New Development

Old and New in Harmony

img_2635Grand Turk’s first branded beachfront resort property embraces its historical setting.

By Bobbi Misick

Grand Turk [is a] low key charmer that holds wild architecture, remnants of the island’s colonial past,” reads the website for travel-guide authority Frommer’s, noting the island’s “friendly small-town vibe,” and calling it “Mayberry by the sea.” This Old-World, small-town charm is one thing that sets the Turks & Caicos Islands’ capital apart and encourages a large supply of development opportunity.

In fact, every detail of the Wyndham Cacique Royale Beach Resort is intended to promote Grand Turk’s understated greatness—from the resort’s positioning before the glorious peach and purple sunsets to the buildings’ gabled entryways and metal rooftops, a wink to Bermudian architecture, and names like Nanichi that testify to the ancient heart of the project.

Separated from South Caicos by the 22-mile Columbus Passage, the seven-mile-long, bean-shaped island maintains buildings and establishments that have—in the modern sense—been there forever, with a lazy layout that resists industrial change. An aerial view of Grand Turk reveals pointed roofs with zinc coverings formed around frothy salinas and carelessly drawn roadways, similar to neighborhoods on the outskirts of London or (more aptly) the center of Bermuda, from which much of the Caicos architecture and infrastructure is derived.

Zoom in to find an enchanting island where donkeys, horses and cows freely roam the quiet streets, eating bushes and blocking roadways; where large buildings, out of use for decades, stare out onto the reef as if remembering times past and waves crash below an old lighthouse (now a historical attraction).

These endearing qualities helped foster local developer C. Washington Misick’s long-term relationship with Grand Turk. He served here as a police officer in the 1970s and later founded the first branch of 27-year-old real estate agency Prestigious Properties (the oldest agency in TCI) on Grand Turk’s historical Front Street. Misick eventually represented the major settlement of Overback Salina in the Turks & Caicos parliament for 16 years.  Although he’s since relocated to Providenciales, where he and partners own the seven-year-old Alexandra Resort & Spa on Grace Bay, Misick chose to build his second condo-hotel resort community—the Wyndham Cacique Royale Beach Resort—on Grand Turk.

“I just think it’s a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community of Grand Turk that has given so much to me,” Misick sighs. “I want to create something that not only I can be proud of, but the people on the island can be happy with.”

Washington Misick had originally hoped to introduce an establishment to revive the sleepy island’s economy during his years as Turks & Caicos Islands’ Chief Minister and Minister of Development (1992–1995)—after the shift in commercial centers from Grand Turk to Providenciales in the 1980s—but was unsuccessful. He recalls, “I thought a resort was necessary to revive the economy and provide jobs. I wasn’t able to do it as Chief Minister, but as soon as I was, I acquired the land and I did.”

Misick purchased beachfront property on northwest Grand Turk, a “picturesque and tranquil location” that added to the project’s appeal (among other factors) for Wyndham Hotel Group, says Marco Roca, Senior Vice President of Development for Wyndham’s Latin America and Caribbean division. With an expansive development plan underway, as the first branded beachfront resort property in Grand Turk, Cacique will instigate an industrial renaissance for the island, boosting the profits of local tourist-oriented businesses and providing nearly 200 new jobs on location. The project will consist of 251 studio, deluxe studio, one and two bedroom residences situated directly on the beautiful beachfront location.

“The completion of this commercial venture has been a dream of mine to contribute to the economy of Grand Turk and to give something back for the confidence of that constituency in me,” Washington reiterates. “We’re excited to bring such a tremendous hotel brand into the Turks & Caicos Islands. In terms of presence in the marketplace, Wyndham is one of the largest hotel companies in the world and certainly in the Caribbean, with 6,000+ hotels worldwide and approximately 500,000 hotel rooms.”

With 24 resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico—including hotels in neighboring countries the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic—the folks at Wyndham know the key components to a luxury Caribbean resort. “The Cacique project was always of an upscale, high-end nature,” Marco Roca emphasizes. “we are proud to be a part of this development and are available to assist and approve where we feel there is a need.”

Roca’s team suggested an “increase of all public spaces,” expanding on the deluxe amenities package to include a convivial lounge in the reception center, a second restaurant, a banquet space and other additions to the already planned state-of-the-art spa, dive and watersport facility, shops and bar and grill.

