Parrot Cay: Award-winning resort & paradise.
Story and review of the private island you will never leave
“You can’t return if you don’t leave,” Theresa, the front desk manager, said as my husband and I headed towards the boat that was about to leave the island of Parrot Cay for Providenciales (Turks and Caicos’ main island, where the airport is).
It was October 5th, and we were flying back home – Los Angeles via Miami – after ten days of honeymoon in heaven. In fact, the island is so private and secluded that it is only comprised of the COMO luxury resort, where we stayed.
I have been an emotional traveller since I was a kid vacationing with my parents, and I recall my excessive crying every time we had to leave our regular campground in Torre Canne, Puglia or the hotel Monterosa in Viserba, Emilia Romagna – places I also begged mom and dad to move to.
I am also an emotional immigrant, and I have set deep roots everywhere I lived, from London to Turin and Los Angeles, where my life is today. Every time I vacationed in a new place I wanted to move there, and my unbalanced sense of attachment seemed to not have changed since childhood. I could easily imagine the change in the morning view from my breakfast nook, my habits, even my language.
Today, at the age of almost 34, something has shifted. Emotional travelling does run in my blood, but during my stay at the resort in Parrot Cay I realized that I don’t have to run any more; I have the power to bring back home a little piece of the world as I explore it.
Ben and I arrived on the island on the night of September 26th, a humid but perfect Saturday. A private car picked us up from the Providenciales airport and drove us to a dockside lounge – nest of understated luxury created by soft shades of white and by the minimal, light teak furnishings. There we were welcomed by the genuine kindness of the COMO staff, before getting on the small mooring boat to our island. I smiled at the Greek couple that had been on the car with us (I later learned that they had chosen Parrot Cay to celebrate their wedding anniversary), I sipped my filtered water that the resort makes using reverse osmosis and savored the aroma of the their signature Invigorate line of essential oils and body care.
It being late at night we were not able to see the almost infinite shades of turquoise, azure and sapphire that would take our breath away the following morning, when we walked towards the beach for the first time. In the dark we let our hair be ruffled by the moisture of the Caribbean air and we felt free, adventurous, in love.
Our private island experience had just began; finding rose petals, white towels folded in the shape of a heart on our four-poster bed draped in white voile, and a gourmet cheese plate in our ocean view room was the first sign of perfection, attention to details and elegance that we continued to relish for the ten days that followed.
Ben and I both don’t drink any more, so we returned the bottle of Champagne we were kindly offered as a welcome gift, but their selection of premium tea, coffee and fresh juices more than made up for it.
On Sunday we woke up early and headed to the Terrace Restaurant for the exquisite complimentary breakfast that would become our new tradition (we usually don’t wake up at the same time, and I loved sharing the first meal of the day with him). The staff was comfortably kind, friendly and attentive from day one; they made us feel at home. I wish I could remember all their names, because they all remained in our hearts.
After coffee, toast, egg white omelettes and creamy Greek yogurt with a hint of honey and fresh mango we headed to the private beach, walking past the centrally located state-of-the-art gym, the Lotus Restaurant, and the infinity pool with terrace deck facing the ocean.
Still unaware of Hurricane Joaquin, which would not-so-lightly hit the island the following Tuesday night, we walked towards the beach and held each other’s hand staring at a view neither one of us had ever contemplated before. I have been to Sardinia and to some of the best Italian beaches, but I have never felt such a sense of surrender before the perfect miracle of nature.
As Parrot Cay is a private island, and ours was an off-season stay, the water was almost ours only. We pleasantly familiarized ourselves with some of the other five or six couples at the resort, but never invaded each other’s privacy nonetheless. We were all there to unplug, after all.
The water was crystal clear and pleasantly warm; the beach was white, and I have never tanned so quickly without getting sunburned. Tranquility and relaxed smiles had become so comfortable that in less than 24 hours we had decided to extend our stay for two additional days.
Joaquin came, flooded part of the island but left us fairly unscathed. The storm actually gave my skin some rest and allowed my husband
and I to enjoy the beauty of the tropical rain, the complementary yoga and pilates, and the daily indoor workouts – without which we wouldn’t have been able to indulge in the COMO’s exquisite food. Executive chef Stefano Cavallini and Director of food & beverages Eddie Yam delighted our palates with an innovative combination of, alternatively, Asian and Italian-inspired flavors. They were so magically combined that my initial worry for the presence of only two restaurants on the island was swept away like the white beach umbrellas during the storm.
Rain and wind continued for two more days – waves reaching impressive heights. Thunder scared me at first, but soon I learned to enjoy what I was given without letting anger take over; it would have only ruined the vacation. So these stormy days turned out to be a gift. We played pinnacola, deepened our love, walked in the rain on the one-mile path to the plantation – where the local bananas and coconuts come from.
The sun came back, with strong winds at first, but somewhat carrying a new healing energy – which is an essential part of the COMO experience, from its philosophy on healthy food to the wellness program offered by the Shambhala Spa – which means place of peace in Sanskrit. This retreat, situated at walking distance from any suite or villa, comprises nine treatment rooms, a Japanese bath, infinity pool, a pilates room and an elevated yoga studio that looked like a tree house. We took a class with Erny, who was very attentive to Ben’s back pain.
I didn’t wear make up nor blow-dry my hair for ten days. I discovered a new sense of beauty and deepened the acceptance of my unique self. I was serene, and so was Ben, who comfortably wore flip-flops and rolled up the sleeves of his shirts. Lines and wrinkles disappeared from our faces; we found ourselves smiling more. Completely unplugged we noticed sounds and smells we had never paid much attention to before – the palm trees moved by the wind, the rain, the wet sand and how the sun lotion melted on the skin; we savored the taste of salty water on our lips. The evening shower with the Shambhala products was a treat after a day in the sun, so I bought plenty for home, where we have returned somewhat changed.
Parrot Cay taught us how to live in a state of perpetual honeymoon; Parrot Cay reminded us that we have a blessed life, that we live in a beautiful house with a stunning view, but most importantly that we owe it to ourselves to keep the light shining until our return to the island. Because we left in order to come back and explore it further, maybe with new excursions and snorkeling, or perhaps trying a meditation class and a dish we did not taste the first time around.
As I let the humid wind moisten my face, and my body rest in my husband’s arms, the boat left the south departure dock. It was October 5th and I reminded myself that life is a fascinating game of memories and longings, departures and arrivals, new journeys and what we are able to bring back from them. And I bring back a lot from Parrot Cay.
The Five Must-Haves at Parrot Cay according to us:
- Their homemade ginger tea (thank you, Xavier, for giving me a bottle to go, on our last morning)
- Tuna Tacos at the Lotus Restaurant
- The complimentary daily breakfast from 7:30 am to 10:30 am
- The banana crème brûlée at the Terrace Restaurant
- The green curry with scallops and chili at the Lotus Restaurant
The Five Must-Not at Parrot Cay:
- Do not bring make-up, heels or too many shoes (I wore two pair the entire stay)
- Do not over pack; you will find everything you need at the resort. And you don’t need much anyway
- Do not go out without applying mosquito repellent (kindly provided by resort)
- Do not bring umbrellas – they have plenty, and they’re sturdy enough for the tropical wind
- Do not miss anything Parrot Cay can offer – and remember that the pursuit of your peace of mind comes free of charge.