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Trip Report Photos and Trip Report, Follow up to "Looking for Luxury on Budget"

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This forum was so helpful when I was planning our trip to Turks on a somewhat of a limited budget, so I wanted to be sure to post our TR. This is a follow up to my prior thread: http://www.fodors.com/community/caribbean-islands/looking-for-luxury-but-less-developed-resort-in-turks-and-caicos.cfm

Here are some photos of the hotels we saw, the beautiful blue water and places visited:
http://s79.photobucket.com/user/JennTurks/media/Turks%20and%20Caicos/10372784_10203377482871141_7611618698953155699_n_zpsf581d263.jpg.html
(adding a few more soon!)

We split our stay between two hotels to experience as much as possible on the island and also to save on costs. We spent the first 4 days at the Windsong Hotel and the last 3 days at Seven Stars Resort. Here were my takeaways.

Hotels:
What a wonderful surprise Windsong turned out to be! A hidden gem. We chose the smallest room at Windsong since it was the lowest priced 4 star option through ‘Turks and Caicos Reservations’ and online, and it had a nice pool. Then we splurged with an ocean view room at Seven Stars.

What a surprise, our favorite hotel turned out to be Windsong! From the moment we arrived, the staff was so welcoming. Our room was upgraded to a suite, as I had read others were when rooms were available. We were greeted by a gentleman named Mohan with rum punch, who was our personal contact throughout the stay. We also became friends with Royalton who ended up showing us around the entire island. What a great guy, who told us all about what it is like living there. It was great to see the full island this way, and it was truly a highlight of our trip.

Other positives of Windsong: 1) The breakfast is fabulous with a choice of eggs, fruit, pancakes etc. It’s served in tables ocean side or down in the restaurant (photo included.) 2) The glass enclosed pool with a waterfall bridge was beautiful and not crowded at all (we were there early May) 3) Rooms look like they do in the website photos, nice, clean. 4) Snorkeling was convenient - right outside the hotel at Coral Gardens Reef which provided my husband a great activity every morning. I would recommend getting a car on Day 1 and going to the IGA Gourmet store to stock up on food, drinks etc. The restaurants are expensive and the grocery store has great take-away meals, alcohol. Even less expensive alcohol can be found at local stores.

Then we went to Seven Stars. I think the bar was set so high after Windsong, so it’s probably not a fair comparison and depends on what you like. Seven Stars was very nice, it’s located in the developed part of Provo, and it "felt" more developed. Larger hotel buildings, more like a very nice Hilton, more corporate like. Staff was not very friendly which I wouldn't have thought would make a difference but for some reason it really did for us. The positives of Seven Stars were 1) You don’t necessarily need to rent a car and it's close to some downtown shops. 2) The views from room are amazing - definitely stay in the middle tower above floor 2 since the buildings on the ends overlook the pool area vs. the ocean. 3) Breakfast is well stocked, but is a buffet in center of the complex, not like being at a table by the ocean relaxing with your morning coffee. 4) There were more families here, it seems like a great hotel for families with children since it’s very convenient and has a nice, large pool.

Hotel wise, it all depends what you like. I would recommend looking up the size/ # of rooms if you like more of the boutique and Caribbean feel. The Villa Renaissance I think would have been another great option. Grace Bay (pic included) is the best of both worlds, boutique feel, centrally located, swanky infinity bar/tiki area, however comes with a high price!

Favorite things to do:
1) Da Conch Shack – definitely take the drive out to this rum bar in Blue Hills for dinner. We sat at picnic tables right by the ocean, ate local food and listened to live music.
2) Caicos Dream Tours – ½ day snorkeling and conch dive. We had conch salad for lunch and how fun to dive down and get your own conch! The owner I emailed with was so helpful as well, she gave a list of restaurants and advice when visiting there.
3) Snorkeling at Coral Gardens – We saw very large turtles, colorful fish everywhere and small barracuda.
4) Chalk Sound – The most beautiful blue water, but the water is hard to get to. We caught glimpses driving by and were able to better view it from Las Brisas restaurant and a small lot entrance across the street. Las Brisas is nice for dessert and a cappuccino. We did try and pull down an enclave but our car was chased by a few angry/wild dogs (!), so we made fast tracks back to the road. : ) Be careful where you stop, but definitely worth seeing Chalk Sound! Note: We also saw a couple friendly stray dogs around and I think the main concern about wild dogs would be in areas “off the beaten track”.
5) Somewhere Café – Fun place for drinks in a low key atmosphere.
6) Caicos Conch Farm – A short (30 minute) tour that walks through how they raise conch. My husband thoroughly enjoyed this. Be sure to look up hours in advance.

Other:
- 'Turks and Caicos Reservations' was super. They provided hotel promo rates and are very friendly!
- If you are able to travel by train or car to New York or another airport with a direct flight it can save significantly! We found a direct flight for $400 vs. $1500 with connections.
- We enjoyed the outdoor BBQ at Windsong, they had good local food and the best smoked jerk chicken I’ve ever had. (The other BBQ we went to at Somerset was pricey and felt a little like a wedding, with American vs. Caribbean music and not a lot of dancing as I was expecting.)
- Make sure to have your camera ready when flying into the Turks airport, several of us were truly stunned by the beauty of the views that appeared!!

Overall, what a beautiful island and what great memories. We still talk about Turks all of the time, especially during the wintry months here. I’d love to go back!

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