Having weathered two hurricanes that ripped through the Caribbean and marking four months since being removed from the CDC’s Zika list, the Cayman Islands now finds itself basking in more positive news. Grand Cayman in particular is in the spotlight, with a major acquisition highlighting a flurry of recent and ongoing hotel developments. Here are some details.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the long-standing luxury hotel on Seven Mile Beach, was recently acquired by Dart Real Estate (DRE), the developers of the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. This news comes on the heels of the announcement that DRE will open its first residential property, The Residences at Seafire, next month.
Neighboring the Kimpton, The Residences offers owners a resort-residential lifestyle, with access to Seafire’s luxury amenities. This is in addition to The Residences’ exclusive rooftop lounge, which offers views of the Caribbean Sea and the North Sound, and LEED Silver-certified sustainable features such as electric car charging and a solar-powered energy supply.
DRE’s current portfolio also includes its flagship property, Camana Bay, a 675-acre mixed-use, master-planned town with shopping, dining and entertainment. A new pedestrian overpass now connects Camana Bay to Seven Mile Beach. DRE is also reportedly planning to construct another five-star resort property on the island.
Regarding the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Laurie Palumbo, chief operating officer for Island Destinations (ID), recently told Travel Agent that her company has added the Millennial-oriented hotel to its roster. We stayed at the hotel recently and think Millennials will bring the fuel needed to make this swanky, stylish resort truly ignite in the luxury market. It opened last November, marking the first new-build hotel on the famed Seven Mile Beach in nearly a decade.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa’s 260-plus accommodations include three beachfront bungalows.
Status Quo at Ritz-Carlton
While there is a change in ownership, from Five Mile Capital Partners LLC to DRE, a long-term management agreement with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company remains in place, so you can let the Ritz-Carlton regulars among clientele know that there are currently no plans to drastically change the hotel. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has 375 guestrooms on 144 acres of beachfront, set along Seven Mile Beach. Travel Agent recently toured what representatives of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are calling “the largest and most elaborate luxury hotel suite ever to open in the Caribbean.” The new, uber-swanky Penthouse Suite, we were told, ranges from $18,000 and $25,000 a night.
With more than 19,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space, the suite is well-suited for multigenerational families and couples traveling with other couples. The Penthouse welcomes clients via a private elevator. It has a full kitchen (also a boon for families) and regal dining room area, a private library, as well as an expansive, wrap-around outdoor terrace with some beautiful views of the beach. One of Travel Agent’s favorite features of the room, however, was that the room has its own private cinema.
Signature luxury amenities that accompany the Penthouse experience include a private beachfront cabana, hand-selected cinema and entertainment options based on the clients’ interests and preferences, dining options from the hotel’s culinary team and wine selections hand-picked by the resort’s Sommelier.
Speaking of food and wine, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will host the 10th edition of Cayman Cookout, January 10–14. The event was originally created by chef Eric Ripert, co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City. Chef Ripert will be on hand again this year, joined by a number of culinary stars and celebrity master chefs, including Anthony Bourdain, José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Alfred Portale, Daniel Boulud, Dominique Crenn, Michael Mina, Rick Bayless, Robert Irvine and Sean Brock. Wine and spirits experts as well as culinary influencers will also be in attendance.
Guests at this event will see cooking demonstrations, experience food tastings and wine pairings, go on culinary tours and have gourmet dinners. The event is hosted in partnership with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. Packages are available.
First All-Inclusive Resort
The Cayman Islands may be home to several outstanding beach resorts that offer all-inclusive packages, but it still lacks a true, fully all-inclusive resort. Rosa Harris, director of tourism for the Cayman Islands, tells Travel Agent that could soon change. We sat down with Harris recently and learned that the destination is actively looking for an all-inclusive resort company to open up shop in the destination.
“As a destination, Cayman would like to see our first fully dedicated, all-inclusive resort that would hopefully round out the offerings that Cayman has,” Harris says. Although she tells us the ultimate plan would be to have such a resort on the destination’s lesser-known Cayman Brac, she also said she would like to see one on the more mainstream island of Grand Cayman.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman has 285 guestrooms, all of which open to a private balcony.
Welcome to Margaritaville
Inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffett, Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman opened earlier this year and is already gaining favor with both girls’ and guys’ getaways. It occupies a stretch of Seven Mile Beach, with accommodations that incorporate casual-luxe furnishings, including accented glass and teak finishings.
In addition, sleek, tropical-inspired designs are accompanied by subtle maritime accents, natural rock and wood materials, and colorful accessories. Dining options include Yara: The Global Steakhouse, which serves a range of prime meats and locally sourced seafood complemented by handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine list. Then there’s the Banana Wind Café, named after Buffett’s 20th studio album, and the poolside License to Chill Bar, where the variety of libations cocktails includes, of course, the resort’s signature margarita.
Margaritaville Beach Resort is part of the Howard Hospitality group, which is redeveloping the former Pageant Beach site in Grand Cayman. Plans reportedly call for the construction of a 456-room, $285 million resort.