A boutique hotel on a private island with a flawless beach — you've probably had a dream like this. Mark Colodny found the real thing at Parrot Cay.
TURKS AND CAICOS – In Herman Wouk's now largely forgotten 1965 novel Don't Stop the Carnival, a jittery New York Broadway press agent named Norman Paperman goes on vacation to a Caribbean island and, seduced by the spectacular weather, pristine beaches, and local charm, buys a hotel and quits his high-stress job for what he thinks will be the comparatively relaxing job of Caribbean hotelier. He is sorely mistaken. The hotel turns out to be a barely functioning nightmare of surly staff, erratic water, and angry guests. The fictional island in the book, "Amerigo," is based on Wouk's own experience running a St. Thomas hotel in the late 1950s.
Parrot Cay by COMO, the idyllic boutique hotel situated on a private island in the Turks and Caicos, is the hotel Norm Paperman thought he was getting. The service is flawless, the food is delicious, and the beach, which is surely Parrot Cay's finest feature, is sublime.
Like Paperman's island, Parrot Cay got off to an inauspicious beginning. The island was originally known as Pirate Cay but was rebranded Parrot Cay, which sounds less like the name of a shore town miniature golf course and makes it (a little) easier to justify the $500 to $3,000-per-night room rates. The property was originally built by a Kuwaiti family that reportedly fell on hard times after the Gulf War and sat empty until the current resort was created by hotelier Christina Ong of COMO Hotels fifteen years ago.
What makes the Parrot Cay experience so enjoyable is that it is so peaceful. The hotel is a 45-minute boat ride from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos' not-exactly-bustling capital city and the location of its small international airport. The hotel transports guests from the airport to its private dock and then on to the hotel. We were met at the dock by the delightful Filipe Lopo, the front office assistant manager, who escorted us by golf cart to our beachside villa, which was rambling and comfortable.
There is simply no one else around besides guests of the sixty-room hotel and a few villa owners, whom everyone seems to know include celebrities like Bruce Willis and Keith Richards. We do not see any trace of Bruce Willis or Keith Richards during our visit, and, for that matter, we wouldn't recognize many celebrities if we tripped over them on one of the gecko-infested garden paths.
In fact, except at mealtimes, we don't see much of anybody. This is a private island that feels private. While the hotel offers the usual panoply of fancy hotel amenities (spa, infinity pool, oceanview dining etc.), the key amenity is the clearly beach, which is supremely beautiful. The sand is soft and the shallows extend at least a hundred yards into the ocean. After some peaceful kayaking and a pitiful attempt at paddleboarding, we discovered the best activity was inactivity. And for that, Parrot Cay is perfect.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Fly: American Airlines, US Airways, Delta, JetBlue, and Continental all fly direct from major east coast cities to Providenciales International Airport (PLS).
Getting Around: Taxi services are plentiful, but if you want to rent a car, the major companies (Avis, Hertz, Budget) are on the island. They drive on the left side.