Upon arrival after an uneventful flight we were picked up with relative promptness and shared the van taxi with one other family, arriving around 2pm on a Monday. We were greeted by a man who would be one of two assigned concierge for us during our stay. He offered a property tour but we were ready to see the room, get changed and hit the beach so we declined the tour and he escorted us to our room. The room was D302, overlooking the main pool and bar area with a nice view of the beach and ocean. The room was clean and comfortable with a very nice mattress and nice sized patio. The bathroom was very modern and comfortable. My wife and I never had a problem with privacy as there were multiple fans, plenty of lighting, and the patio to rest on while we took turns getting cleaned up. The stand up shower was my favorite but there was also a nice deep Jacuzzi tub (more on that later). The mini fridge had a complimentary bottle of decent champagne and several bottles of water. There was also a tray of three ‘welcome apples’ as the greeter described them. I thought it was kind of funny that we were in the Caribbean at a fairly high end resort and we were given red apples instead of some other tropical fruit but I blew it off. The room was nice, the weather was beautiful, and the beach was calling my name.
We got unpacked and made our way to the pool bar for a cocktail to take to the beach. This would be my first glimpse into how outrageously expensive service was going to be. I suggest that if you like tropical cocktails get ready to pay out the nose. Beers were $7, wine in that neighborhood, but a rum punch or pina colada was $14 - $17 (not including 10% gratuity and local tax). Those prices did not include requesting premium label alcohol. On top of that the drinks were made very weak. Although I made friends with the night shift bartender in the days to come and started to get a slightly better made drink from him there was no real consistency. They would taste ok but if I’m paying the better part of $20 for one drink I would like to at least taste the rum.
That night we had our first dinner at the resort at their Grill. Maybe I was tired from the travel but the food was borderline at best. The fish dish I ordered was completely overcooked and I was only able to have a couple of bites before losing my appetite. The prices were again stunning. A properly cooked entrée for $25 would be one thing but the prices were over $30 and the food was not even close to par for that price range.
We began our first full day by taking breakfast at the only option for breakfast at Grace Bay Club. Breakfast there is complimentary, with all the standard buffet fare (eggs, bacon, sausage, French toast, eggs Benedict, granola, yogurt, fruit, and cooked to order eggs for omelets, poached, ect.). They supposedly had a menu but I never saw it so we had cooked to order eggs and buffet the whole week. That initial breakfast was decent and the resort was relatively quiet so far. Later in the week it would get much busier as dozens of people were due to check in, but at this point it was quiet and peaceful. After breakfast we went to the beach where you are escorted to a set of chairs with an umbrella, given a couple of towels, and provided with a red flag on a pole to signal for service. The beach there is outstanding for those that want peaceful and enterable water. There were virtually no waves or current and the sand is very soft and not hot on the feet. One can walk out for 15 yards or more and still stand in the crystal clear turquoise water. There is not much in the way of coral or fish life to explore snorkeling. I heard that there is a good spot for that down the beach to the west a mile or so, called Coral Gardens, but we never made it there.
The days that followed brought more guests and as they began to check in the staff seemed to take care of the extra people well but I noticed that children were being allowed to take over the main pool and scream bloody murder during the day. This ruined my trying to sit on the balcony and enjoy the view one afternoon. I almost complained as it was really getting out of hand but eventually the parents took their screaming kids somewhere else and it calmed down. I will say that there are three pools and we were able to find reprieve from the poorly behaved children at the other pools that were on other parts of the property.
Tropical storm Emily was moving south of us mid week. The locals seem to get real twitchy when storms are close, which I can appreciate, but they overreacted and let it affect their service. We went to have breakfast on day three and ¾ of the dining area was closed off. There was no rain or rain coming but they had decided to play it safe and cover up all the tables that were not covered by the roof. Instead of having a nice view of the ocean we had a macro view of the buffet. I felt like I was ‘in’ the eggs and bacon and it was grossing my wife and I out with all the food smells mixing together, not to mention people streaming by you with their plates. There was no sight of rain with only overcast skies of cirrus clouds so we decided it was time to request to be moved. Unfortunately the staff was very stubborn and I had to insist with vigor that we were not happy and wanted a better seat. After being hassled with a few minutes of mumbling and push back they finally moved us. This may be the appropriate place to state that although being polite and easy going is our nature, we had to get insistent before the staff would begin to budge when we made requests that did not match their plan on how they wanted their guests to be organized. It was more about them than us and being polite and asking nicely was only met with stubbornness and complacency. But as soon as I let them know I was not happy and was not going to accept their push back on my requests they would become extra nice. This was annoying. I prefer to be treated with respect up front without having to get my hackles up and be forceful with my tone. Once I was forced to take that approach their change of tune was good but at that point it comes across as two faced. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do and as I observed other guests it was clear that if you were too nice and polite the staff would take advantage of that to make the situation fit their needs instead of the guest.
