TROPICAL resorts are not unlike supermodels. Given the right conditions, styling and lighting, they can all be stunning. But the natural beauties—the ones most enduring and authentic—turn heads even under unflattering circumstances.
After two days at Parrot Cay, an effortlessly elegant property tucked away in the Turks and Caicos, I reckoned the place was doing a fairly convincing impression of heaven. The island air was perfumed with hibiscus, and the temperature and humidity levels appeared to have been set by climate control. The Caribbean was almost unnaturally blue, a shade one ordinarily sees only on Smurfs reruns and in drinks served on Ladies' Night. The staff—trained not to ask guests what they do for a living, lest it trigger thoughts about work—could not have been more accommodating. No wonder Tony Parker and Eva Longoria honeymooned there.
When I wasn't luxuriating on the porcelain beach or alongside an infinity-edge pool, I killed time hiking, playing tennis barefoot on a turf court and simply sitting on my porch listening to a sound track of egrets and breezes slicing through the palm trees. The experience was tempered only by a nagging sense that I might never again return to such an exquisite property. (Or, at the very least, never again snag such an embarrassingly plum writing assignment.)
But then, on the third morning, Parrot Cay underwent the equivalent of a bad hair day. A tropical stormlet passed through, and gunmetal skies exhaled fierce winds and then spat rain.
Still, Parrot Cay continued to dazzle. I sat in the spacious library, then played another guest in a marathon game of pool. I had a leisurely lunch and went for a compensatory workout at the Parrot Cay gym. Then I stumbled into the Shambhala spa.
Derived from the Sanskrit term for "peace and harmony," Shambhala sits on a hill with striking views of the water and projects a distinct Zen- Caribbean vibe. Lacking the constitution for acupuncture or a hot-river-stone massage, I simply ordered a ginger tea and took a steam shower, enjoying tranquillity in surround sound. The Parrot Cay slogan—It's not just vacation; it's rejuvenation—suddenly made a lot more sense.
After half an hour I left the spa feeling, well, rejuvenated. By then the sun had come back out.