New Development

Reservations Suggested

The Palms Grand Resort
By Kathy Borsuk

It’s doubtful that the Turks & Caicos Islands are still the “best kept secret in the Caribbean.” I say this because The Palms Grand Resort and Spa–among the newest Grace Bay condominium/resort projects — is able to command a $20,000 deposit from potential investors to be placed on a “preferred” reservation list. A spot on the list entitles them to be the first to view the final architectural drawings and to have a priority choice of location within the development.

Before you think this is arrogance on the part of the developer, consider the facts. The Palms will occupy a prime oceanfront spot on one of the few remaining sites on Providenciales’ Grace Bay Beach. Its development team of Stan Hartling (The Sands) and Mervin Cox (Coxco Construction) boasts a sterling reputation. And, The Palms is unique among upscale condominium projects in that it is the first to be designed as a fully functional resort–with a comprehensive rental program, spa and gourmet restaurant–from the very start.

Project developer Stan Hartling explains why he thinks the market is right for a project like The Palms, “Over the last five years, Providenciales has matured dramatically and it is now seen as an exclusive destination. It’s finally possible to justify the economics of renting well-appointed vacation suites in a higher price range. So from day one, we conceived The Palms as a premium resort with all the amenities. For instance, there will be an on-site gourmet restaurant, full bar, spa, fitness center, multiple pools, maid service, and the lobby will be an integral part of the property. The rental program will also support extras such as watersports and a concierge that are often not part of a typical condominium development.”

The Palms will occupy a seven acre site with 445 feet of beachfront between the existing Sibonne Hotel (formerly Le Deck) and the under-construction Alexandra Resort. Hartling says he waited for years for the location to become available, appreciating its beautiful westerly exposure (perfect for sunsets!), sense of privacy, sweeping vistas and good swimming beach. Native Turks Islander Mervin Cox secured the Crown Land under a lease/purchase agreement with TCI Government and selected Hartling from a number of potential developers because, Cox declares, “I knew of his reputation and there was just something I liked about him. We came to terms on the joint venture agreement very easily, which provided equal and mutual benefits.”

At press time, conceptual drawings were being finalized by Nichols, Brosch and Sandoval Associates, architects out of Coral Gables Florida, with extensive experience in condominium resort and other five star projects, including those for Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Lowes and Peabody. Hartling describes the design as “quasi-Plantation style,” utilizing marble, natural stone and premium woods and emphasizing privacy for its guests, with public spaces at the site’s interior, well-buffered by luxurious landscaping. Cox, a builder by trade, puts it more bluntly, “It will go to an upgraded level of construction and look different, inside and out, than anything already here. We intend to produce a development of dramatic architectural merit that will mesh gracefully into the environment.”

Of the 60 to 70, two and three bedroom units planned, the main focus will be on oceanfront suites. Prices will start at $600,000 and range upwards over $1.2 + million for penthouses. And that, Hartling says, is just what investors are looking for. “Thanks to the excellent track record that developers have already set here, investors have no qualms about the potential of Grace Bay property. I’m a huge believer in the value of the beach and know that people will recognize what an opportunity this is when compared to other locations such as Cayman or Barbados. There is simply no product available on the market like The Palms.”

“A typical Palms owner,” Hartling adds, “is an entrepreneur, the kind of person who doesn’t like to see assets sit idle. They want a second home in the Caribbean and understand that this is the most logical way to have one. The rental income covers extra expenses while the capital itself appreciates, and the resort management team takes over the responsibility of maintenance and upkeep. It’s a win-win situation that makes the buying decision easy.”

The fact that a number of people enrolled in the “Preferred Choice Reservation Program” are owners at Hartling’s premiere TCI condominium resort project, The Sands at Grace Bay, comes as no surprise. Oceanfront units there have been long sold out, and the $30+ million development met and exceeded all promises made to its 90 owners. In fact, Hartling states, “I’m very proud that in the three years since the first building opened at The Sands, only one owner has chosen to re-sell their unit, and this is only because they, like several others, owned two. We took special care in bringing together a long-term group of people with common goals and clearly defined where the resort was headed. Then we always took the extra step to ensure they were satisfied. That’s how we plan to market The Palms, as well.”

Palms partner Mervin Cox agrees that he and Hartling think alike, “We’re going the same way.” As Managing Director of Coxco Construction, Cox has led a number of successful projects in the Turks & Caicos, including the renovation and new construction at exclusive Parrot Cay; the French Village at Beaches resort; and the Providenciales airport terminal. Coxco is currently building The Renaissance on Grace Bay condominiums and negotiating a number of exclusive private homes on Parrot Cay. Cox looks forward to overseeing construction at The Palms–which he anticipates will begin in April, 2002–and appreciates the value of Hartling’s low-key but sincere approach.

“I like to do things quietly, with no fanfare,” Hartling states. This and his analytical approach to development are a reflection of his initial background as a Chartered Accountant in Nova Scotia, Canada. Hartling first came to Providenciales in 1995 for an investment seminar at the law firm of McLean McNally. He recalls, “I was excited by the potential of Grace Bay and the fact that there was a golf course and so many thriving restaurants. I could feel in my gut that the island was just about to become a world-class destination.” Hartling followed his instincts and, along with Don Jensen of Temple Mortgage, searched out and purchased The Sands property–where construction commenced in September, 1997.

With the last of six buildings at The Sands finished this summer, Hartling is eager to move on to his latest endeavor. He says, “This opportunity to work with Mervin seems like the next progression of blending into the country and provides the opportunity to work directly with a very talented local entrepreneur. Our skill sets are well-matched and we both have a lot we can learn from each other. I feel that teams of this sort are the future of the Islands.”

For more information, call (649) 946-8666.

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