Resort Report

Sharing a Secret: Harbour Club Villas & Marina

hcvillaBy Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos by Marta Morton

I love secrets. Unfortunately, on a small island, there aren’t many to be found.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when the Harbour Club Villas & Marina were brought to my attention. Nestled on the south- central shore of Providenciales (below what locals call Jim Hill) on Venetian Road, Harbour Club just happened to be off my beaten path. Discovering this tranquil enclave is a secret that I simply can’t keep to myself.

Harbour Club Villas

Obviously not part of the Grace Bay Beach scene, a stay at Harbour Club brings to light a different version of utopic Caribbean living. Its six individual villas are built on land that straddles the peaceful expanse of Flamingo Lake and the Atlantic Ocean at Discovery Bay. This unique positioning invites outstanding views, refreshing breezes and a variety of recreational options. Staying in a private villa allows guests the freedom to enjoy themselves as they please — and what is pleasing to many are bonefishing, scuba diving, kayaking and exploring.

The on-site owners are Barry and Marta Morton, a personable Canadian couple who obviously enjoy their life in the Islands as much as their guests do. After spending 25 years running tourist gift shops in the chilly mountains of Banff, Alberta, they were more than ready for a change in climate. Marta spent much of her childhood in the Caribbean and had fond memories of sunny days and a slower pace of life. Barry made the initial foray to Providenciales in 1995 and, following several weeks of scouting, was especially impressed with a plot of land recommended by local realtor Bob Pratt, which was soon to become the couple’s new home and livelihood. Bob sold them the adjacent property to his home where he was developing South Side Marina which made for a natural dock extension incorporating their canal frontage.

Barry recalls, “One of the most fortunate things to happen early-on was meeting Oliver Stubbs. Through his business, Oliver & Oliver Drafting, he was able to prepare, submit and have our plans approved. Then he brought in his brother Keith, cousin Mike and other friends and family members to get the construction done in record time. Danny Delancy handled all the plumbing and electrical projects which got us up and running.” This enabled Barry and Marta to work on some of the finishing touches and decorating, and they are proud to say that no two villas look exactly alike!

They also laud Nicky Turner and Dudley Forbes at Island Landscaping, who turned what was literally a mound of bare limestone rock into the lush oasis of greenery that Harbour Club is today. Marta explains, “We couldn’t believe it could be done, but they filled holes in the rock with topsoil, planted young bushes and trees and instructed us to do lots of watering.” The results were inspiring and these days, gardening has become one of the couple’s passions.

Harbour Club opened for the 1999/2000 Winter season and, ironically, it was one of the first guests who shared a secret of his own. Barry explains, “Chris Coile, president of the Maryland Bonefishing Association, told us that the waters around our property — Flamingo Lake, Turtle Lake and the ocean flats — offered some of the best bonefishing in the world. Prior to that, I didn’t even know what a bonefish was!” And just like that, Harbour Club had found a niche in the market.

hcfishingBonefishing at Harbour Club

Today, bonefishing enthusiasts rave about their experiences here and, when fishermen get together they passionately exchange tips on locations, fly-tying and casting techniques. Barry says, “Many of our fishing guests will spend one or two days with a guide (who are all well-known among aficionados, who do their research ahead of time) and other days exploring the flats on their own. We’re compiling comments from our guest books and websites to create our Bonefish Bible, which is a best seller here!” Marta adds, “It’s especially alluring when, on calm days, guests can see bonefish tailing in Flamingo Lake from their villa windows. Recently, 21 bonefish were caught and released in a two hour period as we watched from our deck. It was amazing and our guests talked about it for days!”

Another group of visitors who have found a haven at Harbour Club are scuba divers. The property’s south boundary is a dock along the Discovery Bay canal and four local dive operators — Provo Turtle Divers, Flamingo Divers, Caicos Adventures and Beaches Resort — keep dive boats at the marina for trips to West Caicos and French Cay. These destinations offer some of the most outstanding and pristine wall diving in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Harbour Club’s unique location offers avid divers quick and convenient access to the dive boats which is especially appreciated for their traditional early morning departures!

Other popular pastimes include kayaking in the peaceful waters of Flamingo and Turtle Lakes, through the canals or in the ocean itself, a trip that can combine fishing and snorkeling off nearby Bay Cay. There’s also plenty of room for relaxing around the club’s private pool and sunning patio, complete with covered gazebo and a barbecue grill for guests’ use.

hcinteriorHarbour Club Interior

Each spacious villa — at 650 sq. ft. much larger than a hotel room — feels comfortably like home and reflects a relaxed Caribbean lifestyle. The open-plan living area includes a rattan sofa and queen sofa bed, with a separate window-lined dining alcove overlooking the lake. The kitchen is fully equipped and includes a versatile countertop bar. Although numerous ceiling fans, louvered screen windows and steady breezes keep the villas quite cool, the bedroom does include air conditioning to ensure a good night’s sleep. Tropical decor includes terra cotta tiles, colorful fabric and artwork of typical plants, birds and Old World maps. Hand-cut native stone patios, walls and walkways connect the cottages, with lush landscaping ensuring privacy.

The Mortons say that guests typically “come and go” during the day, often eating breakfast and lunch at “home” and enjoying dinners at local restaurants. While some choose to rent cars, it’s not a necessity. ‘”We’re happy to do what we can to accommodate our guests. We’ll run them up to the supermarket, drop them off at Turtle Cove for snorkeling and the north side beach and even take them to Ports of Call for shopping. Often, they’ll spend the day ‘doing their thing’ and take a taxi back.”

This attitude reflects Marta and Barry’s similarity to old-fashioned innkeepers, who treat guests as family. In fact, Harbour Club welcomes many return visitors, the Mortons say. “Many came the first time for a special occasion — honeymoon, anniversary, birthday or reunion — and just keep coming back. This is one of the few places we know of where guests hug us when they say good-bye and keep in touch all year round.”

Harbour Club is not a secret to all local residents. Its atmosphere of peaceful beauty has inspired it to serve as the site for several retreats, including Oliver Ferguson’s annual vacation bible school and Tri-Island Yoga’s weekend get-away.

The Mortons say that future plans could include adding outdoor patios to the front of each cottage, converting the villas into single-owner condominiums and in the future, building additional units and a restaurant. But, they add, all of that just might hinder the personal feeling of tranquility that they enjoy every day. And that is one secret to happiness they are more than willing to share.

For more information about Harbour Club Villas & Marina, phone or fax (649) 941-5748, e-mail harbourclub@tciway.tc or visit www.harbourclubvillas.com or www.bonefishing.tc.



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On the Cover

Marta Morton, owner/operator of Harbour Club Villas (www.harbourclubvillas.com) took this photo of the native Turks & Caicos rock iguana on Bay Cay. This endemic animal is being threatened by the invasive green iguana. See article on page 36.

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