Resort Report

Parrot Cay: An Experience in Perfection

pcbalBy Kathy Borsuk
Photos by Francine Fleischer

It seems appropriate that you travel to Parrot Cay by boat. After arrival at Providenciales Airport and a drive across the bustling island to Leeward dock, the 25 minute trip by water serves as a rite of passage from one world to another; reality to euphoria.

Transport in the comfortable 48′ jet-driven vessel cuts a corridor through transparent seas swirling in ever-blending hues from lapis lazuli blue to jade green. Miles of deserted beach pass by, the sand almost shocking in its whiteness. The breeze carries a particular tangy scent and serves to sweep the commonplace to oblivion.

Soon, the resort takes shape in the distance. Appearing first are the pine-clad beachfront villas; the Mediterranean lines of the main structure come into focus on a higher plane. From the rustic boathouse, you’re chaufferred via golf cart down a winding lane verdant with tropical vegetation to the main building perched hilltop.

The transformation is complete. Your Parrot Cay experience begins.

As a local magazine editor with a distinct bourgeois bent, I was somewhat intimidated about visiting the Turks & Caicos’ flagship five-star retreat. It had opened in December, 1998 to a quiet, but definitive infusion of the international ultra-chic, who left behind little wake among TCI residents, but distinct waves in the upscale media reports that followed. I had scanned the glowing coverage in Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveller and read the tales of visits by moguls, models and movie stars to this newly in-vogue Caribbean outpost. By the time I finally visited this October, I was sure that my own sojourn would leave only a trail of faux pas.

Instead, I found Parrot Cay to be much more than an exclusive getaway for the rich and famous. Rather, it is an exalted state of being, where natural beauty and elegant simplicity create a rarified atmosphere of peace and tranquility . . . appealing to anyone seeking an escape from routine, if only for a short time. As I toured the grounds in the pleasant company of General Manager Michel Neutelings, I began to understand the appeal of “luxury,” which in this environment means unobtrusively smoothing the rough edges and allowing nature to do the rest.

To underscore this concept, interior designer Keith Hobbs emphasizes lean simplicity in the resort’s furnishings. Interiors–from the main building which encloses the lobby, dining room and library, to the tiered hillside structures housing fifty rooms and suites, and the eight stand-alone beachfront villas–rely on white backdrops, muted pastel accents, natural materials and distinct Asian touches. Four-poster beds are draped in white muslin; teakwood furniture and marble-topped tables fill the spacious living areas and rattan mats dot the pale pine floors. Light streams in through open windows and private terraces, with the intoxicating blue of sea and sky a permanent part of the decor. Complementing dashes of color are nature’s own . . . tiny red flowering cacti, bursts of bougainvillaea, the pearly pink of a conch shell.

Neutelings, previously of the K Club in Barbuda, another high-powered celeb hide-out, brings to Parrot Cay a slavish attention to detail that defines its luxury. Besides pointing out “standard” room amenities as varied as CD players, beach bags, sandals and ultra-premium toiletries, he mentions that guests’ laundry is done daily and that there are two bathrooms in each one bedroom suite. The seaside villas, some with private pools, include butler service and have thoughtfully provided a side room for bodyguard or nanny. Their sleek, gourmet kitchens include a separate entrance through which prepared food can be brought from the resort kitchen and chefs and waitstaff are on call to cater to anything from a tete-a-tete to full dinner party.

At the same time, Neutelings, along with Hotel Manager Nicholas Simmonds and their staff–a combination of Asian expatriates and local Islanders–ensure that guests rarely experience nature’s backlash. Regular fogging and new age CO2 “mosquito catchers” keep insect pests to a minimum. Michel lauds the gardeners, many from neighboring North Caicos, as masters at keeping the vegetation lush, healthy and tropically tame. A state-of-the-art double incinerator reduces garbage to small puffs of smoke, while two large Earth Tubs turn food waste into compost.

Ironically though, Michel says that the most popular spot on Parrot Cay seems to be the palm-shaded patio around the rimless “Infinity Pool.” Creating the illusion of merging seamlessly into its ocean backdrop, the pool’s hypnotic appeal to children and adults becomes obvious . . . especially after a couple of Bartender Rupert Francis’s rum punches! Lunch and cocktails are served poolside and on Wednesday nights, it’s the site of a lobster barbecue, with music by local band, Corey Forbes and the Lively Rakooners. “A little something to break up the week,” explains Michel.

Meditative beach-strolling is a more holistic pastime–chances are that not a soul will interrupt your reverie. Snorkeling equipment, Hoby cats, windsurfboards and tennis courts are all on hand for those with a yen towards more active pursuits, while scuba diving requests are handled by Big Blue, a local ecodiving operation run by marine biologists. There is also a gymnasium packed with state-of-the-art fitness equipment and certified fitness trainers. But more soothing, nature-communing activities would have to be bonefishing with native guide William Forbes or kayaking through the peaceful wetlands bordering Parrot Cay’s eastern shore.

Meals are served on starched white linen and English bone china in the dining room or on the less-formal verandah. Either choice overlooks the Casaurina pine growth down the hill towards the beach and the etched white border where coral reef meets turquoise sea. Dishes tend towards Asian-meets-Islands and are created by Chef Rajah Pillay. Produce from North Caicos farmer Albert Higgs is incorporated whenever possible, as is seafood caught by local fishermen.

As with all good things, expansion is eminent on Parrot Cay. Debuting this winter is the Pirate House, a single family, two story dwelling that is the renovated remains of a home once populated by Provo resident Tommy Coleman and Countess Helen Czernin decades ago. The two bedroom house boasts a private infinity pool and built-in sauna; its views are among the best on the cay.

With the resort occupying a small portion of the 1,000 acre cay, eighty, 1 1/2 acre lots are available for private home construction. (I understand that most of the purchasers are said to be buying more than one lot to ensure privacy.)

As I left Parrot Cay, not at all disappointed that there hadn’t been a celebrity in sight all day, I took a last whiff of the rarified air, fresh-scented only with nature’s essence, and let my gaze fall across the sea, sky and sand so majestically displayed around me. This, I believe, is a true definition of luxury.

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Due to open this winter season is Shambhala, Parrot Cay’s holistic health spa. Built overlooking the channel separating Parrot Cay from neighboring North Caicos, the view alone–a peaceful scene of vivid green mangrove wetlands bordering placid, royal blue waters–encourages therapeutic contemplation.

The spa consists of three pavilions, designed in the weathered-into-the-landscape style of the beach villas. Within will be treatment rooms, private saunas and a co-ed steam room, along with changing areas and lockers. Outside on a spacious waterfront verandah is a deep Japanese tub and yet another infinity pool. Nearby is the movement pavilion for yoga, stretching exercises and meditation and a private lover’s hut complete with hot tub.

pool1At Shambhala, the over-wrought and high-toxed can experience the physical and spiritual renewal promised by the finest Eastern-inspired healing and rejuvenating therapies. Masters at the art will pamper with such massage techniques as Tuina (an invigorating and energizing style); Nuad Bo-ram (an ancient Thai medical massage); Japanese Shiatsu and even a Balinese beauty ritual involving softening the skin with sweet, spicy powders.

Hydrotherapy techniques include the Vichy shower, during with a full body exfoliation is done under a relaxing rain bar water massage. Personally tailored baths are designed for relaxation, detoxification or stimulation and include seaweed wraps and a sea salt scrub.

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Gary James at Provo Pictures ( used a drone to photograph this bird’s-eye view of Dragon Cay off Middle Caicos. It perfectly captures the myriad of colors and textures that make God’s works of art in nature so captivating.

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