Introduction: Turks & Caicos On A Whim

Introduction: Turks & Caicos On A Whim

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As promised, I intend to write more trip reports going forward, so here’s my first such report. This one will be pretty brief, so consider it more of an appetizer than anything else compared to my upcoming review trip. Long story short, Ford and I just spent five nights at the Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos, which is one of the newest luxury points properties in the Caribbean.

Why we decided to go to Turks & Caicos

We planned this trip pretty last minute, just a couple of days before departure. Ford and I had been apart for a couple of weeks (I was with my mom), and we decided we wanted to meet up somewhere “easy,” but we weren’t sure where. Lately my points redemption focus has been on Marriott Bonvoy points, given that the program is eliminating award charts, and I suspect the cost of many aspirational redemptions will go up significantly.

We both immediately thought of the Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos, which opened in 2021. Neither of us had ever been to Turks & Caicos (but we had heard great things), the entry requirements were reasonable (sort of… I’ll review my experience with them), it was a great deal on points, and flights were even quite cheap.

So after a very brief deliberation we made a booking. I’d say it was maybe an hour from the time we started discussing the concept of taking this trip to having everything booked.

Gorgeous Grace Bay in Turks & Caicos

Booking the Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos

The Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos is a Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property, and for our nights the hotel had standard award pricing (rather than peak or off-peak). That meant a redemption cost 85,000 Bonvoy points per night, with the opportunity to get a fifth night free. In other words, five nights cost 340,000 Bonvoy points, or an average of 68,000 Bonvoy points per night.

That compared quite favorably to the paid rate, which was over $1,200 per night after factoring in taxes and fees (of course so many hotel rates are inflated nowadays, given the huge pent up demand for travel).

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this hotel. Most reviews of the hotel haven’t been terribly positive up to this point, so I tried to manage my expectations coming in. There were things I really liked about the hotel, like the view…

Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos beautiful view

And things I didn’t like, like the corners that were clearly cut with parts of the hotel design.

Why is there nothing on the walls?!

But in the end my conclusion about this property may surprise some.

How we flew to Turks & Caicos

When we planned this trip I was in Tampa while Ford was in South Florida, so I decided to meet him along the way.

I first decided to fly Silver Airways from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale, which is an airline that I’ve never flown before, but that has long intrigued me. Okay, there’s not quite as much to report as a Lufthansa first class flight, but it was a cute experience I’m excited to report back on.

I finally get to fly the Silver Airways Barbie jet!

Then between Fort Lauderdale and Providenciales we flew JetBlue. The tickets cost around $200 roundtrip, and we could credit those flights to American AAdvantage. That was interesting simply because the flights were operated by Embraer E190s, which I had never flown before on JetBlue. This was also my first time flying JetBlue since reciprocal elite perks were rolled out with American.

JetBlue Embraer E190 in Turks & Caicos

So I’ll review the flights, but as noted, don’t expect too many hot towel or champagne pictures.

Bottom line

We just wrapped up a great trip to Turks & Caicos. When I think of going on an adventure, I often think of traveling halfway around the world as a feature, and that has caused me to largely overlook Caribbean islands. With the recent opening of the Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos I figured this was a good time to explore a new island while checking out an aspirational points hotel.

I’ll also have a couple of new airline product reviews, including of Silver Airways and JetBlue. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading — this will be a quick trip report series, as I want to then reveal the details of the much bigger trip that’s coming up shortly!

If you traveled to Turks & Caicos, what was your experience like?

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  1. George Guest

    I also stayed at the Ritz but my overall rating for the hotel was an A. The staff service overall was way above at other hotel and restaurants we frequented. It's 10 floors with the top floor being the club lounge. The ocean front restaurant was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We did not eat at BLT since you can go when stateside. T&C is expensive and the Ritz pricing was in line with...

    I also stayed at the Ritz but my overall rating for the hotel was an A. The staff service overall was way above at other hotel and restaurants we frequented. It's 10 floors with the top floor being the club lounge. The ocean front restaurant was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We did not eat at BLT since you can go when stateside. T&C is expensive and the Ritz pricing was in line with most of the hotels on the ocean, btw Seven hotel is almost as tall as the Ritz, agreed on the front view design, but the ocean front side of the hotel was modern with the greatest views of Grace Bay since it sits at the center. The other hotels other than seven had no character, most look like motels, figured for the price they all charge, the hotels would have more character as a British territory.

  2. James Guest

    Many people reading here probably don't care much about prices, but I'd point out that T&C is one of the most expensive countries in the world for restaurant food and drinks.

