If you want to travel to the Caribbean, there are many, many choices. If you want to travel in the lap of low-key luxury to a sparsely populated, 1000 acre private island with spectacular cuisine, there is only one: Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos. Run by COMO, a unique Asian hotel company based in Singapore, every detail has been attended to in the subtlest of ways from the relaxed-chic white washed decor, to the comfy beds and limestone outdoor showers. This is not the kind of place to see and be seen. This is the kind of place that notable people come to disappear into serenity.
My experience proved no different. After landing in Provo, a mere hour and 20 minutes from Miami, we were taken to the luxurious Parrot Cay Welcome Center and presented with cool, herbal-scented towels, offered butter cookies and very special bottled water that was clearly BPA-free. A good start indeed! After a quick ferry ride over the clearest, most intensely turquoise water I have ever laid eyes on, we arrived on the island. Parrot Cay looks very different from Provodenciales; it has tall trees and lush landscaping meticulously kept by a caring staff, most of who live on property. There is a vast range of accommodations, each more spectacular than the next. Starting with the “Garden View” room (from which I could still see the ocean,) up to jaw-dropping three, five or 11 bedroom estates, guests are going to be, very, very comfortable.
What’s in between? Elegant, airy Bali meets Cape Cod-style beach front villas which come in one, two and three bedroom permutations and have amenities like direct beach access, infinity pools, screened in porches, four-poster beds, outdoor showers and kitchens ready for a private chef. The estates are big enough to bring the entire family, nanny included, but I feel inclined to recommend the limitless romantic potential that tête-a-tête in Parrot Cay provides.
The colonial-style main house, holds the front desk, a library (where afternoon tea is served, a British custom) and …the Terrace Restaurant and Bar, the resort’s Italian and continental restaurant. The inside decor is cool and creamy, and the outside – my favorite spot- is full of confederate jasmine plants, potted hibiscus trees and overlooks the property’s garden and other terra cotta-roofed buildings. At night it transforms into a candle-lit romantic patio where I had some of the best wild mushroom and truffle risotto I have ever experienced.
Far below the grand main house, the Lotus Restaurant serves up American classics alongside Asian-inspired dishes and their famous COMO Shambala menu, which includes an array of fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable drinks, vegetarian raw dishes and desserts. It was inspiring to find Wagyu beef hamburgers and fries served alongside healthy dishes, bursting with vegetables, fruits and nuts. It seems like the perfect compromise to make everyone happy. I, for one, ate a lobster roll, and tostones along with their famous Saturday night poolside grill when I arrived. After my initial indulgence, I decided to try to stick to the light and healthy COMO Shambala menu, which is also served at The Terrace. It wasn’t hard at all. My favorites from that menu were the Steamed fish in a broth of shitake mushrooms and ginger served with bok choy and brown rice, their sugar-free rich chocolate vegan ice cream (called Cocoa Sorbet) and a vegan blueberry cheesecake made with cashew butter. As someone who has actually followed a raw diet before (for 6 months anyways), I can tell you that these were superb permutations of raw dishes.
It is not surprising that one of raw food’s most famous proponents, Donna Karan, has a seriously haute home here, or rather three, two of which are available for rent when she isn’t on the island for a mere $30,000 a night. I had to good fortune of seeing them, and will not soon forget the unique architecture of sweeping dark wood and stone lines that were quite unlike anything I’d had the honor of seeing before. Of course she’s not the only big name to own in Parrot Cay, Keith Richards and Bruce Willis both live here and a slew of big names have visited including Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner who got married on the private island in 2005. If you’d like to join their ranks, there are ocean front homes available to buy starting at $10 million.
The estates are big enough to bring the entire family, nanny included, but I feel inclined to recommend the limitless romantic potential a tête-a-tête in Parrot Cay provides.
At some point you’ll have to tear yourself away from your room, villa or estate and come down to the COMO Shambala Spa. It is brand new and a study in COMO ethos: understated, yet completely stunning. The air is rich with COMO Shambala essential-oil-based spa products and the buildings make the most of the island’s verdant eastern views. Treatment rooms boast large glass walls that exploit the spectacular vantage point. An infinity-edged spa pool, black granite rock hot pool and, steam room are well worth a visit on their own, perhaps after a yoga or Pilates class. These classes are taught by seasoned instructors and go hand-in-glove with COMO’s wellness philosophy.
Sure, it would be tempting to have stayed lounging on the villa’s powdery white-sand beach, swimming in the clear waters or crashed out inside on the cushy white slip-covered denim couches gazing at the view, but then I would not be reaching my full relaxation potential. By taking advantage of the spa, classes and even walking path, I made sure I was completely unwound. And because of the unpretentious air of the place, amazing service I never had to “wake up” or “turn on” to go to dinner or forced social occasions. This is the philosophy of COMO, which runs throughout their nine properties worldwide.
If you want a taste of this healthy tropical paradise, and happen to be a Florida resident, you’re in luck. Parrot Cay by COMO is offering 30% off for the months of September and October. COMO has nine other properties including one nestled in the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan, stilted properties in the Maldives and two bustling city hotels in London each of which is more spectacular than the next. But in case you are going to be grounded in Miami for a while, you’ll soon be able to check out COMO’s Metropolitan, opening in Miami Beach in December.