“Basically, we want to create a luxury resort with a sort of old-world charm, but with all of the contemporary amenities. Branding Cacique Royale with the Wyndham name brings all of the amenities of a four-star resort,” Washington Misick says.

caciquesiteplan-04“The Wyndham Cacique Royale Beach Resort in Grand Turk will promote tourism and introduce thousands of travelers to this wonderful island, with its colorful history and culture, friendly people, beautiful beaches and exciting recreational activities,” Roca adds. “Wyndham Hotels and Resorts has had a long standing appeal in the Caribbean by developing properties that work well with the local setting and embrace the community in which they are located.”

In this respect, the Wyndham Cacique Royale Beach Resort blends with the rich local history and architectural aesthetic of Grand Turk, paying close attention to even include pre-Columbian, Taino (or Lucayan) Indian references such as the name Cacique—the term for chief in Taino culture. This theme carries over into naming all areas on the site with traditional Taino terms like Baqua (sea) given to the beachfront cottages and Nanichi (translated to mean “my heart” or “my love”) as the name for the resident spa. “I wanted to build a resort that in every respect reflects the history and culture of the island,” Misick says.

He also named the 1,000-foot stretch of beachfront on which the resort lies Pirate’s Bay (residents of the Turks & Caicos Islands have long assumed the responsibility of naming streets and special locations as a way to speed along the government process), as a reference to Grand Turk’s noted history of piracy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

But perhaps the architecture is Cacique’s best example of history. The Baqua cottages’ simple, functional design is synonymous with Bermudian homes and will be painted a bright pink that blends in with the magnificent sunset views along the shore.

“Grand Turk and South Caicos are the places where you can see the most examples of Bermudian and Turks & Caicos architecture,” Misick’s son and project architectural technologist Chuck Misick says. “The resort is designed on one side to give you that cottage-style feel of living in a traditional house on Grand Turk. The buildings have the appearance of a sturdy monolithic limestone structure that Bermudian architecture is so recognized for.”

Beginning in the late 1600s, Bermudian sloops traveled to the Turks & Caicos Islands transporting salt from Grand Turk and Salt Cay (leaders in the industry during the milling era) to North American colonies.  Many Bermudian sailors relocated along the archipelago as the first Colonial settlers here. In fact, Misick traces his own lineage back to Bermudian sailors who settled in North Caicos.

“The phrase ‘Washy’ used was, ‘Try to Bermudify it,’” chuckles Brian Macdonald, the OBM International architect responsible for Cacique’s initial drawings, while showing off the development’s original designs. Having worked for an OBM competitor in Bermuda for over six years, Macdonald knew where and how to add the right touches to the project, careful not to make anything seem fake or out of place.

Larger buildings like the Karaya Suites stray from the cottage model, but continue the Bermudian-Caicos aesthetic with accents like hurricane shutters and traditional Caicos style railings. Gabled entryways and corrugated metal rooftops further illustrate the Turks & Caicos’ longstanding relationship with their fellow colony in the North Atlantic. “The goal was not to copy, but to interpret the history of Bermudian architecture for today,” Macdonald comments.

Bermudification aside, Cacique’s suites are anything but ancient.  Misick called on award winning, Texas-based interior design firm Duncan and Miller Design to craft an effortlessly comfortable atmosphere in every room with porcelain tile flooring, granite countertops, brand name Kohler fixtures, stainless steel appliances and solid wood cabinetry. “Our goal was to design something with lasting value, something classic and simple in design,” Duncan and Miller’s Shantell Travis explains. “We wanted to keep a fresh clean palette that would showcase and create a backdrop for the breathtaking view. We wanted to offer something that would inspire a calm, serene environment for the guest.”

Ensuring that all the elements of design, architecture and location work together to pay homage to the local surrounds, Misick, Roca and their associates wish to showcase Grand Turk’s intrinsically enchanting quality. “Grand Turk has a ‘trapped in time’ feel where it seems as if you’re taking a step back into history, where time seems to stand still and nothing else seems to matter but the moment you’re in,” Chuck Misick says.

It seems if anyone could stay true to Grand Turk’s cultural ambiance, Washington Misick and his team can. Cacique Royale—the “Royal Chief” is a testament to old and new existing in harmony.

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