Hotel Review: An Ocean Cove Pavilion at Amanyara, Turks and Caicos
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Aman hotels are sort of like Bentleys: They’re beautiful, special, and in a class of their own, but you don’t get one because they offer value — no matter how you slice it. And that’s how you really have to think about staying at an Aman Resort — since almost all of them charge $2,000 or more per night no matter where you are in the world, even in cheap countries in Southeast Asia. But what you will get is a beautiful environment and top-notch service.
The brand opened its first property, Amanpuri, in Phuket, Thailand, in 1988 and has been adding more hotels, resorts and private residences to its portfolio. As of this writing, there are 31 Aman resorts around the world in 20 different countries — four in the US and the Caribbean, six in Europe and Africa, and 21 throughout Asia.
I’ve actually never stayed at an Aman property. I was envious that TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig got to stay at Amanpulo — I was jealous the whole time and he raved about the experience — so I’ve been meaning to join the club.
Recently, I was feeling extra worn down, like I’ve been traveling too much, and thinking about doing a quick beach trip from New York. I was looking at the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts, but the opening keeps getting delayed. Finally, I decided on Amanyara, which is in Turks and Caicos. It’s been open for about 10 years but I wanted to experience my first Aman resort and friends have raved about this property. Plus, it was easy for me to get there with three choices of nonstop flights from New York on Delta, United and JetBlue.
To put it bluntly, Amanyara is not a cheap place to stay, it’s not a points hotel and it’s not connected to any of the usual hotel loyalty programs. That said, I was able to take advantage of a few benefits by booking through the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program, which gave me access to perks like daily continental breakfast for two (worth $110), complimentary in-room Wi-Fi, noon check-in and complimentary upgrades (based on availability, worth $500 per night at this resort), guaranteed late check-out at 4:00pm, two complimentary 50-minute massages (worth $460+) and an extra $200 credit to use toward onsite dining or spa services (this only because I used the Amex Business Centurion). Note that you’ll need either The Platinum Card from American Express or the Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN to gain access to Amex FHR. Although, the best way to book Amanyara is through the Citi Prestige with its 4th Night Free perk, which could save you more than $2,000 if you are staying for four nights. Zach Honig saved $1490 when he stayed at Amanpulo with fourth night free!
I’d originally booked a Pool Pavilion, which was going for $2,150 per night, plus 24% in taxes and fees. Normally, if I had used my Amex Platinum Card, I would have been automatically upgraded upon arrival, but because I used the Amex Business Centurion Card this time, I was upgraded to an Ocean Pavilion immediately during the booking process because my Amex Centurion concierge Ray had personal connections with the resort. When I got there, I was actually upgraded two more times, and ended up staying in an Ocean Cove Suite, which normally goes for $2,650 per night plus the 24% in taxes and fees.
The resort is only a 25-minute drive from Providenciales International Airport (PLS), although on a part of the island that’s separated from all the action — in fact, the road to get there is unpaved and really bumpy, making it hard for tourists and even locals to reach the property unless they have a four-wheel drive vehicle.
When we pulled up at the resort, three people were waiting on the steps for me and knew exactly who I was — clearly the driver told them that I was coming. There was a welcome drink waiting for me and they explained the layout of the resort as we headed toward my room.
There are bicycles and golf carts to take you everywhere, so they got me in a golf cart and brought me to my room, which was about five minutes away. You can use the bikes the whole time free of charge, which was fun.
As I mentioned, I’d been upgraded to an Ocean Cove Pavilion while booking, so that was a great way to kick off my stay. I also got to check in at noon — another great perk through Amex FHR — and was given a bottle of Dom Perignon on arrival. There’s a lesser Champagne for the lower-level suites, but when you get the Ocean Cove Pavilion like I did, the resort gives you an upgraded bottle, which for me, was Dom.
The Ocean Cove Pavilion
Getting to the Ocean Cove Pavilion was easy, thanks to the golf cart and a short walk down a path. Going from my room down to Cove Beach, though, was interesting, since you have to traverse a path of rocks that are unsteady and sharp — I almost tripped once. A solid path to Cove Beach with cemented stones would definitely work better. I get that they were going for an authentic look, but it’s really not functional.
Once you get there, though, the views are incredible.
Regarding the room itself, there were a few small design elements I wasn’t a fan of. I was trying to read in bed one night and noticed that during turndown service, the staff had taken most of the pillows away so I was left with only two. As you can see in the photo below, there is no headboard and the desk is awkwardly positioned right behind the bed — I usually like to sit up and lean against the wall to read in bed and it simply was not possible to do that here.
