Resort Report

Ocean at Your Doorstep: Coral Gardens

chessBy Kathy Borsuk
Photos by Anthony Taylor

A breathless gasp is most guests’ first reaction to the view from a suite at Coral Gardens. Huge terraces and floor to ceiling walls of sliding glass welcome Provo’s north shore into the interior and frame it as nature’s masterpiece. Every shade of blue, every shimmer of wave, every nuance of cloud and sun, can be savored at leisure. Gentle sea breezes scent rooms with a salty tang and the sweet murmur of the sea is interrupted only by the rustling of coconut palms. An oasis of greenery edges the forefront, with the ivory-coated beach just steps away, unfurling miles in the distance towards points east and west.

Coral Gardens Exterior

Coral Gardens is an intimate beachfront resort with a location that can’t be beat. It fronts one of Provo’s best snorkeling reefs and is nestled between private homes near Turtle Cove and the casaurina grove of Treasure Beach, in a tranquil, low density corner away from bustling Grace Bay. Currently, there are only 12 two-bedroom condominium suites in two, three-story buildings, with 15 one-bedroom and 3 additional two-bedroom suites due to open in late fall, 2000.

Coral Gardens InteriorAt 2,100+ square feet, there’s plenty of room to relax in a suite at Coral Gardens. Living areas are upfront, taking best advantage of the view and most guests rarely close the glass pocket doors that surround three sides. Classical Roman columns support the wide covered terraces, whose well-designed balconies seem to disappear into the horizon. (A note to the indulgent: top floor penthouses include upsweeping cathedral ceilings and the best views in the house. They say when the moon is full, shadows of eagle rays can be seen soaring over the reef.)

Fully equipped kitchens open into the dining area and bedrooms and baths are towards the back. Master bedrooms turn towards the view, with king-sized beds and screened patio doors to allow breezes to waft in at night, bug-free. (Of course, air conditioning and ceiling fans are built in, though rarely needed.) Roomy bathrooms include double sinks, deep Roman tubs, separate showers, hair dryers and bathrobes. Large, walk-in closets abound and a stacked washer/dryer make laundry a breeze, although daily maid service is standard.

The decor, selected by Martina Wilson of White Sands Interiors, builds on the impression of airy elegance. Walls and tiled floors are a creamy ivory, opulently accented with richly patterned fabrics on furniture coverings and bedspreads. Sofas and chairs are a golden-toned wicker, antique cabinets display weathered wood, while tables tend towards wrought iron and glass. Interesting choices of artwork and accenting pieces complete the effect without overwhelming.

Guests arrive at Coral Gardens via Penn’s Road into a lush garden atmosphere. From first view, the buildings’ exteriors exemplify unfussy elegance. Cornice-edged white walls frame pillared balconies and arched entranceways are smartly accented with green awnings. The beachfront view features dramatic waterfalls cascading down the face of each building, coming to rest in a reflection pool that winds around the foundations like an undulating moat. The palm-lined patio is separated from the beach only by a small dune of natural vegetation and includes a large pool.

As an adult-oriented resort, the two-bedroom suites are usually occupied by one or more couples, with families and larger groups preferring to rent the original “White House” (soon to be remodeled), around which Coral Gardens was designed. However, the units can be cunningly divided into one-bedroom deluxe oceanfront suites and garden view guest bedrooms, each designed to be self-sufficient with king beds, (plus queen pull-out sofas in the one-bedroom), separate baths, cable TV, phone, and even a mini-refrigerator and coffeemaker, combining “hotel-room” value with a superb beachfront location.

Although General Manager Matthew Williams says guests appreciate Coral Gardens’ particular blend of privacy, space and unspoiled simplicity, they aren’t lacking for the personal touches that make a holiday stand out. A complimentary Continental breakfast is served daily and the recent opening of Coyaba Restaurant adds an elegant dining experience as an option.

Equipment is provided for paying a call to the island’s first snorkeling trail, complete with underwater interpretive signs and a lively collection of marine life, especially charismatic as befitting their protected status in Princess Alexandra Marine National Park. Water aerobics classes are held in the ocean or pool, depending on weather. A giant-sized chessboard on the foreshore area competes for attention with the more relaxing options of lounge chairs, hammocks and shade. Diving, fishing and sailing charters are arranged through the smaller local operators, ensuring that the experience mimics Coral Garden’s cozy intimacy.

Besides breathtaking views and a sterling location, the congeniality of its resident owners and staff has reaped Coral Gardens a loyal following of repeat visitors. Ron and Bev Karnehm are transplanted Vancouverites who first came to Provo in 1991. They purchased the modernist “White House” and rented it out as a popular vacation villa for several years. Delighting in the natural beauty and charm of the Islands, their dreams blossomed to envision a small, boutique hotel. Construction was frustrating at times, but the couple says they learned to “persevere and push slowly ahead, one step at a time.”

Coral Gardens quietly opened in early 1998 as a condominium resort property. There are still units available for purchase, with the rental income generated making them a wise investment.

Coral Gardens attracts many walk-ins, folks staying elsewhere who pass by during a stroll or snorkel. They often reserve a suite at Coral Gardens for their next visit to the Islands, intrigued by the resort’s tranquil beauty and spacious accommodations, as well as the chance to live at the ocean’s doorstep.

For more on Coral Gardens, see or contact

1 Comment

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Doug Bowtell
Aug 17, 2012 17:15

I would like to get in touch with Ron &bev ism sort of related to them and can’t get in touch with them if you could pass this along to them thanks. Doug Bowtell. 604-597-8102

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