8 Days in Turks & Caicos: Lessons Learned

We vacationed in Turks & Caicos a couple of weeks ago and had a nice time. We loved being with the grandchildren and the beaches were clean and beautiful with some of the softest sand you can imagine. However, we tend to like to go to places with more historical interest or museums so TCI would not have necessarily been our first pick as a vacation spot.  In Providenciales, where we stayed, places to go of historical interest are slim and the tours to go to those places were very expensive for the amount of time that would be spent visiting the sites so we decided to forego those activities in favor of staying closer to our own surroundings (which can be relaxing but also a little boring).

So what did we learn? Well we already knew that it would be expensive. My son had already warned us about that and we discussed that a little bit in my previous post.  Again, this is an island where everything has to be imported – expensive comes with the territory. But we did learn some other things that may be useful to others who want to visit.

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After walking around for an hour in the new room

For most vacationers you will be staying in a condo owned by someone else. Because of that the consistency of quality when it comes to furnishings and general upkeep of a particular unit can be somewhat inconsistent. Our stay in our first room (a suite that costs about $200 a night) at the Ocean Club West was marred by a leaky roof, a stove that did not work, light bulbs not replaced in lamps and fixtures, and ants in the kitchen area. The roof only leaked one night so we ignored that but we called the hotel staff about each of the other problems. Each had to be called again after no resolution on the first calls. We didn’t even complain about the chest of drawers that was so old that the drawers would fall out when you opened it and the lack of closet space because a washer and dryer was installed in that area (suites don’t normally have a washer/dryer). We weren’t offered a different room until I tweeted my unhappiness. At that point we were offered an upgrade to a one bedroom suite. Of course, this was at the tail end of the vacation but we decided to make the move anyway. We ended up in a unit above the one my son and his family were staying in. Bigger with no ants it was nicely decorated and had a great view of the pool.  But, apparently, they don’t really prep rooms very well for incoming guests because the floors were filthy. And we found out that if we close the door to the bedroom the air flowing under the door from the air conditioner howled. We decided to leave the door open the next night. If you are looking for consistency of quality certain resort properties just don’t offer that.

News of problems does not travel fast. We only learned of a form of norovirus or sickness that had spread to the next door resort while listening to staff talk about it in passing. The outbreak literally shut down reservations at the very upscale Grace Bay resort located next door. We were lucky to not have gotten sick while on the trip.  We had planned to go to Grace Bay resort Infinity Bar one night during our stay but the place looked a little too isolated when we walked by. It was a couple of days later when we realized why the place was deserted. The outbreak also affected a couple of other resorts at that time.

But, theft, like on any tourist location, can be a problem. So rental car companies recommend you do not lock your vehicle so the windows do not get smashed in. Bottom line: don’t leave anything valuable in the car if you rent. We didn’t experience any problems with this but we’re from NYC – we NEVER leave anything in the car that can be ripped off.

Don’t believe anyone who says there are no mosquitos on TCI. Bring bug repellent especially for dining out (since most restaurants are al fresco).

Al fresco dining (especially at night) is highly overrated, especially when it’s windy and there isn’t enough lighting to see what you are eating.  This seemed to be the case at many establishments.

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Conch Shell vendor outside Da Conch Shack

Enjoy the local cuisine and local flavors. Our best dinners were at the local haunts such as the Tiki Hut and da Conch Shack. Da Conch Shack is right on the beach where you can dine on picnic tables outside or under a roof (everything is open air). There are vendors on site selling conch shells and most of the smaller souvenirs were reasonably priced.

If you are into water sports this is the place for you.  My son was able to enjoy a Hobie Cat while we were there and there are plently of opportunities for snorkeling, diving, swimming, paddleboarding, etc. I don’t swim so these are not enticements for me but for others this is what TCI is perfect for.

The people are the best thing about Turks and Caicos. Everywhere we went we felt welcome. They were all friendly and helpful.

 

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