Luxury on one of the world’s best beaches: A stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos
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Editor’s note: Welcome to our new TPG hotel reviews! We’re trying out some novel formats as we rate hotels around the globe, aiming to help readers decide where to stay and where to skip. We’ll still do some of our signature in-depth versions, as well as longer-form pieces for hotels we think readers will be the most curious about. For now, though, we’re going to keep things snappy and give you all the information you need if you plan to visit the same hotels that we decide to check out.
On a related note, before booking any travel, be sure to keep up to date with our country-by-country guide to pandemic-era travel restrictions and requirements.
Any list of the best beaches in the world that doesn’t include Grace Bay Beach on Turks and Caicos is, quite simply, incomplete. Its wind-rippled white sands and mesmerizing turquoise waters have long drawn travelers from far and wide. Now, there’s even a new points-friendly hotel option towering above this slender strand: the 12-story Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos, which just opened in June.
The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos puts you just steps away from not only the world-famous surf and sand of Grace Bay, but also within walking distance of plenty of restaurants and entertainment venues. That said, you might just feel miles away from it all as you watch the sun dip below the sea aboard the resort’s 64-foot catamaran — tropical cocktail in hand, naturally.
Back on shore, there’s plenty to take advantage of, from various dining venues, including an outpost of BLT Steak, to a lively (but not rowdy) casino and a tranquil spa with treatments said to be inspired by indigenous Caribbean therapeutic techniques and the healing properties of the ocean. Of course, you could also just spend your days gazing out to sea from your spacious room’s private balcony.
Most major U.S. airlines offer service to Providenciales International Airport (PLS), although many routes are seasonal. So unless you live in a major hub, expect to connect.
Because the airport operates with remote stands and is often overcrowded, customs and immigration lines can take more than an hour. To speed things up, spring for the fast-track program at a cost of $65-$70 per person.
Instead of hotel-arranged private transportation, which costs $180 each way, save your money and take a 15-minute shared taxi ride to the Ritz-Carlton for just around $33 per couple instead.
The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos has 155 rooms and 27 suites. It is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 8 property where award rates range from 70,000-100,000 points per night, with 85,000 points as the most common price point. Standard room rates start at $600, while suites range upward from around $1,100. Expect to pay about $160 in taxes and resort fees per day on top of that.
Things we loved
- The spectacular (and convenient) location fronting one of the Caribbean’s best beaches is worth making a booking all by itself.
- That expensive resort fee includes diligent beach and pool service from the hotel’s staff, and access to water activities such as snorkeling, paddleboarding and kayaking.
- Book a sailing on the resort’s Lady Grace catamaran — there are private sailings, shared half-day snorkeling adventures and (a personal favorite) breezy sunset cruises with an open bar and tasty hors d’oeuvres, including fresh sushi, for $129 per person (but make your plate quickly, because they run out of the best items!).
- There’s no need to leave the resort for a great meal. Nibble on the namesake Ritz-Carlton sushi roll at the Lobby Lounge, with king crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, tuna and cucumber. Or tuck into juicy Black Angus cuts or expertly grilled fish at BLT Steak, but leave room for the gooey, cheese-filled popovers.
- Splurge on a private cabana at the adult pool (prices start at $250 per day), which guarantees you some shade, plus finer points like personalized poolside service and a bottle of chilled prosecco. (Our inside tip: As long as you get to the pool by midmorning, snagging a complimentary lounger shouldn’t be difficult.)
- It’s pricey, even for the Caribbean, whether you’re paying in cash or points.
- The Ritz-Carlton brand doesn’t provide Marriott Bonvoy elite members with many value-added perks like free breakfast.
- In contrast to other Marriott Bonvoy Category 8 showstoppers such as the St. Regis Maldives and Al Maha in Dubai, this resort’s boxy main building feels more like a cookie-cutter beach resort that takes a backstage to its surroundings rather than enhancing them.
- Occasional slow service and lackluster amenities stretch the charm of operating on “island time.” Room service breakfast took over an hour to arrive, and the gym and spa facilities were limited.
Although family-friendly (enough), the Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos feels more like a cocktail-infused adult summer camp, with plenty of sunshine, water activities and even live entertainment to keep the party going. Although by no means a Cancun-style spring break free-for-all, the pool areas are festive throughout the day, with folks in their 30s to 60s chatting each other up in the water, sipping pricey cocktails and even singing along with the band in the lobby bar in the evenings.
