Ambergris Cay is one perfectly portioned piece of the Turks and Caicos puzzle. This picturesque private island of white sand, rock, tropical foliage and sunbathing iguanas is home to a dreamy, all-inclusive resort offering the holy grail of island getaways. Ten beach cottages house airy suites ripe for honeymooning, and seven villas, dotted along the coast and catering for larger groups, bring plenty of beachside glamour and more privacy. Whether you spend your time blissfully barefoot in the sand or out on the waves with the whales, if you were looking for a missing piece in your luxury traveller’s jigsaw this might just fit the gap.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £1988.24 ($2,400), including tax at 17.2 per cent.
Rates include an à la carte breakfast, including eggs however you like ‘em, pancakes, acacia bowls and more, served daily in the Calico restaurant from 6 to 10am. There’s a four-night minimum stay, extended to seven nights from 24 December to 1 January.
The Club House (including Kids Explorer Hut) is currently under renovation and set to re-open by winter 2023. The Yoga Pavilion and Fitness Centre are also currently closed and due to open around the same time.
At the hotel
Free WiFi, laundry service (extra fee), and 1,100 acres of grounds to explore. All meals, beverages, non-motorised water sports, flights to/from Providenciales International Airport and dedicated island host service are included in the price of your stay. In rooms: air conditioning, TV, iPod docking station, mini bar, bathrobes, hair dryer, tea-making facilities, Nespresso machine, iron and ironing board, umbrella, free bottled water, L'Occitane bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The beachfront pool suites, veranda-wrapped cottages sitting right on the sands, had us charmed from the start. These palm-flanked abodes have their own plunge pools just outside, and bring the beach and ocean vistas through full-length glass doors into fresh, contemporary interiors with white vaulting and gentle pops of Caribbean colour. While they make for a wonderful couple’s getaway, if having close neighbours is not to your liking, it’s time to upgrade to a villa. If you’re travelling with a group and want to fulfil their very wildest dreams, look no further than the aptly named Dream Pavilion. This is the largest of the villas, with six fabulous bedrooms, its own private chef, two swimming pools and expansive terrace space from which to take in those panoramic ocean views.
There’s one communal outdoor saltwater heated pool on site, open 7am to 7pm. Each residence also has its own private plunge pool or infinity pool. Guests have private beach access to the many stretches of white sand or stone around the island’s coastline.
The spa has two indoor treatment rooms and one open-air cabana, where you can pick from a menu of relaxing therapies such as deep tissue or heated bamboo massages, body scrubs and wraps (choose from chocolate, blueberry or mango) or oceanfront couple’s massages complete with champagne. You’ll need to book your treatment 24 hours in advance. Personal trainers or guided yoga sessions are available on request, and you can make use of two tennis courts and a pickle ball court.
Waterproof binoculars for zooming in on those frolicking humpback whales from on deck.
There’s an additional fee for in-room beauty and spa treatments. The nature of the island terrain makes Ambergris Cay unsuitable for wheelchair users.
While the island undoubtedly attracts adult couples and groups seeking privacy and relaxation, children are also welcome to stay here and enjoy the beach, pools and cactus-strewn landscape.
Babies and up.
There are all-inclusive villa deals designed for family stays, and groups can book neighbouring villas to get the most out of holidaying together, while maintaining some privacy. Certain rooms can accommodate little Smiths for an additional cost.
There’s a schedule of kids’ club activities, plus 2023 plans on the way for an Explorer’s Hut, where children aged four to 12 will be able to enjoy treasure hunts and interactive games.
Each suite and villa comes with either a private plunge pool or infinity pool (adult supervision required). There’s a communal heated saltwater pool for all guests to enjoy, too.
A babysitting service is available – contact the resort for pricing.
No need to pack
There’s a strong sustainable focus in play with the aim of preserving the natural beauty of this Caribbean island. Water is cleaned for reuse through reverse osmosis water purification and the resort generates much of its own electrical power.
Unsurprisingly, a private table on the small jetty a short distance away from the main restaurant is where we’d choose to linger over dinner and a tropical cocktail or two.
Linen, supersized shades and windswept hair.
Chef Carmen calls the shots at Calico, where you can eat outdoors with a view of the gardens and ocean, or in the evening gather around the fire pit. Breakfast (6–10am), lunch (10am–5pm) and dinner (5–10pm) are all served here, and you can choose from Caribbean and internationally influenced dishes, from grilled lobster to seafood paella. Special themed nights make the most of seasonal cuisine to bring the tastes of India, Jamaica and other flavoursome destinations to your plate. If you have any special dietary needs, including kosher requirements, let the restaurant know well in advance. If you’re staying in the Dream Pavilion you’ll already have a private chef at your disposal, but residents of the other villas can also book a private chef to cook them a special meal.
The Calico bar is an outdoor affair, all the better to appreciate the best sunsets on the island, along with bar snacks and maybe a Grand Cru vintage red from the sommelier’s list.
You can order room service from the Calico restaurant menu between 7am and 10pm (a $20 service charge applies).
Ambergris Cay is in the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean.
Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is a 20-minute flight away from Ambergris Cay International Airport, the island’s narrow landing strip and welcome point. The resort offers a complimentary transfer from Providenciales airport for all guests – from here you’ll be driven to Blue Hero FBO to take your connecting 20-minute jet flight to Ambergris Cay. If you’re travelling in your own private plane, liaise with the resort in advance to organise your arrival. When you book your accommodation you’ll need to provide your flight arrival information, whether you’re using the free inter-island transfer service or a private plane.
Worth getting out of bed for
Even if you want to do the bare minimum of sunning and swimming when you get here, it’s good to remember that there are plenty of activities included in your room rate. Should you wish to, you can go whale watching, kayaking, snorkelling or bone fishing. Hit the tennis courts, the hiking and biking trails, or take your golf buggy out for a spin around the coastline. Basically, every activity from paddle board to pickle ball has been thought of. You’ll need to pay an additional fee for some activities, such as motorised watersports, off-shore fishing trips and day trips to neighbouring cays. But at the end of the day, don’t forget another extra-special benefit of your all-inclusive stay at Ambergris Cay: a champagne-soaked day trip to the floating tiki bar at Little Ambergris Cay.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this one-off hideaway in the Atlantic, a full account of their private island break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Ambergris Cay in the Turks and Caicos islands…
The way you arrive at Ambergris Cay is a sign of things to come. The only entry point is the small strip of runway that welcomes small aircraft to touch down on this paradise isle. From here, you’ll begin a stay to rival any other exclusive island break. You’ll be welcomed with open arms, scooped into a golf cart and cheerily deposited at your lodgings, be they beach suite or graceful villa home. Interiors are finished in white wood and beachy decor that errs on the minimal, with flashes of colour saved for the bright cushion covers, bed throws and the competing greens of iguana hide, cactus and palm provided by nature herself. No interior design boundaries are being pushed here, but that’s part of the appeal. Instead, the natural contours, textures and colours of this particularly scenic ocean-bound cay come to the fore. After all, that’s why you came.