  3. Maimy Guest

    Hotel is awful! The restaurant is an overpriced abomination. Even the desert was no good.
    Somebody got something to allow this monstrosity to be built. It doesn’t look like anything you would expect to see or want to see on a Caribbean island.

  4. Corey Guest

    Am I missing a link? Where is the hotel review in this article?

  5. Carl Guest

    I agree with many of the above posts. I’ve been going to Turks and Caicos for over 15 years. The safety, cleanliness, great dining options and world class beaches of course will attract development but it’s a double edged sword. What attracted us to the strip was the quaintness and quietness. I’ll never not stop going but the last few trips we’ve rediscovered the quietness by renting a villa in the sapodilla/Taylor bay/ chalk sound area

  6. SW Guest

    Me being a native I agree with every negative comments posted because it's the truth. The government is Turks Islanders biggest mistake and so are the few that supports this corruption we're now facing.

  7. Aj Guest

    I have been to Turks and Caicos more than 10 times. I truly love it there but I have to agree that the people like me who go there again and again love that the government (in the past) has kept the island free of large corporations that would destroy the beauty of this island. Locals are extremely friendly to visitors who are courteous. Locals are happy for the tourism because the money directly benefits...

    I have been to Turks and Caicos more than 10 times. I truly love it there but I have to agree that the people like me who go there again and again love that the government (in the past) has kept the island free of large corporations that would destroy the beauty of this island. Locals are extremely friendly to visitors who are courteous. Locals are happy for the tourism because the money directly benefits the locals on the island. The one exception on the island is Beaches. We have stayed at neighboring resorts to see the piles of people herded like cattle, to this resort. This is a place where parents can unload their children on workers who are brought in from Haiti. The resort then holds their green card and forces them to work for food and shelter. It is the only place on Grace Bay Beach that is slammed with annoying tourists who sit in lawn chairs that are right on top of one another. I will simply end my post by saying if you are the kind of traveler looking for a casino at the Ritz Carlton or the kind of vacation Beaches offers. This island is not for you. The locals don't want you and either do the people who return every year for the natural beauty and the opportunity to patronize local culture.

  8. Mary McCombie Guest

    I learned to scuba dive in Provo in the mid-1980s. The reefs in Grace Bay were spectacular, pristine, and loaded with life. In the early-mid 2000s, T and C made a deal with the devil, and began building monstrous high-rise hotels like the Ritz-Carleton. No mitigation measures were taken to stem particulate runoff or sewage, and the reefs in Grace Bay and other parts of T and C were killed, smothered so that the corals...

    I learned to scuba dive in Provo in the mid-1980s. The reefs in Grace Bay were spectacular, pristine, and loaded with life. In the early-mid 2000s, T and C made a deal with the devil, and began building monstrous high-rise hotels like the Ritz-Carleton. No mitigation measures were taken to stem particulate runoff or sewage, and the reefs in Grace Bay and other parts of T and C were killed, smothered so that the corals died, and were replaced with algae. After several dive trips there in the mid-2000s, I gave up. Ruined reefs and degraded nature were the results of building these massive resorts. Additionally, the influx of people from China and Haiti to work in construction and service jobs has created an underclass of disenfranchised people whose low wages and lack of agency is painful to witness. After nearly 3700 dives all over the world, the devastation I saw at T and C is the most shocking and precipitous.

    1. Jo Guest

      That sounds abysmal and sad. I kinda hate cruising cause I feel that way. 3700 dives? :0

    2. Mary McCombie Guest

      Love to dive! I'm a retired professor, but have another avocation, PADI Divemaster, and I'm on the board of REEF, a sort of wet Audubon Society (fish geek). So being underwater is my favorite place.

    3. Anne Harkness Gilmer Guest

      Is there any snorkeling near us...we are at Kokomo resort?? Thanks

  9. Lee David Auerbach Guest

    We too are recently returned from the Ritz Carlton in T&C. Executive King Suite ocean front for ten nights at 680,000 points. That room would have been greater than $20,000 for the length of my stay had it been paid for with cash. The property is “perfectly fine”. Great view, super room, super balcony, very personable staff. Extremely COVID aware as is the e nature island. But the hotel is just “perfectly fine”.

    Hotel...

    We too are recently returned from the Ritz Carlton in T&C. Executive King Suite ocean front for ten nights at 680,000 points. That room would have been greater than $20,000 for the length of my stay had it been paid for with cash. The property is “perfectly fine”. Great view, super room, super balcony, very personable staff. Extremely COVID aware as is the e nature island. But the hotel is just “perfectly fine”.

