private beach. hotel guests only.

These are words I typically respect, while turning and sulking back to my corner of the public beach. You know, the area that’s usually littered with children’s toys and bottle caps, cigarette butts and other unidentifiable waste. Who needs manicured sand, cabanas and cocktail service when a more authentic experience awaits, right?

It was our first day on the main island of Turks & Caicos and we were determined to kick off our 5-day vacation with a bang, so we decided to walk the short mile and a half to the Gansevoort Hotel from our Airbnb. Technically, we could have taken our air conditioned rental car, but we avoided it for fear of certain death.

Despite being a faithful Avis member for many years, I must have upset the reservation agent in some capacity because we were assigned a vehicle that looked like it had been found on the side of the road. Discarded by its previous owner and left to be absorbed back into the ground by overgrown shrubbery. The shrieking and grinding were even worse than its offensive appearance. The car, if you can call it that, would have stuck out on a high school parking lot, full of vehicular family rejects, so we decided to leave it at home.

Stepping into the hotel was stepping into a dream. The clean exterior and perfect symmetry of the hotel entrance transported you seamlessly through the lobby to the pool and further into the crystal clear waters of the ocean. The walk alone was an experience. Everything surrounding us was elegant and timelessly chic in both design and quality.

“Are you a guest of the hotel?” a staff member asked as we drew closer to the coveted white umbrellas decorating the private slice of beach in front of us.

“Indeed — last name Fish.” Pronounced in the most ambiguous way possible so a variety of options could be heard, from Smith to Bishop.

I had nothing to lose but my pride and so I stood there, looking confident yet annoyed as an overly spoiled child who frequents this establishment might act. Towels poked out of our beach tote while rum bottles clicked at the bottom as I reset my stance and settled in for the long haul. I was determined to sit under one of those umbrellas and the hotel staff didn’t want a situation any more than I did.

“What is your room #?”

“1236,” I responded without hesitation. I had been sure to mentally take note of a few signs on the way in.

“Really?”

“Yes,” I said. This time with a noticeable amount of reservation in my voice.

“That’s a very nice room. I am going to need to check on that.”

SHIT! Did I give them the penthouse suite number on accident? How could I have been so stupid? I might as well have told them I was Abe Froman — the Sausage King of Chicago. He picked up the phone and began to make a call.

My skin was hot and my face flushed. I felt the same way I did when I was called on in class, unprepared to answer. It was all over… I would be escorted out without even a drop of a mimosa in my belly or photo to prove my temporary luxurious existence.

Before he could even come back to tell us to leave, I screamed, “I need to use the bathroom”, turned sharply and fled the scene; leaving Todd in the dust, hoping he would get the cue to follow me out of the hotel. After a minute of deep breathing I turned around to find myself alone. Could he have possibly stayed, I thought to myself. Throughout our whole relationship I had assumed I was the badass of the two — the risk taker, the rule-breaker.

WRONG. Under pressure, Todd was stone-faced. The staff member apparently looked up from the phone and asked him “Is that Fisch, as in F-I-S-C-H?” Todd clarified once more to the man “No, it’s F-I-S-H.” And handed him $20 to ensure he understood the appropriate spelling of my last name.

As I crept around the corner and walked back out to the beach, I expected the worst but instead found the staff preparing my very own umbrella and two lounge chairs, while Todd placed an order for two glasses of champagne to celebrate our small victory.

Todd found my inability to remain calm (or even reasonably rational) under pressure quite hilarious that day, as well as every other day he decides to recall the story.

A few hours and a few overpriced cocktails later we decided to ditch the resort for a new view. It was a lovely beach, but not the picturesque one I had heard of. We headed home, took a nap and hopped in our mechanical nightmare to see what we could find.

A short drive east took us to central Grace Bay and as we walked out to the beach, my mouth dropped. We had fought our way into a private beach when the most beautiful pristine public beach was just on the other side of the do not enter sign. That afternoon we had a whole section of it to ourselves. The sand was as fine as flour. The water a perfect teal blue. The sun was shining so bright the water reflected off the clouds, turning them a shimmering turquoise color in the sky.

Touché Mother Nature. You win. Lesson learned. I’ll take swigs off a cheap bottle of local rum on your beautiful shore over a fancy cocktail and private beach any day.

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