Inside Pine Cay, a private ‘secret’ Caribbean resort – Robb Report

Even the most savvy Caribbean travelers might bow their heads at the mention of Pine Cay in Turks and Caicos – and this aura of hidden mystique is no accident.

Situated along the third largest barrier reef in the world and surrounded by a two-mile powdery white sand beach, the 800-acre private island seems like worlds far apart, but is only a brief stroll away. (and beautiful) 20 minute boat ride to Providenciales, the main tourist hub of Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos itself is only a three-and-a-half-hour plane ride from New York City and is known for its crystal-clear, vivid blue waters and soft limestone sands.

What surprises most travelers oblivious to the existence of Pine Cay is that it has been a coveted travel destination for the privileged few since its development in the 1970s. The hotel, formerly known as The Meridian Club, was developed as a no-frills resort and club for owners on the island (there are 38 residential sites), but it wasn’t until July 2021 that it reopened its whitewashed doors. lime as Relais & Châteaux, with a new look, incredible lineup and a unified rebranding under the name of Pine Cay.

One of the bungalows at the Pine Cay hotel.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

Unlike its flashier, South Beach-esque neighbors, Pine Cay stands out with its exceptionally intimate atmosphere and laid-back approach to island life; it looks more like a sprawling estate than a hotel. If you are looking for a lively destination full of restaurants and beach bars, this is not for you, but if you are looking for seclusion, island adventures and peace and quiet (children under 12 are not allowed in the hotel), your bungalow by the beach awaits.

Pine Cay

A guest bedroom.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

“What sets us apart is the feeling that Pine Cay is your private island, independent of other guests,” said General Manager Kirk Aulin. Robb Report. “The heritage and history of the island, which dates back to the 1970s, lives on thanks to a handful of families who built homes here, as well as the hotel. They work in perfect harmony with the natural environment of the island. When you stay at Pine Cay, you are immersed in their world, where their children and grandchildren have grown up for generations. There is a special energy that comes with it.

Pine Cay

Explore the Pine Cay “Aquarium” from or underwater.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

Pine Cay’s main lodge houses the check-in, dining, and shop, and opens onto the freshwater pool. There are 12 dune-side rooms and suites, each with a sleek and elevated Caribbean design, whitewashed walls, light wood paneling, and sea-inspired decor. The rooms have three showers (two of which are exterior) and private bathrooms. ‘a private screened terrace that opens directly onto the sand.

Just steps from each room is a private tiki-style palapa with lounge chairs, perfect for enjoying a coffee or fresh juice each morning. The island is so safe and secure that guests do not get a key (unless requested) to lock their doors. But modern luxury is not forgotten: rooms will soon be equipped with iPads for ordering room service, making appointments and requesting concierge services.

Pine Cay

Each bungalow has a private beach palapa.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kirs Turnbull

Aulin, who has decades of experience in luxury Caribbean hospitality, has also elevated the hotel to Relais & Châteaux standards by seeking out a global roster of talented chefs, mixologists and spa therapists for a true five star experience. , while retaining the Turks and Caicos Islands. charm.

Among all these strengths, the restaurant is the star. Over the past few years, the team of chefs has perfected the menu to exacting standards. Guest days begin with an immune-boosting injection (which changes daily) of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. The thoughtful breakfast, lunch and dinner menus always contain local ingredients and change daily based on the local catch. As this is the conch capital of the Caribbean, it’s not uncommon for the menu to feature fried conch or conch ceviche, and seafood always takes center stage. The chef also makes his own hot sauce – be sure to ask for a pot before you go – and in an effort to avoid food waste, dinner is ordered at lunch.

Pine Cay

Dessert at the excellent restaurant.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

Although little infrastructure has been added since its inception in the 1970s, there’s a new beachfront beach bar with chic seating, perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. The mixology menu offers delicious and thoughtful drinks like a variation on classic rum punch and a gin and tonic infused with truffle oil.

It’s impossible to come to the Turks and Caicos Islands without doing water sports, and Pine Cay offers scuba diving, bone fishing, snorkeling, Hobie Cat catamarans, kayaks, paddleboarding, boat cruises and more. When the tide is out, you can collect Sand Dollars just steps from the main lodge and walk what feels like miles by the water’s edge. Be sure to keep an eye out for Pine Cay’s resident dolphin, affectionately named JoJo by the staff, who makes an appearance every now and then.

Pine Cay

Just some of what you might find underwater.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

The active set can also enjoy the lawn tennis court, mini basketball court, fitness center, and regular fat tires and bikes to cycle around the island. Electric golf carts (no motorized vehicles are allowed here) are also available, if that’s more your speed. Pine Cay also has a private marina where owners dock their boats and from which hotel guests can take off for a day on the water. Next, book a treatment at the two-bedroom Sand Dollar Spa, where menu favorites include Signature and Thai massages.

Aulin is keen to preserve the history and natural splendor of the island, which is roughly the size of Central Park, so he has created several initiatives to make the island more sustainable. These include the use of rainwater harvesting, solar panels, electric transport, no single use plastics, Dark Sky lighting and beach lighting that respects the environment and fuel efficient boats. . Pine Cay is a key partner in the Caicos Pine Recovery Project which helps protect the country’s native tree, the Caicos pine (Pinus caribaea), which is currently threatened by the invasive scale of the pine turtle.

Pine Cay

The private marina.

Courtesy of Pine Cay / Kira Turnbull

Another distinction of Pine Cay is the residential aspect. The owners are mainly from the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom, as the Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory. Unlike other islands here, however, don’t expect flashy mansions or glitzy accommodations. The low-key homes blend in perfectly with the natural landscape (there are building restrictions that limit height and square footage) and are located away from the beach.

Many owners are torn between wanting to keep their piece of paradise a secret and embracing a new generation of travelers looking for a quiet getaway. “It’s essential to keep this incredibly underdeveloped feeling,” says Tim Simond, owner and designer of the hotel. “Pine Cay is actually the same today as it was four years ago, with the exception of a few new homes and renovations. The new facilities are still on a scale compared to this and we have no plans to change as the island is ruled by the owners who, as a rarity, effectively own the hotel and thus control the development. . We are very sensitive to what we have and work to keep its special atmosphere.

Following recent room and spa renovations, the next phase of the hotel’s renovation will begin in August 2022 and will include the repositioning of the bar and the addition of a new barbecue and service area. Rates per room, per night start at $ 1,525 and include all meals, soft drinks, a selection of spirits, transfers from the mainland, water sports, sailing and all activities on the island.


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