If Grandma’s beach house was an award-winning private island resort in the Caribbean, it might be called The Meridian Club. The private island of Pine Cay in Turks & Caicos has a mere 12 Beach Rooms (four air conditioned) in two buildings, a hotel cottage and 10 private homes available to rent. In fact, the island wasn’t even inhabited until the 1970s, and is now a small private community of home owners with a highly awarded resort, as in multiple awards (Andrew Harper, Conde Nast Johansen’s, Hideaways International, etc. – full list below).
Set on an 800-acre private island with a two mile beach, (it has made several “Best Beach” lists), the resort has not caught up with the development on neighboring Providenciales. Former mercantile trader turned luxury travel advisor Dawn S. Perry, who specializes in working with clients who own private jets, calls The Meridian Club “my secret place to decompress.”
She spends six weeks per year in Turks & Caicos and says, while The Meridian Club may take you back in time, it is in pristine condition, and service is top notch, led by a long serving staff that will remember how you take your martini. As it is run by a homeowner’s association, the veteran managers will treat you like family. As a quick note, rates include private boat and taxi transfers, many activities, meals (except for houses where you can either dine in the restaurant or have dinner delivered) and more.
Perry adds, the resort is different compared to other Turks’ resorts, which use a condo model. She describes it as a world away from Amanyara, Grace Bay Club, The Gansevoort or The Palms (formerly The Regent) if you have been to any of them. “The Meridian Club is atypical in that it is off (the main) island. I refer to it as the next frontier. If you are a little bit more adventurous, and want isolation, it provides a perfect backdrop,” she says, noting, “Turks overall is very laid back. It’s definitely not for those seeking gold, glitz and glamour. The Meridian Club reflects that.”
Perry, who founded and runs Platinum Travel Insiders LLC (she can also help you manage all those points and miles you probably accrue), says, “If you are looking for nightlife and action, it’s not the place. Pine Cay is classic, old school Caribbean. There are Fortune CEOs who are in their flip flops and board shorts.” If you stay in the hotel as opposed to renting a home, she adds, “The private home and hotel (social scene) blend together.”
While there is an array of activities to be had (described below in the Activities section), as a fun trip back into the mid-20th century, Perry points to movie nights where you drive a golf cart to the airstrip and episodes of Get Smart, Gilligan’s Island or I Love Lucy are shown on the side of a hangar while staff bring you popcorn.
TripAdvisor has 141 reviews for The Meridian Club, and it rates 5 stars. There has been only one poor review since 2005, and only two Fair reviews since 2011. All other reviews were Very Good (8 reviews) and Excellent (125). Expedia had only two reviews (yes, it’s off the beaten track), but both were 5 stars and verified. One wrote, “Every single aspect was 100% totally incredible.” The other noted, there are “no TVs,” and eight Beach Rooms and houses don’t have air conditioning, although Premium Beach Rooms do.
Perry says a perfect stay is four to seven nights at The Meridian Club and three more in Provo for its low-key party scene, and noted restaurants.
The Meridian Club offers an interesting mix between resort hotel accommodations (12 Beach Rooms, of which the four Beach Premium Rooms are air conditioned), a standalone cottage, (Sand Dollar is part of the resort and includes meals included in the price., and then 10 homes that owners put into a rental pool when they are not using them (meals are extra for the 10 homes). Three of the 10 homes are 4-bedroom, with the balance 3-bedrooms each.
Described as “a tranquil beach escape with spectacular views of the ocean and nearby Fort George,” Driftwood has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms on five acres, and works for couples and families.
In a Caribbean colonial style, there is a large deck with built-in sofas to take in the view with your morning coffee, or to watch the sunset with your beverage of choice. At the home you’ll find table tennis, paddle boards, kayaks and bicycles. There is a hammock in the Tiki if you would prefer to just kick back.
The bathrooms each have walk-in showers. Two upper bedrooms are king bed, with private bathrooms. The lower bedrooms can be made as kings or twins and share a bathroom. There is a modern kitchen with gas range, dishwasher, microwave, wine fridge and breakfast island.
