Turks and Caicos resorts heat up winter with getaways

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NEW YORK -- In the past few years, the Turks and Caicos has come into its own as an island destination. Agency owner Gene Argenti touts it as being "not overcrowded and overcommercialized."

Argenti and his wife Carol own and operate Silver Travel of Princeton in Princeton Junction, N.J., and their clients have been taking notice of this low-key island.

He said three years ago the agency had to sell Turks and Caicos as a paradise where as now clients come in asking about it. "Beaches put it on the map," Argenti said. The opening of Beaches in December 1995 kicked off a spurt of growth in the accommodations scene.

Other properties to make their debut were Parrot Cay in 1998, Ocean Club West in 1999 and Point Grace in 2000. Club Med Turkoise, Meridian Club, Grace Bay Club and Comfort Suites have been island mainstays. This winter season, properties are showcasing new features, courting agents and hoping to entice clients with vacation getaways.

At Point Grace, check-in now takes place in a guest's suite with the accompaniment of a drink and cold towel. Continental breakfast is no longer included in the daily rate, and a spa is being added on the beach.

Starting Dec. 22, Point Grace will offer guests a half-hour "travel de-stress" spa treatment that must be used within their first 36 hours at the hotel. An Autumn Value package that includes transfers and a boat tour is available through Dec. 22.

For information, call (888) 682-3705.

Parrot Cay is offering a series of healing weeks that start in December. Above, the resort's infinity pool. Parrot Cay wants to rejuvenate guests with a series of Healing Weeks that start in December. For example, Rodney Yee, codirector of California's Piedmont Yoga Studio, is leading the Dec. 16 retreat.

The five-night getaway is priced at $3,070 for a single room, and $4,610 for a double. Accommodations, meals, two hours of massage therapy during the week and five hours of yoga and meditation per day are highlights.

For more information, call (649) 946-7788.

A new addition for Grace Bay Club this year was Serenity Spa with Asian- and European-influenced treatments. On the menu are a Balinese massage, Japanese shiatsu and Ionithermie treatments, which are popular in Europe.

To lure couples, the property has a four-night Romantic Reveries package through Dec. 18 that is priced at $2,353. For golfers, a Tee for Two program offers three rounds at the 18-hole Provo Golf Club. The four-night plan is valid through Dec. 18 and is priced at $2,605.

For information, call (800) 946-5757.

The Meridian Club is promoting its seven-night Hideway-at-Pine Cay plan, which is priced at $4,320 per couple for a club room and $4,490 for a sand dollar cottage. Also available are a 10-night Shell Seeker vacation and a five-night Honeymoon plan.

To book, call (800) 331-9154.

Ocean Club and Ocean Club West are paying 12.5% commission. The resort is marketing a weeklong Escape to Paradise plan through Dec. 23. Rates start at $1,374 per person, double. Its Heavenly Holidays getaway is valid for bookings from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2. Rates start at $2,685. The Seven Nights in Heaven plan is available Jan. 3 to April 30, with prices starting at $2,013.

For details, call (800) 457-8787.

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