By Tim Cotroneo
Providenciales is the most inhabited of the 38 islands and cays that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In 1990 there were but four hotels on Providenciales’ Grace Bay Beach, a five-mile-long beach that within two decades would place the Turks and Caicos on the worldwide vacation map.
The developers of the Ocean Club Resort strategically chose to build their hotel on the far eastern edge of Grace Bay.
Providenciales International Airport (IATA code PLS) is located about 15 minutes’ drive from the western edge of Grace Bay Beach.
So why did the Ocean Club Resort’s developers choose to park their hotel at the eastern end of the beach, when they could have placed it a 10-minute drive closer to the airport?
According to the original owners, their strategy in locating the hotel was based on providing for its guests optimal views of the Turks and Caicos sunsets. That’s a big deal when choosing a Caribbean vacation.
Not only that, but the Ocean Club Resort’s beach expanse is one of the largest on the entire length of Grace Bay Beach. Big deal number two.
Fast-forward almost three decades and there are now two dozen hotels on Grace Bay Beach.
Many of these newer hotels fall into the luxury category and their nightly price tags can soar into the thousands.
By comparison, Ocean Club has maintained its charm and kept its suite rates manageable by Turks and Caicos standards.
The first thing a guest notes upon arriving at the Ocean Club is a Garden-of-Eden quality to the property’s entrance and its grounds leading up to the beach. The resort’s welcome area is usually staffed by three Providenciales-born hoteliers.
Check-in is typically a five minute formality, if you have booked online in advance.
Ocean Club was the first resort to bring condo-style living to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Some suites are simply studios, but the majority of the resort’s condos are one-to-three-bedroom accommodations which include full kitchens and living areas.
On an island where everything is shipped in, food prices can be steep. So saving money by occasionally dining in for breakfast or lunch makes good sense.
The good news is that most guests enjoy tremendous ocean views from the balconies of their screened-in porches.
Ocean Club Resort’s ambience can best be described as ‘Caribbean comfortable’. Its grounds and the interiors of its condos are usually bordering on immaculate.
Many of the condos are owned by U.S. and Canadian residents for investment purposes. The 1,200-to-1,900-square-foot condos adhere to a strict living standard that is updated annually.
There is a lack of pretense to the resort, the staff, and the guests. Near-perfect year-round temperatures tend to make one smile often.
Its beautifully landscaped property is spacious: one would need to be in adequate shape to walk from the entrance, past the pools, past the condo buildings, past the Cabana Bar alfresco restaurant and ultimately to Grace Bay Beach.
Note that the three-story condos do not have elevator service.
The Ocean Club is a 20-minute drive along the Leeward Highway from Providenciales International Airport.
Vehicles must drive on the left side of the road – the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom – and a rental car is recommended for exploring the island.
Five minutes’ drive from Ocean Club there is an upscale grocery store for stocking up on essentials.
For vacationers without a rental car, the resort provides free use of bicycles and a complimentary shuttle that travels to Ocean Club West, its sister property located near the center of Providenciales’ retail shopping area.
The Ocean Club Resort’s Cabana Bar restaurant is literally steps from the Caribbean Sea. This open-air bistro’s menu features a wide range of seafood entrees, and musical entertainment is offered four nights a week.
Ocean Club’s fine dining option is the Opus Restaurant. Opus’ menu changes every night and the restaurant has a huge selection of wines and rums. Opus is a great venue for special occasions. Guests may also dine at Solana, the new Teppanyaki restaurant at Ocean Club West.
Amenities at the Ocean Club Resort include a workout area, a dive shop, a tennis court, two pools, barbecue grills, and access to a spa – which is located at Ocean Club West.
The resort’s staff can arrange for snorkeling and fishing excursions. Provo Golf Club is a five-minute walk across the street from Ocean Club.
Of course, the main reason to stay at Ocean Club is its access to Grace Bay Beach. For those who have yet to visit Providenciales and decide to visit the Ocean Club Resort, you’ll discover why the Ocean Club’s developers chose this pristine locale back in 1990.
Nightly rates start at $259 for a studio, in low season. To book accommodations call 649-946-5880 or visit www.oceanclubresorts.com.
The resort’s postal address is Ocean Club East, 118 Grace Bay Road, Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ.
Tim Cotroneo is a freelance writer specializing in Caribbean travel, business, and golf. He is the travel writer for American Business Owner magazine, a regular contributor to Luxury Travel magazine, and the contributing editor for Travel Dreams magazine.