Have you ever seen those posters with the white sand beaches, bright blue sky, and crystal clear water that make you yearn to get away? I’ve found the perfect spot to find poster-quality relaxation, and you can do it with your kids in tow. Look no further than The Somerset on Grace Bay resort in Turks and Caicos.
Recently, my daughter Isabel and I took a trip to the resort on Providenciales Island–the most well-known of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Within minutes of getting off the plane at the island’s only airport, we were looking at a pristine beach in front of the beautiful buildings that make up The Somerset.
After a pleasant check-in, we headed up to our room, where we lingered a little longer than we usually do after check-ins. The spacious, marble-floored, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom suite with a balcony looking onto the pool and ocean was spectacular. It felt like the perfect home away from home, and others feel the same way. According to Ulrich Krauer, the resort’s asset manager, guests often request the same suite on return visits.
Like all the suites it had a washer and dryer, a coffee maker with Wolfgang Puck coffee (my favorite amenity), and a fully equipped kitchen filled with Viking appliances. Usually, the last thing I want to do on vacation is cook, but the impressive kitchen was so inviting that I was tempted. Cooking is easy to do since The Somerset will stock the kitchen with requested groceries before guests arrive.
After we got settled, we headed out to the infinity pool where we spent a good portion of our stay. Relaxing on a lounge chair under an umbrella by the pool was a cinch because it was a zero-entry pool (with a gradually sloping, ocean-like entry). Isabel could swim and splash on her own with her new friend and I could relax rather than spending my time watching her like a hawk to make sure she was safe.
When Isabel wasn’t at the pool, she was at the resort’s complimentary kids club–Caicos Kids Club. It’s held in the shade by the pool or beach, which made it easy for Isabel to enjoy the fresh island air and for me to peek in on her to make sure she was having fun–and she was!
Unlike many other kids clubs, The Somerset uses a handful of local teachers. Within the few days that we were there, Isabel learned about local culture through activities like painting conch shells, making jewelry out of shells, and decorating traditional Junkanoo costumes. Tracy, one of the club’s teachers, was nothing short of amazing. One afternoon, when it was time for me to pick up Isabel, she was still working on her costume and Tracy told me she’d stay with Isabel longer to give her the opportunity to finish—where else would that happen?
While Isabel was at the Kids Club, I was able to relax under the cabanas on the picturesque beach. The beach isn’t crowded, so there’s always a spot in the shade and someone there to help you get settled.
The resort also has sailboats and paddle boards for its active guests. I tried my hand at the paddle boards after a quick lesson. Standing on it was harder than it looked, so I decided to take the easy route. I took a seat and experienced a little piece of heaven as the board floated on top of the quiet, clear water.
Once we were officially “relaxed,” we headed to the one and only conch farm in the world. We were invited to pick them up and take a peek at what they looked like. Isabel was fascinated– and I was glad I sampled the conch fritters before we went.
There was plenty to do around the island. The snorkeling and diving is world class thanks to the barrier reef, and there are all kinds of other water sports like para-sailing and kayaking. On land, The Somerset has a croquet field and there’s a top Caribbean golf course at the Provo Island Golf Club (kids play free). It’s also easy to plan an excursion to Iguana Island or one of the islands’ many nature reserves.
There are even activities to do on the way to local destinations. Keep your eyes peeled for JoJo (the tourist-loving bottlenose dolphin that makes regular appearances around Grace Bay) and for the local potcake dogs that call the island home. Travelers can even take a potcake home (potcakeplace.com).
We didn’t get to everything, but since Turks and Caicos is less than four hours away on a direct flight, it leaves us with a good reason to return.
Megan Maxson, a lawyer, is currently working on a collection of short stories. She lives with her husband and daughter in Maplewood, New Jersey.