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Meet the Cayman Islands' Two Most Luxurious HotelsApril 21, 2016 By: Joe Pike
|The Cottage at Le Soleil d'Or on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands. // Photo by Joe Pike|
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is probably no stranger to your affluent clients, but the other luxurious hotel we visited, Le Soleil d'Or, or "Golden Sun," is located on an island you might know very little about.
Travel Agent breaks down the selling points of each hotel, including the Ritz-Carlton's new 8,000-square-foot Penthouse. But a trip to the Cayman Islands will be incomplete without staying at both of these quality hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is arguably one of the most luxurious hotels in the Caribbean. Travel Agent loves this property for its location on the famous Seven Mile Beach and also the surprisingly casual vibe this hotel gives off.
Whereas many Ritz-Carlton hotels might have strict dress codes or rules on guests strolling barefoot through the lobby with sandy feet, this hotel does not. In fact, most restaurants here allow clients to dine while wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
This is a great option for multigenerational travel and couples traveling with other couples.
|The terrace view from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman's seventh-floor, two-bedroom suite. // Photo by Joe Pike|
The hotel recently launched its new, ultra-exclusive Grand Cayman Penthouse suite, which company representatives are calling the largest and most elaborate luxury hotel suite ever to open in the Caribbean.
Located on the seventh floor of the resort’s south residential tower, the project was conceived in collaboration with Five Mile Capital and Phoenix Construction. Ideal for multi-generational travel or an intimate retreat with loved ones, the penthouse has a private elevator that opens onto a space with sweeping and panoramic ocean views.
The penthouse offers a full kitchen and dining room area, a private library, private cinema as well as an expansive, wrap-around outdoor terrace with some of most coveted views on the island.
While Travel Agent didn't actually get to see the penthouse, as it was occupied at our time of arrival, we did check out the comparable two-bedroom suites located on the same floor.
The two-bedroom suites are basically the same as the penthouse, except that they are smaller. The penthouse also has a 12-person dining table, a full kitchen and a huge living room. The terrace of the penthouse wraps around and includes a dining table for eight to 12 people looking to eat outside.
The seventh floor is home to 11 bedrooms. The penthouse has three bedrooms while there are also four, two-bedroom suites on the seventh floor. Each of the suites are 2,300 square feet, while the penthouse has roughly 8,000 square feet of space.
The entire floor can be rented out, which is an excellent option for multigenerational travel or couples traveling with other couples.
Meet Cayman Brac
Cayman Brac is only 12 miles long and has a population of roughly 2,000 people. This is primarily a dive destination but also serves as a great escape for those clients looking for a little more seclusion than is offered on its more populated, neighboring island of Grand Cayman.
The island has 35 heritage sites, including forest, beach walks, bird watching spots, caves, cliff trails and wetlands. Hikes and visit to the sites can be taken with nature guides at the Heritage House and Interpretive Centre at Northeast Bay.
Whereas Grand Cayman serves as the perfect headquarters for multigenerational groups, large destination weddings and couples traveling with other couples, Travel Agent thinks Cayman Brac is ideal for lovebirds looking to spend some alone time enjoying the island's beaches. For clients honeymooning in the Cayman Islands, we suggest two nights in Cayman Brac and four nights on Grand Cayman.
There are two places to stay on the island. Cayman Brac Beach Resort is ideal for dive enthusiasts. It re-opened toward the end of 2015 following a renovation project that included a new free form pool, a new bar and upgraded accommodations.
But if luxury takes priority over soft adventure, we highly suggest the uber swanky Le Soleil d'Or (French for Golden Sun).
Le Soleil d'Or
The hotel consists of eight keys spread over about five miles of the island. This is not only a place to enjoy high-end accommodations and full ocean views, but is also a foodie's dream, as it may be the best farm-to-table experience we've come across in the Caribbean.
Le Soleil d'Or is divided into four categories. There is the Farm Lodge, which is three bedrooms; The Boutique Hotel, which opened earlier this year and houses four bedrooms; The Beach House, which houses three bedrooms and The Beach Cottage, a single-story home with a King bed. The property also has a Beach Studio, which is an apartment located at the property’s Beach Club. The Boutique Hotel has the only rooms that can be booked individually.
The Farm Lodge, as the name indicates, is the closest category to the hotel's 20-acre farm and is home to three bedrooms, all of which come with its own cell phone to make locals calls with.
The farm was basically built from scratch, as most of Le Soleil d'Or's grounds were occupied by sink holes and endless amounts of brush that needed to be removed.
At the farm, there are everything from eggplants to papaya to watermelons and passion fruit growing. Zucchini, cucumbers and cashews also all grow here. The farm has an olive tree, but it needs about three to four years to fully grow.
Also, guests should not be confused by the green oranges that grow here. They look and taste just like any other orange, but cannot attain that bright orange color without some cold weather, something Cayman Brac fortunately has zero of. The farm also has its own chicken coop, which produces roughly 200 eggs a day.
The Boutique Hotel, which opened earlier this year, is home to four bedrooms. Each of the rooms has its own veranda and patio.
We were also told Le Soleil d’Or has plans to launch a new full-service spa, a pilates studio, a bakery and a cigar shop by October or November. The Beach Club, as we mentioned, is already open to guests.
The Beach House is a three-bedroom is a two-story, 4,000 square foot home with a private pool and private beachfront. This private spot on your own stretch of beach sleeps six to 10 people and includes its own pool with pool house for al fresco dinners and late nights.
Among the accommodations, Travel Agent's favorite was The Beach Cottage. This is the perfect place for honeymooners. It is a studio apartment with a King bed, its own private swimming pool, a private, manmade beach, hammocks, a full kitchen, full ocean views and an incredible amount of privacy. The full sized refrigerator comes stocked with snacks and nonalcoholic beverages.
The Beach Club is currently an exclusive amenity for Le Soleil d’Or’s guests, however the property does plan to eventually open the Beach Club to the public. The vision is for the Beach Club to be a destination for both visitors and locals to mingle. Plans call for live bands, bonfires and other entertainment. This will be a very important addition to the hotel, as there is currently no real nightlife or night entertainment on Cayman Brac. Those plans are not yet finalized, says hotel representatives.
Everything at the restaurant from the food to the cocktails is made from the food and fruit grown from the farm. The hotel is also home to its own mixologist, Angela Robledo.
We highly recommend her "Culinary Cocktail." This is where the mixologist prepares a cocktail of your choice and pairs it with an appetizer that includes some of the same ingredients as the drink, perfectly pairing the two.
One of the best qualities of Cayman Brac is that there is zero crime here. In fact, locals who showed us around said it's actually very common for locals to leave their houses unlocked and even leave their keys in the ignition of their cars. The hotel will be upgrading their website in the next month and would like to direct users to www.lesoleildor.com.