Ever since Turks and Caicos reopened its crystalline waters to travelers on July 22 I’d been dreaming of the opportunity to dip my toes on the powdery sand of Grace Bay Beach. Its brilliant turquoise ocean water is perhaps one of my favorite beaches in the world, and as I sought destinations to travel to where I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on a plane (Turks and Caicos is a 3.5-hour plane ride from New York and about two hours from Miami), while also social distancing, so this quickly became top of mind.
Seven Stars Resort and Spa’s “Clean Stay Promise” seemed like a great respite from all that has taken place in the world (my mental sanity needed a quick getaway!), while also engaging in some R&R. The resort guarantees the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene throughout the resort’s restaurants, pools and beach areas and the spa, and those were just the magic words I needed to hear. Before you know it, I grabbed my girls (after a few weeks of self-quarantining, and COVID testing) and we were off!
Ahead of the visit, we had to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, which must be taken within five days. Turks and Caicos Islands, like many other islands, have also begun to require proof of medical or travel insurance. After having proof of both, visitors are required to fill out an online health screening and travel authorization form 72 hours before arrival to the island, which is typically granted within just a few hours (I had an issue with my insurance, which required me to submit more than once). Once you land at the airport, temperature checks and a screening are conducted, though this all happened pretty fast. Some may be subject to COVID-19 testing, but all in all, we were out of the airport in less than an hour.
Skipper’s Taxi offered a quick and pleasant ride to the hotel, which was only about 15 minutes away. The personal attention started from the moment we arrived, when we were greeted with a rum punch cocktail and chilled scented towel while we waited to check in. At Seven Stars Resort and Spa, the staff wear masks, though guests are not required to wear them while on property. After a brief check-in process, we were ready to get our trip started! The accommodations at Seven Stars range from fresh and bright junior suites, accommodating two people, to stunning three-bedroom suites, ideal for groups of friends or families, so we had more than enough space for our little girls trip.
The hotel’s 5,000 feet of beachfront allows for plenty of naturally spaced-out fun, including tennis, biking, kayaking and more, and over the course of four days, we enjoyed every minute of it! We enjoyed five-star dining at the on-property restaurant Seven, and a bevy of water activities, including a day of snorkeling with Caicos Dream Tours.
For those who want to venture out for meals, most restaurants on the island are open, though when we traveled, the island had a 10PM curfew — a mandate for all visitors and locals. We consulted the hotel’s concierge for the most up-to-date list, so we’d know where to get some of the best local food on the island. If you are hesitant about dining out, look for restaurants brandishing a “TCI Assured” decal. As part of the government’s TCI Assured program, the designation indicates the restaurant submitted a reopening plan and passed a health department inspection.
Among the recommended restaurants we tried were Da Conch Shack, a popular alfresco spot in Blue Hills Beach that serves its namesake ingredient in everything from fritters to chowder and Coco Bistro, a fine-dining favorite tucked in a coconut grove in Grace Bay. Both have a TCI Assured certification, which made us feel more secure in visiting. Facial coverings are required in all public spaces, though there are some exceptions, like at the beach, but you should maintain a six-foot buffer from other parties. You will need to wear a mask upon entering restaurants, but it can be removed once you are seated.
Days later, it was time to return home — which we did so begrudgingly. Turks and Caicos owed us nothing, and it was just the getaway we needed to provide a sense of ‘normalcy.’
The good news for those who may be considering a visit to Seven Stars: Following the CDC’s announcement requiring all travelers to the U.S. to present a negative PCR test, the resort recently announced that they will be providing rapid antigen testing to all guests on property at no additional cost. Results are available within 30 to 45 minutes, and all testing is done on property by a certified lab technician.
While these were our own personal travel preferences, it’s all a matter of comfort level. If you still don’t feel comfortable traveling, that’s totally fine too! Save these tips for post-pandemic travel, so you can enjoy Seven Stars Resort & Spa to the fullest.
Editor’s note: Due to COVID-19, there are restrictions on international travel, and some areas are still under lockdown. Travel at your own level of comfortability and always follow local health advice. A regularly updated list of available accommodation, sights, and transport can be found on the Visit Turks and Caicos website.