Tuesday,  September 27, 2022  1:32 pm

PAX On Location: touring Grand Cayman's top hotels

PAX On Location: touring Grand Cayman's top hotels
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Earlier this week, PAX flew south on a press trip to The Cayman Islands – and we’re glad we went on an empty stomach.

Our hosts, The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, wasted no time in acquainting us with a sampling of Cayman’s dining experience, a scene of more than 200 restaurants – from top-tier dining rooms to farm-to-table hideaways to food trucks – scattered across three tropical islands.

“We’re positioning ourselves as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” Raymond Mathias, business development manager, Canada, of The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, told PAX over a mouthwatering Applewood-smoked bacon breakfast at Ave, a chic restaurant located in the brand new Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa.

The Kimpton Seafire – aptly named in reference to the blazing sunsets that light up the property every evening – is the first Cayman resort to be built in 10 years, and where PAX is staying this week.

According to Mathias, 23,274 Canadians visited the Cayman Islands last year, bolstered by non-stop, four-hour-flights from Toronto offered by WestJet and Air Canada (flight capacities this year have increased by five per cent, Mathias noted). To boost those numbers even more, discounts of up to 45 per cent on accommodations and experiences are currently being offered to Canadians travelling to Cayman this summer.

This week, PAX will be bringing you the latest on what The Cayman Islands has to offer. But first, hotels. Not sure where to stay or send your client? Luckily, on April 3, we were taken on a detailed tour of some of Grand Cayman’s most popular hotels.

The selection varies, depending on price point, beach access and design. But one thing was consistent – when in Cayman, you’ll have no trouble finding your own slice of paradise.

Each site inspection took approximately 45 minutes to an hour (save for the Kimpton, our host hotel). Here’s a round-up of what we heard and saw:

Property: Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa

Vibe: Laid-back, social, active, new.

Clientele: working professional millennials, chill families, pool loungers, morning runners.

Design: Modern, weathered woods, stone. Driftwood sculptures, seagrass carpets – rustic, yet very polished. Beach chic.

Standout features: manicured gardens; chic guestrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies offering epic views of the pool, Caribbean Sea; leveled grounds designed for optimal viewing of blazing sunsets; the terrace at Ave restaurant – perched 24 feet above sea level, overlooking Seven Mile Beach; beachfront bungalows fit for a rockstar.

For more info, click here.

Property: Westin Grand Cayman

Vibe: Airy, spacious, cool, calm.

Clientele: Wedding parties, honeymooners, fun-in-the-sun families, beach bums.

Design: Modern nautical, tropical island inspired.

Standout features: Swim-up pool bar. Recently completed Phase One of a multi-million dollar renovation. “The pool bar is double the size now,” Ayu Purbasanti, local corporate sales manager, told PAX. Phase Two of the resort’s reno, which will upgrade the design of its guestrooms, begins May 1 and will continue through until September this year, Purbasanti said. Resort directly on Seven Mile Beach.

For more info, click here.

Property: Sunshine Suites Grand Cayman Island Resort

Vibe: Cozy, intimate, relaxing, practical.

Clientele: budget-conscious sun-seekers, business travellers, scuba divers (resort provides complimentary rinse tanks, drying racks and lockers). A sister property of Westin Grand Cayman.

Design: Classic, colourful, warm woods. Bright yellows, oranges and cool blues.

Standout features: The price – affordable boutique lounging. Although not beachfront, guests can still access amenities across the street at the Westin (free shuttle service provided) and still charge food and beverages to room; complimentary continental breakfast; rooms equipped with kitchenettes; home to poolside Sunshine Grill (known for serving the best fish tacos around).

For more info, click here.

Property: Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort

Vibe: Wanderlust, soulful, free spirit, casual

Clientele: laid-back biz types, couples on retreat, curious kids, soon-to-wed love birds

Design: Beach House modern-meets-upscale general store. Design meant to “reunite guests with an endless summer lifestyle,” Nicolas Franco, marketing manager, told PAX. Welcome wall in lobby showcasing seven giant stingrays, representative of good fortune. “If you kiss a stingray [in the sea], you’ll get seven years of good luck,” Franco told PAX.

Standout features: This year’s resort theme – “Awakening 2017: A Year With Intention.” New Moon ceremonies whereby guests are urged to hang intention cards on trees. Theme events – notably, tapas night on Thursdays, inspired by the markets of Barcelona. “Every time we tackle a new theme, [we send our staff] to the best places in the world to get inspiration,” Franco told PAX. Resort directly on Seven Mile Beach, walking distance to Camana Bay.

For more info, click here.

Property: Comfort Suites

Vibe: backyard oasis, comfortable, convenient.

Clientele: beach-lovers on a budget, do-it-yourself explorers, repeat customers.

Design: island life lifestyle – light aqua blue and bright yellow accents used throughout.

Stand-out features: affordable prices; the secluded pool feels like a hidden oasis; resort is short walk away from Seven Mile Beach; friendly staff at Stingers Bar; complimentary hot buffet breakfast; walking distance to Camana Bay, Georgetown.

For more info, click here.

Property: Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman

Vibe: glamourous, regal, exclusive.

Clientele: corporate go-getters, golfers, playful children, moms in designer sunhats pushing strollers.

Design: elegant, sophisticated with a splash of Caribbean flair. Tropical fuchsia and teal-coloured floral patterns adorn the hallway carpets.

Stand-out features: Blue by Eric Ripert – Grand Cayman's only AAA Five Diamond restaurant; the on-site Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and The Bunker, an indoor golf simulator; a colourful waterpark for kids, Starfish Cay (giant splash bucket included); a hallway connecting the ocean tower with resort tower that’s decorated with local artwork; eye-popping, futuristic design at La Prairie spa; eco-tours led by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment.

For more info, click here.