    Hotel food is “perfectly fine”, nothing more. Expensive, but on par with hotel food on the island, but nowhere as good as it’s competing properties. The main pool looses sun in the afternoon due to the hotel building blocking the sun. You are relegated to either the baby pool which is about 4’ deep or the beach.

    Would I do it again? On points absolutely!

  10. Mena Coote Guest

    We travelled to T & C with my family, my brother, his family and my mom. It has the most beautiful beaches and water, great food, nice people. What we loved most was the non-Americanized feel that most places have. We felt like we really found the most beautiful place and still quite primitive. We look forward to returning some day soon. However, I fear that the Ritz Carlton may be the beginning of the...

    We travelled to T & C with my family, my brother, his family and my mom. It has the most beautiful beaches and water, great food, nice people. What we loved most was the non-Americanized feel that most places have. We felt like we really found the most beautiful place and still quite primitive. We look forward to returning some day soon. However, I fear that the Ritz Carlton may be the beginning of the end for T & C if their gov’t allows more hotels like the Ritz, especially if they are laid out right on beautiful Grace Bay:(

  11. dee Guest

    went to Turk and Caicos with 3 daughters 2 son in laws and 3 grandson along with me and my hubby. We looked at hotels and packages but decided to rent a large oceanfront house. We did it thru ?? exclusives resorts but it was bought out by VRBO right before we left on the trip.Very bad experience.. they nickel and dimed us to death with the house including charging for electric,baby cribs...etc. what a...

    went to Turk and Caicos with 3 daughters 2 son in laws and 3 grandson along with me and my hubby. We looked at hotels and packages but decided to rent a large oceanfront house. We did it thru ?? exclusives resorts but it was bought out by VRBO right before we left on the trip.Very bad experience.. they nickel and dimed us to death with the house including charging for electric,baby cribs...etc. what a nightmare.. and then the groceries were out of control like $8.00 for a can of tuna... never again...then the return thru LAX.. was horrid... no busses between terminals so we had to drag luggage,baby coaches,,,etc from TB trminal to terminal ?2 more of a nightmare,

  12. Jo Guest

    I just had my first trip to the Caribbean, I'm not saying where, but it was epic and a points redemption. I don't want all you to find out and ruin the annual free night redemption beachfront. :)

  13. John Ryan Guest

    I’m looking forward to it! I’ve always been intrigued as Silver Airways and I think it’s a super rare type of airline to see. It seems a bit similar to Porter Airlines in a lot of aspects but I’m excited to hear the review.

  14. Leigh Guest

    Towards the end of 2020 after that particularly miserable period of COVID, I was able to escape to Turks and Caicos for my first ever visit. Only made it to Grace Bay...and not to be cheesy, but I guess I am...after such a horrific year, the first time I laid on that beautiful beach all the stress evaporated. The sand is so perfect and the water so beautiful.

    I know I have more beaches to...

    Towards the end of 2020 after that particularly miserable period of COVID, I was able to escape to Turks and Caicos for my first ever visit. Only made it to Grace Bay...and not to be cheesy, but I guess I am...after such a horrific year, the first time I laid on that beautiful beach all the stress evaporated. The sand is so perfect and the water so beautiful.

    I know I have more beaches to explore in Turks and Caicos, but as someone who has traveled to so many amazing places/beaches, Grace Bay ranks in my top 3 in the world.

  15. Mike Guest

    We will be going for the first time at the end of april (20-27). Would greatly appreciate a more in depth review, island, testing (to and from, etc..). FYI we will be staying at Royal West Indies grace bay. Any recommendations, thought, suggestions appreciated. Maybe it is when we are going but seems like there are plenty of decent hotels well under 1200 a night for oceanfront.

  16. Mark n Guest

    I'm just curious. How is "went to place x and stayed in a luxury resort" a trip report lol. There is zero about the actual destination. Sorry I just don't get it

    1. Michael New Member

      You seem to be confused about what the destination actually is... When one travels for the purpose of starting at a resort, the destination is not the city/country the resort is in, but the resort itself. Ben isn't reviewing the Turks and Caicos... He's reviewing his destination, the Ritz Carlton.

    2. My eyes got stuck like that! Guest

      Aaahhh... Thanks for the clarification!

      Now that you've offered that, O can see how Ben did mentioned the great view (Duh) and that there are no pictures on the walls...

