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Home > Destinations > Turks & Caicos Islands > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Turks & Caicos Islands - Trip Reports

Club Med Turkoise, Provo

I went to Club Med Turkoise in the middle of March 2003. I went alone, a single female (mid 30s). This was my second Club Med, having gone to the one in Cancun back in 2001. I've been home for almost a month, but I'm still smiling from this great vacation!

Turks & Caicos has the least name recognition of any nation on earth (so just tell people you're going to a Club Med in the Caribbean). It's made up of over 40 islands - only eight of which are inhabited. They are located just south of the Bahamas. Providenciales (Provo), is one of the largest islands with approximately 37 square miles. Grace Bay is situated on the northern side of Provo, with Club Med at the far eastern end. The reef, approximately 400 yards out, breaks the water, making for a calm beachfront with powdery white sand.

A few things to explain about Club Med in general. Club Med is a French company which started the all-inclusive concept, and has numerous locations worldwide, though only certain ones are marketed for Americans. There are two adults-only villages, Cancun and Turkoise (Turks & Caicos), for those 18 years and older. It's an adults-only sleep-away camp for those who want a week of non-stop activity and fun. It's like a big frat party geared towards adults that want to have a good time. Until you get used to it, it's a bit awkward (especially if you go solo), but once you get involved, you're hooked and you will go back.

Guests are known as GMs, or Gracious Members. The villages are run by GOs, Gracious Organizers, who are friendly, young, international hosts and hostesses. GOs are usually attractive and outgoing, and among other things run the bar and operate the front reception and boutique (store). Their boss is the Chef de Village (the Chief). Numerous languages are spoken, mostly English, French and some Spanish.

The GO staff does all the instruction and organization of group activities. These are generally young men and women who work for Club Med in exchange for room, meals and a small salary. They run the activities during the day, socialize with you at lunch and dinner, and party with you in the evening. They generally stay at a village for a year before Club Med moves them somewhere else. They're more like guests who have just been there a long time and know the ropes. On a side note, ladies, Eyal, the Chef du Sports, is absolutely gorgeous!

Getting There: I booked online thru the Club Med website and got a Last Minute Deal. Since I live near Seattle, I checked for a few weeks previous to my scheduled vacation, then booked my flight from Seattle to New York based on the charter time (I found out the times for the week I wanted by pretending to book a full-price trip online). It turned out that I had to fly in the day before and stay a day after to make the charter. With the Last Minute Deal, I was able to get a single room for less than what most people paid for a shared room.about 45% off the standard price. That said, if you have your heart set on a specific Club Med, know that only certain villages are offered each week under the Last Minute Deal promotion, and you run the risk of it being sold-out.

The charter flies weekly on Saturdays from JFK non-stop to Turks & Caicos. I liked the charter because you meet people on the way there and feel like part of the crowd. The bad thing is, it's 250 people all trying to get to the same place (and leave the same place) at the same time. The flight took about 4 hours, and the happy staff from Club Med met us and bags were taken care of as we crammed into several vans. From the airport to Club Med was about 15 minutes, and I noticed that the island was very clean. On arrival, GOs served us fruit punch and got us checked in at the open-air theater. They give you an envelope with a map of the village and your room key, then you go with a GO along with others in your building for a quick tour to your room. The luggage is dropped off at luggage depots near each building.

Once that's done, you have to go get your credit card imprinted at reception, and that got you your beach towel card. This allows you unlimited trades for one and only one blue towel between 8:30am and 7pm. I usually got a new one each evening so I'd be ready to go in the morning.

Accommodations: The room was pretty large with tiled floors, two closets, air conditioning and single beds. The shower stall was tiny (the only thing that's better at Cancun), though the toilet was in a separate room near the door and the sink located in between (convenient if you had a roommate). It had a TV with cable, including HBO, telephone with voicemail, safes and two chairs (but no clocks). By the way, the resort information on TV was not all that accurate.get the handout at reception for the current info. I was lucky that my A/C and lights worked without the key card (some rooms required key cards to be inserted into a special slot for electricity to work.if that's the case, just fold some paper and stick that in instead), and I had a partial view of the beach! Building D is the closest to everything and where I stayed. Building F is near the tennis courts, and Buildings A-C are on the other side of the pool and are a bit quieter. Building C is also closer to the diving shack. I booked a single room but you can share a room to lower the price. However, there were a few people who didn't get along with their roommates at all, or were temporarily "homeless" when their roommates "hooked up".

Food: The food was served buffet style in the main restaurant. It was open from 7-10:45am for breakfast, 12:30-2:45pm for lunch, and 7:30pm-9:15pm for dinner. They usually had a theme each day (Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc), but standards, such as pasta, rice and fish (grouper and mahi mahi were there every day at lunch) were available. Cheap beer and wine (white, rose and red) are included with meals. There was usually a good cheese selection, a variety of fresh-baked breads (including white chocolate bread.yum!), and desserts. Don't miss the Grand Buffet, which is usually on Friday nights. I had baked scallops, poached salmon, stuffed mussels, caviar on toast, fried shrimp, and strawberry shortcake that night.the best meal there!

