If you’re looking for the best luxury resorts in Turks and Caicos, look no further than Amanyara and Parrot Cay. As luck would have it, I recently stayed in both properties. As further good fortune, I am willing to write about them. And to prove that dreams come true, you now can read about it. Praise be the internet.
It’s all about the journey, not the destination, said no one ever travelling to a luxury resort. Amanyara is a 20-minute car journey, while Parrot Cay is a similar car journey, followed by a 30-minute boat ride. So the winner is whether you value your time, like an adult, or you still enjoying making boat noises in the bath.
The beachfront villas at Parrot Cay are great; the suites and rooms, all discovered far from the beach, will make you feel sad, like you’re being held hostage by a cheapskate Bond baddie. On the other hand, Amayara has pavilions (rooms), which are nowhere near a beach, or villas, which are equally as far away from sand that you should have just stayed in your Manhattan apartment. Your only chance to be beach-facing ready is to be in one of their 4, 5 or 6-bedroom beach villas, which are more expensive than anything Parrot Cay offers. Parrot Cay offers an extensive range of options, both in size and budget, so you will be well looked after even if your social status is defined as only having two full-time housekeepers.
The main showpiece at Parrot Cay is Donna Karan’s villa, which contrasts the usual, tiresome, beach-themed villas you’ve seen and stayed in. After a long hiatus, it is now available to rent again.
The downside to Amanyara is the pavilions. They are nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, but they’re not exactly the Taj Mahal either. They are nearly identical, with only the location and possibility of a pool that alters. If you want to get a villa, you must spend almost double what you would at Parrot Cay. You can get a better beachfront villa at Parrot Cay for the price of a pavilion at Amanyara.
Yet, as I assume everyone reading this is on the sanctions list or, at the very least, owns a private army, what’s money anyway? If you’re going purely on quality, it will be Amanyara every time – the villas are a significant upgrade in terms of the design, space, sense of luxury, quality, privacy and pretty much every other adjective going.
Amanyara isn’t to be scoffed at – it’s no swampland, but it’s also no Parrot Cay. Parrot Cay is one of the nicest beaches in the entire world. Them be the facts. Amanyara’s beach is very lovely but significantly smaller, which makes it busier and nowhere near as soft. If you only visited Amanyara, you would be perfectly happy with it, but if you visit Parrot Cay first, it would be like flying private and then being downgraded. Don’t worry, you’re still flying private, but James Corden and Carrot Top are sitting next to you. It’s just ruined the experience.
The benefit of Amanyara is that it’s on the mainland, so if you wish to leave the resort and do whatever it is that people do outside of resorts on holidays, you can do that. In contrast, Parrot Cay is a private island, so you’re stuck there. They’re both highly spacious properties. Parrot Cay is over 1,000 acres, but almost all the facilities are in a single place, whilst Amanyara is so spread out it could act as a Blair Witch sequel.
For me, a spectacular beach and calm water are hard to beat. I just wish both properties didn’t have an abundance of sandflies.
Winner: Parrot Cay
If you get a villa, your stay at both properties will dramatically change. At Parrot Cay, you are allocated a butler who is always present with you, even when you leave your room. Yes, they follow you everywhere, like your own paparazzi. It’s the best implementation I’ve ever seen, resulting in consistent, superb service. The only downside is the butlers are not always present; there’s nowhere for them to be within the properties, so you need to call for them. Whilst at Amanyara, your butler and chef are limited to your room but are always present.
The Caribbean is not notorious for world-class service, but they come close to providing that at both properties via the butlers.
Now, if you’re not in a villa at either property, may god have mercy on your soul.
Unquestionably, one of the downsides to Parrot Cay was the food. Whilst you can hire a chef, at Amanyara, it is standard with a villa. The Amanyara chef would consult with us daily on options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the most important meal of the day: all the gaps between those meals. The food was superb. We could also order off the menu from their Beach Club or aptly named Restaurant, which was Mediterranean and Asian/Caribbean themed, respectively.
The less I say about Parrot Cay, the better. One problem is that during off-peak season, they might only have one restaurant a day open, which I guess limits the awfulness to spread around.
This feels like a toddler fighting Batman. Parrot Cay has a rather generic feel, with not much in the way of luxury when it comes to their grouped-together, lifeless facilities. They might tick the boxes with a beach club, a ginormous swimming pool and an adults-only pool, but they’re not exuding luxury. Amanyara is an absolute beast in terms of what it offers and the way it presents itself. That is what luxury is. Your Patek Philippe is no better at telling the time than a Casio, if anything, it’s worse, but one isn’t going to give you the lovely feels And I think we’re all talking about the same watch – everyone loves a Casio, right?
Within the main area of both properties, you will see the biggest difference, with Amanyara creating some kind of aquatic serenity with the design, whilst Parrot Cay just feels a bit like the builders wanted lunch, so just stuck it down that morning Both properties have a cinema room, although Parrot Cay’s newly opened one is definitely an upgrade The kids’ club is not great at either property, but it probably goes to Parrot Cay because it at least feels like a kids’ club That’s about it, though, as between the four tennis courts, boxing studio, games rooms, yoga and pilates studio, Amanyara seems to offer it all.
Spa / Gym
Amanyara’s spa might be simple from the facilities (hint: not many), but the design is sublime. Parrot Cay offers a steam room and outdoor rock jacuzzi, but the spa has the same level of design and charisma as the rest of the property, which is to say more like a traffic cone at a deserted intersection No, no, that is unfair, the entrance to the spa is actually quite beautiful, with views over their mangroves.
Amanyara has brand-new TechnoGym equipment. Since I started stocking our home gym with it, I can conclude that it is absurdly expensive and not much better than the competition I respect that It’s the philosophy of so many hotels. It does make you feel better about yourself for a few seconds, at least Anywho, where was I Oh yes, Parrot Cay looks like the equipment came out of a recycling centre halfway through the process They offer everything you might need, it just feels like no one has used it in about twenty years They could certainly do with a little bit of an equipment swap After all, we all know TechnoGym weights cost more as they build more muscles when you use them, right?
What more is there to be said? It’s loads cheaper, about 40% cheaper than Amanyara.
Winner: Parrot Cay
When it comes to recommending these properties, Parrot Cay gets a recommendation with a “but”. I need to discuss the limitations, the falling downs, and how to overcome them. I have no issue in recommending Amanyara, assuming the budget is there.
It is not all one-way traffic: the setting, Donna Karan’s villa, the Kids Club, a better room selection, calmer design colours, a new cinema room, butler implementation, and most importantly, the price, all might sway you to Parrot Cay.