dinner at seven at seven
Seven Stars Resort’s main restaurant, called Seven (of course), features handsome wood paneling, flattering lighting, white tablecloth settings, and a new outdoor dining space in a garden with sunshades. At breakfast, chef Josu Martin’s complimentary buffet includes eggs, meats, cereal, fruit, and home-baked pastries (and/or order pancakes or waffles); the meatiness of the roasted mushrooms and tomatoes bespeaks the attention to details.
Sand Dollar, a blue mosaic bar by the pool, and the Deck Bar, another of Patterson’s innovations, serve simple burgers as well as specialties like the tuna wrap with Asian spicing, and a piquant conch salad presented in a polished conch shell. There’s live music at the Deck Bar six nights a week and a Sunday beach BBQ with a bonfire.
The wait staff is prompt and knowledgeable about everything from the sourcing of the shrimp to the four sea salts on the table. Ah, staffing: that’s where Patterson made another major change.
As Guillot explains, “Ken wanted Seven Stars to be the best resort in the Caribbean, and that meant it needed to better serve guests who weren’t owners.” Patterson expanded the staff from about 60 to 200, luring some from other world-class resorts and hiring locals as well, albeit in an unorthodox way. “When we hire local staff, we don’t look much at what they’ve done before, but at their attitude,” he says. “If someone has a positive and friendly manner, we will train them in the skills they need.”
It works. When a guest came back from a sailing lesson, he was surprised to learn that his (excellent) instructor had never sailed before working at Seven Stars Resort. When another guest dislodged a temporary crown, a staffer immediately drove her to a good dentist who cemented the cap back in. These incidents wouldn’t surprise Jennifer Byrne, president of The Tropical Traveler agency in Malvern, PA. “I’ve visited Seven Stars several times, and what’s apparent is not only their attention to every architectural detail, but their outstanding service. My clients are a discerning bunch, and Seven Stars Grace Bay has exceeded their expectations time and again.”
Rates start at $293 for a Junior Suite Garden View, or $360 for an Ocean View Junior Suite Ocean View; a 4-night stay includes a $100 resort credit. (In high season those suites cost $733 and $906, respectively.) There are also specials, and travel agents earn 10 percent commission. Additional beds for children cost $50 a night.
You could use Galileo or GDS for booking, but it pays to contact sales director Yngrit Reynoso directly (649-941-7777; firstname.lastname@example.org). FYI, Reynoso returns phone calls and e-mails in a New York minute, and she can connect clients with a complimentary wedding coordinator.
beyond the stars
Seven Stars can arrange scuba lessons and/or dive trips to Provo’s Northwest Point, the wrecks near Salt Cay, and other great dive sites. Snuba is available for non-divers, as are glass-bottom boat tours. Kayak trips through the mangroves reveal great blue herons, flamingos, pelicans, and other large birds. Horseback rides end just the way they should—with a trot in the surf—and the Provo Golf and Country Club offers championship golf.
The entire west Atlantic Ocean herd of humpbacks passes Provo en-route to its nearby breeding grounds from January through April. These whales are 50-ft. long, singing acrobats, so a whale-watching tour is a must. For anglers, the deep-sea, reef and bone-fishing off Providenciales is terrific. Lounging by the pool, a guest pulls out his iPhone to show a photo of his 11-year-old son. The boy is posing with a 200-pound shark he’d caught and released just that morning.
Seven Stars Resort: (866) 570-7777; sevenstarsgracebay.com