Sands at Grace BayProvidenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
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What the Sands has going for it is supersized rooms that can comfortably fit a family or other group. They certainly aren't fancy -- expect to see old tube TVs and Golden Girls-style wicker furniture -- but you'd be hard-pressed to find other units on the beach that can sleep so many for such a low price. For instance, for the price of the standard two-person room at Grace Bay Club, you could book a 1,644-square-foot Two-Bedroom Ocean View or 1,800-square-foot Three-Bedroom Garden View at the Sands instead.
Of course, the Sands’ amenities are in no way the nicest on the island. The beachfront is pretty -- all Grace Bay beachfront is -- but the lounge chairs are old and plastic. A basement-level building houses additional features like a hospitality lounge (a bit dark, but comfy), a fitness center (sufficient, though the Cyber multi-station was on the fritz when I stayed), and a single spa treatment room (for use by off-site Spa Tropique). Two large pools -- one with beach views, another with grottoes and waterfalls -- have plenty of space for guests to spread out, which helps keep the crowds down. And free water sports along the beach are a great bonus.
All of that aside, the biggest problem with the resort is its layout. The property is longer than it is wide, and only two of the property’s six buildings face the ocean, making for a lot of parking lot, garden, and -- if you’re lucky -- pool view balconies. If an expansive ocean view is important to you, be careful not to book an “ocean view” unit, as you will be greatly disappointed. Opt instead for one of the “oceanfront” units -- the only rooms that have views of more than a sliver of beach.
At the heart of Grace Bay, near great shops, restaurants, and golf
The Sands at Grace Bay is located in the approximate center of Providenciales’ greatest attraction, the pristine Grace Bay. Despite being surrounded on both sides by other resorts, the beach here is wide and long, so guests won’t feel crowded. And though the nearby attractions aren’t quite within easy walking distance, all of them are close enough to reach via the resort’s free bicycles or a short drive.
- 20-minute drive from Providenciales International Airport
- 1-minute walk to Grace Bay (property is located on the beach)
- 3-minute walk to Graceway grocery store
- 12-minute walk, or two-minute drive to shops and restaurants at Regent Village and Salt Mills shopping centers
- 5-minute drive to Provo Golf Club
- 8-minute drive to Smith’s Reef for snorkeling
- 8-minute drive to the Caicos Conch Farm, the world’s only conch farm
- 15-minute drive to Da Conch Shack and Rum Bar
Spacious rooms are dated but have tons of extras
Though neither modern or stylish, the Sands at Grace Bay’s rooms are big and almost all of them (except for the 615-square-foot Studio Courtyard) feature furnished balconies or terraces. Technology is seriously dated though, with tiny flat-screen TVs (or, in some units, tube TVs) and old wall-mounted hairdryers. Still, full kitchens (kitchenettes in the studios), dual washer/dryers, and tons of patio furniture make for a steal of a deal, especially when it comes to families and groups.
- Views from “ocean view” units disappoint; if views are a priority, upgrade to “oceanfront” -- the only rooms that have views of more than a sliver of beach.
- If space is what you want, skip the 650-square-foot Studio Oceanfront and go for the 1,028-square-foot One-Bedroom Garden View Suite, which has the same nightly rate. You won’t see a hint of the beach, but you’ll gain a full kitchen and separate bedroom.
- Those who spring for one of the 1,644-square-foot Two-Bedroom Suites will enjoy massive balconies and living rooms -- but everything else is roughly the same as in the rest of the units.
- Full kitchens (except in the studios, which have kitchenettes) featuring cabinets stocked with cookware, plates, glasses, and utensils
- Dual washer/dryers
- Generic toiletries and only shower/tub combos in the bathrooms
- Large screened-in porches and balconies (except in Studio Courtyards) with padded wicker furniture
- Out-of-date technology: old tube TVs or tiny flat-screens; small, wall-mounted hairdryers; and cheap clock radios
- Furniture is dated, though clean and in good shape
- Ceiling fans in all rooms
- King beds are generally comfortable; bedding is soft though not outstanding.
- Free Wi-Fi
More than a few extras are a welcome surprise for the cost.
- Two large pools -- one with ocean views and a baby pool; another that winds through the garden and features waterfalls and grottoes.
- Free loaner bicycles for exploring the island
- Free water sports including Hobie Cats, windsurfers, kayaks, and snorkeling equipment
- A hospitality lounge featuring lots of comfy couches, a 33-inch flat-screen TV, a projector and screen for presentations and movie screenings, and two computer stations
- A windowless fitness center with three treadmills, two bikes, an elliptical machine, a Cybex multi-station, dumbbells, and yoga balls
- A tranquil grove with hammocks hidden by brush
- One lighted tennis court
- A boutique near the entrance selling groceries, wine, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs
- Guest-only palapa shades and generic plastic lounge chairs on the beach
- One treatment room for therapies provided by off-site Spa Tropique
- Free parking
- Babysitting services available (for a fee)
- Free Wi-Fi throughout
A respectable poolside bar and grill with an ocean-view deck
Hemingway’s is a typical island restaurant -- wraps and sandwiches for lunch, surf and turf and pasta dishes for dinner. Its breezy main dining room is small and feels cramped when full, and its bar can handle no more than a dozen or so patrons at any time. The poolside patio and beachfront deck, however, are great sunset spots, and the menu is very reasonably priced compared to most other resort restaurants. There is also a kid’s menu with especially cheap options.
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Things You Should Know About Sands at Grace Bay
AddressGrace Bay, PO Box 681, Caribbean
- One Bedroom Deluxe Oceanfront
- One Bedroom Suite Gardenview
- One Bedroom Suite Oceanfront
- One Bedroom Suite Oceanview
- Studio Courtyard
- Studio Gardenview
- Studio Oceanfront
- Studio Oceanview
- Three Bedroom Deluxe Oceanfront
- Three Bedroom Gardenview
- Three Bedroom Oceanfront
- Three Bedroom Oceanview
- Two Bedroom Gardenview
- Two Bedroom Oceanfront
- Two Bedroom Oceanview