Forty miles southeast of its more popular neighbor, the island of Providenciales, lies the smaller island of South Caicos. It sits in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, and it is here that one finds the secret getaway of Sailrock Resort.
Home to suites that sit on an elevated ridge, along with the smaller oceanfront villas that rest on the shoreline, this boutique resort offers an unexpected rest and respite experience quite unlike any other.
Vacationers looking for nightlife, shopping, and other standard tourism will want to look elsewhere. This island experience is for travelers who wish to rest and regroup, and it is off the beaten path of more typical Caribbean locales. This place is quiet — very quiet— and visitors hear the soothing sounds of waves crashing outside their doors at night, the gentle braying of the donkeys-in-residence calling to their babies, and perhaps the distant voices of staff members working up at the main villa.
Our flight brought us to Providenciales, and we then boarded the 25-minute island hopper flight (included with the reservation) to the airport in South Caicos. We were met at the airport by Paul, the driver sent from the resort to collect us. We saw nary a soul as we made our way across dry roads and away from town.
Checking in at the main house, we entered the lobby to meet with Leny, our host for the next few days. The lobby is breezy and open, with expansive views of the Caribbean to the left, and an equally impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean to your right. The view is simply breathtaking and doesn’t seem to make sense — it is a sort of geographic anomaly to gaze from on high at the ocean on both sides simultaneously, each in its respective splendor. There are few places in the world that offer such an exquisite view, and Sailrock Resort is one of them.
A friendly staff member at the resort delivered us to our room at one of the Ridgetop Suites. The open-air design of the villas affords incredible views, and sliding glass doors give easy access to the wraparound terrace. Each villa has its own kitchen and living area. The decor is clean and elegant, like something from an interior design magazine. There is a walk-in shower, which is actually more of a small room with a tub on one side and shower that runs the length of the wall on the other. Topping off this experience is the abundance of L’Occitane products (my very favorite) to help each bathing experience feel like a mini-spa excursion.
We dressed for dinner and walked back over to the main entrance. This building also houses The Great House Restaurant and Bar. Fortunately for us, our visit happened to coincide with lobster season. We each ordered the lobster risotto — a dish of South Caicos fresh spiny butterfly lobster tail, grilled and served with garlic-herb lemon butter atop a creamy, sundried tomato risotto. Our appetizer of tuna confit and blue margaritas (one of the hotel’s signature drinks) made for a spectacular culinary experience. This meal was a fantastic introduction to this small and elegant restaurant. The simplicity and solitude of the surroundings belie the incredible preparations taking place in the kitchen, and every meal rivals any experience of the finest restaurants in the world.
The next morning, we awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Breakfast back at the main house featured an Italian egg frittata with tomato, spinach, goat cheese, and parmesan, polished off with fresh cantaloupe juice. We also enjoyed fresh fruit and a bowl of the quinoa and chia porridge — a warm bowl of creamy delight made with almond milk, honey, cinnamon, and topped with dried fruit. I would later try to recreate this delightful dish when I returned to the States, but, just like everything else at Sailrock, the experience could not be replicated. The menu also includes a Wellness Menu, featuring juices such as the “Blood Builder,” a mixture of green apple, beetroot, carrot, and turmeric to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and brighten mood.
After breakfast, we were met by our personal tour guide, Atiba, who helped us load into a Land Rover for a cruise around the island. Our first stop was the beachfront villas. Sitting along the pristine white beach, these villas each feature their own infinity pool and offer one or two bedrooms for an epic beachfront experience. The beautiful decor and open, breezy design complement the outdoor gardens and terrace that overlook the ocean and pool. Guests should not be surprised if they wake up one morning to a baby donkey drinking from their pool, as Sailrock Resort offers the only supply of fresh water on the island. A-listers needing maximum privacy opt for these villas, or even a private villa farther down from the main resort on the island’s remote peninsula.
Atiba offered us a bit of history about the island, telling us of Colin Kihnke, a developer from Chicago who used to come with his family to the island when he was young. His great love for the islands and his appreciation for nature parlayed a vision into what is now Sailrock Resort. The resort is being built in phases due to the logistics of bringing in materials. Most of the building materials are shipped in from the United States. Indeed, the few residents who live at or visit Sailrock often have their groceries brought in by boat or plane.