  17. Mohammed Guest

    What about the ferry n the cruiser lines that travels to turks n caicos islands from other carribbean countries o even from bahama o cuba pks ket me know of there is

  18. A J C Guest

    Oh I’d forgotten about the terrible Miami airport too. Seemed to walk for miles.
    As I was driven north by Grace bay those resort hotels huddled together are not my thing. I have beach in front of a house.

  19. A J C Guest

    I travel to North Caicos, more remote and a little more difficult to get to as you have to take a small infrequent ferry

  20. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

    Silver Airways! They’ve been on my list for a while and I haven’t had the chance to fly them yet. And the dreaded FLL airport for you Ben. Looking forward to this review.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      IIRC, it’s not that Ben dreads the FLL airport, it’s that he dreads the *drive* to the airport from Miami.

      Not an issue this time!

  21. SMR Guest

    Thank you for flying JetBlue! I’ll be starting there in 10 days!! Very excited.

  22. Michael Guest

    The como parrot cay is such heaven, if you’ve been!

    1. John Guest

      Parrot cay is okay, or a par with Ritz-Carlton. Neither as good as Amanyara, but less than half the cost.

    2. mike Guest

      I'd take Parrot Cay over either place. The ambiance is far superior to the Ritz and Aman is over-priced. But to each their own.

  23. Mark Guest

    Thank you for this article. Your trip adventures are a wonderful read in the morning. T&C is a beautiful destination, romantic and serene, While I am not commenting on the amenities or service(s), however I believe because of the topography, the only resort with unobstructed sunset views may be Pattot Cay, depending on the month. If that matters to anyone.

  24. Rob Guest

    Did you have to do covid testing there and back still?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Rob -- Yep, testing was required in both ways, though rapid antigen tests were fine. I'll outline more of that process in my post about the Turks & Caicos arrivals experience.

  25. pstm91 Diamond

    Ben, I love your reviews but I'm sorry, the RC Turks & Caicos is a monstrosity that should have never been approved by the T&C government. A huge part of the allure of the T&C is that there were no high rises. Now there's randomly this 12/13 story (maybe taller?) structure, on Grace Bay no less. Such an eye sore and such a big bummer - for the price point you can stay at many...

    Ben, I love your reviews but I'm sorry, the RC Turks & Caicos is a monstrosity that should have never been approved by the T&C government. A huge part of the allure of the T&C is that there were no high rises. Now there's randomly this 12/13 story (maybe taller?) structure, on Grace Bay no less. Such an eye sore and such a big bummer - for the price point you can stay at many other options like West Bay, Shore Club, and others (which don't have gaudy casinos).

    1. pstm91 Diamond

      Actually I just reread what the nightly rate would have been and you can find rooms at Grace Bay, Waymara, even COMO or Amanyara depending on your dates for that amount... I understand the RC is an opportunity to use points, but I am just upset this hotel was ever built. Sorry to vent! Side note - flights to T&C are almost always very cheap. The hotel rates are how they get you.

  26. Jamie Guest

    Can’t wait to read more new reviews Ben ( having read every previous one over the years )

  27. Scandinavian Aviator Guest

    Great News on Saturday, a New incoming OMAAT Trip Report.
    Really looking forward to see what Silver Airways is like and a International Jetblue flight on the E90

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pstm91 Diamond

Ben, I love your reviews but I'm sorry, the RC Turks & Caicos is a monstrosity that should have never been approved by the T&C government. A huge part of the allure of the T&C is that there were no high rises. Now there's randomly this 12/13 story (maybe taller?) structure, on Grace Bay no less. Such an eye sore and such a big bummer - for the price point you can stay at many other options like West Bay, Shore Club, and others (which don't have gaudy casinos).

1
Anne Harkness Gilmer Guest

Is there any snorkeling near us...we are at Kokomo resort?? Thanks

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George Guest

I also stayed at the Ritz but my overall rating for the hotel was an A. The staff service overall was way above at other hotel and restaurants we frequented. It's 10 floors with the top floor being the club lounge. The ocean front restaurant was excellent for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We did not eat at BLT since you can go when stateside. T&C is expensive and the Ritz pricing was in line with most of the hotels on the ocean, btw Seven hotel is almost as tall as the Ritz, agreed on the front view design, but the ocean front side of the hotel was modern with the greatest views of Grace Bay since it sits at the center. The other hotels other than seven had no character, most look like motels, figured for the price they all charge, the hotels would have more character as a British territory.

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