There is an outdoor shower and Weber gas BBQ grill. You’ll also have WiFi and iPod docks, 3 golf carts, 2 bikes, 2 kayaks and 2 paddle boards, plus full laundry room with washer and dryer. There is a maximum of eight guests, and the house is no smoking inside or out.
Perry calls Dragonfly “great for families and extended family getaways, girlfriend getaways, or if you need seclusion to finish a project or do some writing.” There is no WiFi in the residence.
Set on five acres with 300 feet of private white sand beach, two of the home’s three bedrooms are designed for two adults each, and the third twin bedroom is good for kids. All bedrooms have access from the wraparound deck. Children six and up are welcome.
There is a great room for your party to congregate and large kitchen with gas cooktop and range, wine cooler, double sink, two dishwashers and microwave. If you like to cook, there is an L-shaped island with seating so your friends can watch you, or if you have a private chef, you can share your advice.
The living area features overstuffed sofas, swivel chairs and a 60” flat screen TV, a DVD library and MP3 docking station. Sliding glass doors provide panoramic views, and there are two outdoor seating options, outdoor speakers and a Weber gas grill.
One other nicety is that the master is away from the two other bedrooms for a bit of extra privacy, plus features a large walk-in shower. There is also a beach Tiki with lounge chairs and tables to hold books, tablets and drinks. You have access to three golf carts. There is full laundry. Dragonfly is no smoking.
Boat House Cottage
Perry cites the 3-bedroom Boat House Cottage as one of her favorites. She says, “It’s perfect for couples. It has an intimate feel and is on a pond and across from the ocean, so you have two different experiences. You can sit on the back deck overlooking pond life with flamingos, and right across the dirt road is a terrific, shallow beach.” She calls it, “Adorable. Very well appointed. Meticulous attention to detail.”
There are high ceilings, and it is perfect for hosting dinners up to 10. There is a full kitchen and a gas grill, lounge chairs, washer and dryer in a detached garage. The master has a queen bed and full bathroom. The second bedroom is also queen with with en suite ½ bath. The third bedroom is separate from the main house and has twins, a private deck and lake views. There is also a large outdoor shower, plus an office, with a pullout futon. At the house you’ll find a 2-man kayak and two golf carts.
Rates for home rentals range from $8,000 to $15,000 per week and vary by home and season. Meals are not included for the home rentals. Click here for detail on each of the private home rentals available.
Sand Dollar Cottage
If you don’t want a home, or are looking for a romantic getaway, Perry recommends the Sand Dollar Cottage, which is part of the hotel, so includes all meals and most activities. It is located away from the other Beach Rooms, stands alone and is also steps from the water. It has private porches, and she says, “You can stay there for a week, and nobody would know you are there.”
It features a king bed, high ceilings, large shower, sunken bathtub, large outdoor shower with privacy screens, and a Tiki hut on the beach. You have WiFi, an in-room safe, coffeemaker and mini-fridge. There is no TV or telephone.
Rates range from $1,060 to $1,485 per night, and there is a 7-night minimum during the festive season. Meals are included.
Beach and Premium Beach Rooms
There are eight Standard Beachfront Rooms and Beach Premium Beachfront Rooms. They all have 500 sq. ft. of interior space, with a 100 sq. ft. of screened porch and outdoor shower. The four Premium Beach Rooms have air conditioning, and all have direct, private beach access with two chaise lounges and thatched umbrella. The units are all housed in the buildings near the pool, two structures, each with two sides and a connecting walkway. Perry describes it as “a single floor ‘50s style motel, when motels were cool.” She says it will conjure up memories of great childhood family vacations. Although the rooms are adjacent to each other, you don’t hear noise from your neighbors inside or out, except “maybe a door closing. I’ve stayed in them when the units on each side were occupied, and it was still very private.”
Rates range from $895 to $1,360 per night, including meals, with 7-night minimum during the festive season.
Dining and Bars
While you might think you need to limit your expectations, Perry says that’s not the case. “When the homeowners put the clubhouse in place, they wanted a good place to eat, so it’s really a solid 4.5-star dining. You will get an option for breakfast. Lunch is a buffet, and at lunch you order what you want for dinner. Everything is handmade, from scratch.”
