Know Before You Go
Like life itself, when it comes to travel, democracy rules. TripAdvisor, the legendary source for user reviewed travel, comes out annually with the Travellers Choice Awards - one of the most recognized and respected award ceremonies in the travel and tourism industry. For those who don't know TripAdvisor (perhaps those who just landed on planet earth, or woke up from a twelve year coma), the site features reviews and advice on hotels, destinations, holiday packages, activities, restaurants, and more. The way it works is based on user reviews - and millions of interactive travellers have contributed to the site, offering their interpretation of their vacation in written content (sometimes hundreds of words) and rankings on a scale of five. They call themselves the world's largest travel site, and with 50 million monthly visitors, I'd be inclined to believe them.
When you run a search on a destination, say, Turks and Caicos, you're presented with a summary of the islands and 6,625 user submitted photos and 28 videos. Next you see the top-rated hotels on the islands, organized by Romantic, Top Resorts, Best Value, On the Beach, and B&Bs. Also included on the page is flights to Turks and Caicos, top-rated restaurants and attractions, popular destinations in Turks and Caicos, a free guide, question-and-answer forums, and "real candid traveller reviews". Needless to say, TripAdvisor gives My Turks and Caicos a good run for its money.
How Trustworthy is TripAdvisor?
The big difference with us though is we are undisputed experts of the best of the islands, while TripAdvisor spreads itself thin around the entire globe - and reviews have been known to be compromised. Recently TripAdvisor came under fire for allegations of fraud, as evidence surfaced that hoteliers were manipulating ratings with fake reviews written by those invested in the hotels and restaurants in question. TripAdvisor claims to have a sophistication filtration system in place to prevent such fraudulent posts, and maintains that they are rare (although around 13,000 reviews are labelled 'questionable' each day). Too much authentication and verification would result in less feedback, which makes sense.
In attempt to curb fraud and maintain trust, TripAdvisor introduced a crackdown with anti-fraud techniques borrowed from the finance industry. The website has just completed its first year as an independently-traded company so under increased pressure from shareholders, TripAdvisor is going all out with complicated algorithms in place to prevent black hat SEO firms. Anyone caught attempting to mess with the system will be branded with a 'red badge' of dishonour to caution visitors.
TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2013:
Chosen by millions of travellers (or travelers, if you're an American who likes spelling words funny), the awards go to the top ranked winners in six meta-categories, further filtered by continent and country. The six categories are Hotels; Hotels for Romance; Hotels for Families; Destinations; Beaches; and Islands. Each winner page is abundant with alluring photos and one top caption of a review. It paints a pretty picture alright.
So without further ado, the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice 2013 Winners, filtered for your viewing pleasure to only include those in Turks and Caicos. (We've included the main quote then wrote our own interpretation of the findings). If you want more information or to see who filled in all the other spots, check it out yourself! http://www.tripadvisor.ca/TravelersChoice.
Top 25 Hotels in the Caribbean
#2 - The Tuscany
“The absolute best on the most beautiful beach... Beautiful Hotel." Okay not the most descriptive but the crowd has spoken. Interestingly enough, The Tuscany would not even make our top five, yet for a four-star resort - this Italian inspired resort on the far end of Grace Bay Beach, where it remains largely unneweloped, is a great choice for families, group getaways, and intimate vacations. Excellent pasta, too.
#6 - Regent Grand
“Wonderful place to stay in Provo, Turks and Caicos... A perfect second stay.” Regent Grand is a wonderful five-star resort indeed, and it does have a magnetic attraction to it. Like the Tuscany, Regent Grand is also Italian inspired but there's no mistaking you're in the Caribbean and soaking up the best of the good life. It also features the largest infinity pool in the Turks and Caicos.
#10 - Seven Stars Resort
“I would come back in a heart beat!... Fantastic but service must be improved." Seven Stars is one of our all-time favourite hotels, a luxury retreat where you're waited on hand and food in total relaxation and bliss. The rooms are amazing and the deck is one of our favourite places to watch the sunset in the entire Caribbean. Great food and a glorious spa make this one excellent. And our experience with the service has been pretty exemplary.
Top 25 Beaches in the World
#2 - Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
"Shimmering white sand and warm enveloping waters. The colour of the water makes your heart leap.” This is actually the first year in many years that Grace Bay Beach wasn't voted #1 beach in the world. We've seen some phenomenal beaches out there, but few are truly as pristine and picture perfect as Grace Bay. Come dig your feet into the sand and find out for yourself. It'll always be #1 in our heart. 😉
Top 25 Beaches in the Caribbean
#1 - Grace Bay Beach
Okay so even though it took second place on the entire freakin planet (and just imagine how many amazing beaches there are out there...) Grace Bay Beach claimed the top spot for the Caribbean. There's glorious sand all throughout the Caribbean, but it's the perfect mix of all the factors that make this long stretch the undisputed champion.
#18 - Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Top 10 Islands in the Caribbean
"Scuba diving, horseback riding, sunbathing... take your pick. 'Provo' offers plenty for the happy couple to do, including picture-perfect coastlines to walk along, hand in hand. The island itself is relatively tranquil; try Malcolm Beach to get even further away from crowds."