Magazine article The Spectator

Barefoot Paradise

Magazine article The Spectator

Barefoot Paradise

Article excerpt

A travel editor who doesn't get out much may be an oxymoron but seeing the world vicariously through the lightbox is one of the perks of editing Condé Nast Traveller. A much-needed break from other people's holiday highs and lows became a near obsession last summer as the temperature hit 30infinityF in London and the city began to empty. Of course it should be easy, but the sheer choice available made this a fraught decision. City and culture or sun and beach? Self-knowledge (I get bored lying idly on the sand while my daughter tunes into her iPod) versus self-improvement (learning to relax and giving my daughter a post-exam treat). The result?

Not Florence or a villa in the hills of Tuscany where we usually head, but offseason in the Caribbean for a week. No Tiepolo, but no Rome airport queuing for a hire car either. Instead we arrived at Providenciales, the tiny main island of Turks and Caicos, as dusk was settling over the quiet ocean, and took a refreshing boat ride through the glassy water to Parrot Cay.

Slightly dreading the professional welcome that many resorts go in for -- strange coconut drinks with parasols -- when all you want to do is to dump the cases and leave the world outside your room, we were met and speedily delivered to a beach villa with its own kitchen, veranda, pool, whirring fans and billowing muslin drapes around four-poster beds. The idea of doing anything more strenuous than reaching for a bottle of mineral water quickly became the pattern of the week, thanks to the discreet attentions of our 'butler', who appeared -- rather disconcertingly to begin with -- whenever a thought about lunch or a drink entered one's head.

Puritan guilt dissolving by the minute, island time imprinted itself on to disrupted sleep patterns, and the sound of the ocean and occasional clatter of lizards on the bleached wooden decking outside soothed and more than satisfied. Another day, another lizard, another cloudburst at lunch -- funny how you don't mind a real downpour when all you have to worry about is what time to have dinner or whether you should have a therapeutic massage.

A rhythm set in where the world was reduced to a blue horizon beyond a stretch of wild grasses and sand, with no one to disturb your view except when you chose to venture out to the restaurant, spa or main house. …

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