Perry says the focus is fresh seafood and local products, and picnic lunches are popular. She notes, “I have a very high profile client who was there with her children for spring break, and she had a four-page list of restrictions. They accommodated everyone. For home rentals, you can request a private chef, and you can provide a list of what you want stocked for your arrival.” Since you are on a private island (there is no town or supermarket, although there is a commissary open everyday if you need to grab something), Perry notes, if you do have special requests, it’s best to let the hotel know in advance.
Sara Spudowski is Executive Chef, a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, where she was trained in all areas of the kitchen. She was previously the Pine Cay pastry chef before her promotion. Apparently, everyone liked her baking so much, they made her the boss. A number of guest reviews referenced her desserts. You might also run into her paddle boarding or kayaking, where she is happy to take your orders. It’s that type of place.
There are only eight TripAdvisor reviews (It’s obviously off the beaten track) about the restaurant, and all give 5 stars. One reviewer wrote, “I enjoyed the light fare at lunch time, and the more sophisticated menu for the dinner. The bar is quite nice, and the guests mingle very easily and in an informal manner. It is quite pleasant.”
Overall, dining is laid back and attire is casual. There is a central bar, drinks by the pool, barbeque nights, dancing and local music. Spirits are not included.
“Everything revolves around water,” says Perry, who points to snorkeling, paddle boarding, and kayaking. As the island also has a fresh water spring, she says it provides “unique sea life (and) all kinds of hidden alcoves and places to explore.”
The island hosts migratory and non-migratory birds. Bird guidebooks are available in the lobby and gift shop.
Library and Games
The Club has an exchange library, located on the second floor of the main building. There is an assortment of board games, including Monopoly, Scrabble and Dominos. There is a dartboard right next to the bar. There is a shuffleboard court next to the tennis court.
You can rent a golf cart and explore the island. Bikes are also available, and you can of course walk or run as well. You probably won’t see anyone else.
Glow Worm Cruise
Each lunar month, five nights after the full moon, and 55 minutes after sunset, an amazing phenomenon occurs in the current that ebbs from the Caicos Bank, only a short boat ride from The Meridian Club. A 15-minute display of underwater luminescence is created by the mating of a worm-like sea creature called Odontosyllis Enopla. The resort organizes a twilight catamaran ride to the area where the spawning occurs. Dates are: November 19, 2016; December 19, 2016; January 17, 2017; February 16, 2017; March 17, 2017; April 16, 2017; May 15, 2017; June 14, 2017, and July 14, 2017; November 9, 2017, and December 8, 2017
Sunset Cocktail Cruises
On nice evenings, impromptu sunset cruises with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are offered.
Golf Cart Rentals
Golf carts are available for rent and are the most popular mode of transportation on the island. Costs may be included in your package.
Small Hobie Wave sailboats are available on the beach without charge. The rental of larger private sailboats can be arranged.
Kayaking is free. The “Aquarium”, a secluded area at the south end of Pine Cay (pictured above), is a favorite spot.
Daily snorkeling trips are included. After breakfast, you are taken by golf cart to the marina, and go on the resort’s private boat. Snorkeling gear (masks, fins, and snorkels) is available free. Since you will be skimming the reef in a national park, spear fishing and underwater collecting are forbidden by law. There is fresh water swimming as well.
Paddle boarding is no charge. If you need a quick lesson, ask for Sherwyn in the mornings near the pool area.
Jogging and Walking
Pine Cay is an 800-acre island with over two miles of beach, plenty of space and solitude to walk, jog or run.
There is a basketball court and tennis. Racquets and balls are available at the reception desk at no charge. A sign-up sheet is available for reserving a court time. The midday sun and afternoon tropical breezes make early morning the best time to play. Peddle your way along the cart paths that crisscross the island. Bicycles are available free of charge.
