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Friends & Fun in Turks & Caicos

I had been looking forward to Turks & Caicos all winter. One of my best friends from high school is getting married this summer, and about 12 of us girls flew down for a bachelorette party.

I landed in Turks to be greeted by the incredibly sweet Keisha, the resident WIMCO concierge on island, bearing a sign with my name and WIMCO’s logo. We chatted a bit, and then off I went with the driver WIMCO had arranged (a Black Car SUV, with chilled water).

Before the bachelorette festivities began, I scoped out a few villas in Turtle Cove. These were mainly one bedroom villas that are on the beach but have some foliage out front, so it’s not a complete ocean view. Villa Sea Edge (TNC SED) is a cute villa for a couple that has visited Turks before and loves the independence of their own place. The kitchen and living room open up onto a patio with a pool, and you can walk right down to the beach. Upstairs there is a bed and bathroom with a great view–I’m sure waking up there is wonderful. The villa reminded me of a studio apartment in the sense that you have everything you need. I could see clients who like staying in Gustavia in St. Barths enjoying this spot.

The entrance to Villa Turtle Breeze (TNC TBZ). All the villas in Turks had beautiful, friendly entrances like these. WIMCO Villas, Turtle Breeze, TNC TBZ, Turks & Caicos, Grace Bay/Beachside, Family Friendly Villa, 5 Bedroom Villa, 5 Bathroom Villa, Pool, Villa Entrance,, WiFi

The entrance to Villa Turtle Breeze (TNC TBZ). All the villas in Turks had beautiful, friendly entrances like these.

Turtle Breeze (TNC TBZ) is a fun villa with a lagoon-like pool that kids will love. The bedroom configuration is also well-suited for a family, as many rooms have double beds. Villa Wild Cherry (TNC WCH) is another villa in this area, with all the living areas on the second floor of this two bedroom. As great as it is being right on the beach, there’s something nice about having a living area with a view of the ocean instead of the sand. The Turtle Cove area is just about ten minutes from town (nothing in Turks was very far away) and there’s a little marina area with a few places to grab a bite.

Really into this lagoon-pool situation. (At Villa Turtle Breeze), WIMCO Villas, Turtle Breeze, TNC TBZ, Turks & Caicos, Grace Bay/Beachside, Family Friendly Villa, 5 Bedroom Villa, 5 Bathroom Villa, Pool, Villa Pool, WiFi

Really into this lagoon-pool situation. (At Villa Turtle Breeze)

After a few more villa visits, I checked into the hotel on Grace Bay beach. As I have said many times before, I am what you call “a hotel person”. I just love hotels—chocolates on the bed, slippers, you know what I mean. But I truly think that after two nights the allure of a hotel wears off. I like a bit more variety and sometimes I like making my own breakfast or being able to graze on snacks. So, for vacation destinations—I really do like villa life, and I think this is a great way to go on Turks, especially if you’re staying with a big group of friends.

That evening we were just five, and we drove down to the Grace Bay Club for dinner. Grace Bay is a super elegant property on Grace Bay beach. The foyer reminded me a bit of the Lyford Cay club—preppy and friendly. Dinner was Infinity, which sits just above Grace Bay. This place is stunning. I value a restaurant’s ambiance as much as its food, and for me, this place was paradise. If you have ever planned a wedding or spent any time on Pinterest, you may know of a phenomenon called lantern lights. When we arrived at sunset (about 7pm in April), the entire patio was drenched in this soft purple light, with bamboo lantern lights adding extra light. A pinner’s dream.

WIMCO Villas, Turks and Caicos Grace Bay club

At Grace Bay club for dinner. In love with the ambiance.

We started off the evening with a round of celebratory drinks (pomegranate martinis, margaritas and Dark N’ Stormys) cheering our bride-to-be, who was in need of a marg after finishing her second year of med school. One of the reasons I was obsessed with this restaurant—literally, my friend Ellie and I said at every meal throughout the trip “Should we just go back to Grace Bay?”—was because it had this fantastic raw bar menu. Think: tuna poke, ceviche of all kind, carpaccios and sushi. They also have a full menu. I loved the grilled octopus with duck-fat potatoes (#vacation) and my friend loved the “popcorn” soup. We had such a great dinner here and it’s the type of place my family would love, so I felt at home.

