TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS, CARIBBEAN

Amanyara and COMO Parrot Cay

As you fly over some forty coral islands which make up the tiny archipelago of the Turks & Caicos Islands, in the British West Indies, the colour of the turquoise ocean and stretches of white sandy beaches simply take your breath away. I was lucky enough to spend a week there recently and divided my time between two very special resorts. My first few days were spent at Amanyara and afterwards I went on to Como Parrot Cay. Both are so different (and pretty expensive) that it is hard to say if one is better than the other, and at the end of the day, it boils down to a personal preference. Both Amanyara and Como Parrot Cay are part of fantastic hotel groups, Amanresorts and Como Hotels respectively and both have firm followers. There is a bit of an unspoken competition about who has the best beach, and in my view it is Amanyara hands down. The two resorts are family friendly, and in the quieter seasons, perfect for couples. If you do consider going, then my advice would be to spend time in both, particularly if you are going for a longer period than a week. Head to Como Parrot Cay first and then  Amanyara, as it is easier to get to the airport.

 

AMANYARA

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Amanyara is on the island of Providenciales, about a 25-minute drive from the airport. It stands on a promontory on the western shore, in a protected, nature reserve at the end of a dusty road overlooking the reefs of Northwest Point Marine National Park.

Accommodation is made up of 38 stunning open-air villas with ocean views and pavilions (some with pools) set in the gardens. It also has a number of stunningly beautiful four, five and six bedroom villas, serviced fully by the hotel. Rooms are all extremely private. Try to opt for a pool pavilion or a higher category if possible, as these are the rooms that make your stay special.

We had a Pool Pavilion with a huge pool, set in a little garden; our living area was spacious, simple in design and beautiful. Asian in design, the resort is totally secluded and we never saw anyone other than hotel guests on its beautiful beach due to the remote location. You get around by bicycle, and there are pick up stops all around the resort so most able guests cycle around quite happily.

I love Aman Resorts, apart from their beauty and wonderful locations, their levels of service are extraordinary. They have an uncanny knack of knowing what you are wishing for, before you have actually asked for it. What sets them apart, are the small but important touches; for example, at Amanyara I loved the fact that the do not disturb sign was a simple rope we placed across the entrance to our private hideaway, that we never had to sign a bill, that there were no set meal times and the staff knew our names from the moment we arrived, that someone was waiting with a cold pressed cloth and dry towel on the beach when we came back salty and water logged from our snorkeling trip and there were fresh towels and an ice bucket filled with bottles of water the moment we sat down on our sun loungers, that the mini bar and all the snacks were included and  when they realised we were using a lot of the Nespresso capsules, they simply gave us extra; it is all so slick, no fuss, job done, it makes you feel special and the delivery is discreet and highly professional. There is nothing quite like it, no wonder their followers are known as Aman Junkies.

The hotel has two restaurants, The Restaurant in the main part of the hotel and The Beach Restaurant and bar by the beach. The mix of Asian/Mediterranean food is really excellent; scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast, sushi platters for lunch, and Thai Green Curry for dinner… could it get any better?

Amanyara has a four Wellness Pavilions with great massage therapists, a good gym, volleyball and tennis courts, golf simulator and complimentary yoga classes down by the beach and you can sign up for snorkeling outings and diving trips. The beach at Amanyara is absolute heaven with a kids club, Nature Discovery Centre for all ages, fabulous bar and restaurant and a little boutique selling flip flops, sun cream, hats, rash vests, casual jewellery, kaftans and bikinis. If you get the fidgets lying on the beach after five minutes as I do, then take out one of the Hobie Cats or tighten your abs on a paddleboard. If you feel like a night out, try Coco Bistro a 30-minute drive away, for good food and a fun party atmosphere.

My memory of lying on a Balinese bed by the pool, sipping a mojito, reading a beautiful book on Capri from their library and watching the sunset is one I dream of during rainy English days.

 

COMO PARROT CAY

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Como Parrot Cay is a 35-minute boat ride away from the main island. The drive from the airport to Leeward Marina takes about 15 minutes and the resort has its own arrivals pod on the quayside before you embark, with restrooms, water and snacks, plus you check in here. When you get to Parrot Cay, you are met by a receptionist with a golf buggy and whisked along a track to the hotel.

The resort has 66 accommodations and is privately owned by the Singapore based Ong family whose other gems include the impressive Como Shambhala in Bali, Como Uma in Bhutan and Como Cocoa Island in the Maldives.

All the Como Resorts have a similar theme of wellness and this certainly shines through in their beautiful spa and yoga/Pilates pavilion. If you want a week of serious R&R and amazing Ayurvedic treatments, delicious aromatherapy massages and other holistic spa offerings, plus complimentary Pilates and yoga classes then I would head here. The lovely massage and Shirodhara treatment I had were really outstanding.

The resort style is a mix of Balinese/Asian and white washed colonial in style. You can opt for one of the 46 standard room or suites in the main part of the hotel, (in two storey buildings set way back from the beach), these are pretty with dark wood flooring, simple furnishings, four poster beds, good sized bathrooms (some a bit old fashioned) and large balconies or terraces overlooking the ocean or lush gardens on lower floors.

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Their gorgeous spacious one, two and three bedroom Beach Villas, have large living areas, private plunge pools and direct access over a small dune to the beach.

VFMLID=76889958You could also rent one of their exclusive, private villas for the ultimate house party, all are set ocean side, some have up to eleven bedrooms and all are fully serviced by the hotel with private butlers. Walkways around the resort are surrounded by gently swaying palm trees, white orchids and pinky purple bougainvillea.

 

There are two restaurants; Lotus by the beach (Caribbean by day and Thai/Asian inspired by night) and The Terrace (Italian/Mediterranean) and the food is all superb. At night, Lotus is truly romantic and atmospheric.

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The large infinity-edge pool is down by the beach and from here you can walk past the bar, and well equipped gym to a very pretty beach and the clear, waters of the warm Caribbean Sea. You can take out paddleboards or kayaks from the beach and there are two tennis courts. There is not a kids club as such but children are made very welcome. The resort has a gorgeous shop selling lovely sarongs, swimwear, beautiful kaftans, dresses and cute kids clothing. Staff are attentive and friendly and the Pilates and yoga teachers are nothing short of fantastic. Pilates at 8am on the beach was simply heaven.

P.S. Don’t forget your hat and high factor sun cream, as the sun is extremely strong.

HOW TO GET THERE FROM NYC

From NY, flights into Providenciales are direct with JetBlue and United Airlines and take a mere three hours.

HOW TO GET THERE FROM LONDON OR NYC

From NY, flights into Providenciales are direct with JetBlue and United Airlines and take a mere three hours.

(For Brits, why not have a fun couple of days in NYC before heading to the Turks & Caicos Islands.

To get there from London, British Airways currently fly a Boing 777 twice a week from London Gatwick, it is a good flight as it lands in Antigua, waits for a crew change and then heads on to Provideniciales. No changing planes to get on small twin props for those who are not keen on those.  The flight leaves at 1035am and with the stopover, takes about 12 hours in total. You land at 5.30pm local time. They offer Business Class, Premium and Economy Class on this route.

RESERVATIONS

We would be delighted to help book your holiday at either Amanyara or Como Parrot Cay.  Please note that there is a minimum booking of 14 days over Christmas and NY in both resorts. High season is very busy and we advise you book up well in advance to get the flights more than anything.

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