Photo: The Somerset on Grace Bay

The Somerset on Grace Bay: an Elegant Getaway in Turks and Caicos

Epic Stays
by Nikki Rue Jan 8, 2024

Within minutes of arriving at The Somerset in Turks and Caicos, I knew this version of paradise was a unique one. My view from the Stirling 303 Villa was amazing, looking out on white sand and turquoise water.

Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales in Turks and Caicos is one of the most renowned beaches in the region, which is just north of the area technically called “The Caribbean.” (It’s actually closer to the Bahamas.) And The Somerset on Grace Bay takes advantage of its location on the beach, with umbrellas perfectly spaced out on the powdery sand to create an ideal place to relax the day away in the sun. During my trip, I’d take a dip in the pool, enjoy the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, then repeat.

The beach at The Somerset at Grace Bay, turks and caicos

The beach at The Somerset at Grace Bay. Photo: Nikki Rue

The Somerset is a luxury resort on the beach. It’s not a mega-resort, with just 53 units that include multi-room estates, villas, and townhouses. All lodging options have kitchens, separate dining areas, and outdoor spaces.

Throughout the property, the ambiance is cool, lighthearted, and fun. Impossibly, staff members seem to be always genuinely happy, and I learned many have worked there for years. Maybe because of this, the level of personalized service is exceptional, and it seemed like the staff wanted to genuinely treat guests like extended family. And many visitors at The Somerset were return guests.

My experience at The Somerset was far different from those I’ve had at other Caribbean resorts. In a hospitality landscape where resorts are continually adding more, more, and more to keep visitors entertained on property, The Somerset seems to have a different agenda: just let guests enjoy Turks and Caicos. Instead of trying to keep guests at the resort the entire time, The Somerset seems to prioritize connecting guests with the islands, offering great recommendations for where to go for local flavors, landscapes, and cultural experiences.

The Somerset at Grace Bay activities and amenities

grace bay - turks and caicos

Photo: jpbarcelos/Shutterstock

The resort has plenty of included activities, and as soon as I arrived, the Hobie Cats (catamarans) and clear kayaks were calling my name. Stand-up paddleboards are also available, but I preferred paddling and sailing, as the extra stability of the vessels made it easier to explore the famous beach’s shoreline and watch for marine life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Jojo, a dolphin frequently spotted in the area, but locals and resort employees apparently see him quite often.

Wellness is also a big part of the experience at The Somerset. Travelers who stick to a dedicated workout schedule while traveling can take advantage of the large fitness center and steam room, but visitors who like to be active outside the gym are also in luck. Bike rentals are complementary and available at the front desk. Beach yoga and pilates classes are popular, and the resort has a lap pool, an infinity pool, and a plunge pool.

But my favorite way to relax, though it’s a splurge, was the complete relaxation offered by the in-villa massage. The resort’s Teona Spa has a variety of options for massages, facials, or body scrubs. I opted for the 50-minute Thai massage, set up on the balcony of my villa, which was every bit as relaxing and rejuvenating as any Thai massage I’ve had in Thailand. The technique and pressure were perfect, and the sounds of crashing waves in the background helped me relax far more than I usually do during massages.

Other things to do include private dinners on the beach, a complimentary kids club or in-room babysitting, and the option to have your villa kitchen stocked before you arrive. The resort’s concierge service is a big part of what makes the experience special, and regardless of what type of room you’re staying in, you’ll have access to their expertise and knowledge of the area. I imagine the concierge team could accommodate requests for any style of traveler.

Drinking and dining at The Somerset

For breakfast and dinner, the on-site Barbetta House is the go-to choice, with a menu that blends Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine. On Friday and Saturday evenings, there’s live music in the Barbetta Tapas Lounge, which makes excellent custom cocktails and small plates to take your taste buds on a whirl.

But if you’re feeling lazy, or don’t want to go to the effort of putting on shoes, you can order from the Pool Bar by Barbetta House. The bar offers lunch and afternoon service and both indoor and outdoor seating. After ordering just one drink, the staff at the pool bar knew my name and made me feel welcome.

Of course, the staff have some really great suggestions for food in Grace Bay and other areas of the island. During my time at The Somerset, I had so many good suggestions it was impossible to hit each restaurant. I’d recommend working with the concierge to set up a taxi or private car service to visit restaurants outside the Grace Bay area.

I ventured away from The Somerset for the Thursday Night Fish Fry, walkable from the resort. It’s a bit touristy, but it’s a fun way to meet the many locals who do attend, as well as other tourists. It’s a weekly event with live music, dancing, and local vendors and artisans selling crafts. The highlight of the evening is the Junkanoo, a traditional Caribbean and Bahamian parade in which men and women in colorful costumes make their way through the crowd, dancing to the beat of the drums.

