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Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Atlanta, Georgia
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Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

O.k. folks, I'll try to keep this shorter than last year's report, but no promises. :-) I'm also keeping it all on this thread, with a break here and there.

Our family of four (includes two sons 13 & 8) visited the T&C June 7-14. This was our ninth (if I'm counting correctly) visit during the past nine years.

ACCOMMODATIONS:

The Turks & Caicos Club was our choice this year for the third time.

Quite frankly, I'm at a loss for words to describe how charming and hospitable Rebecca (the resort owner) and her staff are.

As I've said before, The T&C Club is unique among the many wonderful resort choices Provo offers. Although the accommodations are condo-style, it is actually a hotel -- no units are privately owned. There are only 21 suites, and it exudes the charm of a family-owned / operated bed & breakfast.

The T&C Club does not offer the amenities of a AAA 5-diamond resort (no resort on Provo does), but I will gladly put their front office and housekeeping staffs up against any 5-diamond resort anywhere in the world -- seriously.

Here are some examples:

Every staff member who worked there last year (front office, housekeeping, restaurant, beach/pool, etc.) remembered us and made a point to welcome us back. Wow!

One day, I asked Abdul (front office) if he would make a couple of dinner reservations -- one restaurant at 7:00, another at 8:00 pm. He later came out to the pool to apologize and told me that he was only able to get reservations each night at 7:30. I told him that was fine, no problem. Later that day, he came back out to the beach to tell me that he had been calling the restaurants and was able to convince them to change our reservations to the times we originally wanted. Wow!

Our housekeeper asked us everyday if we were enjoying our vacation and if there was anything she could do for us. On our last day, she told us how much she enjoyed cleaning for us, and hoped that we would come back again next year. Wow!

I'm not going into details about the rooms or resort facilities in my report, but will be happy to answer any questions.

BTW, the resort exercise facility is currently being renovated with new equipment, televisions and hard-wood floors. I missed it when I decided to run to Turtle Cove Marina the first morning, and walked back on the beach -- whew, tough workout!

RESTAURANTS:

The ten pounds I lost before vacation are now just a memory as I was soon up to my eye-balls in steamed fish, conch, peas & rice, plantains, etc. :-) We enjoyed our usual unorthodox mix of upscale fusion restaurants, along with great local spots.

Upscale:

Bay Bistro -- Great service, delicious dinners. Very creative dishes. Wonderful beachfront atmosphere.

Coco Bistro -- Arguably the best "all-around" restaurant on the island. There may be better high-end restaurants, but this one's a consistent "people pleaser."

Magnolia -- The sunset view and rare tuna alone make this a winner. Boy, do I love that tuna!

Caicos Cafe -- A little more casual. Family-owned / operated. Excellent service and grilled grouper that's to die for. The operative word for the spicy conch creole is "spicy." I loved it, but beware.

Local Authentic Caribbean "Island Food:"

Bonnies -- A sports bar with very good local take-out. Picked up dinner the first night, and lunch another day. The owner is fun to talk to, and the patrons take their billiards seriously. Great steamed fish and conch. Burger and fries for our 8-year-old.

Da Conch Shack -- Still a must-do for visitors. The best conch salad and fritters on the island. Other dishes are o.k, but not the level of the salad and fritters, IMO. Remember, it's all about conch here.

Smokey's on da Bay -- Love, love, love this place. My son and I made a point to go there for lunch one day, because they had closed early the night before. Sat outside and enjoyed incredible meals. Washed mine down with a cold Presidente while the bottom dropped out of the sky. What rain? I found Heaven!

Club Sodax -- Another sports bar. Great place for take-out lunch, or eat inside (a/c and smoke-free). We all had steamed fish, peas & rice, and plantains brought back to the beach for lunch one day.

Horse-eye Jack's -- You'll need to read the chalkboard for the local specials. We were surprised by how good the steamed fish was -- best we had all week. Menu is more Americanized.

Sailing Paradise -- First time there, and we really enjoyed it. A large family of Belongers shared the back deck with us. Great food and fun.

Nell's -- North Caicos. This one was a real "find." I'll explain later when I tell you about our excursions.

More to come...

Canandaigua, New...
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1. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

I am pleased to see that you are now an expert!

And true to form.... great food details. I have always thought that you should have been the "food guy" for TCI.

Keep the information coming!

Mike

Pittsburgh...
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2. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Carib, Interesting news as I didn't realize that Turks and Caicos Club was privately owned and the resort owner is on site... wow, nice. Anytime an owner is working along with the employees, there is always better service and the needs of the traveler gets met. I was hoping you would tell us what you had to eat at each restaurant (was that 10 lbs worth it :-)? What all resorts have you stayed at in the past? I am anxious to hear more about your trip.

Connecticut
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3. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Desi, True to form, I love your details on your food. I am glad that T & C C did not disappoint, it really does seem like "home away from home" for your family.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

lovetotravel, we've stayed at Ocean Club West (4X), Royal West Indies, Coral Gardens, and T&C Club (3X).

OMG, I could start another thread on everything we had to eat. :-) Having lived many years along the coast, we love fresh seafood, and tend to over-indulge when given the chance. Yes, we can order seafood where we now live in the Atlanta area, but anyone who's ever lived along the coast knows that inland and coastal seafood just don't compare.

For the most part, we fed the 8-year-old dinner at the condo, then let him order dessert at the more upscale restaurants. Unfortunately, my 13-year-old (the one who eats ANYTHING and EVERYTHING) now thinks he's too old for that, and wants to order from the menus. It kills me to watch him devour a $30 entree in three minutes, then ask what's for dessert. :-(

Some highlights: Loved the grouper (special) and snapper (menu) at Bay Bistro. My son also enjoyed his curry conch; the grilled grouper and sauteed yellowtail (awesome) at Caicos Cafe; the mixed green salad and conch two-way appetiser at Coco Bistro; and of course the seared tuna at Magnolia.

Somehow, I found myself on a mission to find the best steamed fish on the island from all the local spots. The great thing about ordering steamed fish is that everyone seems to prepare it differently -- you never eat the same dish twice. So, here were my "unofficial" results (BTW, some places offer it fillet-style, but I prefer mine bone-in):

1. Horse-eye Jack's -- They add just a touch of coconut milk to the simmering process that really sets it off.

2. Tie, Bonnies and Sailing Paradise.

3. Smokey's on da Bay

4. Club Sodax

Not only do the local places serve terrific food, but prices are much more reasonable than the resort-oriented restaurants. Usually $10 - 18 per plate. They also do not charge tax.

For example, Smokey's "chalkboard" offers a choice of six different entrees, three kinds of rice, and six side items to choose from. I ordered steamed fish, crab & rice, plantains, and a salad for $16. My son had bbq ribs, peas & rice, cole slaw and vegetables for $12.

Darn, I meant to write about excursions this morning, but as usual I went off on one of my food tangents. Sorry 'bout that. :-)

Excursions coming up...I promise...

Westport, CT
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5. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Thanks for your trip report. We too stayed at the Turks & Caicos Club mostly from TA forum advice including yours and had a delightful time. Found the staff friendly and available but not fawning. Good food at Simba and just total relaxation.

savannah
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6. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Love the report and information. We've considered T&C Club for our next trip back -- seems like it is up our alley. How was the construction of the two new resorts next to TC club?

Westport, CT
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7. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

The WEst Bay Club condos were finished when were there. The other construction was further east and didn't bother us. Closest to coral gardens by the snorkeling. It was a peaceful experience for us and we loved Turks and Caicos CLub.

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Agree with scubadiver00.

Construction at Toscana, next to Coral Gardens is in full swing, but it didn't bother us at all. However, you can hear some noise from the project, so if that's a major concern for potential visitors, they may want to wait 6-8 months for the work to move inside.

West Bay Club is in the soft-opening stage, and will have its grand opening in July. Wymara is under construction on the other side of West Bay Club, but also a non-issue for guests of the T&C Club.

BTW, poor Coral Gardens Resort looks pretty sad squeezed between Toscana and Windsong. I'm sure long-time visitors can remember when it was considered a "jewel" on the beach. Ahh, progress.

Massachusetts
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9. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Carib...Great report...as always these reports make me a bit melancholy for T&C.

We also loved the T&C Club two years ago. I was wondering if the new resorts on both sides will change the flavor of the beach at T&C Club. It was so private and quiet when we were there. I can't help but think it would become much busier.

Rebecca is definitely an asset and a delight!

Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Our latest TCI adventure, June 7-14

Carpe, not for now because there are still vacant lots on both sides of the T&C Club. At this point, the owners have no plans to sell the land, but of course that will change one day.

Also, West Bay Club and Toscana are not large properties. Let's hope that trend continues.

Back to the report...

This year, we decided to create our own excursion, and had a blast (thank you, TripAdvisor members for all the great tips). Here's what happened:

We left the resort one morning at 6:00 a.m., and drove to Leeward Marina. The ferry to North Caicos was leaving at 6:30 a.m., and we needed to be on it.

Oops, got to Leeward Marina at 6:20, and realized that someone took the marina. Everything was closed, abandoned. Ahh, that's right, they moved the marina since last year! But where?

6:25 a.m., I spotted a Belonger walking down the road and asked in shear panic, "Where did they move the marina? How do I get there?"

"Conch Farm," he replied.

"Thank you," I said, and floored the gas of my Japanese 4-cylinder rental car for all it could give me.

Well, we made it to the ferry with one minute to spare. The boat was already untied, and yes, they do run on schedule. Whew!

Now, the reason it was so important that we made the 6:30 ferry was because I had arranged for a morning fishing charter with Capt. Jay of the Bottle Creek Lodge. Also, Mark from Pelican Car Rentals was waiting on the other side with our island exploration vehicle, i.e. the beat-up Toyota.

Turned out both Mark and Capt Jay were there to greet us at the Sandy Point Marina, Mark with the car, and Capt. Jay with his 40-foot fishing boat. Oh, and I almost forgot "J.D.," Capt. Jay's first mate.

Mark is a really nice man. No paper work, cash only. You pay him $75, he gives you the key, you leave the car unlocked with the key under the mat when you're done. Simple as that.

Capt. Jay and "J.D." were great. We arranged a short 3-hour bottom-fishing trip, because anything longer is just too much for our 8-year-old. Fishing was just o.k. -- four grouper and a couple of snappers. I fought a shark for a while until he bit through the line. Still, we had a good time.

After fishing, we were all pretty hungry, so it was off to Club Titters (a North Caicos local favorite)for lunch. There were two ladies sitting at a table when we walked in. We must have looked like aliens from Mars because they don't see too many visitors.

We sat down and order soft drinks. My wife asked the lady what they had for lunch.

"Soup," she replied.

"You only have soup?" we asked.

"I'm sorry, that's all we have today." She answered.

Then, a man walked out from the kitchen and said, "I'm so sorry that we only have soup, but I haven't had time to go fishing today."

We all got a big laugh, paid for our soft drinks, and headed down the road to another roadside stand I saw earlier.

Nell's place is a small roadside stand, about half the size of a trailer. She had bbq ribs and stewed chicken on her menu that day, along with a couple of shaded picnic tables. Perfect! The food was awesome and Nell was as nice as she could be. It was like having lunch with your grandmother or favorite aunt.

After eating, we stopped by to gaze at the pink flamingos, then crossed the new causeway (beautiful drive) to Middle Caicos. Spent most of the afternoon on Mudjin Harbor (the prettiest beach in all the T&C, IMO, as is the island). We had visited the caves on a previous trip, so "been there, done that."

Stopped by the fairly new St. Charles resort on our way back to North Caicos. It's obvious that they are having lots of facilities problems, especially the pool complex which was closed and basically green. We were told the pools have never worked properly since they opened.

Boarded the ferry back that evening and ended a long day of activity.

When we arrived on Provo, we were surprised to learn that a friend had arranged for us to go on the 1/2 day Caicos Dream Tours excursion as a gift. What a nice surprise! I can now agree with previous posters and highly recommend this excursion.

Shawn was our guide and did a terrific job. As it turns out, Shawn is the son and step-son of two fishing guides we had in the past, Pringles and the late Godfrey Smith. They're all members of the Silver Deep Arthur Dean family. Between that and Shawn's Rastafarian beliefs, Star Island, and other local issues, we had lots to talk about. He's really an interesting and very nice young man.

If anyone has ever watched a conch being cleaned, you'll understand this -- I'm happy to report the my two sons and I all stepped forward and ate the Crystalline Style. It was the ultimate in male bonding, and thoroughly grossed out my wife. :-) BTW, the aphrodisiac myth is just that. :-(

More later...