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Turks & Caicos: Grace Bay Club

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Where I come from, Turks & Caicos is hardly a household word. In fact, few of my friends had ever heard the name. Not wanting to appear uninformed, they made interesting guesses. South America? Mexico? In their defense, this island chain is small.

Positioned south of the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos is perhaps best known as a world-class scuba diving location. But in addition, it has all the wonderful attributes one would expect from a tropical island, but with less tourists. For your honeymoon getaway, consider Turks and Caicos.

My home-away-from-home in the islands was Grace Bay Club, an all-suite property, located on the island of Providenciales. Heavy on the syllables, you can call it Provo for short, like the locals. More specifically, the resort rests on Grace Bay, a twelve-mile stretch of Atlantic ocean. The beaches of Grace Bay are prized for the extraordinary quality of the sand. The texture is so fine, it's often been compared to ladies face powder.

All twenty-one suites at Grace Bay Club are in one building, separate from other parts of the resort. From the outside, the structure appears more like a large private villa, rather than a hotel. I had a lower level suite, with a beckoning ocean view. While trying to watch TV, my eyes were drawn back to the sea. How can repeats of the Brady Bunch possibly compare with the constant movement of the turquoise blue water?

The decor of my large suite was done in neutral colors primarily white and tan with a red terra cotta tile floor. That, combined with wicker and a smattering of yellow and blue made the character of the space relaxed, but no less elegant. Thick foliage in both the front and back provided privacy. It wasn't difficult to settle into such lovely surroundings and I did, within three minutes.

The suite had far more storage space and kitchen cabinets than I have at home. Everything you might need, including dishwasher, microwave, full frig, regular size stove, coffee maker, dishwasher and toaster are there. Let us not forget the shiny black tea kettle, this is the British West Indies, right-o!

During an unusual bit of rain, Martin, the resort manager, kindly loaned me a book on a history of the islands, which I found fascinating. Getting a feel for the past always helps me better appreciate the present.

Especially unique was the tale of two lady pirates who took to life on the high seas, in and around Turks & Caicos. Dressing like men (oh the horror...) they led the typical pirate life of raiding, murder and theft. Both ladies were eventually captured and would have been hung for their misdeeds, but both were pregnant and escaped the gallows. Like most islands in the region, tourism is now the big industry, as the demand for pirate booty has all but dried up.

Anacaona Restaurant at Grace Bay Club is housed under a round, tiki-type structure with a thatched roof. The open-air design, tinkling fountain and crashing waves, make the atmosphere just what you wish for at a beach resort. Adjacent to the restaurant is another round tiki hut containing the beach bar.

Tea time is a daily tradition at Grace Bay Club. I found myself looking forward to a finger sandwich of smoked salmon and a spot of tea at 4:00. The concept is a fine idea to my way of thinking; who doesn't need a pick-me-up at that hour? I often wonder why the entire world doesn't observe tea time?

With a warm ocean waiting to be experienced, water sports are the main activity on Provo. From Grace Bay Club you can arrange scuba diving, bone fishing, sailing, kayaking, sunset cruises, snorkel trips, deep sea fishing and more.

If you need a respite from sun and sand, the conch farm is an option. Provo is home to the world's only conch farm, so they say, and this seafood is considered a delicacy. At the farm they're grown from tiny beings into the Queen Conch, known for it's large, resplendent pink shell. It's the type of shell people lift to their ears to hear ocean sounds.

You can take it from me, conch are not particularly attractive creatures. They reminded me of the slugs I sometimes find on a damp sidewalk after dark.

The tour lead us through the process of growing the conch and then shipping them off. We saw various holding tanks, and watched as workers pitched in food pellets. Sure enough, the conchs were chewing away on their late lunch. Essentially all you can see is the shell gliding slowly across the surface, since most of their bodies are tucked up inside.

If you're looking for a relaxing island honeymoon, away from the crowds, look no further than Provo. For more information on Grace Bay Club, click on www.gracebayclub.com.


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