PARROT CAY, Turks and Caicos -- High-end holistic hideaway and
exclusive celebrity redoubt Parrot Cay, looking to increase
off-season business, is fine-tuning its already top-notch offerings
for both its privacy-conscious clientele and the travel trade.
According to managing director Harry Apostolides, 2003 was a
record-breaking year for the five-year-old resort and spa in both
the high and low seasons, despite the lingering after-effects of
9/11 on leisure travel.
"And just in case last year's results seem freakish, 2004 is
looking great, as well," he said. "Last night, we had 100%
occupancy ... so business is good."
"But the challenge isn't filling the resort in the high season,"
Apostolides continued. "It remains convincing people the Turks and
Caicos is good for breaks in the summer, as well."
To that end, improvements just completed or still on tap for the
60-unit resort -- sole property on the otherwise uninhabited
1,000-acre islet of Parrot Cay, a 30-minute boat ride by private
launch from busy Providenciales -- include a newly expanded spa
complex, new soft furnishings and remodeled bathrooms in guest
quarters, and the construction of additional rental villas.
And agent-wise, Parrot Cay -- a Como Hotels and Resorts property
that pays commissions of 10% -- recently reinforced ties to
retailers by abandoning participation in Luxury Link, an Internet
travel site (at www.luxurylink.com) where it was unloading distressed
inventory in eBay-style auctions.
Why the online about-face, when Internet auctions might help
fill rooms in the summer?
Apostolides said secluded Parrot Cay -- popular
with celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Sandra Bullock and Rolling
Stones guitarist Keith Richards -- had dropped Luxury Link "in
support of travel agents, as a preemptive measure ... to
relationship-build with [the trade]."
Two of the resort's best travel agent partners, he explained,
had complained of being undersold by the site.
To smooth things over -- and "save face" -- resort management
paid the agents their lost commissions.
That's because -- despite Parrot Cay's ongoing popularity with
the international jet set -- the property relies heavily on
bookings from travel agencies.
To wit, it's affiliated with the Virtuoso agency consortium and
sells -- somewhat surprisingly, for such a Hollywood hot spot --
via wholesalers Liberty Travel and Island Destinations.
Parrot Cay also belongs to Leading Hotels of the World and Crown
International Marketing's The Crown Collection.
"We live and die by travel agents, and their advice,
recommendations and multiple bookings keep us afloat here,"
Apostolides observed. "If we don't support agents at this difficult
time, we cannot expect support from them in the future."
Apostolides believes Parrot Cay appeals to travel agents thanks
to its high average room rate -- which makes for hefty commission
pay -- and a reliable repeat visit rate in excess of 70%, "although
the way our guests rave you'd think it was closer to 99%."
Thirdly, he said, the property has a good reputation because
it's "open to arranging 'special touches' on behalf of agents for
clients," Apostolides added.
"Usually that goes a long way; it is, after all, the little
things you do that matter."
The better to serve
Along those lines, management is freshening up still-trendy
Parrot Cay -- originally decorated by Keith Hobbs of London-based
United Designers -- with a few new touches, such as a resortwide
soft-furnishings upgrade and remodeled guest bathrooms.
Also, public areas such as the library will be spruced up as
part of the $2 million upgrade.
"We want to ensure all facilities are of the highest standard,
as the local climate can be harsh on both fabrics and wood
finishes," said Apostolides. "And as we have a high repeat-visitor
rate, we'd like to have some surprises in store for returning
"We'll stick to the same [design] theme, but there may be some
slight changes, in terms of fabrics and the like," he added.
The resort's fitness center -- outfitted with cardiovascular and
weight-training equipment -- also will get $70,000 worth of new
machines this year.
In terms of infrastructure and inventory, Parrot Cay also is
adding four two- and three-bedroom villas to the existing five
owned by the celebrity likes of Willis, Richards, fashion designer
Donna Karan and former model Christie Brinkley.
When the stars are off-island, their oceanfront villas -- which
sell out first among all units -- are available for rent through
the "home-letting" program for $3,200 to $4,800 per night.
"They're very lucrative both for us and for the agent who books
them," said Apostolides, speculating that the popular villa units
usually sell out first because guests booking a high-end property
like Parrot Cay want exclusive, water's-edge accommodations rather
than traditional accommodations.
"Our hotel fills from the top down, not bottom up," he said.
"Our ocean- and gardenview rooms don't sell as readily as
All nine villas come with private heated swimming pools and
exclusive butler services.
More spa, more treatments
Many well-heeled guests head to Parrot Cay specifically for its
renowned spa, the Shambhala, voted the world's number one spa by
Conde Nast in February.
Como Hotels and Resorts spent approximately $2.5 million to
nearly double the size of the spa in an expansion effort completed
just last month.
The new 6,600-square-foot space includes yoga and Pilates
studios; four single and two double massage rooms, with panoramic
windows, outdoor showers and Japanese baths; male and female
locker- and steam rooms; and a women-only outdoor Jacuzzi
"The expansion of the spa and addition of treatments and
therapies will only strengthen our already excellent reputation in
the market," said Apostolides.
"More and more people are looking for a spa experience during
their beach holiday."
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].
For more details on this article, see At Parrot Cay,
relaxation is favorite recreation.
Room key: PARROT CAY
Address: P.O. Box 164 Provindenciales, Turks &
Caicos, British West Indies
Affiliations: Como Hotels & Resorts, The Crown
Phone: (649) 946-7788
Fax: (649) 946-7789
Reservations: (877) 754-0726, direct; (800)
General Manager: Carl Henderson
Rates: $380-$4,800 per night, with transfers and
breakfast; 3- to 5-night minimum stay
Facilities: Mediterranean and Asian restaurants;
Shambhala spa with sauna, steambath, treatment rooms, pools; gym;
beachfront infinity pool; villas with private pools, outdoor
showers; gift shop; library with Internet; 3-mile beach.
Amenities/Services: Daily free yoga, Pilates
classes; boat airport transfers; private excursions; rooms feature
private verandas, CD/DVD players, air conditioning, tea/coffee
makers and minibar, Shambhala spa personal-care products.