Turks and Caicos is not a destination I had planned on visiting this year (or ever again). The last time I visited was over a decade ago. That first trip was a glamorous, work related one which involved working out, make up artists, hairdressers, professional calendar photo-shoots, and a lot of dancing. The previous year I had visited Jamaica for the same reason: “work.” I was so in love with Jamaica then that the thought of Turks and Caicos did not wow me as much.
Our friends were celebrating a wedding anniversary.They thought it would be fun to put together a group of 8 friends (who had never met) and celebrate! Parrot Cay (pronounced KEY) had captivated their hearts last year and they were beyond excited to share their experience with all of us. Initially, I could take it or leave it. I was excited to celebrate with them but it wasn’t until the date got closer that I really started looking into all the resort had to offer. Now that I’ve experienced Parrot Cay, I’m hesitant to even continue writing about it. Part of me wants to keep it under wraps. It’s paradise. Paradise found. It’s the real deal.
The flight from South Florida took only a little under two hours. The airport in Turks and Caicos is tiny. We exited the plane right on the runway. Beware of the frantic staff who scolds you for taking photos while outside. I found out the hard way, as I was happily snapping away. There were about four customs stations ready for us several steps into the main building. Once cleared, we walked only another dozen steps or so to pick up our luggage: easy and painless. We were then picked up by the hotel van and driven to the dock where the shuttle would be waiting for us. The Parrot Cay staff who greeted us also took all of our luggage. We never worried about the luggage again until we arrived at the resort. Before we walked to the dock, we visited the Parrot Cay Welcome Center. This is where the staff waited for us with cold towels that carry their signature INVIGORATE scent. Oh yes, this is where the never ending sense of zen began to captivate us. The Welcome Center also offered us an array of refreshments, including beer and wine. Once at the dock, we waited for the boat shuttle that would take us to the island. The shuttle took 30 minutes. The smooth glide of the boat, over the crystal clear turquoise waters, kept me in a daze. I was on my way to some unknown paradise.
When we finally arrived, we were greeted by our butlers. Yes, our butlers. I will explain. No, Donna Karan is not my BFF (she does own property on Parrot Cay though). We were upgraded to a villa which included a 24 hour butler service. This is where we met, Ary. Oh Ary! She became our everything during this trip and confirmed that I could absolutely get used to this lifestyle. Then again, who wouldn’t? Ary was waiting to whisk us away to our villa in her golf cart. The road there was unpaved and rocky. There was no sign of a luxurious villa for about 10 minutes. Then, one quick left turn, in the middle of overgrown trees, and an unmarked road later, we saw it! I can’t say for sure but I’m almost positive there were angels singing at that very moment. Really. The entrance to the two-bedroom villa was through the back. It was the same back that faced our very own heated pool and had direct beach access. Each bedroom was exactly the same size. An inviting, beautiful, four-poster bed with white voile draping welcomed us as we opened the sliding door. A small hallway revealed a walk-in closet and huge bathroom. The bathroom boasted an ergonomically perfect tub, two sinks, oversized rain shower head, and a private outdoor shower. The palette was all whites with different wood textured accents throughout the villa.
We felt overwhelmed with the need for a nap (see how stressful this was?) but we dropped off our things and headed out for lunch instead. Naturally, this meant that our butler was waiting to take us there in the ARYmobile.Three minutes later we sat at Lotus Restaurant enveloped by our lush tropical surroundings and pinched ourselves. As it turned out, our butler would also be our waitress anywhere we dined during the entire stay. It was too late for lunch so the restaurant offered a “snacks” menu instead. Tostones, fish tacos, ceviche and conch fritters would just have to do. I loved the guacamole that topped the tostones. The tostones themselves were not my favorite. They were made with ripe plantains. The ripeness gave it a chewy texture instead of the crispy one I adore. The conch fritters were delicious and an item that we ordered every single day.
Once lunch was over, we headed back to the villas and changed into our bathing suits. We could not let the day end without trying out our heated pool, even if it was for a little while.This became our routine during our stay. Be very careful with the sharp pool step edges! I sliced one of my fingers open by simply coming too close to them. Ouch! Sun setting, music playing and drinks flowing, we basked in the realization that we would be lucky enough to enjoy this for several more days before returning to “real life.” That is, until our neighbors called the front desk and complained about our music (which was at a reasonable volume). I don’t think we were being particularly loud. Yes, we were having fun. Yes, we had music playing. It was “adult fun” though, NOT “college, wild t-shirt contest” kind of fun. Although the villas are completely private, there are some that are located closer to each other and this is the one we were in. If you want complete silence or if you want to be able to play music, make sure you specify that upon reserving. The one and only rain shower we encountered during the trip was that afternoon. It must have lasted a whole 3 minutes. The sky got dark quickly, the rain came and all went back to normal in an instant. Brilliant. That’s the way all rain showers should be!
Music or not, we had a blast and eventually all went our separate ways to get ready for our first dinner. Getting ready meant using the glorious soaking tub and outdoor shower. The tub sides angled perfectly to cradle me into full relaxation. The fully private outdoor shower was my husband’s refuge during our entire stay. Just him and nature coming together as one. I couldn’t do it. My very girly side was in full glory as soon as I saw a lizard and heard frog stories but, hey, it looked great!