I have an odd love of trying workout studios wherever I am, so I was excited to try the Exhale Core Fusion class at the Gansevoort on Grace Bay. They have an open-air wood paneled studio, and a British teacher with a ton of energy taught about twenty women (and one obedient husband) a great class—it’s a mix of Pilates and barre using light weights and resistance bands. I love working out with other people because it feels social and yet not draining. If I were staying in Turks for a week, I would totally go to this place every day. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to take a class.

Exhale Core Fusion class at The Gansevort. Loved working out in the fresh air. (Photo courtesy of The Gansevoort)

Exhale Core Fusion class at The Gansevort. Loved working out in the fresh air. (Photo courtesy of The Gansevoort)

One of the girls in our group is a travel agent, and after a quick breakfast at the hotel, the two of us toured two villas that literally blew my mind. Having spent a lot of time in St. Barths, I am no stranger to stunning villas. Villa Hawk’s Bill (PL HKB) is one of the most gorgeous villas I’ve ever seen. You enter through a private driveway and the lead up to the villa is just as beautiful as the villa itself. I love how many villas on the island prided themselves on meticulous landscape design—if you’re a homeowner, you often take great pride in your lawn and I love seeing this same attention to detail in a rental property. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but this villa was designed completely with guests in mind. It sits directly on Grace Bay beach (with unobstructed views) and has a sprawling pool with lounge chairs perfectly flanked.

WIMCO Villas, Hawks Bill, PL HKB, Turks & Caicos, Grace Bay/Beachside, Family Friendly Villa, 10 Bedroom Villa, 10 Bathroom Villa, Pool, Living Room, WiFi

Villa Hawk’s Bill (PL HKB). This living room opens out to an amazing view of the beach.

I walked in and just immediately thought of so many friends and clients that I have met over the years in St. Barths. They would love this house. It’s the type of place that a group of couples could stay at, or an extended family that has grandchildren. The interiors were what really caught my attention. All the fabrics are excellent quality and a perfect blend of being upscale while still approachable and conducive to kicking your feet up. There are so many nooks to this house—places to curl up with a book after some sun, or places to lounge if you’d like to have the view but stay indoors. I could go on and on about this place, but take a look at the villa on our site. The villa says it is a 10 bedroom, but know that it can be rented with fewer rooms!

One of the best things is that it can be rented for as little as a four-night stay (most villas in Turks require a Saturday to Saturday rental). I can imagine a group renting this for a big anniversary trip with friends and arranging a chef to cook breakfasts or leisurely lunches so as really to enjoy the space. (See my last article on sharing a villa with friends for more ideas).

Coziest (and maybe most chic)  room in the whole villa: bunk beds! WIMCO Villas, Beach Enclave, PL BNC, Turks & Caicos, Babalua Beach, Family Friendly Villa, 4 Bedroom Villa, 4 Bathroom Villa, Bedroom, Terrace, WiFi

Coziest (and maybe chicest) room in the whole villa: bunk beds!

Next we saw a few villas in the newly built “Beach Enclave.” My friend had a client in mind for one, so it was great for her to be able to see the villa in person and give her clients the full rundown. I know I said I was obsessed with Hawk’s Bill, but I was also obsessed with the Beach Enclave villas (which are considerably more reasonably priced). Every villa in Turks we visited was located directly on the beach except this one, which was exactly why I loved it. The villa is almost built into a rock, and so the view is elevated. You walk in and the floor to ceiling windows look out to an incredible true turquoise infinity pool. Behind it is the matching turquoise water of the sea. This view floored me. What’s even better though, is that you have the backdrop of the ocean behind you (instead of sand) but there is a set of stairs from the pool that take you down to the beach. It’s the best of both worlds.

At PL BNC. I love how the beach is just below, but you have this pristine ocean view. WIMCO Villas, Beach Enclave, PL BNC, Turks & Caicos, Babalua Beach, Family Friendly Villa, 4 Bedroom Villa, 4 Bathroom Villa, Pool, View from Villa, WiFi

At PL BNC. I love how the beach is just below, but you have this pristine ocean view.

