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Help me Decide my next vacation--FS Exuma or Turks & Caicos

Help me Decide my next vacation--FS Exuma or Turks & Caicos

Old Sep 26th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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Help me Decide my next vacation--FS Exuma or Turks & Caicos

Time to schedule our annual spring trip, and we're having trouble deciding. Just to give some background, we like the more upscale properties, in the last couple of years we've been to Cap Juluca and FS Nevis and really loved both. Now we're deciding between FS Exuma and a few places in T&C. So far, have the T&C narrowed down to Grace Bay Club, Parrot Cay (and possible Somerset, but I think we may let them get another season under their belts before trying them).

We really love all the FS properties we've been to, we like the service and pampering on our Caribbean vacations. The only thing that concerns me about Exuma is the beach. I'm a bit prejudiced against the Bahamas, but I must admit I've only been to Paradise Island and really think the beach there is just average. Is FS Exuma beach better than that? I've heard mixed things about Grace Bay, but I know that the beach is great.

Any thoughts to help me decide would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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We were at the FS Great Exuma the year it opened and Jan. of this year. It is a beatiful property, actually a bit more striking than Nevis. But, the food was below average. In fact on our first trip trip the General manager "Comp'd" us 5 MAP days of our 7 day stay. The food was better this year but not up to par. We did not seek it out but were comed 2 dinners. Also, access to other places to eat are quite far away and not really worth the 45-55+ minute round-trip at a minimum.Also, the snorkeling is poor to fair at best. In T&C the snorkeling and beaches are far better. Parrat Cay is lovely and is not really a family resort from our 1 visit. That was why we went there. The prices are steep when you add meals, tax and service but it is exclusive. In fact it is not as "homey" in a good way as FS-Nevis, in my opinion.
FS Great Exuma is a family resort like FS-Nevis but with mediocre food, modest beaches and limited snorkeling and decent scuba. Obviuosly, this is just one couples opinion.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts. If you had to choose between returning to FS Exuma or Parrot Cay, which one would you go back to?
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 03:56 PM
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I've stayed at 4Seasons, and at Grace Bay Club and Somerset. I've passed by boat in front of Parrot Cay, but have not stayed.
I love Exumas, I love T&C. Both have gorgeous beaches. Some of the most beautiful in the world.
I like 4 Seasons Exumas. Beautiful grounds, beautiful rooms, on a beautiful beach. The only problem with them, is they are very isolated from everything. If you don't mind staying contained, you'll be fine. However, you have to go out by boat to the cays, and especially Stocking Island. Stocking Island is what dreams are made of. Exumas are very laid back, very "the way Caribbean used to be". While 4 Seasons is absolutely gorgeous, it's about 45 minutes to anything Exumas has to offer, or $70 cab rides. The golf course is spectacular. The pool is stunning. I thought the food was good, but their restaurants are really your only choices. (There is a great little restaurant on the beach at Coco Plum Beach about 10 minutes away, very cool) If you choose 4 Seasons, promise you will call Starfish and rent a boat at least for 1/2 a day, have them take you to Moriah Cay and some others, they are what postcards are made of. My opinion, but I feel Exumas are for seasoned travellers more than T&C. The beaches in Exumas are far superior to Paradise Island. It's not even close. Beaches in Exumas are stunning.
I like Grace Bay Club, but I LOVE Somerset. I got preopening specials. This place has the "wow" factor. T&C has excellent restaurants. Grace Bay Club is really nice, but I find everything about Somerset superior. Plus you are right next to the Spa at the Palms, which is out of this world. Grace Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see. Rival the beaches of Anguilla.
I've been to Cap Jaluca and loved it.
I would not hesitate to stay at any of the places you have mentioned, all are great!!!
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 04:52 PM
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we too are deciding on nearly the same properties for our family vacation in august. we've taken our teens to the ocean club in the bahama's and loved it but now we are looking for something a little quieter and without so much bling....we booked carlisle bay in antigua after falling in love with it during our trip there this past summer for next summer and now, after reading and researching we have decided to look further into somerset in t&c or the grand isle villas in great exuma.....talk about being confused. and i am confusing the heck out of my travel agent.

we have booked the three bedroom ocean front villa at grand isle villas for ten days in august...which was fine until i found somerset in t&c which is easier to get to from new york. i thought i read that the grand isle villa's is close to the four seasons resort on great exuma. will we be that islolated on the exuma properties? i didnt think so but perhaps turks and caicos would be better, offering more restaurant options.

what we really want is to just relax and take boat excursions, snorkle and dine out in fabulous restaurants as well as lovable local places.

and then i go back to the carlisle in antigua which was perfection...but why not try somewhere else....there are so many islands to choose from, why stick to the same one?

as you can see im confusing even myself.

thanks for any thoughts on this...
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:04 PM
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I know how you feel, I change my mind every 10 minutes. One of these days I'll make up my mind, thanks for the comments, they really help. Exumas sound great, but so does Somerset.

