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Ashley Smith | Photo: Courtesy of Regent Palms Turks & Caicos | January 6, 2014
Newlyweds seek even more wedded bliss—and a postnuptial respite—at Regent Palms in Turks and Caicos.
After an incredible wedding ceremony and reception, I have to admit, I was a bit exhausted. Blissful and in love, but exhausted. So for the honeymoon, all I wanted to do was lay on a sugary white-sand beach with my new husband and unwind.
When we started honeymoon planning, quite a few friends had suggested we consider Turks and Caicos, a quiet archipelago just south of the Bahamas. Not only was it supposed to be gorgeous, with some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, but it was just a short (less than two hours) flight out of Miami. After looking into it, I was soon sold on the 72-room Regent Palms Turks & Caicos, a five-star property facing picturesque Grace Bay on the capital island, Providenciales.
After an easy touchdown on Provo, as the island is known, my now-husband and I excitedly zip through the petite town, arriving at the hotel in under 20 minutes. Because Turks and Caicos is in the Eastern time zone, there’s no encumbering jet lag to battle—a welcome start to our stress-free honeymoon. Upon arrival to the open-air lobby, a registration staffer stands waiting to meet us, offering a pair of refreshing cucumber drinks. From this breezy spot, which captures the whitewashed Colonial style so iconic to the British West Indies, we’re escorted to our penthouse suite.
The resort comprises five separate buildings, all by gas lamp-lit walkways lined with banyan trees and punctuated with pops of bright flora. The whole place feels like a stage set—not surprising when we learn that the inspiration for the design was Oliver Messel, an award-winning British set designer who wowed the jet set with the gorgeous mansions he built on Barbados and Mustique in the 1950s and 1960s. Taking the tiny elevator up to our suite, then watching an old-fashioned skeleton key open its double oak doors, I can’t help feeling that not only have I landed in utopia, but I’ve gone back to another era when living graciously was a worthy ambition unto itself.
The resort’s vibe may be Old World, but inside, everything is luxuriously state-of-the-art. Our extraordinary penthouse suite—one of eight—features keyed elevator access, Wi-Fi and flat-panel LCD cable TVs, two large wraparound travertine terraces, a spacious bathroom with waterfall shower and an adjacent Sun Suite featuring an outdoor shower, which my new husband declares he will use each day (and, yes, he stays true to his promise). There’s even a kitchen, decked out with Viking appliances. And it’s not just the penthouses that impress; equally stunning one-, two- and three-bedroom suites come complete with wet bars, hydro-massage bathtubs, and some with private terraces and ocean views.
Our penthouse does come with a unique perk, though: our personal butler, Cesar, who helps us settle in and unpack. It’s our first night on the island, and we want to explore, so Cesar recommends we stroll down the beach to Mango Reef, at nearby Alexander Resort. The romantic spot is exactly what we we’re looking for—small candlelit white-clothed tables pepper the beach, and our first honeymoon meal is spent with our feet in the sand and soft jazz playing in the background. The blackened wahoo and pan-seared salmon couldn’t be any fresher, and it whets our appetite for the island cuisine we’ll be enjoying all week. After our meal, we head back to our penthouse, where a heart made of rose petals waits on the enormous raised bed, and we settle in for the night.
The next morning, we wake to a stunning view outside our balcony: a shimmering stretch of Tiffany-blue water, lined with powder-white sand. We want to run right down to the beach, but we’ve an appointment to keep at The Regent Spa first. Conceived by Angel Stewart of Las Ventanas al Paraiso and Golden Door fame, this award-winning oasis doles out indulgences aplenty. Treatments take place in 17 private bungalows, gathered around a tranquil reflecting pond. The spa has a wide array of holistic therapies, including the signature Zareeba treatment, which involves sitting in a tiny pup tent stirring a hot pot filled with nourishing herbs, creating a detoxifying steam bath that precedes a massage. While it sounds amazing (and adventurous!), we opt instead for a classic 60-minute couple’s massage. Afterward, while I veg out in the cozy relaxation area, my husband hits the spa’s interpretation of a man cave—complete with alligator-embossed walls and an HDTV—for a beer and a shave.
