Travel agents and their clients who have sampled and swear by the considerable charms of the Gansevoort Hotel Group’s up-tempo, uber-hip Manhattan properties—the flagship Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC and newer Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC—have had reason to wonder how well the brand would translate to Gansevoort Turks & Caicos when it opened on the island of Providenciales in April 2009. Well…beautifully, as it turns out. Rest easy, faithful fans: The brand that famously excels in big-city chic-ness (the Meatpacking property appeared in “Sex and the City,” which says it all) manages to be equally adept at Caribbean cool.
“The resort takes that urban sense and nicely integrates it into the Caribbean feel,” says Miriam Cohen, president of MRC Travel, a Tzell affiliate. “It has a more contemporary, upscale feel than most Caribbean resorts, with a lovely clean, open look that seems Moorish in a way. Less is better. You have a sense of the sea from the moment you walk into the open lobby. It creates the right state of mind.”
Indeed, the airy lobby sets the tone of the resort’s distinctive style, looking out over a gorgeous 7,000-sq.-ft., mosaic-tiled infinity pool toward the powder sands and sun-sparkled waters of Grace Bay. Notes general manager Grant Friedman, “The first thing you see a guest do after checking in is to take a picture of the view across the pool to the ocean. It’s like their vacation begins in the lobby.”
what to expect
From the signature centerpiece pool—studded with seductive “lounging islands” where guests soak up rays, sip drinks and even dine—the property lines up its rooms and other assets on either side. On one side is Exhale Spa with a fully equipped fitness center and three therapy rooms with private shower gardens. On the other is the recently launched Stelle (pronounced “stell-eh,” or “stars” in Italian, an apt designation for restaurateur Franco Agostino’s specialties). The Italian-accented restaurant features—what else?—fresh local fish and seafood as well as irresistible homemade pastas, served in the dining room beneath twinkling chandeliers or poolside beneath the stars.
For more casual fare, a skip away near the surf is the Beach Bar and Grill, serving up day-long menu items from conch fritters to red snapper tacos, with beach and poolside catering at the ready. The perfect place for taking in the sunset. All handy to 400 ft. of the purest white beach expanse you’re ever likely to see, stretched along reef-protected waters. A night to remember? Make it a private dinner and bonfire on the beach.
The resort’s 91 high-ceilinged guest accommodations of one, two, and three bedrooms encompass elegant penthouse suites, jr. suites and studios—each with its own hypnotic ocean view and a balcony big enough to live on. Not to mention complete kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances. Look for luxe Frette towels, a flat-screen TV, a Bose iPod stereo, a DVD/CD player, and wireless Internet throughout. Bathrooms boast a separate shower and stand-alone soaking tub—a tub you fill with water that tumbles from overhead. As in, just you and a tropical waterfall. From their Italian porcelain floors to their giant windows, rooms are washed in natural light. Rates start at $350 per night.
“This resort is unusual for the island and much of the Caribbean with its sleek, contemporary design, yet all the colors are natural and relate to nature,” points out Friedman. “So, along with the contemporary architecture, there’s a softness. Every room has a view of the ocean, and you always feel you’re outside. We have 91 rooms but it feels smaller and uncrowded even when we’re full. Guests are going to get good service and not be bumped around by other people. And we’re not commercialized. You won’t find anyone trying to sell you something on the beach. It’s a concept that attracts the affluent, luxury-minded traveler.”
Those beckoning beaches—sans souvenir salesmen—that Friedman mentions serve up the usual supply of watery activity, all complimentary: kayaking, snorkeling, diving, hobie cat sailing, stand-up paddle boarding. Deep-sea fishing excursions score snapper and grouper. For spa classes and treatments without having to stray far from the sands, there’s a beachfront pavilion.
The friendly staffers seem to know every guest’s name, and no one is in a rush. Guests typically begin to surface around 10 a.m. for the breakfast buffet spotlighting Lucy’s customized omelets, and tranquility prevails…right up until Friday evening when the resort rocks a DJ and dancing well past midnight. Off property are additional options for kicking up either one’s bare feet (at the outdoor Da Conch Shack, where the many variations of conch dishes are washed down with rum punch), or one’s sandals (at Vino Tiempo, a lively wine bar in the Regent Village complex). At both locations, there’s the aforementioned DJ and dancing on Thursdays or Fridays. (Are we getting the message that these are the nights for an island-style howl?)
Regent Village, home of Vino Tiempo and similar spots, is a neighborhood of palm-lined streets and pretty shops splashed white with blue shutters, displaying jewelry, clothing, gifts and local art. In smaller amounts the same fare is to be had right at hand at the Gansevoort’s Haven boutique. Nearby are restaurants, a casino, and a golf club.
As you’ve surmised, the resort’s sophisticated-but-low-key vibe and varied range of offerings, augmented by fun activities close by, are mainly geared to grownups—and almost-grownups. Says Cohen, “It works for the young in spirit, maybe not for very young families. I wouldn’t take babies there, but it’s hip for teenagers and young adults.”
The exception is the holiday period, always a popular time for family getaways, and seasonal weekends. During these times the resort converts its small meeting space to the complimentary kids’ club for ages 3-12, action central for crafts, cookie-making, and evening movies, and sections off a beach area for water relays, concocting bonfire smores, and conducting treasure hunts.
hanging with celebs
No matter the time of year, the Turks & Caicos—a 40-island-and-cays (only eight are inhabited) chain of which Providenciales (aka “Provo”) is the tourism hub—are enjoying a wave of discovery. If American vacationers have been slower to become aware of its assets than their neighbors to the north—Canadian snowbirds have been swooping in for many years—they are rapidly playing catch-up.
How remote is it? Not so much. Not when U.S. dollars are the currency. Not when you spy Sarah Jessica Parker awaiting a flight in the tiny seating area at the Provo airport. Some 575 miles southeast of Miami, the islands are a convenient destination for much of the population, not to mention a temptingly easy hop for East Coasters.
Says Jesica Schiller of First in Service Entertainment, “As a New York City travel agent, I’m quick to suggest the Gansevoort resort to clients. In four hours you can fly nonstop to Turks, check-in, drop your bags off, and be on the breathtaking white sand beach sipping a cocktail. The property is only about a 15-minute drive from the airport. I would recommend the Gansevoort to the younger adult crowd as well as couples.”
For those couples with romance on their minds, the resort is a given for honeymoons, babymoons, and unforgettable getaways. “I was lucky enough to witness a wedding on the beach while there,” Schiller says, “and would recommend the resort to any client looking for a destination wedding site.”
Ten North American cities offer direct flights to Providenciales—Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Montreal, New York City (JFK), Ottawa, Philadelphia and Toronto—on a variety of carriers, including American Airlines, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and US Airways.
Gansevoort Turks & Caicos: (888) 844-5986; gansevoortturksandcaicos.com