For families wanting to visit one of the world’s top-rated beaches without paying top dollar to be there, Ocean Club Resorts is the answer. This value-oriented, family-friendly resort boasts two separate properties on spectacular Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, within a five-minute shuttle ride or 15-minute stroll of each other — twice the amenities for the price of a single stay. The signature pink umbrellas dotting the sand are a beacon to guests looking for the ultimate family-friendly Grace Bay vacation.
Ocean Club, the larger of the two properties, lies at the far east end of Grace Bay, next to a long stretch of relatively undeveloped shoreline that’s great for walking and beachcombing. Ocean Club West is at the heart of Grace Bay. Those who prefer a more secluded private resort will enjoy Ocean Club; those who want to be within walking distance of amenities such as a gourmet grocery store, local restaurants and shopping will prefer Ocean Club West.
Both properties offer one, two and three-bedroom apartment-style accommodations with various views, including garden, ocean and pool. The beachfront apartments have two and three bedrooms only and offer stunning views of the turquoise water, but be forewarned that there are no elevators servicing these — navigating the stairs with beach totes and tots could prove challenging.
The two-bedroom apartments offer a king bed in the master and two twins in the second bedroom, while three-bedroom apartments offer an additional king bedroom. Each unit is equipped with a full kitchen, including a coffeemaker and toaster, as well as a screened-in porch with comfortable furniture for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres or curling up with a good book. Booster chairs, baby monitors, cribs and bed rails are all available upon request.
All the apartments are privately owned, so decor can vary. The newer, more upscale Ocean Club West offers updated kitchens, bathrooms and decor. Ocean Club is a bit more dated but does have some suites that have been recently renovated, comparable to Ocean Club West. When you book, make your accommodation priorities clear. If beachfront is more important than recently renovated, or vice versa, let them know. You may get lucky and get both.
There are three great restaurant options between the two properties: Seaside Cafe at Ocean Club West, and Cabana Bar & Grille and Opus at Ocean Club. Seaside Cafe and Cabana Bar & Grille offer alfresco, poolside and beachfront dining; bathing suits with cover-ups and sandy feet are entirely acceptable for breakfast, lunch and early dinner. However, the restaurants transform in the setting sun, with lighted palm trees and array of Caribbean cocktails that create a more elegant — though still kid-friendly — atmosphere.
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One marvelous option at Cabana Bar & Grille is “feet in the sand” dining. On Friday nights in high season (and really, any night upon request), a private table can be set up right on the beach, surrounded by tiki torches. Talk about feeling pampered!
Opus, boasting the largest wine cellar on the island, is open for dinner only and offers a slightly more formal dining experience, though separate kids’ menus and high chairs are available. All three restaurants serve lots of fresh, locally sourced seafood, and parents can enjoy a gourmet meal while their children dine on more kid-friendly fare.
It’s hard to imagine ever wanting to get out of the crystal-clear Caribbean waters of Grace Bay, but the resorts have several great pools to choose from as well. The beautiful one at Ocean Club West encircles a lushly landscaped island with cushioned swings for lounging. Ocean Club has two pools: one near the front of the resort that surrounds a small island, and another smaller one next to the Cabana Bar & Grill, perfect for parents who want to eat while their kids swim.
Each property has a fitness center as well as a spa service room that is staffed by the local Spa Tropique. There is no kids’ club, but beach toys are available upon request and there are countless activities for all ages to choose from onsite and on the island.
Turks and Caicos has the third-largest reef in the world and offers exceptional diving and snorkeling opportunities, including a shipwreck. Provo Turtle Divers at Ocean Club leads half- and full-day dives as well as PADI dive certification for adults and children. The onsite water sports desk offers guided tours to the mangroves by SUP or kayak, as well as half-day Hobie-Cat rentals and lessons. They can also coordinate windsurfing, kite surfing, and bike tours.
Provo Golf Club, a beautiful par-72 course endorsed by Brian Flaherty, is directly across the street from Ocean Club. Ocean Club Resorts is one of a handful of properties that receives a substantial discount for its guests, reducing the greens fees from $185 to $125.
Off-property, there are numerous local companies offering parasailing, scooter rentals, snorkeling trips and visits to Rock Island to see the iguanas, a huge hit for nature-loving children and adults. Our favorite, though, was horseback riding with Provo Ponies. The guides were wonderful and the horses, many rescued from dire circumstances, are quite well behaved and as competent in the water as on land. It truly was the experience of a lifetime!
Potcake Place, dedicated to rescuing, fostering and adopting out Providenciales’ stray dogs, is a must for all dog lovers. These pups love to be walked on the beach by visitors, but get there early, as the line often forms before they open. Caicos Conch Farm, the only conch farm in the world, is another huge hit with families. The highlight is meeting the two conch mascots, Sally and Jerry, who at the end of the tour very courteously come out of their shells to say hello.
Ocean Club Resorts’ front desk closes at night, and there is no room service, no turndown service and no dedicated concierge. However, the receptionist is more than willing to make recommendations for restaurants and activities and coordinate taxis.
The bell staff is cheerful and upbeat and the housekeepers exceptionally competent and sweet. The fact that there is a 65 percent return rate for guests, who often coordinate their vacations with families they met on prior visits, says it all.
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Editor’s Note: Martha experienced Ocean Club Resorts as part of a media trip. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Martha Stockhausen except where noted.
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