There are activities for children via the Ritz Kids programs along with a family pool that’s good for young ones. However, this is a resort that might best be enjoyed by families with older kids ready for snorkeling and sailing adventures.
Two words: ocean-view balcony. If you aren’t spending some time out here each day with your morning coffee, evening cocktail or both, you’re simply missing the point of this hotel.
Stepping inside, though, you’ll find either two queen beds or one king. We booked a standard room with a limited view of the sea but were upgraded two categories to a deluxe two-queen room with a full ocean view (and before you ask, no, Marriott Suite Night Awards can’t be applied at Ritz-Carlton properties).
Although the furniture feels somewhat nondescript, it does manage to pull off a beachy look thanks to a combination of sand-colored textiles and driftwood-inspired decor pieces. The bathroom is downright palatial, with a stand-alone soaking tub, glass-walled walk-in shower and double vanities, not to mention fragrant Diptyque bath products for washing the salt and sand off at the end of the day.
Unlike some other hotels, which have been limiting or even eliminating housekeeping, you can count on both daily cleaning and turndown service during your stay.
Food and drink
By the end of your stay, your wallet will be significantly thinner, but you may not be, thanks to the delicious but expensive restaurant offerings on the property. Breakfast or lunch at beachside Coralli is a convenient option thanks to alfresco tables, an extensive buffet ($33) and tasty menu options like granola parfait with Greek yogurt, caramelized pineapples, granola and berries ($19). Don’t even bother moving from your poolside chair for lunch dishes like tangy conch salad with plantain chips ($24) or the Grace Bay burger with fries ($24).
As for dinner, plan to spend at least one evening at BLT Steak — you can even make a reservation on OpenTable and request one of the palm-shaded outdoor tables on the patio (bring some bug spray, though). The luscious lobster Cobb salad is not to miss, as are the crunchy crabcakes. Expect your tab to run around $100 per person, not including drinks.
But you don’t always need to make a formal dining reservation to enjoy dinner at the Ritz-Carlton. Noori in the Lobby Lounge serves delicacies like conch ceviche with grapefruit and fennel ($19) and the heaping Blue Mountain sushi roll ($35) with king crab, shrimp tempura, avocado, mango, eel sauce and Scotch bonnet aioli. Add in some oysters and/or cocktails and you’ve got a great start to the evening.
Amenities and service
The hotel portion of the resort has two pools: one for families and one just for adults, though both can get a little active, especially in the afternoons. This isn’t the kind of place with any waterslides, lazy rivers or even hot tubs.
The hotel sprawls along nearly 700 feet of beachfront if you prefer the feeling of sand in your toes as you sunbathe. Service in any location is attentive and guests occasionally receive free treats such as ice cream and cold fruit drinks.
Of course, there are water activities galore, including a half-day reef snorkel at $199 per adult and $149 per child that includes a picnic lunch and post-snorkel open bar. There is a small but well-equipped ground-floor gym (sadly sans Pelotons), and if you want a signature spa treatment, such as the 50-minute purifying wrap with detoxifying algae ($170), be sure to book ahead since spaces fill up several days in advance.
Out and about
Take an afternoon to explore the island, even if only on foot since the hotel is within walking distance of other resorts and restaurants like Lemon 2 Go, a cheery cafe serving coffee, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, muffins and more.
Those willing to risk left-side driving can rent a car from Hertz through the hotel, which makes it easy to take a spin for lunch at local favorites like Da Conch Shack, visit other popular beaches like Taylor Bay, and book outside activities like horseback rides.
Accessibility might be an issue for some. There are zero-entry access points in the pool, but there’s no chair-enabled lift, and there is a wooden-planked path down to the sand as an alternative to the stairs. It’s not a truly flat surface, but it is well maintained.
Stunning views, an enviable oceanfront location, friendly service and land and sea activities aplenty all set the Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos apart and make it an excellent new points-fueled choice for a mid-pandemic getaway. That said, if the beachfront location itself doesn’t move you, you might want to reserve your Marriott Bonvoy points (especially at this price) for more distinctive stays in other parts of the world.
Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.
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