The main restaurant was divided into a "couples/family" room and a "singles" room for dinner. This really meant a "quiet" room versus a really "loud" room. The family room was basically parents vacationing with their adult children and couples, since this was an 18 and over Club Med. Club Med seated 8-10 people per table for meals. This was an ideal way to meet people, though by the end of the week, I was getting tired of saying my name and what I did for a living every time I sat down to eat. Also, it was sometimes frustrating when I ended up being seated with a group of French speakers (since I don't speak French). Don't be shy about scoping out a table you'd like to sit at, and asking the hostess if s/he could seat you there (or, just seating yourself). There was also a fancier annex restaurant, Le Grille, which I didn't try. You had to sign up for reservations at noon. I never made it there nor did I want to stand in line.

Speaking of lines, Americans generally like to stand in lines, but most French people just cut right in, get what they want, and get out. It's much faster this way for everyone. Be polite, but try it.you'll see it works.

Drinks: I ended up buying the all-inclusive bar bracelet for the week so that I wouldn't have to carry paper bar tickets to buy drinks and snacks at the bar. Get the bar bracelet even if you're a moderate drinker.(so worth it). Only serious "power drinkers" are likely to save money, but economy isn't the only reason to get one. The bar tickets are a pain.especially because they're not waterproof! The only problem with the bracelet was that you couldn't buy drinks for anyone else. The nice thing, though, was that the bracelet also included all non-alcoholic drinks, smoothies, espresso, and snacks (microwave pizza, chips, nachos). I think Club Med is going to include drinks and snacks starting this spring.

My favorite drinks were the lime slush with Absolut and non-alcoholic Strawberry/Banana smoothie. Make sure to specify call brands if you prefer something, or they'll use generic liquor. Champagne is also available for an extra charge.I think it was about $75 for a bottle of Vueve Cliquot chilled in a stainless bucket with real glasses.

Activities: There were a lot of activities available (and included for no additional charge). They included sailing (small pre-rigged Hobie Cat catamarans), windsurfing (it's harder than it looks), snorkeling, circus (trapeze, trampoline and juggling), tennis, aerobics, pool games, soccer, and a fitness center. SCUBA was also available for additional cost, including resort, open water and advanced certifications. They usually offer a free "bubblemakers" trial at the pool on Sunday.

If you're interested in lessons, especially windsurfing and sailing, make sure to sign up early. The new board is usually up by 9am each morning for the next day's lessons.

There were free Club Med snorkeling boat trips, which were offered twice a day to various snorkeling sites, where you have to buddy up.there weren't that many fish, but then again, when 35 people jump off a boat, they tend to hide! If you really like snorkeling, I would recommend taking your own mask and snorkel. They will hand out fins and life vests (you don't have to inflate them.it's really salty water so you're pretty buoyant anyway). I saw flounder, spiny lobster, sergeant majors, needlefish, and even a brown nurse shark. One day, we got really lucky and got to swim with JoJo, who followed the boat out to the snorkeling spot. He's a wild Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin who has lived alone in the water near Grace Bay for 20 years. He is so beloved that the government declared him a National Treasure and appointed a local environmentalist as his official caregiver.

Board games, ping pong paddles, tennis racquets and basketballs were also available from the reception desk. You can also golf next door at the Ocean Club resort. Massage was also available and people who had them said they were nice.

If you're interested in lying around the beach or the pool, get there early (like 6-7am) if you want a covered umbrella/palapa. Stake your claim with your towel and/or unimportant shirt/magazine, whatever.

One night during the week, they have a Foam Party. They fill a large pen near the pool outside with foam and people danced around in it.it sounds like a good idea, until the soap gets everywhere, including in your eyes!

Excursions were also available and included:

   Middle Caicos Caving - $149
   Conch Cruise - $59 (included a small conch salad lunch)
   Party Sunset "Booze" Cruise - $39

Some people rented mopeds from the Allegro or Ocean Club resorts next door and rode around the island (there's not much to see). You can walk in about 15 minutes to the Ports of Call Shopping Center for souvenirs.

There was a free "sail" to Iguana Island once a week, but limited to the number of catamarans (4 to a boat), and you had to pay a $5 national park fee in cash.

At sunset, there is usually a guitarist who plays to the crowd on the beach. While I was there, Dave Binder was "the Guitar Man", and he was awesome. He played oldies and Jimmy Buffet songs.it was a great way to end the day before the nighttime fun. br>
Each night after dinner (around 9:30pm), the GOs put on a show for evening entertainment. The shows, in general, were so amateurish they were funny. Most of the entertainment was repeated in both English and French. The shows are not Broadway by any stretch; okay, some were stupid and some were downright bad, but I went to most of them anyway. The Tennis Comedy and Circus shows were particularly good. Also, you can "volunteer" to participate in shows, which usually means doing something that makes you look really stupid, but you always get a free cocktail and generally a discount or gift certificate for the boutique. br>
Also, before and after the show, Club Med does Crazy Signs. They are silly dances, which you end up doing no matter how stupid you think it is. Weeks after you've returned home, the songs will be dancing in your head. While I was there, they played the following: br>
   Put Your Hands Up - Black & White Brothers
   Samba de Janiero - Bellini
   Muevelo - Fey
   Starlight - The Supermen Lovers
   Asereje - Las Ketchup
   Sex Bomb - Tom Jones & Mousse T
   Ice Cream - Lou Bega
   Freed from Desire - Gala
   I See You Baby - Groove Armada
   and of course, Hands Up - Ottawan

Crazy Signs will stay in your head forever. Check www.crazysigns.co.uk for help.