On Tuesday nights, there’s an all-you-can-eat BBQ on the beach at the resort, complete with a rum bar and lobster (when in season). There’s a bonfire, fire dancers, and other live entertainment. While I wasn’t there to catch the BBQ, I did take advantage of another culinary offering: the private chef dining service.

Every menu item the chef created for us was a culinary delight. Seafood was the star of the show, and conch is the local delicacy, so our chef combined expertly cooked conch with the freshest catch of the day. Our menu included conch bruschetta; surf-and-turf with beef tenderloin, grilled lobster tail with garlic butter, blackened snapper, garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus; and a homemade dessert: rum-and-raisin bread pudding with homemade ice cream.

I can only describe it as a Caribbean flavor fiesta, and it was definitely the best meal I had of the trip. I’d recommend the service for friend or multi-generational groups, as it can be pricey for just two people.

What to do near The Somerset

iguana on little water cay near The Somerset on Grace Bay

Photo: Ian William Hromada/Shutterstock

There are more things to do in Turks and Caicos than most people could fit into a single trip, so you’ll have to prioritize while you’re there. You can book activities through the aforementioned fabulous concierge, but it’s also easy to plan activities online in advance or while you’re there on your own.

One of my favorite experiences was the private boat excursion. The crystal-clear waters of Turks and Caicos mean amazing snorkeling, and you have a good chance of seeing sea life including stingrays, conch, octopus, colorful fish, and, my personal favorite, barracuda. A popular snorkel stop is the La Famille Express Shipwreck, a well-known landmark (or seamark, perhaps). It’s off Long Bay on the eastern side of Providenciales.

I loved visiting Little Water Cay, better known as Iguana Island. A popular spot for boat tours, this uninhabited island is gorgeous in every way. It’s near the northern tip of Providenciales and is home to, as you may be able to guess, lots of iguanas. For too many years, visitors fed the iguanas, and as a result, the population got a bit out of control. Now, you should avoid feeding the native reptiles, but you can get pretty close to them. It’s just a quick boat ride from Providenciales, and strong kayakers can even paddle themselves there.

Half moon bay, turks and caicos

Photo: Ariane27/Shutterstock

After visiting Little Water Cay, I headed to nearby Half Moon Bay, one of the island’s most picturesque beaches. It’s mostly undeveloped and is extremely beautiful, with views of deep blue water in the distance and turquoise hues closer to the shore. It’s every bit as beautiful as Grace Bay Beach, but tends to be less crowded.

Beyond boat tours, scuba diving is also popular around the islands, as are guided horseback rides, parasailing and kiteboarding adventures, and more – all of which The Somerset’s concierge can help book.

Pricing at The Somerset on Grace Bay

The Somerset villas are ideal for friends groups or multi-generational travel, though even couples traveling together will probably appreciate having a separate living room and bedroom. Lodging options range from 1,400 to 5,300 square feet, each outfitted with a full kitchen and laundry. That makes it easy to pack light and save money on dining, which can help justify spending a little extra on the resort itself.

The least expensive rooms are the townhouses, available in one-, two-, or three-bedroom arrangements and starting at $1,000 per night. The Sterling Villas have pool or ocean views (as well as options for one to three bedrooms) and start at $1,200 per night. The estates, expectedly, are more expensive, ranging from $2,800 to $5,800 per night. Breathtaking views are included, of course.

My stay at The Somerset was in Stirling Villa 303, and with exquisite views of the pools and Grace Bay Beach, I’m convinced it has the best view in the resort. Inside, the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath villa had ample space indoor and out. In addition to 2,100 square feet of indoor space, the villa had three balconies — a perfect extension of the indoor space. While relaxing on the balcony, I had views of the lap and infinity pools, plus Grace Bay Beach just beyond that. I could have stayed all day on the balcony staring at the view, if there weren’t so many other experiences waiting for me.

Turks and Caicos travel information

Getting to Turks and Caicos is fairly easy, especially as the islands that make up the British Territory are closer to the mainland US than most Caribbean islands. The airport is on the main island of Providenciales, and you’ll find direct flights from most major cities on the East Coast of the US, as well as Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. From Providenciales International Airport, it’s a 15-minute drive to The Somerset.

The best time to visit Turks and Caicos is generally during the dry season, from late November through mid-April. Visiting in the dry season means better weather, a lower chance of rain, and predictably comfortable temperatures. That also makes it the peak tourist season and the most expensive season, so if you prefer a quieter experience, you may want to visit during mid November or late April.

Keep in mind that hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June 1st to November 30th, and while Turks and Caicos is less prone to direct hits, there’s still a risk of storms during this time.

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