Overall the room was gorgeous, but the way the bed was set up certainly made for some awkward encounters. I even stubbed my toe walking around the wide baseboard once, so I’d prefer to not have the baseboard there at all. You can see what I’m talking about in the photo, below.
I loved the open and airy design of the bathroom.
The outdoor table was sunken into the ground so for someone like me who is 6’7″ it requires a little bit of negotiating. It’s a cute touch but not the most functional piece of furniture.
The other side of the outside seating area was nice though.
Here’s a look at the right side of the villa.
One minor pain was having to put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign since you have to go into the bushes and put a rope across the entrance of the suite. Instead, I’d like to see the resort put in a panel of electronics next to the bed that would allow you to do this easily. That said, there were buttons to the left and right of the bed that controlled the shades and lights.
On the bright side, I kept the window in my room open — I didn’t see any bugs until my last night — and fell asleep during an afternoon nap to the sound of the waves crashing outside. It was absolutely incredible. Be aware, according to the CDC Zika virus is still present in Turks and Caicos.
As part of the perks I get through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, I had the option to get two 50-minute massages during my stay (normally, these go for $185 each plus 24% in taxes, each). And the massages here were really, really good. Since I was traveling solo, I combined them and ended up with a 100-minute rubdown with Mirna, one of the resort’s massage therapists, who, I must say, was amazing. I also saw the male massage therapist, who gave me more of a shiatsu-style deep tissue massage.
The spa was beautiful and peaceful. Even when it rained, the atmosphere was spiritual.
Service Fail (Sort Of)
My Amex Centurion concierge reached out to the hotel for scuba diving options; there is a 27-kilometer barrier reef to explore. I was told a private dive would cost $1,600 plus 24% tax. That’s insane! You’ll normally spend maybe a couple of hundred dollars to scuba dive, even at expensive places in the Maldives. I just couldn’t believe that there were no other scuba options available on the island so I did a Google search myself, found a local scuba company called Dive Provo myself who only charged $155.68 plus tank and rental equipment fees — for group dives — and had the concierge coordinate the activity. The diving wasn’t extraordinary, and one of the people in my group got ill. So despite the fact that I had paid for two dives, we only ended up going out once but that was fine with me. Even on a cloudy day, the crystal-clear blue water is intoxicating.
The taxi cost from the hotel to the dive shop was about $150 each way for the 30-minute drive, which was also pretty pricey. That said, they did drive me around in a Land Rover — but it really adds up if you have to go into town. I just didn’t feel like renting a car, though, so this worked to get me to and from my scuba session.
Tip: Ask your driver to place your lunch order when you’re on your way back from scuba diving — it was ready for me in my room when I got back. I took the best nap of my life after a long day of scuba diving.
Food and Beverage
I enjoyed all of my meals through room service and found the menu to be pretty limited. There were a lot of options for breakfast including pancakes, waffles, French toast and truffle scrambled eggs, all of which ran between $29 and $39 per plate. Lunch and dinner options included salads, pizza, pasta, burgers, sandwiches, curries and a couple of other main dishes (all of which cost between $23 and $42 per plate). Surprisingly, there weren’t a whole lot of seafood dishes and there wasn’t any lobster. The seared tuna dish I ordered (for $34) came in the form of an open-faced sandwich that wasn’t as refined and fancy as you’d expect it to be at a resort like Amanyara.
I also expected there to be a large Western and Asian menu and there were only about three Asian dishes in total. I tried two of them — the beef rendang and the curry (for $59 – what?!) — but they were just okay. On the last night, I was kind of sick of the room service menu, so the staff actually brought me the menu from the onsite restaurant, which was pretty good — just note that the prices were absolutely insane for everything.
Amanyara is known for its service, and it’s great. There was someone waiting for me at the airport, there’s always someone on a golf cart there to pick you up — and they’ll come over in five minutes no matter what. There were never any delays, turndown service was prompt and no food was ever left out since they come and clean it up right away.
There’s often a fine line between staff being attentive and prying too much, but the folks here got it just right. When I mentioned I loved the chocolate bark, someone actually brought me an extra box of it. It was all very private and to me that’s the perfect level of service. So, on the service and beauty side of things, Amanyara absolutely shines. The facilities are spotless, and the sunsets here are so beautiful they almost seem fake. The food and some of the room design elements, however, could use some improvement.
Is it worth it? If you’re going to be worried about how much everything costs, that’s not why you go to Amanyara. If you’ve got some money to burn, and you want a flawless experience where you’re surrounded by natural beauty and some of the world’s top celebrities, in a private setting with no paparazzi and no cars, it’s pretty amazing and much, much closer to the US than the Maldives or Bora Bora.
Have you ever been to Amanyara in Turks and Caicos? Tell us about your experience, below.
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