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Most travelers will agree that there’s no better antidote to winter chill than an escape to a sun-soaked Caribbean island. Not surprisingly, I was overjoyed to be flying to Grand Cayman in last month, and even more ecstatic to be staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
The resort opened in 2005 and encompasses 144 acres, stretching from the Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound. With classic architecture and a stylish facade in subtle shades of pale beige and cream, this elegant resort is often compared to the shape and color of a massive sand castle.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is sprawling, with 375 rooms and suites each equipped with a balcony and a view of either the garden, resort or ocean. Club-level rooms offer lounge access, and room sizes range from 480 square feet to 8,000 square feet (the latter being the Grand Cayman Penthouse).
Exclusive AmenitiesUpon arriving at the hotel with my husband, we were welcomed warmly and escorted to our room by front desk representative, Stephane Amoussouga, one of 800 eager-to-please employees on staff. He provided an overview of the hotel’s services along the way. Featuring island decor accented with green and blue jewel tones, our oceanview room included a white marble bathroom as well as a terrace (with two chairs and a small table) that overlooked the swimming pool.
Renovated three years ago, rooms include modern amenities, such as free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen televisions, desks, coffee machines, make-up mirrors, minibars and — fortunately for us — plenty of electrical outlets.
For first-time visitors, it’s best to refer to the resort map given at check-in, as there is much to see. We worked out at the 4,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fitness center that features new equipment and classes. Other highlights are two swimming pools, six restaurants, a water park and a nine-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman. In addition, the resort’s exceptional La Prairie spa is a true oasis. This beautifully designed, 20,000-square-foot spa is one of three in this hemisphere and showcases treatments using highly esteemed La Prairie products. During my visit, I had the opportunity to enjoy a signature facial — an outstanding experience.
Another notable area of the resort is the “Gallery Bridge,” a walkway that connects the main building to the Ocean Tower. Known as the Cayman Art Wall, it displays approximately 100 island-themed paintings and sculptures by local artisans. It has been a feature at the resort since it opened 12 years ago, and all artwork is available for purchase.
A Dining DestinationWe happened to stay at the resort during its annual Cayman Cookout, which was celebrating its 10th year and featured the world’s top chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, Jose Andres, Anthony Bourdain and many others. Each year, it’s hosted by chef Eric Ripert, the three-star Michelin chef who also heads up the crown jewel of the resort’s culinary offerings, Blue by Eric Ripert; Blue by Eric Ripert is the only AAA Five Diamond Restaurant in the Caribbean. This gourmet seafood dining destination attracts food lovers from across the globe and usually requires reservations in advance. A few standout menu items include poached scallops with turnips and smoked butter; seared cod with wild mushrooms and conch-saffron chowder; and seared tuna with bok choy and kimchi-shrimp broth.
In addition, the property’s five other restaurants feature diverse menus — so there is no need to leave the hotel in search of a great meal. These include Bar Jack, the lively, casual, Caribbean-inspired poolside restaurant, and Andiamo, a stylish bistro that serves authentic Italian cuisine.
We most often had breakfast at Seven, named after the island’s Seven Mile Beach; its morning buffet was fresh, delectable and extensive, complete with an omelet station. We also enjoyed a few cocktails at the sophisticated Silver Palm lounge that offers an extensive wine list, a cigar assortment and afternoon tea. Last but not least, one of our most memorable dinners was Taikun, the resort’s upscale Japanese restaurant that offers sushi, traditional rolls, ramen — and the most extensive sake selection on the island. Our server even grated fresh wasabi root via shark skin at our table.
Family-Friendly ActivitiesAs a family-friendly resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is home to the only water park on the island, Starfish Cay. It’s located at the Harbour Club in the property’s resort tower, and its Ambassadors of the Environment is an eco-friendly program for both children and adults in partnership with renowned environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau and Ocean Futures Society, offering eco-tours and island exploration.
And for beach-lovers like us, this resort’s pool and shorefront experience is ideal, with plenty of amenities, including ice water, sunblock, towels and lounge chairs. Cabanas must be reserved in advance. And feel free to borrow a beach toy — all nonmotorized water equipment is included in the resort fee, such as kayaks, snorkel gear, paddleboards, water hammocks, water tricycles and floating rafts.