In a Zen state of mind, we change into swimsuits and stroll down to the beach—only to find that Cesar has beat us there—where we are welcomed with beach chairs adorned with tropical flowers, bottles of cold water and an offer to get us anything else we desire (a routine he’ll perform each day). The rest of our morning is dedicated to floating in the glassy water and enjoying the sun. To my amazement, my husband—a busy executive—leaves his iPhone and email behind, and actually finds time to crack a book and relax. When the sun gets too hot, we take dips in the perfectly temperate water—and if I didn’t see it for myself, I would not believe just how gorgeous the teal-blue color is. When evening arrives, we enjoy a casual beach barbecue dinner at the hotel. Featuring lively music and a delicious buffet-style meal, we couldn’t ask for a better first full day of our honeymoon.
The next morning, we do what we do every day going forward: sleep in, then wander down to the beach when we feel like it. Not that there aren’t other things to do. The on-site fitness studio, which overlooks the central, palm-flanked water garden, offers daily yoga and Pilates classes, and the tennis court proves popular with fellow guests. Ten minutes away, Provo Golf & Country Club offers a par-72 course that’s been named one of the best in the Caribbean (and offers preferred rates to Regent Palms guests). And there’s no shortage of water sports to enjoy. One day, we go paddleboarding for a few hours; on another, we test our skills at sea kayaking. But it’s Cesar who directs us to what turns out to be the favorite activity of our trip: a half-day Jet Ski excursion, organized through the hotel. As we cruise around the cays that extend out from Provo (Turks and Caicos has 40 islands, only eight of which are inhabited), our guide points out the seaside homes of Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Willis and Donna Karan. We stop in a cove to snorkel, exploring reefs that hide rock lobsters, stingrays and brightly hued tropical fish. Sun-kissed and with sea salt still in our hair, we savor another beautiful sunset, before heading back to the room to clean up for the evening.
For such a small island, Provo has a surprisingly diverse dining scene, home to 70 restaurants, including Magnolia Wine Bar (for banoffee pie), The Vix (for lunch) and Da Conch Shack (a local dive specializing in superfresh conch). But our libation destination tonight is Bagatelle Beach Club at Gansevoort Turks and Caicos. The NYC import boasts the hottest nightlife on the island and a popular sunset happy-hour scene. Tonight, the crowd is an interesting mix of locals, French Canadians and Irish expats. We soak up the energy over a pair of tropical cocktails, before heading back to Regent Palms for dinner.
Our reservation is at Parallel23. This beautiful indoor-outdoor restaurant is made even more romantic by terraces covered in pink tropical flowers and trees wrapped in twinkle lights. We’re escorted to our table, where we peruse the menu on a tableside iPad. Our delicious dinner of fresh seafood is paired with exceptional service, and after nightcaps at the restaurant’s bar, we turn in satiated and happy.
The next day starts with a lovely buffet breakfast, followed by beach time and lunch—deliciously fresh grouper wraps, served surfside. Late afternoon comes quickly, and we head back for a shower to ready for the very special meal we have planned: a private dinner in our penthouse suite. Chef Lauren Callighen—top toque of Parallel23—is in the kitchen with Cesar, on hand to assist with delivery of six exquisite courses to the candlelit table set up on our balcony. As she sets down two beautifully plated dishes before us, the aromas explode against the sea air. “Here we have a Caicos grouper with tequila granita and glazed vegetables,” she says, living up to the hype of her team’s Four-Diamond Award accolades.
As we tuck into our dinner, the moon is high, and we can hear the sound of the waves lapping against Grace Bay Beach. We dine slowly, appreciating the care that went into each dish: scallop and salmon carpaccio, lobster salad, prime Angus beef. The ingredients for the beet salad, with frisee lettuce and hibiscus, were pulled from the organic garden around the corner. Two large trays of assorted berries done five ways—macarons, parfait, sorbet, financier and mille-feuille—complete dessert.
After Callighen and Cesar leave us, we notice that our ever-attentive butler has left a beautiful trail of rose petals leading to a drawn bubble bath topped with yet more petals. Two additional glasses of Champagne sit beside the tub.
It’s a sweet finish to a perfect honeymoon, and, for now, we can’t recall our hectic life at home—only a week in the rearview, but worlds away on island time. It’s all gone by too fast. So, with one final toast, we clink glasses—bubbly amid bubbles—and toast to many happy returns.
Rates from $1,250 per night (during high season, December through April)