A Tale of Two Turks – Amanyara and COMO Parrot Cay

Touch down on Providenciales, the getaway to the 40 low-lying coral cays archipelago of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a mere two hours flights from Miami, and find a tropical Caribbean playground for beach lovers and A-listers filled with sophisticated luxury properties and some of the clearest, most mesmerizing turquoise waters on the globe.

The newest addition to the Turks and Caicos is The Shore Club with its cabana-lined pools and Japanese-Peruvian restaurant beneath steel lotus flower waves cut into the ceiling – so dramatic and original it is soon to be featured in Architectural Digest this Fall. On Long Bay Beach, I witnessed the tide recede every morning in front of the hotel for almost three miles allowing guests to wade out to a ship wreck two miles off shore. For the ultimate in private residential seaside living, the new North Shore Beach Enclave is the hottest ticket right now with nine luxurious contemporary beachfront and ocean view villas. The perpetually popular old classics along Grace Bay still exist but my absolute favourite choices in the Turks and Caicos are two properties which stand alone and, literally, stand apart from the rest.

Amanyara – Bali meets Caribbean

Sipping butler delivered Dom Perignon as I float in my villa’s dark turquoise infinity pool spilling over into a massive green pond sprinkled with ducks and absolute serenity, I muse, “Isn’t Bali magnificent?” But wait, I shake my head back to reality. I’m in the CARIBBEAN. Who knew?

Amanyara sits on the peaceful northwest corner of the island of the Providenciales in a nature reserve in complete seclusion and what feels like another world – or rather another continent. The grounds and architecture styles are all Asia influenced haute design but the beach which skirts the property on one end is all Caribbean- turquoise water and white sand. Amanyara has become the hotspot for escapists and celebrities like Donatella Versace who want to disappear. Isolated from all other Turks and Caicos properties on the island, each villa is even unmarked on the map so every guest is afforded total privacy. I literally got lost every time I attempted to find my sprawling 4 bedroom designer villa compound seemingly driving in circles amongst the labyrinth of pathways framed by dense coastal vegetation. This pristine environment is protected by the Marine National Park where you’ll find some of the world’s best wall and reef diving right offshore Amanyara. Bonus? An onsite naturalist will pick you up directly from the private beach to go snorkelling in the marine park with no other boats in sight.

During a sunset beach barbecue dinner hosted by Mario Franck and his team at Amanyara, I learned of how he elevated this Turks gem to become the highest grossing property in the entire Aman portfolio.

When a friend of mine who is a self-professed Aman junkie saw my Instagram post lazing in the Amanyara pool she exclaimed with sheer envy, “That Aman is on my bucket list!” Whether you are a long-time Aman enthusiast or a first timer to the exclusive brand, the staff makes you feel like a part of the club ensuring no wish is too big or too small. Speaking of the ‘club’ – you might as well be in a professional athletic club as the sporting offers at Amanyara are over the top from traditional boxing, yoga, volleyball, golf simulators, tennis, and more to the outdoor options of nature hiking, fishing, turtle tagging, snorkelling and scuba diving. For back to the basics, toes in the sand chill out time with no exercise required, look no farther than Amanyara’s private beach.

The actual Beach Club restaurant lies only steps from the sand with a menu to suit all taste buds. Its elegant bar area overlooking the water is more St. Tropez suave than Caribbean laissez-faire. So be sure to dress the part!

COMO Parrot Cay – Christie Brinkley Chic

Rumbling along white stone and sand paths in a golf cart (no cars on this private island) passing Keith Richards and Christie Brinkley’s beachfront villas, I arrive at Bruce Willis’s residence. Growing up in the ‘Moonlighting’ era when Bruce first became famous with his cheeky onscreen chemistry with Cybill Shepherd, I’m tickled. His island home is currently undergoing a $10 million renovation including adding an Olympic size pool. With 16 bedrooms and the largest private beach front on the island, Bruce’s pad rents for a whopping $55,000 per night in high season available through COMO Parrot Cay. High dollar but what a spot for a wedding!

Only accessible by a 25 minute yacht jaunt from the mainland, COMO Parrot Cay sits on its own private island on over a thousand rolling acres. Very airy, very tropical, very Caribbean. Total opposite of Amanyara. On my first day, after getting settled in my three bedroom COMO Villa, I went straight to practice yoga and get a signature treatment at the spa. After all, COMO is a brand renowned for wellness and holistic rejuvenation and this Turks & Caicos Shambhala retreat defines the embodiment of a healthy holiday. The spa was as expected, exceptional and peaceful, almost spiritual, with holistic Asian-inspired treatments from Ayurveda to aromatherapy in facilities raised over the North Caicos Channel with sweeping views of the wetlands. I practiced yoga in the dedicated yoga pavilion perched high on a cliff overlooking the meandering tributaries of turquoise sea. Christina Ong, owner of COMO Hotels & Resort, designed COMO Shambhala out of her personal pursuit for a real and meaningful spa experience. From ancient Buddhist texts, Shambhala means “sacred place of bliss.” And this it was.

Camilla Freeman- Topper, Creative Director of iconic Australian fashion label Camilla and Marc recently needed a place to unwind post business trip in America and chose COMO Parrot Cay. Camilla said, “After a busy week working in New York with very little sleep, I immediately felt relaxed when I arrived at Parrot Cay. The crystal turquoise blue waters were as magical as the spa – they have some outstanding massage therapists.”

The island and property is sprawling, so you have a real sense of space to wander and decompress. All rooms, suites and beach villas have simple white beach chic interiors accented with Balinese furniture and floor to ceiling sliding glass doors exposing the ocean or lush tropical foliage.

The theme of absolute wellness permeates to the world-class healthy cuisine. COMO Shambhala Cuisine is a special menu that features raw foods rich in vitamins and minerals, mainly vegetarian options and steamed fish. A smoothie addict myself, the smoothie selection and juice cleansers made my heart sing and tastebuds pop. Innovative cuisine theme nights were a standout. The most unusual and decadent theme night dining extravaganza? Lotus – the poolside alfresco restaurant was transformed into an Asian market showcasing the flavors of Southeast Asia from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand. For a moment I felt like I was back at Amanyara!

Turks Tips:
Take a morning horseback ride on the beach with Provo Ponies or tour Caicos Conch Farm followed up by lunch of fresh citrus conch salad lightly battered and fried at Da Conch Shack. For fine dining for dinner try Coco Bistro (need to book 2 months in advance), Coyova, Parallel 23 or Seven.

by Kimberly Rosbe, Executive Edge Travel’s Marketing & Communications Manager

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