Resort Report

Doing It Right The First Time: Royal West Indies Resort

rwibldStory & Photos By Kathy Borsuk

My visit to the brand-new Royal West Indies Resort took place just after a two week holiday in the States, and contrary to what most vacationers feel when they arrive, I was grumpy, hot and sorely missing the comforts and conveniences of “home,” as well as the brilliant red, gold and orange hues that mark autumn in a cool clime. Fortuitously, resort developer Bonnie O’Brien started our tour of the property at the beachfront gazebo, which, like each of the resort’s suites, looks out onto the sparkling waters and powder-fine sands that make Grace Bay one of the world’s most beloved beaches. The season’s golden light intensified the sea’s rich tones, and I was immediately reminded that turquoise, green and ivory hues mark the Turks & Caicos all year around.

We strolled through the resort’s varied gardens, each in a different stage of botanical splendor, as light tradewinds blew away the heat and the slow, rhythmic roll of the waves was broken only by bird call and the splash of guests enjoying the pool. The buildings’ elegant facades threw shadows over the landscape and the air carried a salty tang with floral overtones. My homesickness vanished, and I reveled in the rare beauty that results when the best of human endeavor complements that of Mother Nature.

Royal West Indies Resort opened its first phase in November, meeting its ambitious construction schedule and surpassing all expectations of owners and their initial guests. The ribbon was cut on 43 studio, one and two bedroom condominiums in the three buildings closest to the ocean, along with the pool, restaurant and outstanding landscaping throughout.

Besides its distinctive British Colonial design, Royal West Indies is unique for its tiered arrangement–maximizing sea views in all buildings–and smart floor plans, allowing two bedroom suites to be divided into self-sufficient studio and one-bedroom units, offering great flexibility for owners and renters alike.

Architect Jeffrey Lee, managing director of OBM Ltd., responded to direction from project principals Paul and Bonnie O’Brien for a facility that would, he explains, “look and feel like a recently renovated, old Caribbean resort hotel.” Jeff adds, “The use of columns, posts, wooden balustrades and rendered balcony supports assists in developing the Colonial theme and detailing language. Colors are subtle, with an emphasis on earth tones and natural materials. Small touches have been important, such as the client’s selection of the highest quality, flaired handle, Colonial-style hardware.” TDMG Concordia again proved their expertise in island construction projects by completing the first phase to top standards, in just over a year, as promised.

OBM provided a complete architectural and interior design package for the project. With a striking backdrop being the ever-changing ocean views from private balconies fronting all suites, interiors retain a cool, soulful effect that is both comforting and elegant.

Created together by OBM’s Leslie Williams and the O’Briens, the team hand-selected an eclectic blend of wood and fabrics from Central and South America, with most of the furniture custom-made for the resort. I especially admired a magnificent white oak entertainment center, a charming end table with built-in wine rack and the teak window blinds. Bonnie explained that the large rooms and subdued taupe walls easily accommodate wood furniture, rather than the more common rattan, and that the high end materials ensure durability in the challenging seaside climate.

Throughout the suites were examples of Royal West Indies’ quest for quality. Chilean porcelain pottery filled the birch kitchen cabinets; marbled Italian tiles lined the floors; gently curved sconces diffused the wall lights and rosette-detailed trim traced the side windows. Bedrooms include built-in window shutters, distinctive armoires and closet safes large enough to hold laptop computers. Painted in tones to draw out colors in the nature-inspired fabrics are original beach scenes, floral studies and portraits by local artist Pamela Leach.

Units come in several sizes to effectively accommodate from one to six guests. The deluxe studio–compared to an oversized hotel suite–includes a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, coffeemaker, toaster and eating area, as well as an in-unit washer/dryer and love seat sofa bed. All one bedroom suites are on corners with wrap-around terraces, flooded with light and breeze, and include a large living/dining area (with fold-out queen sofa bed), full kitchen and separate bedroom with king bed. Two bedroom suites are similarly spacious with double-wide balconiesÑthe deluxe version is created by connecting a studio and one bedroom unit via with a common foyer and is especially suitable for two couples or families.