Deep Sea Fishing
Full and half day charters can be arranged, and there is fishing for sailfish, marlin, wahoo, tuna, dolphin, mackerel and barracuda. You might also see porpoises, whales, sea turtles and even a whale shark. The chef can prepare your catch for dinner.
The flats off Pine Cay are excellent for bonefishing. An experienced guide will go out of his way to help you catch one (or many more) of shallow water game fish. You can wade in ankle to knee-deep water or fish from a boat.
Visibility usually exceeds 100 feet and provides a wide variety of marine life. There is a variety of dive trips for experienced divers (PADI or NAUI dive certification cards required) through professional dive services on Provo.
Hop over by boat to The Provo Golf & Country Club (It has twice hosted the Caribbean amateur championships.) and play its 18-hole course, rated top 10 by Travel + Leisure and 4-star from Golf Digest.
Fort George Cay: Designated a national park, Fort George Cay was the site of a British military outpost in the late 18th century. Some ancient cannons remain in several feet of water off the north shore, and there are remains of the old fort on land. You can get dropped off on the beach with an umbrella and a picnic lunch and picked back up at an appointed time.
Little Water Island: The national park is home to endangered iguanas. It’s a short boat ride from Pine Cay.
Providenciales (Provo): The most populous and commercially developed island in the Turks & Caicos, you can rent a car or hire a taxi, shop for local art and crafts and visit local attractions. The rock carvings on Sapodilla Hill give an interesting perspective to the islands. The Environmental Center in the Bight provides exhibits on local ocean and forest plants and animals.
Grand Turk: The nation’s capital, walk historic Duke Street, visit the Turks & Caicos National Museum, try local restaurants for lunch. It’s a 30-minute flight and a full-day trip.
Yani is the full time Balinese Spa Specialist at the Sand Dollar Spa. She is experienced in all spa techniques, including massage, hot stone treatment, manicures, pedicures, and facials. Hair plaiting can also be arranged. The island is also popular as a yoga retreat.
Pine Cay Airport
Pine Cay airstrip is a paved runway 2,500 ft. with an unpaved 1,000 ft. buffer to the east, and clear approaches in both directions. Parking space is available adjacent to the airstrip for up to 10 planes. No airport landing or parking fees are charged. The resort provides a water taxi (30 minutes) or you can fly (5 minutes via charter) from PLS if your plane can’t land at Pine Cay.
Private flights must clear Turks and Caicos Islands Customs and Immigration at Providenciales (PLS), a five minute flight to the south of Pine Cay. Landing on Pine Cay is by permission only for security reasons. At PLS the runway is 9,200 feet (It’s not 24 hours), and there are two FBOs, Blue Heron Aviation by Signature and Provo Air Center.
Aviation Notes: As Pine Cay is a daytime only airport, to avoid overnights, you need to leave PLS and arrive Pine Cay by 5 PM in the spring, summer or fall and 4 PM in the winter. Also, you won’t be able to depart PLS before 9 AM.
Book the Island
You can take over all 12 Beachfront Rooms and the Sand Dollar Cottage for five to seven nights, including breakfast, lunch, afternoon refreshments, transfers to/from Providenciales. Rates for five nights range from $51,000 to $70,000, or $65,000 to $89,500 for seven nights, not including tax and service, based on the season. You can also book houses if you require additional accommodations.
– Top 5 International Hideaways 2016
– Top 20 Favorite Beach Resorts in the World 2016
– Readers’ Choice Award 2014
– Top 20 Beach Resorts in the World 2013
– The “Cool” List 2016
– The Best Hotels in Turks & Caicos 2015
– Top 25 Best Boutique Hotels 2014
– 10 Secret Beaches in the Caribbean 2013
Conde Nast Johansen’s
– Top Four Waterside Hotels Worldwide 2016
– Top Twelve Beach Getaways 2014
– Best Turks & Caicos Beach, ongoing distinction
– Top 10 Romantic Escapes 2014
– Top 10 Honeymoon Spots 2013
– Top 10 Places to Unplug 2013
– Excellence Award 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
– Top 25 Small Hotels in the Caribbean 2013
Melanie Alexander at +1.617.803.8498 or firstname.lastname@example.org