Blamona, I've read many of your other posts and find them extremely helpful. As to Somerset, I know the rooms are more like condos, but does it have the overall services of some of the other resorts? I know they have great kitchens, but frankly when we're on vacation I have no interest in using the kitchen--I have to do that the other 51 weeks of the year.
Thanks again.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Re Exuma--Have been over 20 times and love the island. My personal opinion is Four Seasons is rather out of place on Exuma. Large and posh and not your typical out island resort. Went there last year with a friend for lunch and it was $125 four three people. It is a long way from Georgetown where all of the "Action" is on Exuma. There is nothing by Four Seasons and unless you take an expensive cab ride or rent a car you are pretty much stuck. We prefer staying at Club Peace and Plenty but they don't have a beach. They run a boat to Stocking Island. Grand Isle Villas next to Four Seasons has an auction package on www:luxurylink.com

Provo is more developed than Great Exuma. Have also been there 20+ times and love it. Have not stayed at Parrot Cay But there is nothing else there except a resort so again you are isolated. Most of the accomodations on Provo are condo/villa types and most have restaurants although I don't think Somerset has one yet but is within walking distance of Bay Bistro at Sibonne, Hemmingways at The Sands and the restaurant at The Palms. My recommendation is to stay on Provo rent a car and explore the island and eat at some excellents restaurants. Grace Bay Club is lovely and their restaurant Anacona is probably the most romantic on Provo. Other restaurant recommendations are Bay Bistro, Magnolia Wine bar abd restaurant, Coyaba, Coco Bistro and Aqua. Another option is to split your vacation between Parrot Cay and Provo.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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Thanks Howard, you always have very helfpul comments as well. I'm still torn between the two. Being isolated at the resort isn't that much of a concern. We generally go on an outing or 2, such as snorkeling, etc. Also, we sometimes take advantage of good restaurants nearby (such as in Anguilla), but are just as happy to stay in and eat casually. We're fortunate enough to have access to great restaurants at home, and we eat out often, so on vacation it is not a top priority (we'll take advantage if they are there, but if not that's ok also). For us, these vacations are all about relaxation, great beaches, great service and just getting away. Thanks again.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 01:39 PM
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I second what HowardC stated. While the 4 Seasons in Exumas is terrific (and I would go in a heartbeat) it really is a little out of place. I love Exumas. I loved my stay at 4 Seasons, but I loved the "real" feeling of Exumas. 4 Seasons is pretty far from what makes Exumas so wonderful, BUT 4 Seasons in it's own right is also fantastic. I have to tell you, other than 4 Seasons, I find Exumas to be the type of island you build up too. I mean by that, it's harder to get to, more of an effort to stay, eat, etc, but if you're well traveled would love it. (does it make sense what I'm trying to say?-it's more "off the beaten path) Grande Isle villas are also gorgeous, I've been through them, and they use the 4 Seasons restaurants and such.
Almost all of the accomodations in T&C are condos, including Grace Bay Club. All are treated like resorts. The service, in my experience, at Somerset was fantastic. I tell you, one of my favorite in the world. (And if you read my posts, know I'm well travelled.) HowardC's idea of splitting Parrot Cay and Somerset actually sounds quite perfect to me. The restaurants in Provo (T&C's main island) has fantastic restaurants. Not quite as good as Anguilla's, but better settings. HowardC has also been numerous times to Anguilla.
I'm having a tough time helping you, because I trully love both!!!!! It's like picking a favorite child!
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 03:35 PM
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Of the two, I'd probably choose Parrot Cay over FS Exuma. Have you checked out Amanyara (on Provo but very isolated). Though it's probably more expensive than either, it's exquisite.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 05:03 PM
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I did check out Amanyara, and it looks gorgeous. We like staying at top properties, and are fortunate enough that we can splurge on vacations, but Amanyara is just a bit too expensive. Their cheapest room is about $1600 a night. It does look great though. I think I've narrowed it down to Parrot Cay or FS Exuma. Parrot Cay looks great, but I'm a bit worried about the rooms. Some comments I've read is that the rooms are a bit dated, and I saw a couple of pictures of the bathrooms that looked like old, mildewed tiles in the shower. Could just have been a bad picture.
I'll agonize about it a bit more before making a decision I'm sure.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 08:08 PM
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How is the snorkeling in Exuma?? As good as TCI? Sounds like a place I may want to look into!

Blamona... you know how I loved TCI and the snorkeling? Think I would dig this place?
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Since you have some time to decide still, I'm going to throw out a couple of other places to consider. Meridien Club is a much more low-key version of Parrot Cay that doesn't appeal as much to the jet set. But it has a strong following. Like Parrot Cay, it's a private island resort.