Bonnie O’Brien explains that at Royal West Indies, there are no back-of-the-building, “garden view” units. She says, “We took the innovative approach of ensuring that each suite–including the studios–face the ocean and have private balconies. As a bonus, the beach/pool-level rooms enjoy a patio extension for sunning and one-of-a-kind private garden.” Similarly, all Royal West Indies suites have the full comforts of air conditioning, ceiling fans, telephones with data ports, cable TV, washer/dryers and hair dryers.

rwipoolBesides the exquisite gardens, a vital part of the Royal West Indies landscape is the pool/patio area and adjacent restaurant and bar. Surrounded with tropical plants and close by the beach, the sinuous, 80 foot long pool encourages long hours of soaking with a bridge feature and children’s wading area. An ivy-laced gazebo and umbrella-shaded tables offer relief from the rays, but there are plenty of lounge chairs for sunbathers.

Local restaurateurs Doug and Stephanie Camozzi, who have run the popular Tiki Hut in Turtle Cove for eight years (an island record for restaurant ownership!), were hand-picked to run Royal West Indies food and beverage service. Their poolside Mango Reef restaurant and bar is scheduled to be open for the Winter season, with temporary patio service offered in the meantime. The Camozzis describe the 60-seat eatery’s air-conditioned interior as “bearing an Old-Caribbean feel.”

Fare will mirror their successful formula of focusing on fresh, simple dishes in the medium price range. Stephanie says, “Doug’s newest culinary adventure will encompass dishes from all different parts of the Caribbean and Latin America, along with local favorites. You could call it ‘hip,’ but not overly trendy.” Mango Reef will include a pergola-covered outdoor dining deck, with frosty tropical cocktails, drinks and snacks available at the beachfront and poolside gazebos. Unique to the island will be “Proprietor’s Lockboxes” in which local businesses can stock selected brands of wines and spirits to serve when entertaining clients.

Royal West Indies guests can expect genteel pampering throughout their visit. Warm welcomes start at the airport and continue with valet baggage handling and daily housekeeping. The front desk concierge assists with transportation needs, reservations, and baby sitting. Complimentary Hobie Cats and sea kayaks are available to guests beachfront near the watersports desk, from which they can book any adventure in the country. Located in the heart of Providenciales’ Gold Coast, east of Grace Bay Club, the Provo Golf and Country Club is close by, as are numerous restaurants, the casino and shopping.

With the first phase of their first island project behind them, I asked the O’Briens for their reactions to launching a new development in a place which greatly depends on the schedules and complexities of a distant mainland. Paul stays focused by envisioning the project as a long line of stacked dominoes. He says, “The last one can’t fall until every one standing in front of it do.” Bonnie adds, “I’ve learned to be proud if we can take one positive step forward every day.”

Future plans for the 5 1/2 acre site encompass an additional five condominium buildings (for 99 units in total), along with a second pool, full service spa, hospitality center and a roadfront retail plaza.
Phase two is currently (and quietly) under construction to the back of the site with an anticipated completion date of mid-summer, 2001. Thanks to the practical product and appealing price point, sales are well ahead of construction, although the O’Briens confirm that prime suites are still available. Optional property management services to ensure investors a healthy return in the vacation rental market include worldwide resort marketing, reservation services, inventory control, maintenance and security.

Once novices in Caribbean development (Bonnie came from a financial background and Paul’s work focused in the fields of law and business management), the Canadian couple say they based each Royal West Indies decision on careful research specific to Providenciales. Bonnie comments, “It’s funny, because our naive approach worked. We spent a lot of time making sure that everything in the first phase was done right, as it will be the blueprint for those that follow. Overall, it was a lot of hard work, but we are tremendously pleased with the results. It continues to be a very gratifying, positive experience.”

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