires a lot more work than staying at an all-inclusive resort. We had to do a lot of research to find activities. We did jet-skis, four-wheeling, Iguana Island and exploration of the less populated North Caicos & Middle Caicos islands. All of these activities were expensive, but worth the cost. However, nothing was planned our for us. It took many hours of online research, phone calls, and getting lost on the island to get these activities booked. The staff at Villa Del Mar was somewhat helpful in providing us with information, but we really had to do our own planning. We found the attitudes of the staff ranged from somewhat helpful to not wanting to be bothered (indeed, this was true for the entire island). The biggest improvement I'd recommend to Villa Del Mar would be to invest in concierge services to help guests in planning activities.
There is a small casino within walking distance from Villa Del Mar. We didn't get a chance to check it out, since we had our six year old with us. Also within walking distance are a couple of quaint shopping centers with shops and restaurants. They are not very large, but worth exploring.
If you're not staying at an all-inclusive resort, I would recommend renting a car while in TCI. I did not find driving on the left side of the road to be a huge challenge. Traffic on the islands is minimal and there are no traffic signals anywhere in TCI - only roundabouts. We rented a small Toyota Corolla from Grace Bay Car rentals. You can pick up cars from Grace Bay Car rentals at the airport or from their location in Grace Bay. Their Grace Bay location is walking distance is from Villa Del Mar. Grace Bay Car Rentals will also drop-off the car at Villa Del Mar. If you decide to explore North Caicos & Middle Caicos islands, you have to take the TCI Ferry. Definitely rent a car when you get to the other islands (TCI Ferry can arrange this). Renting a car on the other islands is not cheap ($80/day), but well worth it. These sparsely populated islands are home to some of the best beaches and caves.
In summary - do you research before visiting TCI. There is a lot to do, but if you don't plan ahead, you'll miss out. Check-out all the on-line TCI forums, including the TripAdvisor Turks and Caicos forum. Alternatively, you can just hang out at the beautiful TCI beaches or stay at an all-inclusive resort.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Villa del Mar is the perfect island retreat for a vacation filled with endless sunshine and delightful diversions. Located on Providenciales (a.k.a. Provo), the most developed island in the Turks and Caicos chain, Villa del Mar is just steps from the 12 mile strip of sugary fine sand and cerulean blue water known as Grace Bay Beach, internationally recognized as one of the world's top 10 beaches. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Villa Del Mar Hotel Providenciales
- Hotel Del Mar
- Del Mar Hotel
- Villa Del Mar Turks And Caicos/Providenciales