Our travel package included two dinners at the resort at their higher end restaurant called Anacoana. By the time we decided to take advantage of those dinners it was later in the week and the resort had begun to really fill up. I had to insist on our ability to be served since we got behind the curve on making reservations. The attitude was akin to ‘too bad so sad’ and our problem for not making a reservation. Our assigned concierge failed to reach out to us and give us a heads up about the need to make reservations. In fact he failed to call us back on two occasions when we first arrived and was really nonexistent unless we sought him out. His role seemed to be one more designed to greet than to really do much for you in a proactive manner when you are there. But that being said we did have two really nice meals. The Fois Gras was delicious, and their other dishes that we ordered on those two occasions were very nice with steak and fish cooked correctly. My favorite was the conch salad. I would call it conch ceviche but regardless it was very good. We also tried a dish during one lunch called Conch Three Ways at their restaurant Krave and it was very good too. The service at Anacoana compared to their breakfast and lunch service is night and day. The staff is totally different with almost no carry over between the two. If their breakfast and lunch staff was as solid as the dinner crew we would have felt better about things. At dinner there were no questions asked and you got what you asked for. Lunch and breakfast? Not so much. You had to insist on some of the simplest things, like water. Oh my God if there is one thing I want to let everyone know about it is the water issue at this resort. Be prepared to have to beg, borrow, and steal if you want more than 8oz of water when you are eating. I realize this is an island and water is at a premium but you have to pay for every drop once you drink the 1st two complimentary bottles in your room so if I’m paying for it why is it harder to track down than a one-eyed jackalope? Every time we needed a water refill we had to ask repeatedly and those request were often met with an attitude from the server as if you were asking for some rare spice from Mars. Given the rate we paid for the accommodations I found it extremely annoying the way they coveted serving water. Things finally came to a boil one afternoon and we had to get pretty tough with them about it. I hate to be that guy that gets demanding. But we had finally had it up to “here” with their silliness and decided enough was enough and be damned what they thought. We were hot, sunburned, spending a ton of money and having to twist arms to get a drink. And don’t think you are going to drink the water from the tap. Maybe if you are used to tap water at home you can choke it down but it is of such poor quality that when I filled the bath tub for my wife on the second night it was literally the color of rust. Needless to say we drained the tub and that was the end of her ambitions to have a relaxing bubble bath.
All in all my wife and I had a really nice time. We were able to connect and enjoy what we had come for. But we were definitely reminded of some important lessons. Even though we both have done a lot of travel and both lived in the Caribbean (her in Provo 6 years ago and me on Grand Cayman when I was a kid) we had to relearn some things about the locals and their style of service. Most of the staff was friendly and did a nice job of connecting with us and making us feel at home. But there were more than a few that had some pretty rotten attitudes and being nice and polite gets you nowhere with those types. You have to stand your ground and not back down or they will put you at their convenience. Grace Bay Club is doing a nice job overall but their prices for food and drinks are ridiculous. I know I would have been looser with the purse strings if the prices were not so outrageous and in the end would have spent more. But every time I signed a tab for $50 for three drinks it threw water on the fire for me to feel comfortable ordering what I want when I wanted it. Instead I spent a lot of time shaking my head in disbelief and trying to hold myself back from indulging when I felt the urge.
I cannot give much info on the activities. There was sailing, hobicats, boats pulling banana tubes, and even a high end powered catamaran giving tours. I heard that the helicopter ride was great but for $500 we took a rain check on that and the rest of the water born craft. Some folks talked about going into ‘town’ and partying with the locals but that’s not our style as we were looking for a more relaxing time than that, which we did get so in the end it was a success.
As an insider tip there is a grocery store within walking distance where you can buy food, beer, wine, rum, ect. The prices are much better relative to the resort but it’s still not cheap by any stretch. A case of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was $75. Stick to the hard alcohol and wine if you want to stay closer to mainland prices.
My wife requested I mention that one of her highlights was having a yoga class on the beach with David Boen. She raved about that experience. Make sure to check your tab when you check out of the resort. Our vacation package had everything paid up front aside from food and drinks (not including our two dinners we paid up front for as well). When check out time came they handed us a bill that was $3200 when it should have been $700. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt here and assume this was an honest mistake, but it was still a huge mistake and it concerns me that, once again, you have to be proactive as they made no effort to double check it prior to handing it to us. That being said we got it cleared up quickly and without a hassle so I guess no harm no foul on piece.
In closing I will say that getting off the island was a fiasco. The airport was so busy on Saturday afternoon there was literally nowhere to sit in the airport once you got past security. We had to stand there for two hours and even though two flights took off in that time frame more people were pouring in and it never cleared out to the point that there was even one seat.
Should you choose to go to Grace Bay Club you will enjoy your stay just don’t be surprised about water, service inconsistency, and outrageous prices for food and drink. The water and beach are the resort’s high points. The accommodations are comfortable and you will get a very nice dinner at Anacoana.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The world renowned Grace Bay Club, first luxury all-suite resort in Turks and Caicos, offers guests a haven for uninterrupted relaxation. The resort, with the largest beach front access - 1100 feet, features all ocean front suites. Divided into three separate sections that caters to discerning travelers of all tastes, it includes the adults-only Hotel area with private restaurant, bar, and swimming pool; family-friendly Villas with their own restaurant, bar, and pool; and the uber-luxe Estate, with a complete set of exclusive amenities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grace Bay Club Hotel Providenciales
- Grace Bay Hotel
- Hotel Grace Bay
- Grace Bay Club Turks And Caicos/Providenciales