Joie de Vivre: Caribbean Paradise Inn
I was prepared to be angry with Jean Luc Bohic, owner of Caribbean Paradise Inn. When I had arrived at 9 AM for our first meeting, an employee named Raoul simply said, “Boss still sleeping, make big party last night.” I passed some time running errands and returned about an hour later, bemoaning my habitual promptness in a country that usually runs on “island time.” I was all set to be in a snit.
It didn’t happen. Jean Luc was wide-awake and busy attending to the business of running the hotel. He apologized profusely and explained that the parties that keep him up so late are actually Dionysian banquets he regularly throws for his guests. I quickly fell under the spell of the charming Frenchman’s ebullient friendliness and ever-present grin, and I realized that hotel guests would certainly enjoy his joie de vivre.
Caribbean Paradise Inn Hall View Located 250 yards from world-renowned Grace Bay Beach (behind Grace Bay Club), Caribbean Paradise Inn is among the few small hotel properties on Providenciales, and the only one that is owner operated. Jean Luc lives on-premise and goes out of his way to make each guest feel at home.
The France-born Jean Luc and his companion Monique Gillet first came to the Turks & Caicos from Martinique in 1996, although Monique’s father had lived in the country for 20 years and worked on laying one of Provo’s original roads. At first, they were involved in a storage business, which they still operate. In 2003, however, Jean Luc heard that the Caribbean Paradise Inn was for sale and decided to take a chance and buy it, although he had never run a hotel before.
It was Don’t Stop the Carnival all over again. Jean Luc recalls, “The hotel had been closed for some time and everything was a mess when I took over. We worked every day for two to three months to replace most of the furniture, redecorate the rooms and clean up the gardens.”
Caribbean Paradise Inn PoolHis efforts were well spent. Today, the inn’s bright orange walls are crisply accented with white latticework surrounding private balconies and patios. The fresh-water pool and its surrounding terrace glisten in the brilliant sun, shadowed and colored by the gorgeous tropical gardens that surround the premises.
Monique’s eye for decor is revealed in a tour of its spotless rooms. Each sports a unique look; all are decorated in soothing, sophisticated tones with unexpectedly elegant touches in the accent pieces. Guests can choose second floor “Baywatch” rooms for ocean views and peeks at the pool or take a lower level “Paradise” room for the garden’s shade and easy patio access. There is a choice of king, queen or two full-size beds and each room has a full bathroom with shower. All are air-conditioned and include ceiling fans, cable television, mini-refrigerators, phones, hair dryers and in-room safes. There is one suite with separate living room and kitchenette.
Caribbean Paradise Inn Interior With the beach only a stroll away, that’s where most guests head first. There is an easy access path and the inn provides guests with beach chairs and towels; umbrellas, coolers and snorkel gear are available. Caribbean Paradise Inn is also situated close by to the variety of restaurants, shops and the Provo Golf and Country Club that mark the Grace Bay area as Provo’s own “Gold Coast.” Jean Luc says he is happy to drive guests for dining, grocery shopping or to their favorite snorkeling sites whenever it is possible.
Included in the reasonable room rate is a daily breakfast buffet served on the shaded patio by the bar. Drinks are on the honor system. And of his famous parties, which take place several times a week during the busy season, host Jean Luc says, “All of our guests are invited and we sit together at one long table on the patio. I like to barbecue lobster when it’s in season and we have salad, cheese, dessert, wine and music. Everyone has a fantastic time.” (After looking at the pictures Jean Luc keeps on file, I don’t doubt him for a minute!)
In fact, Peter and Sue from Colorado commented in the inn’s on-line guestbook: “We spent a blissful week at the Inn and wish it could have lasted much longer. Our room was lovely and scrupulously clean. The Inn is beautiful, but the people who own and run it make it the extraordinary place it is. Jean Luc is a fine cook. We were treated to two wonderful dinner parties he hosted where we met many lovely people — guests at the Inn and local friends of the owners — people from Canada, T&C, England, Switzerland and the States. The grilled lobster was fantastic and the company was better. We all had a smashingly good time.”
The rest of the time, however, Caribbean Paradise Inn seems nestled in a peaceful embrace. Its circular design and buffer of vegetation keep the rest of the world at bay and because there are only 16 rooms, it never feels noisy or crowded and guests are assured of their privacy.
So how does Jean Luc like running a hotel? Although he complains about the rough start and long hours, I sense that hospitality is in his blood. He says, “You know, even though our guests come from around the world, it’s really not difficult to make them feel at home. It’s just like having friends and family visit.” Obviously, he is doing something right. Jean Luc says that many guests from their first season have already made reservations for this year.
I left Jean Luc to juggle the tasks of his day . . . and perhaps plan his next party. I hope to be invited!
For more information, call (649) 946-5020; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.paradise.tc.
By Kathy Borsuk