Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Providenciales Part 1: The Sands

Hello! Yes, I am back from holiday. It was a week of paradise; perfect weather with plenty of sexy sunshine and a completely relaxing itinerary make for the ideal getaway. I'm totally bummed to be back but I'm pretty excited to plan my next adventure. I'm thinking about three trips right now: one nature-filled trip (where my dog can come too), a trip to Italy (Positano is a must-see on my list), and a late summer trip to Greece (Mykonos and Santorini are on my bucket list). Don't worry, if anything comes to fruition, I'll share it right here. In the mean time, I'll be sharing bits and pieces of my trip to TCI.
Up until just a few years ago, I hadn't been the biggest fan of tropical getaways. I'd always been more inclined to visit busy cities (particularly European ones) because I felt like you'd get the most bang for your buck. And besides, I live near the ocean, a beach is a beach, right? But now that I'm older, I appreciate the "lay on the beach all day like some lazy S.O.B." style trips where you're laying on flour-soft white sand whilst staring at crystal clear waters. A beach is not always a beach. The Jersey shore hardly compares to the perfection of the Caribbean.

This might've been the best tropical getaway yet (I say that every time I come back from a trip though so there might not be much merit to that statement). You might know that I'd visited Provo back in 2012. So, because I'd done it before, this time around I felt absolutely no pressure at all. I knew the island so driving around wasn't a pressure-filled anxiety attack with my sister and me yelling at each other to look at the map. I'd seen all there is to see so I didn't feel like I was "wasting" time by sitting and relaxing at the beach all day. And because it was the off-season, it was much less crowded (not that it gets v. crowded there in general) so it was extra relaxing.

We had a direct flight, via United, and it was a short three hour jaunt. The flight itinerary said four hours, but our pilot got us there in three.
As with most flights, it wasn't v. exciting until we saw the lovely turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.
Our plane flew in right above Chalk Sound, where the water is pastel colored (we drove around there one morning so I'll be sharing more about it soon).
Immigration was quick and painless. There was a cute little band playing some calypso-ish music to greet us. The smiling immigration officer welcomed us back to the island and let us go on our way.
We picked up our rental car from Avis. I booked with Avis last time (the Grace Bay location) and had a great experience. This time around, it wasn't as pleasant (at the airport location) but it wasn't miserable by any means. The staff was just slightly less friendly and they gave us a not-so-hot car. But hey, it was super affordable at about $35 per day.
With our luggage all packed up in our tiny car, we drove down towards Grace Bay and headed to The Sands. Last time, we stayed at the Royal West Indies, which was a lovely experience but we wanted to try some place different. I booked our room through American Express, where I scored a decent deal, $310 per night (includes taxes and fees) vs. $365 per night (not sure about taxes and fees) through The Sands directly. If you're looking to go to TCI, I'd also recommend checking out Jetsetter, because they have a lot of good deals on several hotels, including fancy shmancy ones, like Seven Stars and the Gansevoort.

The Sands is pretty official, I'd say. Though, I did miss the personal touch of the RWI (where they lend out DVDs at the front desk) it was pretty awesome to be greeted by rum punch and a fancy computerized check in system that took just minutes to orchestrate. We'd arrived a little earlier than official check in time (which is 3PM) so we had to roam around a bit before we could settle into our room.
We decided to walk around and explore what the grounds had to offer. We headed straight to the beach because my eyes needed to look at the turquoise blue sea and that's where we discovered my favorite feature of The Sands: the straw hut umbrellas. How perfectly pristine and paradise-esque is this photo? Probably an 11 out of 10.
After a quick trip to the grocery store (Graceway Gourmet) for some much-needed basics (bottled water) as well as ingredients for home-away-from-homemade meals, it was finally 3PM and we were able to check into our room. We were in Building 6, which is actually farthest from the beach, but closest to the parking lot.
We were in a one-bedroom garden view room on the ground floor. There was a cushy king-size bed, clean bathroom, stocked kitchen, and one of my favorite features: the screened in porch that gave us direct access to the pool areas and the beach. Honestly, the ground floor might not seem super appealing to most, but it's ideal for me. Access to the water and no need to drag luggage up and down stairwells? That's an A+ in my gradebook.
Having a washer/dryer during a beach vacation is always amazing so even if you don't stay at The Sands, wherever you do stay, make sure they have a washer and dryer! We only used this once - when we were packing to go home - because we didn't want to pack up our suitcase with chlorine and ocean-stinky swimwear. But it was awesome because as soon as we arrived home, I was able to unpack and relax instead of firing up a load of laundry.
The screened-in porch was incredibly loved throughout the course of our week. It was an awesome spot to hang out while our swimwear was still wet. It was a nice place to read a book or play Animal Crossing (my favorite obsession). It was our go-to spot for spraying ourselves with sunscreen. And we could do it all without worrying about bugs (namely mosquitos).
The Sands has some really lovely grounds. There are three pools and a lazy river-esque water feature with cute bridges to help you cross them without getting wet.
We enjoyed our stay so much. The staff are incredibly friendly, the amenities are amazing, the beach is pristine, and the rooms are lovely and comfortable. Would I recommend it? I definitely would!
Now that we've got the hotel review out of the way, stay tuned for several more fun and exciting Turks & Caicos posts!

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