During the summer, dinner locations at the resort alternate between Lotus and Terrace. Lotus is the outdoor restaurant where we first had the “snacks” upon arrival and where dinner was this night. Terrace is the indoor location, which we visited the next day. Dinner was fantastic the first night as well as every single night after that (regardless of location). Everything we ordered was usually wonderful and beyond expected. I won’t have space to discuss it all in detail but these photos below speak for themselves. On Saturday night, the resort hosted their signature barbecue. I was expecting a very festive atmosphere since they announced there would be live music. A band played but the volume was still turned down as to not disturb anyone. Even they were being policed with their music! Just joking, the volume was perfect even at its conservative level. If you wish to take your own wine to the island, as we did, you can place an order with The Wine Cellar. We ordered via telephone and they delivered our wine to the Parrot Cay dock. It actually arrived before we did. Ary always picked us up for dinner and dropped us off afterwards. Ladies, you can dress up or down. It’s up to you. Everyone dressed differently and guests kept to themselves. After dinner, we often relaxed on our beach lounge chairs looking up at the stars. To say the nights were “starry” is to put it mildly. They were everywhere! Night after night we became completely hypnotized by the endless stars staring back at us. No, it’s not the wine speaking. I mean it. We even saw shooting stars each night. Of course we did! Surprised?
Doors can and were left unlocked often. We were assured complete safety and security everywhere. The resort also has a no-fly zone. This would explain just why so many celebrities flock here. One Google search revealed that the Jolie-Pitts vacationed there last year during the holidays. As expected, they stayed at my BFF’s (Donna’s) place (which is part of the resort). This must be why my invitation got lost in the mail. Hmmmm….the villa has a small kitchen and full refrigerator stocked with most expected beverages including ginger ale and Red Stripe. The Nespresso coffee machine and pods were great. We used it daily during our stay. Once Ary realized we liked an afternoon coffee break, she offered it daily. After hearing me mention just how much water I drink on a daily basis (and the $4 cost per bottle), Ary brought us a filtered water dispenser for our nightstands. I was then able to drink as much as I wanted without paying the per bottle cost. It’s the little things, you know? I was certainly getting spoiled here.
During the next couple of days, our life was spent deciding just where we would lay out for some sun or reading. Would we spend the day at the pool or ocean? Paddleboarding (included) today? The Turks and Caicos ocean is absolutely magnificent. The sand is powdery and the water is perfectly clear for miles. The main pool was also stunning. Techie junkies (like me), note that you can only find wi-fi at the Lotus Bar. If you want access then sit closer to the bar or you will lose connection. The waiters that served us while at the pool were from Miami. Small world huh? Breakfast was at the Terrace restaurant and it’s the only meal included with the reservation. This is not the typical continental breakfast. You can eat from the displayed fruits, pastries, cereals, breads, spreads, etc. or you can order a la carte from a variety of delectable items. The highlight for me was the Como Shambhala menu that was present at every meal. As per COMO Hotels:
Menus use organic ingredients rich in living enzymes, vitamins and sea minerals. Salads, steamed and grilled foods all featured. Unprocessed honey replaces other sweeteners, and when fat is needed, olive oil stands in for butter. But COMO Shambhala Cuisine isn’t about calorie counting, rather we present food that optimizes nutrition while tasting delicious.
How can I say no to that? Thankfully, I had all day to make up my mind. Their line of Wellness juices was also a great touch. I had the Digest or Waterfall on a daily basis.
I visited the COMO Shambhala spa on the last day. Already spoiled by the service, beautiful surroundings, and wonderful food, I was sure the experience would be perfection. It was. I managed to score the best massage I’ve ever had (Indonesian Massage) by Yoga (the masseuse’s name. No, I am not kidding). The ginger tea I drank afterwards was also the best I’ve ever had. I know. You must be so annoyed by all the “bests” and “perfects.” I’m even tired of hearing it but there is just no other way to put it. Parrot Cay is a dream. I will say that the locker room is pretty standard to any other spa so, there you have it: one thing that was not perfect. Ha! Actually, another not so perfect feature was the lack of high-definition televisions in the villa. We only found out when the hubby insisted in catching up on some football. Otherwise, we would have never noticed since none of us really watched television.
On the last night, we arranged a private dinner in our villa for the couple that was celebrating their anniversary. We spoke to Ary, agreed on a price per person for the food and she said also she would decorate for us. How do you think she did? This night was right out of a magazine. As gorgeous as the photos are, it was even more exceptional in person. It came alive as the sun went down. We had it all: candles on the sand, rose petals, tiki torches, delicious food and soft background music. It was the first night the moon came out since our arrival too! Somehow, the Parrot Cay Gods were summoned to make this night even more spectacular than the others. We feasted, laughed and enjoyed our night. Everything about the trip was just so memorable. For such a secluded and simple itinerary (nap, beach, eat, repeat), we had a lot to talk about and praise.
The inevitable last day came and we had to pack to head back home. Ary helped pack all of our belongings into the Arymobile and took us back to the boat shuttle. Needless to say, the mood was somber. The sky was still blue, the water still clear and the villa was still gorgeous. All of it begged for us to stay. Sadly, it was no longer ours. We were on our way back to “reality.” The shuttle arrived at the Welcome Center (now dubbed the Breakup Center). We took the taxi back to the airport and reminisced about all the fun we had. At times, it got very quiet. Surely, we were all replaying it all in our heads. Several hours later we were pouting our way through Miami International Airport’s lack of gate for our plane, the huge passport check lines, rude people, and the bumper to bumper Miami traffic. There was no cafecito for us this afternoon either. Where was Ary when we needed her? She was most certainly not here. We took deep breaths and vowed to try to keep our zen as long as possible. I asked Ary if she knew the meaning of the name “Shambhala” one afternoon. She said it means “Secret Place in Bliss”. It all made sense. That’s the perfect, magical description of Parrot Cay.
It has now been a month since we left and I am already planning a return (just don’t tell the husband OK?).
I left a piece of my heart in Parrot Cay and I look forward to making my heart whole again.