Paradise extraordinaire in Turks & Caicos
Pinch me. I’m in a paradise extraordinaire, enveloped in a beautiful dream, where crystal turquoise waters and pristine white sugar sands stretch a 12-mile span. Thankfully, the beauty surrounding me is tangible -- this is not a dream, but where Grace Bay Beach sets the stage for a visit to the luxurious Regent Palms in Providenciales.
The Lucayan Indians who discovered Turks & Caicos Islands circa AD 750 couldn’t have known such ultra-luxury. Neither could the pirates, “white gold” salt rakers and cotton-picking slaves that shaped the history surrounding more than 40 islands and cays that comprise Turks & Caicos Islands, part of the British West Indies and just 600 miles southeast of Miami.
My stay at the Regent Palms resort begins in a quiet spot on the patio outside my condo suite. Inside, I’ve got a full kitchen, living and dining rooms and a bedroom with sliding doors that open to an ocean view. Settled on a cozy lounge bed, this patio is where I head each morning to greet the day, and what a greeting I get -- a picturesque sky of blue that blends down to the azure sea in a palette of serenity. Breakfast is the island specialty: Provo Hash, with bite-size morsels of Caribbean lobster mixed with potatoes and eggs, best enjoyed on the patio before or after a yoga class or long walk along the beach.
Options on how to spend your days in paradise include time spent at the Regent Spa, a 26,000 square foot facility spread over an acre, with individual treatment rooms accented with a water view by day and fire by night. It’s no surprise this spa was awarded the “World’s Leading Spa Resort 2012” in the World Travel Awards. East meets west signature treatments include an Asian Bamboo Massage and Zareeba treatment, the latter indigenous to the island, where herbal steam is inhaled before a toxin-releasing massage sets your body straight. Following a treatment, you can enjoy a spa lunch of healthful offerings on site: watermelon soup, shrimp rollups and coffee-flavored crème brulee -- all the while remaining in your spa robe.
Another option is a day spent exploring the island to discover its many facets, including The Hole, a curious sight of a resident’s sinkhole that follows a coral underground to a bottom of mystical-green water. A stop at Long Bay is where surf gliders lift off into the air before landing on their boards to surf colossal waves on a breezy day. Or stop at Turtle Cove for an under sea exploration. Potcake Place is where you can find a canine friend in need of adoption -- just try to walk away from one of these adorable faces. Although an unusual stop, Potcake Place might well bring pleasure in the comfort of a pooch for years to come.
Back at Regent Palms, I freshen up and head to the Green Flamingo lounge for a strawberry caphirinia before delving into dinner at neighboring Parallel23, where the menu can only be described as decadent. An amuse bouche of salmon topped with 24-karat edible gold, caviar and fennel slaw topped with coleslaw foam sets the stage for a starter of goat cheese-stuffed organic beet salad. I delve into my entrée of fluffy diver scallops with a side of creamy asparagus risotto and a half grilled lobster tail so big I have no choice but to share it with my table guests. The culinary aspect of this evening can only be rivaled with the view; the open-air dining in the midst of palm trees and bougainvillea, and the chefs behind the counter, busily concocting recipes of grandeur. By dessert, I am barely able to eat another bite, yet, when the almond crumble with caramelized bosc pear, toffee and fleur de sel ice cream arrives, I manage to savor a few bites before retiring to my opulent surroundings in my impressive condo suite.
Another day of paradise includes a private boat ride to a nearby cay, where a picnic lunch is enjoyed before some time is spent frolicking in the wild waves and soaking in the sun. Back on land, a cocktail at Somewhere Bar offers a great place to watch the sunset before heading to Caicos Café, a Sicilian-influenced restaurant that serves a hearty cassoulet and fresh catch of the day.
Perhaps the most memorable dinner is served in one of the eight Regent Palms penthouse suites by Executive Chef Ingo Moller of Parallel23. Pumpkin soup, foie gras three ways and beef tenderloin is quite tasty paired with yet another sensational sunset viewed from the outdoor patio. But it is what happens following dinner that sets Regent Palms apart from the rest. Moonbathing is an activity of leisure. Just past the pool and before the beach, a deck lined with cushiony cotton-linen covered lounge chairs await. All you do is lie down and look up at the full moon, or at the table of glowing candles lit for effect. The experience doesn’t end here, however. Be prepared for a shoulder, neck and head massage to increase the indulgence, followed by a glass of Champagne and plate of truffles.
Before you head to “Provo” to be spoiled in luxury, enjoy a taste or two of the following recipes:
Provo Hash (Serves 2)
The only thing that makes Provo hash better is substituting Caribbean lobster for New England lobster.
2 tablespoons onion, brunoise
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, brunoise
2 tablespoons tomato, brunoise
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 oz. lobster meat, small dice
2 red potatoes, boiled and small dice
4 eggs, poached
1/4 cup Hollandaise sauce
Season the lobster meat with salt and pepper.
Sauté the onion, pepper and tomato in olive oil, and then season.
Add the lobster meat and sauté until cooked.
Add the red potatoes and sauté until golden brown.
Place the hash on the plate and top with two eggs; cover with Hollandaise sauce.
Pumpkin Soup (Serves 4)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 cups diced butternut squash or pumpkin
1 tablespoon honey
1 can coconut milk
2 sprigs fresh thyme (keep on sprigs)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, melt the butter and brown slightly. Add pumpkin, ginger, onion, thyme and honey. Cook while stirring occasionally until squash is tender.
Add coconut milk, chicken stock and cream. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Remove thyme.
Remove from heat and blend. Return to low heat and serve hot.
Charlene Peters is Editor Special Features at GateHouse Media New England. She can be reached at email@example.com.