By Maggie Flood – Photos by Adam Sherwin
In 2002, photo producer Cindi Blair headed down to Parrot Cay, a small island off the shore of Turks and Caicos. What began as a diving trip quickly morphed into a business venture and love affair with the translucent waters and cultural wealth of Turks and Caicos, a small cluster of islands situated roughly 550 miles off the southeast coast of Florida. Within the course of a month Blair had established Turks and Caicos Productions, covering all photo production needs on and around the islands. Over the next year and a half, the company grew to represent a large number of private residencies and hotels as photo shoot locations. Today, Turks and Caicos Productions works for clients from Vanity Fair to Target who are attracted by the diversity of the islands. From miles of underground caverns and empty beaches to stunning hotels, historic buildings, and amazingly welcoming businesses and locals, Turks and Caicos provide the perfect location for that “wonder where that is” shot, not to mention the best diving waters in the world.
GANSEVOORT HOTEL Every photo maven based in New York or Miami has at some point been acquainted with her majesty the Gansevoort Hotel. A third branch has recently cropped up in Turks and Caicos. Located on Providenciales, or “Provo,” the establishment lives up to its famous name, sporting some of the whitest stretch of beach on the main island. The hotel also maintains the highly sought-after modern style that its sister locations are known for. But beautiful décor andtrendy clientèle aside, the Gansevoort Hotel is an extremely accommodating business for photo shoots and film crews due to its long history as a favored location in other cities.
The Gansevoort Hotel Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales 649.941.7555 www.gansevoortturksandcaicos.com
THE PALMS REGENT Many noted photo shoots have taken place at the Palms Regent. Because every hotel on the main island is nestled onto a different strip of beach, each place has an individual and unique setting to offer. One specific characteristic of the Palms Regent of Turks and Caicos is its large (and largely versatile) infinity pool.
The Palms Regent Providenciales 649) 946-8666 www.regenthotels.com/en/thepalms
THE GRACE BAY CLUB & ANACOANA RESTAURANT The Grace Bay Club, overlooking a white sand beach and impossibly blue waters, sits on a large property and offers many opportune spots to answer varied photo aesthetic and needs. The hotel is also home to the phenomenal Anacoana Restaurant and Infiniti Bar, the longest bar in the Caribbean. Stretching an impressive ninety feet across Grace Bay beach all the way to the shore, the bar’s construction provides the illusion of extending indefinitely into the ocean.
The Grace Bay Club Providenciales 649.946.5050 www.gracebayclub.com
CONCH BAR CAVES: The environmentally protected Conch Bar Caves wind for miles below North Caicos and are said to run directly into the sea at varying points. The underground expanse is not only enticing to the traveling spelunker or historian, but also provides amazing possibilities for photo ideas and locations. Here ambitious photographers can find all kinds of variations in color and light, including profoundly surreal rock formations that cannot be artificially created in a studio setting.
Turks and Caicos National Parks www.turksandcaicos.tc
OUTER ISLANDS/AIR TURKS & CAICOS:
Although the main islands offer a ton of great spots and natural phenomena, some of the best locations are found on the smaller islands surrounding Turks and Caicos. Because each island’s terrain is so dramatically distinct, there is no end to what can be found. The outer islands also maintain a plethora of different styles of homes and historic structures, from beach shacks or deserted nineteenth century colonial villages to the work of famous architects. However far away, nothing is inaccessible with the help of Air Turks and Caicos. Located in Provo, the charter company provides small jets ideal for the transportation of equipment and crew around the Caribbean.
BIG BLUE TOURS: Resource explored the island for a day with Big Blue Unlimited eco-friendly tours. The “Heart of the Island” tour first took us snorkeling and kayaking through turquoise waters (which, by the way, provide a great opportunity for some underwater photography). Following that was a quick walking tour of Middle and North Caicos, where we stopped for lunch at the home of Susan Butterfield, an island local who cooked us up some incredible food. Big Blue Unlimited offers various tours across the islands. It supports the Turks and Caicos National Trust, the local economies of the Caicos Islands, and promotes an understanding of the local way of life.
Big Blue Unlimited Leeward Marina, Providenciales 649.946.5034 www.bigblue.tc
THE PROP CLOSET: A benefit of being connected locally is having your own prop stylist and set builder. Turks and Caicos Productions maintains a prop closet that can provide anything from extra beach chairs, tents, phones, and electrical equipment to individually designed sets and props to meet the needs of even the most demanding client.
Turks and Caicos Productions New York, NY 212.987.4233 www.turksandcaicosproductions.com
SOMEWHERE CAFÉ AND LOUNGE: Louis Fabara, right, a transplant and owner of Somewhere Café and Lounge, serves up the best margaritas on Provo. The two-floor restaurant on Grace Bay Beach is always up for accommodating large groups in search of some good Tex-Mex food and a post-shoot happy hour. With a great sunset view and a laid-back, lively atmosphere, Somewhere is an appealing spot to bring both clients and crew.
Somewhere Café and Lounge Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales 649.941.8260 www.somewherecafeandlounge.com
DA CONCH SHACK: Conch is a staple, not to mention a specialty, of the local cuisine in Turks and Caicos, and you couldn’t possibly visit without experiencing the many ways it’s prepared. One way to get your fill (literally) is to check out the famous beachside Conch Shack on Provo. This local spot is also home to the Rum Bar, known for its incredible rum punch.
Da Conch Shack Providenciales 649.946.8877 www.conchshack.tc
LEMON CAFE: Turks and Caicos is home to a surprisingly wide variety of different types of food. For a Moroccan-Mediterranean feast, Lemon Café not only serves up amazing signature dishes but also offers a beautiful dining experience.
Lemon Café The Village at Grace Bay, Providenciales 649.941.4059 www.lemoncafe.tc
O’SOLEIL RESTAURANT: Located in the gorgeous Somerset Hotel on Grace Bay, O’Soleil Restaurant plans weekly events on the beach long after the sun goes down. If you can, grab the chance to settle in for a lobster bake and some live music by the bonfire.
O’Soleil Restaurant Grace Bay, Providenciales 649.946.5900 www.thesomerset.com
If you’re in search of that bright summer light in the dead of winter, Turks and Caicos not only provide beautiful white sand beaches, unique architecture, and fabulous hotel locations, but also promise a faster trip than a flight to Miami in just under two hours. “One thing you just have to bear in mind,” says Cindi Blair of working in the Caribbean, “is that you’re not in New York. It takes a sense of humor, but eventually things get done, even if you end up at some point working without electricity or Internet.” But the best advice for roughing it on an island is to go with the flow, and with any luck you won’t even notice that despite the 85 degree weather, the winter days are just as short.
Blair Productions / Turks + Caicos Productions 315 E. 86th St. New York, NY 10028 212.987.4233 / 917.544.6977 firstname.lastname@example.org www.turksandcaicosproductions.com www.cindiblairproductions.com
This article previously appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of Resource, which is available for purchase here.