Construction by locals helps create employment in the area, and Sailrock endeavors to give back by sponsoring community projects and also by training its employees for a future in the world of high-end tourism. Employees of Sailrock are given the opportunity to advance their education via internship programs that train them in such fields as communication, management, and even mechanics. Employees are also cross-trained to work in different areas of the resort.
We spent the next day down at the beach and were amazed that there was no one else there. The incredible white sandy beach meets the calm, lapping shore of the Caribbean on this side of the island. There was a large, anchored float in the water where we hung out, chatting and laughing as we sipped our piña coladas. We contemplated swimming out to an island off in the distance, a popular endeavor with beachgoers, but opted instead for a nap in the hammocks that sit right at the edge of the water.
Though there are other activities offered at the resort, we chose to enjoy the beach all day. In fact, Sailrock offers a variety of vacation experiences. You can snorkel the expansive barrier reef, enjoy paddleboarding, or take a bicycle cruise around the island. Even though the resort is still relatively new, there is a spa in a set of cabanas overlooking the ocean and an outdoor pavilion for yoga.
That night we dressed for dinner and made the short walk back to the restaurant. The nightlights along the path gave off a warm glow to reveal the foliage that surrounds the villas. We sat on the porch to watch the sunset before heading across the small lobby to the restaurant. Dinner that night was grilled mahi, served with roasted vegetables, fish broth, stewed tomatoes with garlic essence, and jasmine rice. We also had the herb-crusted New Zealand roasted lamb rack, a spice-rubbed, mustard-coated lamb with a fresh basil Provencal crust and served with garlic mashed potatoes, along with a wild garlic and rosemary-scented lamb jus.
Sailrock arranged for us to have breakfast in our room the next morning so that we could watch the sunrise. Our new friend, Lalu, showed up faithfully before 6 a.m. to get everything set up. He lovingly tendered each dish and set up a beautiful tray of fresh cut fruit before quietly disappearing. This meal on the terrace overlooking the beach was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Because of the stillness, the senses are free to savor sights and quiet sounds. Any visitor to the resort must not miss it.
Later that day we headed to the main house for drinks and lunch, then naps at the infinity pool. A treat was in order! We were privileged to enjoy a mixology class with Lalu. He took great delight in describing the creation of some of Sailrock’s most popular drinks. No visit to Turks and Caicos is complete without a sampling of the area’s locally made Bambarra Rum. Other specialties of the house include the “Grumpy Old Man,” made with bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale, and the “SR Pain Killer,” with both white and dark rum and tropical juices.
Putra, the food and beverage manager, and Deo, the supervisor, stopped by for a chat. The well-being of the guests is very important at the resort. Despite their reserved demeanor, the staff at Sailrock quickly become your friends. They take great pride in what they do, and they are genuinely devoted to the service they give. Each meal is an art form, and drinks and meals are carefully created. Many of the staff have worked for Sailrock since its inception. If you’re lucky, Francis will take you for a drive into town one day and show you where the locals hang out. We did just that and enjoyed a sighting of the pink flamingos that gather to eat in the late afternoon in the marsh. Francis knows everyone and everything that goes on in this small town, and he will give out a shout or a wave to passersby as he shares more about the history of South Caicos.
Despite the luxury at Sailrock, the rates are surprisingly affordable, especially depending on the time of travel. Breakfast is included, and there is an optional meal plan. Consider renting one of the entire villas on the hill, as we did, and splitting the cost with family or friends … or splurge on the oceanfront villa! This is a special vacation for a yoga retreat, a girls’ weekend, or any other type of gathering. At Sailrock Resort, we experienced a beauty and peace that we didn’t know we needed. This is a place to relax and reconnect — to sit with the love of your life, your best friends, your children, or your family and enjoy the present. You will miss the quiet when you are gone, and sometime later, you will look at your pictures and relive the memories. Then you will begin to plan your next trip back.