The photo here (courtesy of David Kennedy) shows a friend, Patti DesLauriers, and her friend, Denise --, walking on the beach at Parrot Cay. I can’t begin to tell you what satisfaction seeing this gave me! Flouting the “private island” snobbery of the place sent waves of tropical happiness over me.
My antipathy to Parrot Cay began many years ago, when the luxury resort, next-door neighbor to North Caicos, first opened. Those of us staying at Pelican Beach Hotel were hearing about the super-high prices and exclusivity of the place and were curious about it, so a few of us couples decided it would be fun to check it out, just for lunch. We were willing to pay whatever it took to get a burger--$25? $50?—to satisfy our curiousity.
Alas, when Suger called to make a reservation for us, she was told, “We do not encourage day-trippers” and the reservation was refused. Our sense of American equality (we were all Americans) was outraged, especially when we planned to pay our own way, and we fumed about it at dinner (a very lovely PBH dinner) that night.
As the drinks flowed and we vented, a plan was hatched. We WOULD go to Parrot Cay. We would invade them, storming their exclusive private beach. It would be easy enough to wade over during low tide! Then what? Demand a hamburger? No, we would spend no money! We would … we would … turn around and moon them! (Did I mention that we were drinking quite a bit?) Oh, did we have fun planning this. As befits a quasi-military operation, we gave ourselves code names (Sprout, Lizard, Gazing Ball), and I think came up with some hand signals, though that second bit might be something I thought but didn’t say. Anyway, a fine time was had by all as we planned, and we toddled off to our beds happy.
Not following through on our mission gave Parrot Cay license to snob away. Over the years, it drew the reputation of being a playground for celebrities, and we all knew the names: Bruce Willis, Donna Karan, Keith Richards, the Clintons. We who loved North Caicos kept our distance, except for people who managed to get jobs over there. What I heard about the place did not impress me: Workers were searched going both to and from work, and they were not allowed to converse with guests even when asked questions about their own lives.
The place has touched my life only seldom. Through friends, I once got an invitation to an employee party there, which was no great shakes. It was held not at the resort itself but outdoors by the lake, and getting back to North afterwards proved to be an all-night story, literally, as the boat kept getting stuck on a sand bar. I was pleased when Willis Taylor charged me only half the rate he charged Donna Karan for stone work, but PO’d when Parrot Cay security came out to Mark McLean’s boat to make us move on when we were merely taking in the view as we passed by.
The one time I did “officially” get there was the most infuriating yet. Times of the Islands wanted me to do an interview there for an article. My editor made the arrangements, and a boat met me at Sandy Point and a golf cart on the Cay side. But when I walked up to the hotel desk to announce my presence and ask them to contact my interviewee, I was handed a form to fill out that included my giving them my credit card number.
“Uh, I’m just here to do an interview, I’m not checking in or planning to buy anything,” I said. “But you have to fill it out,” I was told. OK, I couldn’t blame the employees for not being allowed to understand I was there to GIVE Parrot Cay something (uh, free publicity?) instead of TAKE. So, glowering, I gave up my card number, making one mental note to have my husband check the statement to ensure there were no charges, and another to refuse anything offered, even a glass of water (I was not). I did the interview and left as soon as possible.
There’s little that can draw me to Parrot Cay again. I understand that these days you can go over to the spa or to have a frightfully expensive drink, but I’ll pass. And I’ve made Patti my new hero. You walked on the beach and swam in the pool merely by acting like a snob? You go, girl! After all these years, mission accomplished.