Perhaps it's the 230 miles of pristine white, sandy beaches. Or maybe it's the clean, fresh island air and sun that rarely wavers that make the Turks and Caicos Islands so appealing. Whatever it may be, one thing is certain: This British dependency made up of 40 islands—eight major ones and numerous uninhabited Cays—is a destination that’s growing in popularity, people and resort spas. In less than five years, the population of the Turks and Caicos Islands has nearly doubled, according to the Islands’ Department of Economic Planning and Statistics. In 2006, the estimated population is 33,202, compared with only 19,886 inhabitants in 2001. Tourism numbers also reflect the rise, with 171,456 tourists vacationing on the islands in 2004 compared with the 71,655 who visited in 1994.
“I came to the island 21 years ago to work for a development company,” says Valerie Hudson, managing director of Point Grace Resort, a luxury boutique resort on Providenciales that is home to the tiny, yet charming Thalasso Spa. “At the time, there were 1,200 residents—1,000 local people and 200 expatriates.” During this period, explains Hudson, the islands were experiencing a miniboom. “Club Med was just completed. Its deal with the government was for the latter to upgrade the airport and surface the road from the airport to Club Med. There were four small hotels. Our development company attracted a number of overseas investors. The recent boom—which is more of an explosion—started about five years ago,” she says.
The level of recent development is very high-end, attracting a certain set of travelers who are knowledgeable about spas. “The additional rooms also have greatly improved incoming flights, which is a huge bonus to us,” continues Hudson. “We find that our guests want a direct flight and that this is an important element in their decision-making process when choosing a destination.”