Providenciales: A Safe Vacation Destination
Having canceled our travel plans in 2020, we are looking forward to less work from home days and more vacation days in 2021. And while there is still a travel ban to many international destinations, the former British colony (and still a dependency under the queen) of Turks and Caicos is not one of them. American Airlines flies direct from Miami International to the capital Providenciales, so for a quick weekend getaway, Turks and Caicos is an easy escape.
As with most international travel, you have to test negative for coronavirus within five days of your flight. After you upload your test results to the Turks and Caicos Tourism website, you’ll be given a travel authorization that permits entry to the country. Show that travel authorization at the American Airlines counter, and you’re free to go. Once you board, you’re flying over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea in under two hours. And there isn’t a safer way to fly; American just became the first airline to receive accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) for its commitment to cleaning and disinfection.
After landing in Providenciales, we took a 20-minute taxi ride to our final destination: Ocean Club Resorts. Located on the famous Grace Bay Beach, Ocean Club Resorts is comprised of two beachfront properties: Ocean Club and Ocean Club West. We stayed in a deluxe suite in Ocean Club, which had a kitchen, living area, two bedrooms and bathrooms, and a screened-in patio with a dining table and two chaise lounges. We were there only for the weekend, but it had all the amenities you’d need for an extended stay, like a stove, cookware, and washer and dryer.
Guests who stay at Ocean Club have access to all the facilities and restaurants at Ocean Club West and vice versa. The two properties are a mile apart, so you can stroll down the beach, ride the resort’s bikes or take the guest shuttle from one to the other. Both properties have a pool, fitness center, spa, tennis courts, watersports and their signature pink beach umbrellas. The pool areas at both also have grills if you want to barbecue al fresco. Ocean Club is closer to the Provo Golf Club while Ocean Club West has a beach bar and is closer to downtown shops and restaurants. After spending time at both locations, Ocean Club seemed to have more families with young children and Ocean Club West had more adults and couples.
Ocean Club has two restaurants, Cabana Bar & Grill and Opus Wine-Bar-Grill, while Ocean Club West has one, Solana. Cabana Bar & Grill is the most casual, with breakfast, lunch, dinner and a daily happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m., with snack bar staples like quesadillas, chicken wings and sliders. Opus Wine-Bar-Grill is upscale and open for dinner only, with a good wine list and entrees like a rack of lamb and filet of mahi-mahi. Solana is also open for all meals, with a sushi bar and entrees with an Asian flare.
While traveling during a pandemic can be daunting, it was comforting to know that all resort guests had recently tested negative. And between capacity limitations and the reduction in travel right now, at times it felt like we had the whole resort to ourselves.
For the active vacationers, there are plenty of excursions to book at the front desk. You can go diving or snorkeling to explore the colorful marine life of the islands (Turks and Caicos has one of the longest coral reefs in the world). You can go deep-sea, bottom or bone fishing, or windsurf, sail, kayak and paddle board in the clear blue waters. You can even take a tour through nearby mangroves to spot the local wildlife, like giant iguanas (the islands are considered a biodiversity hotspot). Or you can simply take a boat out at sunset on Tuesdays and wait for the famed “green flash” which zaps along the horizon at the moment the sun sets.
We did not see the green flash or Sapodilla Bay Hill where shipwrecked sailors carved the date and their names into rocks. We chose instead our favorite activity, listed on the resort’s website as “do nothing at all.” Among the things on the “revised to-do list” were sleeping in, lying on the beach, reading a book, going for a swim, sipping a cocktail, strolling on the beach and eating a leisurely meal. After such a long and strenuous year under house arrest, we were perfectly content to relax under the blue skies and pink umbrellas.