Wow! We just returned last week from a fantastic trip to Providenciales and are suffering post-Provo blues. I read this forum almost every day the past 2 months in preparation for our trip, so I'd like to give something back with a report of how it went.
Accommodation: We stayed in a garden level 1 bedroom suite at the Alexandra. We've done the typical resort room thing with our son and it doesn't make for fun evenings for mom and dad when he goes to bed, and the afternoon nap time can get a little long sitting quietly until the baby wakes up. Staying at the Alexandra we could run home after dinner, put him to bed, and hang out on our terrace or living room with a glass of wine after sending my husband down to Mango Reef to pick up dessert, and spend some time alone together. And with 1.5 bathrooms it was great because we didn't have to disturb the baby in the bedroom area after he was sleeping. Afternoon naps were also a non-issue as my sweet husband would hang out on the terrace to listen for the baby while I enjoyed the beach or the pool in solitude! Having the full kitchen was nice because we kept liquor, beer, snacks, breakfast food etc. in the room. We saw children at most of the properties up and down the beach, so I think there are probably plenty of options for families on Grace Bay, which is part of the reason T&C gets a heavy nod from me for being a fabulous family destination.
Anyway, back to the Alexandra...the price was very good for a 1 bedroom suite and I was a little nervous going into it that it would be a "you get what you pay for" situation, but it ended up being great! Honestly, I was surprised at the services provided, like a concierge, twice daily housekeeping, etc. They even did our dishes for us, including any sippy cups we left sitting out. We wanted the ground level as we were toting a baby and his gear around and didn't want to always be dragging it up and down the steps or elevator. But the beachfront rooms look fabulous and I'd love to stay in one of those. The only negatives I can think of was there was a corner of the bedroom that smelled overwhelmingly of mildew, some areas of the floor could have used some re-grouting and a thorough scrubbing, and the bed linens need a refreshment- including the comforter. The room had floor to ceiling windows/sliding glass doors, a small living area with a couch, two chairs and coffee table, table with seating for 4 and a breakfast bar with stools in the kitchen. The kitchen had full sized appliances that looked to be almost new. The bedroom had a queen sized bed, a large closet, another sliding glass door to the terrace, the master bathroom had a separate tub, shower, and dual sinks, and the half bath was just that- a toilet and pedestal sink. And the terrace had a table for 4 and two lounge chairs. It was plenty of room for the 2.5 of us. I wasn't in love with the furniture, but liked the cute artwork on the walls. We didn't use the TVs, but there were one in the bedroom and one in the living room and a DVD player too. Here's a random fact: salt and pepper were not provided, so bring some of your own from home.
Beach: It's accolades are well deserved. The days the water is calm, it's like glass and the colors and clarity are just stunning. We had a couple of days the wind picked up and the water was a little wild and practically swallowed up the beach area at a few hotels. The beachfront at the Alexandra is perfect- lots of generously spaced beach chairs, nice wide stretch of sand to spread them out, and a gentle slope down to the water. After all our beachcoming up and down Grace Bay (from Ocean Club West up to Gansevoort), we liked the beach from Point Grace down to the Alexandra. We never had an issue finding an umbrella at any time of day and the beach attendant was usually available to help. There was also sporadic drink service (possibly food as well- we didn't ask) on the beach. The beachfront was not very crowded at any resorts we walked past, save for Beaches, where there were people saving chairs during my 6:30 a.m. walks.
Dining: My husband and I enjoy fine dining but were hesitant to take our busy child places where the meal would drag on, not to mention detract from the romantic atmosphere couples were seeking. So we didn't get to try everywhere we would have liked. We ate early and there were plenty of other small children everywhere and our son was graciously welcomed. Price-wise things were on par with what I expected for a small island. Our most expensive meal was at Coco Bistro, which was around $150 for 4 cocktails, 2 entrees and an appetizer, but most were less than half that. The food was generally very good and we were extremely happy with the dining options. We had a hard time choosing just one place for dinner each evening!
Our favorites in order from favorite to least favorite were:
-Bay Bistro: This was my husband's second favorite, but my first. And because I'm writing the trip report, I put it on the top of the list. The atmosphere, food, and service were all fantastic! My blackened mahi and my husbands boulibasse were delicious. The service was so incredibly genuine and they doted on our baby the whole meal. I loved that they were super casual and warm, but professional at the same time.