Again, interiors and living spaces here are excellently furnished. Tasteful, livable, and just well designed. Three of the bedrooms are queens and one has two doubles, so this could really work for a variety of groups. My friend Alex and I chatted about how much fun her clients were going to have here. This villa is located within a small gated community, and we are adding more villas to this collection.

I mean, if you have to send a fax on vacation, don't you want to use this room?! WIMCO Villas, Beach Enclave, PL BNC, Turks & Caicos, Babalua Beach, Family Friendly Villa, 4 Bedroom Villa, 4 Bathroom Villa, Pool, WiFi

Definitely a cool place to send a fax.

After our due diligence for the day, we grabbed the rest of the group (we were now twelve) and headed to Somewhere Café, just a short walk from the hotel. The service here was so friendly—something I noticed about the island in general. We started with some conch ceviche and then had salads and fish tacos. That evening we went to the Gansevoort for cocktails and canapés and an awesome DJ who I assaulted with song requests. We danced, made many a new friend, and had such a blast. Later we went into town for one more nightcap at Sandbar, which reminded me a bit of Casa Nikki in St. Barths.

Someone decided that a 9am boat ride the next morning after a night out would be a good idea. I will admit that I was very resistant to this, especially given that the weather wasn’t great. Breakfast seemed like a higher priority at the time. But alas, the twelve of us got on the boat with our very enthusiastic crew and we set off for what would be the best part of our weekend. My dad used to say when I was younger, “Always make the effort” and he is so right. We anchored just off the reef (about a 25 minute boat ride probably) and while the weather was still cloudy and a bit cold, all of us obliged and put on our flippers and snorkels. I swear, as soon as we hit the water, the day changed. We immediately started laughing as we wore our masks, and we saw some beautiful schools of snapper. As we got back on the boat on headed for Iguana Island, the weather cleared.

Our skipper (and DJ) to Iguana Island, Turks and Caicos

Our skipper (and DJ) to Iguana Island

I will say that one of the reasons I loved this boat ride was because our crew had the best and funniest collection of music playing. We listened to a bunch of Reggae music and soaked up the warm sun and took about a zillion pictures. Iguana Island was stunning—it reminded me of Harbour Island in the Bahamas with its white sand and translucent waters. The skipper had dove for some conch shells earlier that morning and gave us both a history lesson on the species and some ceviche tostadas. We arrived back at the hotel by 1pm, and all remarked that we had done so much in just one morning. Making the effort is definitely worth it, and I would suggest this excursion to anyone who visits Turks (despite how many rum punches you’ve had the night before). WIMCO’s concierge service can organize all of this, by the way.

Try the cracked conch. da Conch Shack Turks and Caicos menu

Try the cracked conch.

That evening all of us were a bit tired and sunburned (the sun in Turks seems much stronger than in the rest of the Caribbean) and so we decided on a low-key dinner at Da Conch Shack. Da crew and I were treated to a pitcher of rum punches, compliments of the owner who we had met out the night prior. We munched on cracked conch, which is similar to fried calamari, and is insanely delicious. The whole vibe of this place is awesome. It’s right on the beach and has these pretty turquoise and light pink picnic tables. It feels low-key but chic all at once, and the food is amazing. After a number of meals out, there was something great about eating food that felt home-style. The entrees are all served with a few choices of sides, like plantains or rice and beans, and the grilled grouper I had was flaky and oh so buttery. We had the best chill night there. The view also looked great even at night, but I would suggest it for lunch to really take advantage of it. I think it is a bit livelier then as well.

One of my takeaways from Turks is that it really lends itself to large groups. If someone asked me to design a trip for them, I would say, get four couples together or seven of your best friends and rent a villa. Organize a chef to come over for a few meals—such as two dinners and two lunches. Enjoy the space, privacy and independence of your own spot. Have dance parties at home. Take a boat out one day and snorkel or scuba dive. Play golf at the one club on the island or get a daily double’s game going. Have one super special meal out at Grace Bay Club, and do a lunch at Da Conch Shack, but beyond that—enjoy the view of turquoise waters and your own group. Turks is low-key, fun, and for a lot of people, a direct flight. What better way to get your best friends together?

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