Turks and Caicos’ Newest Residential Resort Opens in November — and We Got a First Look – Travel + Leisure

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Over the last several months, I’ve been making the pitch to various family members that we should spend this coming Thanksgiving someplace warm — ideally on an island — that’s an easy, non-stop flight from New York City. On a recent trip to South Bank, the newest addition to the Turks and Caicos-based Grace Bay Resorts portfolio, I just might have convinced my mother-in-law, a crucial hold-out.

Here’s how it happened: Having embarked on an intergenerational trip over Passover to road test spending a holiday together, the family member, aka “holdout,” and I were standing in a four-bedroom Ocean Estate Villa. The villa is situated in one of four “neighborhoods” in the 30-acre development, looking out over Long Bay Beach. With the villa at our backs, we were totally mesmerized by the expanse of turquoise water that shimmered in a way that seemed like the best Hollywood lighting technicians had backlit it.

Courtesy of South Bank


Then we discovered the ocean looks even more other-worldly close-up when you walk down your private steps directly to the shore, where the surf beckons you to jump in (before retreating to one of your three freshwater pools). While there is no beach at this residence, my mother-in-law saw that as a selling point for this specific location. “Not everyone likes sand,” she pointed out.  (Other Ocean Estate Villas will have direct beach access.)

When I ask, “Can’t you see having Thanksgiving here?” I don’t get a definitive affirmation, but the response wasn’t a straight “no” either. It’s not hard to envision coming back, especially when you have someone like Patrick, our dedicated butler. Patrick, originally from Jamaica, was the embodiment of the Japanese concept of omotenashi, or wholehearted hospitality. If we were running low on strawberries — a food group for my children, ages four and six — new boxes would magically appear.

Labeling Patrick as a “butler,” however, doesn’t quite capture the breadth of his role. “Fixer” is a more fitting term, especially for those traveling with multiple generations. In our case, our group spanned from four to 85 years old. Patrick’s efficiency made our stay seamless, from managing dinner reservations to magically producing an inflatable pool toy when he noticed my children squabbling over one. (Perhaps not the best lesson in sharing, but it certainly made for a more peaceful vacation.)

The entire $400 million development, which is opening in phases, was inspired by Port Grimaud, a fishing village in the South of France. “It’s a place with a series of canals and life is lived on the water,” Ingo Reckhorn, co-founder of Windward, the developer of South Bank, explains to me over lunch. Boats can pull up directly to South Bank’s dock.

Courtesy of South Bank


If you don’t have your own boat (which we didn’t), don’t worry: You are in good hands. Our pre-arrival concierge, a new service offered by Grace Bay Resorts, arranged for a trip with Caicos Luxury Charters that took us out for an afternoon of world-class snorkeling — Turks and Caicos is encircled by the third-largest reef in the world — and to a sandbar in the middle of the ocean that felt like something straight out of Castaway, about 30 minutes from the mainland.

South Bank is so tranquil that when the waves are calm, you can hear a pin drop (that is, until my children arrived) and might not see another human being for days. It’s located on a quiet, low-density part of the island that’s zoned for single-family homes. The secret weapon is combining seclusion with access to all the other Grace Bay Resorts properties. If you want a change of scenery, say an afternoon at Grace Bay for a sail on the property’s catamaran or a gourmet Italian lunch at The Rock House, it’s all at your fingertips and easily arranged. (A water taxi service connecting many of these hotels is in the works.)

Meanwhile, back at South Bank, there is so little light pollution that you can see the stars twinkling brightly over Long Bay Beach.

If I had to bet, we’ll be back for Thanksgiving.

South Bank

  • Spacious villas mean multi-generational families can live in harmony.
  • This part of the island is incredibly peaceful — ideal for a tranquil getaway.
  • Dedicated butlers are efficient and wildly hospitable, doing everything from procuring dinner reservations to pool toys.

The Rooms  

Courtesy of South Bank


South Bank was designed by Blee Halligan Architects, a firm based in both London and Turks and Caicos. They’ve created sleek, angular, and uber-modern structures that are more reminiscent of the architecture you’d see in Dubai than in the Caribbean.

There are four distinct neighborhoods, one of which, Arc, won’t open until 2026. The starting category is the boathouses, of which there are 38 one-to-three-bedroom residences located adjacent to the marina, each with its own private rooftop terrace.

The 18 lagoon villas, which range in size from three to five bedrooms, are located on the island’s first ocean-fed “swimming” lagoon (it’s only 4.5 feet) that feeds into the open ocean. Some of the Lagoon villas have private docks.

The ocean estates are the crown jewels, ranging from four to six bedrooms. The smallest one is 3,150 square feet, while the largest is in the range of 8,000 feet. And if my visit was sufficient to judge, there isn’t a bad view in the place. Estate villas come with personalized butler service.

Arc will be the structure most reminiscent of a hotel. Currently, it’s a construction site, but by 2026, it will be a six-story building designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni with 17 residences, ranging from one to five bedrooms. 

Food and Drink

When South Bank opens in November, Chef Neerul Tamar, a recent transplant from Sandy Lane in Barbados, will helm Lua, a restaurant with Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. We got a sneak peek (or rather, taste) when he cooked for us one evening. Tamar prepared a straightforward but perfectly executed meal of grilled red snapper with mango salsa, tomato mozzarella pesto salad, and steak with salsa verde that ranks among the most tender I’ve ever had.

Activities and Amenities

Courtesy of South Bank


There’s a beach firepit lounge, bicycles, a fitness center overlooking the lagoon, and a tennis and pickleball court. (Lessons can be arranged.)

When the property officially opens in November, there will be a boat concierge who can arrange all things boating, including yacht rentals, diving excursions, and access to the coral reef research center.

The Spa

The spa, which has yet to open, will have four beachfront treatment rooms. It will be managed by the same company, Grace Bay Resorts, that runs the top-notch spa at the Grace Bay Club — a promising sign. Three very picky people from our group raved about their massages at the Grace Bay spa.

Family-friendly Offerings

Courtesy of South Bank


While there is no plan for a kids’ club at South Bank, the size of these villas is ideal for multigenerational travel. Many have layouts that give families ample space, often on two levels, giving everyone enough room to live harmoniously for a weeklong vacation. When completed, South Bank will have more than 30 villas, making it one of the largest inventories of larger, standalone homes in the Caribbean.

Another note for families: the lagoon is shallow (the deepest it gets is 4.5 feet), making the lagoon villas a good place for young children since it’s calm and protected.  

Sustainability and Accessibility

South Bank recycles all of its graywater to use in its irrigation system and is working to remove single-use plastics from its operation. The landscaping prioritizes native plants and trees, establishing habitats for local wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, and lizards.

The property is currently not ADA-compliant.

Location

South Bank is located in the less developed, remote part of Providenciales and is about nine miles, or a 20-minute drive, from the airport. Grace Bay, where many hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton and Grace Bay Resort, are found, is about a 10-minute drive from South Bank.  If you are interested in exploring the island or eating off-property, a car is recommended since no on-demand car apps are currently available. However, transportation is easily arranged through the hotel, though it can get expensive.  

How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Stay

The resort is now accepting reservations beginning Nov. 1, 2024, with inaugural savings of up to 35 percent. Rates currently start at $888 per night.

South Bank is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which has three membership tiers based on how many nights you stay at one of its member properties. If you join their free loyalty program, you’ll receive 10 percent off, early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Tier three is awarded to those who stay more than 13 nights at member hotels — you’ll get complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, and a $300 reward night voucher.

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