-Coco Bistro: My husband is always hesitant to order steak anywhere outside the states as he has had some questionable cuts of meat or at restaurants other places, or the meat has been ill-prepared. While the midwest doesn't do some things well, we definitely know how to cook a steak, so my husband's 'beef snobbery' is justified! But he was very pleased with the tenderloin he ordered at Coco. I had the conch ravioli, which was perfectly portioned and spicy. The restaurant is gorgeous and the atmosphere makes for a fun evening out.
-da Conch Shack: We enjoyed it so much the first time around we went for another lunch later in the week. The conch fritters are phenomenal and hopefully fat free (ha!). Both times we had great service and obviously the setting is so unique and really puts you in an island state of mind. Don't miss this one if you're planing a trip to T&C.
-Flamingo Cafe: Loved it! The night we went it appeared the restaurant was being run by teenagers, so I wouldn't call this a professional dining establishment, but the service was very sweet and the food was authentic and delicious- my chicken curry tasted as though it had been simmering for days it was so fall-off-the-bone good, and my husband's coconut shrimp was also fantastic. Make sure to ask for recommendations because our server had a few that were not on the menu. The menu has things listed simply like "chicken" or "grouper" or whatever, so you have to ask how it's prepared that day. We missed the sign- or it doesn't exist- indicating it was the "Flamingo Cafe", so look for the sign saying "Cultural Center" or something like that. Oh, and there was a really strong unpleasant sewage smell we noticed after we ordered, but thankfully it was temporary, only lasting until our food came. Hopefully that doesn't happen often.
-Hemingways: The service was less than polished, but we were both pleased with the food. My husband had the wahoo special and I had the thai chicken curry and both were tasty, as was the key lime pie and Caicos rum coffee. We loved the setting and the resort was a pretty place to walk the baby around when he started getting antsy.
-Sharkbites: Surprisingly the food was pretty decent! I wanted to go here because I thought our son would like to see the sharks, but apparently they don't come out until later in the evening, so that was a bummer. But my salad and my husband's almond crusted grouper were good (I thought the crust on my husband's fish was too sweet, but he liked it). It is sort of a sports bar atmosphere, but the outside tables have a great view of the marina.
-Somewhere on the beach: We walked down the beach for our first meal on the island and had a good experience. We both had sandwiches, which really hit the spot after a long day of travel. Their rum punch is refreshing as well.
-Pizza pizza: My husband loved this one. I liked the wood-fired crust, but the sauce was a bit bland for my taste. Overall, though, a great deal and a nice casual meal.
-Greenbean cafe: I ordered a salad with avocado and there was one marble sized bite on the whole thing :( Bummer. My husband's wrap was good. I would definitely go again, but order something else.
-Mango Reef: Sadly our experiences here were very average, particularly our one dinner there. We both lamented that we perhaps ordered the wrong things, but my tuna steak tasted like a cooking experiment we had at home that went wrong. We did grab dessert here several times, which were tasty (try the opera cake), but I can't give this one a hearty endorsement. Obviously the setting is gorgeous and the smells wafting from the kitchen were always wonderful, but they just didn't execute the night we were there.
Other notes: We rented a car from Grace Bay car rental for our entire trip and I highly recommend them. The staff were a fun group of people and the car was basic, but honestly I like to have well-loved rental cars because there's less chance of us leaving our mark on it. I definitely recommend getting a car, as driving on the island is not that difficult (so I'm told by my husband; I didn't drive), and it really allows for full freedom. They forgot to tell us we would need to pay $4 in cash to leave the airport parking lot so we were scrambling for our wallets (packed in bags in the back) when we got to the booth. So have some cash available in the front seat!
We did far less exploring than I had planned, as we were really loving Grace Bay and found it hard to tear ourselves away. I guess we will have to go back!! We visited Sapodilla Bay one morning and it was so awesome for our son! He loved crawling around in the water and was really excited about it. If you have a baby or small children they will love it. I feel dumb admitting this but we looked for Taylor Bay, and couldn't find it :( And the people we asked on the road couldn't tell us where the public access was and by this point we were hungry, so we will save that for next time.
I recommend a visit Flavors of the Turks and Caicos at the Regent shopping village. We enjoyed their samples and naturally came home with a huge bag of stuff.
We loved the T&C locals, who were some of the friendliest and most helpful we've encountered in the Caribbean. There were no vendors on the beach, save for one parasailing guy, but otherwise you won't be hassled with hair braiding, massages, etc.
If you have any questions let me know!
Here are a few pictures...I haven't finished uploading them yet, so these will have to do...Sorry to have to link them one by one. I know it's annoying: