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Rock House Turks & Caicos

A Taste Of Italy In Turks And Caicos

The Leading Hotels of the World group helps evoke the Amalfi Coast on an archipelago

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Leading Hotels of the World, a nearly 100-year-old brand, is known for its curated collection of independent, luxury hotels around the globe. It comprises more than 400 hotels in over 80 countries, with around 30 new properties added per year. Only five percent of submitted hotels are accepted into the group on an annual basis. Besides the recently unveiled Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City, 2024 ushers in new openings as varied as Hotel Bardo in Savannah, Georgia; Aleenti Retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand; and the Violino D’Oro (a.k.a the Golden Violin) in Venice, Italy.

The Collection prides itself in offering distinguished variety in terms of architecture, design and culture, and that variety even extends to LHW proprietors, all of them passionate about service and hotels. 80 percent of Leading Hotels are family-owned, some by third, fourth and fifth generations of family. The company’s mission is to link interesting hotels and hoteliers with each other along with seasoned travelers looking for the exact opposite of cookie-cutter.

“We’re seeking hotels that demonstrate remarkable quality and are led by remarkable individuals,” explained Lauren Alba, the vice president of marketing and communications for Leading Hotels of the World. “The goal is to craft those kinds of uncommon experiences luxury travelers demand.”

With the aim of crafting those kinds of uncommon experiences, last year and again this year, a fourth generation Italian hotelier from the Amalfi Coast ended up lending his chef for a few weeks to a hotel on Turks and Caicos. Or, more specifically, the Rock House, the newest oceanfront property of the Grace Bay Resorts portfolio on this island, one of the fastest expanding destinations for the Leading Hotels brand, tropical or otherwise.

The original concept of Rock House was to create a beachfront hotel on this archipelago south of the Bahamas that would remind guests of the Amalfi Coast, said Nikheel Advani, the COO and co-founder of Grace Bay Resorts. To build a property in Turks and Caicos that sits 95 feet above sea level was particularly bold at the time of development, Advani added, but the experiment was successful. In March, Rock House is set to open up a new phase of rooms and villas.

The winter months are top of the season for Turks, a destination more known for its beaches than its food. (To note: one restaurant favored by locals is called Pork Shack.) Italy, of course, is more of a summer destination, and known for its cuisine. In fact, the Hotel Santa Caterina, a Leading Hotel in Amalfi, Italy closes each year from mid-November to mid-March. So there came an idea: what if the Hotel Santa Caterina shared its chef with the Rock House to create a winter Italian extravaganza?

That’s how Michelin-starred Chef Guissepe Stanzione from Caterina’s ristorante Glicine ended up in a residency at Vita restaurant at the Rock House. (“Vita” is Italian for “life.”) Glicine, in fact, inspired many items on the original menu, but during Chef Stanzione’s two-week-residency he brought a much more extensive array of dishes, including a golden bufala pizza, with yellow tomato sauce and burrata; a yellowfin tuna Caprese; zucchini parmigiana with smoked mozzarella cream, and a bavette pasta with Caribbean lobster sauce.

Stanzione has already promised to return to Rock House for two weeks in high season 2025. Until then, the Zucchini Parmiagiana and the Bavette lobster pasta will remain on the Vita menu.

“I just like cooking everything,” said Stanzione at Rock House, after a recent Italian feast, Turks and Caicos style.