I’m not one to take risks. The Carribean in hurricane season? No way. Not me. Too risky! So how is it that I find myself touching down at the Providenicales airport (more affectionately known at Provo) as Tropical Storm Cristobal is passing over the island and intensifying to hurricane status?
In the weeks leading up to the trip, I’d become a regular visitor to the National Hurricane Center website. And when I say regular, I mean I checked the page every time it was updated. That’s 4 times a day! I knew that trouble was brewing when I saw the little yellow X that signifies a “disturbance” is forming, often starting as a tropical wave off the coast of Africa. I became all too familiar with the language of the North Atlantic hurricane season. “Nothing to worry about”, I told my mom the night before my departure. “It’s a ruin your vacation kind of storm, not a ruin your life kind of storm.”
Moments after our taxi delivers us to Seven Stars Resort on Grace Bay, I have a potent rum punch in my hand and I’m cooling off with the most intoxicating, coconut-lime scented cold towel I’ve ever met. As we’re shown to our palatial Ocean Front Premier Two-Bedroom Suite (room 1206), I’ve long forgotten about Cristobal. On a beautiful stretch of Grace Bay, Seven Stars offers luxury accommodations, fine and casual dining and outstanding service. Here are some of the highlights:
- Master bedroom with King bed and ocean view; private marble bathroom with walk in shower and soaking tub
- Second bedroom with 2 Single beds and garden view; private bath
- 2,150 sqft
- Full kitchen with granite counters, GE Monogram appliances and Nespresso machines
- Furnished Terrace
- Grand Salon with large living and dining areas
- Powder Room
- Laundry Room
The service at Seven Stars is stellar and unfailingly attentive. Every request is met with a can-do attitude and the staff works diligently to make magic happen. Can I move my spa treatment two days ahead of schedule? No problem. Can we eat dinner earlier tonight? No problem.
Once we’re settled in our suite, I head off to the spa for a 50-minute SSR Signature Candle Massage. I’m escorted to an open air relaxation area where a modern water feature signals the start of my relaxation. I complete my health questionnaire, cool off with another coconut-lime infused towel and wait for my therapist, Edwina, to collect me. I was counting on a massage to ease the stresses of a long day of travel; my relaxing, aromatic and soothing treatment delivered. A fragrant soy candle melts into an aromatherapy soy lotion that glides beautifully over the body for maximum relaxation. As I float back to my suite post-massage, a light rain and wind is just beginning.
Dinner at Seven is a culinary adventure that begins early in the meal and lasts through dessert. A basket of assorted artisan breads with black olive butter and basil butter set the stage that this meal will be no joke. The amuse-bouche, a fresh crab salad, offered a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cuisine. Lucky enough to be in the Turks and Caicos (T&C) during lobster season, there was no question that I’d be ordering both the Lobster Bisque and the Butter Poached Caicos Lobster. Not a typical lobster bisque, Seven’s version is composed of less cream and more tomatoes. The server brings a bowl that is noticeably missing anything that resembles a bisque. A roasted scallop, conch fritter and shrimp tartare sit in a triangle in the bottom of the bowl as the creamy liquid is theatrically poured from a pitcher over the seafood. It is delicious.
We are served a cool and creamy banana sorbet to cleanse the palette. Our entrees are just as exceptional as the appetizer. Dessert is Deconstructed Key Lime Pie – a modern composition of the classic dessert. What takes an already indulgent dining experience to an over-the-top status is the final gift from the chef: a dessert finale of chocolate coconut truffles with apricot cream. The delights never seem to and nearly three hours later we roll ourselves out the door. It’s raining a bit harder now and the wind is picking up a bit.
It rains all night long. We wake up to giant puddles and windy conditions. The waters of Grace Bay look angry and the sky is ominous. But we’re in paradise and we’re not planning to let a tropical storm interfere with our vacation. We put raincoats on and head to the dining room for the breakfast buffet, included in your room rate. In addition to the usual hot and cold breakfast items, we enjoyed banana bread pudding with caramel and vanilla sauces, vegetable quiche, conch chowder and grits.
It rains non-stop on our first full day in Provo. At first, I think we’re being cheated out of our tropical beach vacation and then I realize that today will be a REAL vacation. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, we deeply relax in our luxury suite. We nap. We eat. We drink frozen coconut mango daiquiris and Turks Head Lager. I write. The covered terrace becomes my favorite place from which to watch the storm. I try to avoid the TV that seems to be on in every room of my suite and when that fails, we put our raincoats on again and walk on the beach in the rain looking for adventure. The waterproof jackets earned their space in our suitcases! I am deeply grateful for the in-room washer and dryer so we can dry our wet clothes after each outing.
I would, without a doubt, return to Seven Stars and Providenciales in hurricane season again. I wouldn’t have wanted to be staying anywhere other than Seven Stars during the storm that dumped nearly 12 inches of rain on the island. The staff, even though many of them were dealing with personal storm-related issues, never wavered from unfailingly polite, warm and thoughtful service. The comfort and safety of the guests remained of utmost importance. Management communicated to guests via notices slipped under the door each morning. While some of the dining venues had to close due to inclement weather (The Deck), others were opened (Seven, normally closed for dinner on Sunday), international calling fees to the US and Canada were waived and room service delivered items from the market to guest rooms without incurring a service charge. This is a management team that knows a thing or two about service delivery: these actions were both gratuitous and generous.
Did it ever stop raining in Provo? Sure it did, about 2 1/2 days after it started. Did we ever get our tropical beach vacation? Sure we did. But I’ll forever have warm memories about my stay at Seven Stars and Tropical Storm Cristobal – which turned out not to be a ruin your vacation kind of storm after all.