Windmills Plantation is another excellent resort on Salt Cay; it's managers once worked at Meridien Club.
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Having snorkeled in T&C, US &B.V.I.'s, GC, Bonaire, Curacao, Belize,etc. I must tell you the snorkeling in the waters of Great Exuma is poor. There is no real reef and the visibility beyond 8-10 ft. down is not very good. As it turns out one island over Andros has the third largest barrier reef in the world but you can only get there by charter or flying back to Nassau and then to Andros Town or one of their other small airports.
The Meridan Club is a row of about 12 rooms with a porch. They have one unit "Honeymoon cottage" that is separate by 30 yrds or so and is a little larger. The rooms are very basic but whistle clean. The pool is small but attractive. The owner of maybe 20 homes seem to own the island and when many are there it seems to be like the "haves and the have nots" to me on one visit when many where there for they use the pool, bar area and often pay to eat in the dinning room. It is laid back when they are not there and has a lovely beach. The food has varied from very good to fair on 3 visits over the past 12-13 years. Our friends were there last year for there 2nd trip and said the food was fair. It is a function of the Chef and kitchen staff they have as it is with many resorts. The snorkeling is good but not nearly as good as places on Provo or off Parrot Cay. I will admit Parrot has an air of exclusivity I could do without but the rooms were fine, not great, the food was very good (1 visit) and the snorkeling and beach were quite good.
I still think T&C is the place and while we never stayed at Grace Bay we cannot judge the ambieance or whether it attracts families outside school breaks which now seem to be at different times based on region of the US or even from one county to another.
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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VegasM: I have not snorkeled there. Exumas are more about picnics on private beaches, or boats to the different cays. Those cays are stunning gorgeous.
While Meridian Club is gorgeous, I think if you are a 4 Seasons type, I think you won't like MC. No TV, no AC, no phones, very basic. I think it takes a special clientele to go to MC. Salt Cay, my opinion once again, takes some building up too. Have to be a seasoned traveler to appreciate it. I find those places for people who like seclusion, whereas FS like to be around people. (I could be wrong!) (Sorry Doug, I'm not trying to pick on you-just not FS kind of places!!!)
I really think splitting it Parrot Cay/Somerset is the best idea. Just the transfer between the islands makes it worth doing this. You'll feel like the boat is travelling on a swimming pool. Plus you get to see all those beautiful cays.
And you'll get the treatment that you're used too. I have stayed at Grace Bay Club and Somerset, and love Somerset better!
I've also had lunch at Amanyara. It's a cool looking place, but in the middle of nowhere. So you're confined to their restaurant, unless you pay $70 a taxi. You can rent a car, but make sure it's high clearance, the road out to there is awful. No one in our lunch party like their food there either, but I have to admit, I'm a picky eater. You can always make lunch reservations 1 day to check it out. Malcolm's Beach is gorgeous, but you don't have to go through Amanyara to get there.

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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 07:23 AM
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Thanks again Blamona. We are what I would call seasoned travellers, and I've been going to the Caribbean for over 35 years. But we now do like the "nicer" places, just because they have the services and amenities that we like on vacation. And we actually like non-crowded places, rather than being around lots of other people, which is one reason we generally plan our trips right after the peak vacation time so things are a bit more quiet. But even at the FS we have been to (ie, Nevis), even when crowded, things tended to seem a bit more quiet because there was plenty of room for all.

So many places, so little time! Whichever we don't choose this year will be next year's trip (knock on wood!).
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Old Sep 28th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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I will through an wrench into the discussion.
Might you consider Peter island Resort in the B.V.I.'s. It is not crowded as long as it is not around major school breaks or after mid-June.
The beaches are lovely, the setting is great, the food is good to very good (a few too many buffets for us-but the food on the buffets is nicely prepared).We were there 6 or 7 nights, 3 years ago and I think we had breakfast buffets alot (common at FS's and elsewhere) but 3 lunch buffets and 2 dinner buffets. The snorkeling is very good around Peter Island and on the outing to Jost Van Dyke. As I remember it is about $1000/day including meals, service & tax for ocean view in todays dollars. The accommodations were well appointed with A/C.It is classy but a "little" stuffy but we will return in 2 years or so.
We are going to Biras Creek in Dec.'06 because of the excellent snorkeling on and around Virgin Gorda. It is almost as expensive as Peter island but I hear it is up-scale "Caribbean rustic", whatever that means.It also has 1/2 the number of units of PI. We have 8 nights to check it out thoroughly.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Well, the decision has been made. Booked Parrot Cay today, let the countdown begin!

Thanks to everyone for all your help in deciding.
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