After the show, they had dancing at the main bar. It was crowded every night, unlike Cancun, where people left the village to party downtown. The beach bar, Sharky's, was closed during the week I went, but they set up a temporary "Sand Bar" on the beach, which was open all day and again after the main bar closed around 2am. At each night's party, residents from Provo came to hang out and dance and drink. The Club charges them a cover for this but for the most part, they stood on the side and watched, since they weren't well-known by the GMs.

People: The week I went, there was a mixed age crowd with most of us in our 20s and 30s, with couples as well as singles, though I'd say it was 65/35 women to men. There seemed to be a lot of groups of two or three girlfriends traveling together. The makeup of the club ended up being about 60% Americans from the East Coast, with the remainder from eastern Canada (Toronto and Montreal). A few were from other countries, such as France, Belgium and Chile.

Weather: The weather was beautiful the entire time I was there, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 70s. It drizzled for a bit only on one day for a short time.

Packing Suggestions: Bring a camera (including a waterproof one). Lots of people had digital ones, which were great because the sun was so bright and some of my pictures didn't come out well. I could've checked and re-taken them had I had a digital camera. Bring strong sunscreen and make sure to put in on everywhere several times a day. Take lots of swim suits.they take a while to dry, and you don't want to wear the same one for a week. A watch, really. There are very few clocks at Club Med, and lessons, excursions, and anything SCUBA-related are on a schedule. If you're late, you'll miss out.

Other Info: It turns out that though Turks & Caicos is on Eastern Time, because we were still on Daylight Standard Time, the village was on "Club Med time".an hour ahead of the East Coast. This made for a nice sunset at 7pm, just before dinner.

Don't wear perfume.there are tons of mosquitoes after dusk. They were fumigating the resort daily and this seemed to help.

There is a Club Med photographer that roams around and takes pictures (and is sometimes quite persistent). The pictures are printed off a computer, though, and are not that great a quality for the price.I think they were $10 for a 4x6.

Most people wore swim trunks / bikinis (with a wrap for walking around and t-shirts/tank tops for meals) during the day. Some people really dressed nicely for dinner, but I found mini-skirts and capris were best for dancing/partying.

Landry service was available and washing machines were also located throughout the village. There were also ice machines in most buildings. Electricity is the same as in the US and a first aid infirmary was on-site. The tap water was safe to drink, though it had a weird desalinated taste to it.

The boutique has sales throughout the week, and most of the Club Med logo merchandise were well-priced. However, disposable cameras were $25!

There are a lot of cigarette smokers.both GOs and GMs (if you smoke, buy at Duty Free before getting to Club Med as cigarettes are very expensive). Some people also bought liquor and discreetly brought them to Club Med as well.

Scrub with a washcloth after coming back from the beach, otherwise, you'll get tiny sand flea bites EVERYWHERE (no matter how drunk you are, shower before sleeping if you've been on the beach!)

Near the last day, they'll post notices near reception on when your airport transportation will depart the village and when you luggage needs to be at the luggage depot. Especially if you're coming in by charter, check-out early to avoid lines. Since the charter comes and goes on Saturdays, it's helpful to arrive the same day so you don't end up meeting people on Friday who all leave while you're there until, say , Wednesday.

On the last day, shower rooms are available in 15 minute increments.make sure to reserve one when checking out in the morning. That way, you can have fun on the beach instead of sitting around waiting to leave.

It was very easy to meet people, easy to start a conversation - "Hey, I saw you at the windsurfing class" - and pretty safe to assume anyone hanging out past midnight was willing if the chemistry was right. The standard Club Med pick-up line was usually "Wanna go for a walk on the beach?" after dark. That said, it kinda depends on the crowd that's there for the week, and for the most part, there's also no pressure if you're not interested.

Check these websites for info, trip reports and reviews: clubmed.com (obviously), turq.com, wheretostay.com, tripadvisor.com, epinions.com, and volleyballvacations.com

Address: Club Med Turkoise, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands, British West Indies
Phone: 649-946-5500
Fax: 649-946-5497

Conclusion: The beach and the GOs were definitely the best part of the trip. The GOs were very friendly and were anxious to help guests have a good time. I liked the fact they didn't push guests too hard to participate. You can go there and be busy with sports and activities all day long, or lie on the beach and relax. The GMs were also nice, but it was hard as a solo female to link up with a group without feeling like a third wheel. Anyway, I hope to go back to Club Med Turkoise again soon.

Thanks to anon for this trip report ...
March 2003

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