With a fully stocked wine stash and the option to pre-order any bottle you want, like the illustrious 1996 Chateau Margaux or a 1985 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, there's a collection of four pastel-hued cottages on Grand Cayman's West End that knows the way straight into food- and wine-lovers' hearts.
Open since 2009, Cotton Tree Grand Cayman is Grand Cayman's only luxury boutique hotel. While Seven Mile Beach touts resorts like the Westin and the Ritz-Carlton, and there are plenty of laid-back hideaways all over the island, Cotton Tree is in a class of its own. Tucked into a residential area, there is a private beach; swimming pool with chic, white furniture (including a bed with curtains); and a thatched-hut roof where massages are serviced to the tune of waves crashing into the shoreline below.
Because Cotton Tree's sommelier, Harvey Setterfield, is a licensed importer and retailer he can hook guests up with any wine they like from his 22-page list focused mostly on Bordeaux (by ordering in advance) or a cloth-bound menu in each cottage (ranging from $29 to, on the highest end, Krug Grand Cuvee Champagne NV). A chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio from a boutique producer in Italy is already in the stainless-steel fridge when you arrive, and about a dozen wines are in the rack.
Pairing nicely with these wine amenities is a gourmet kitchen featuring six types of wine glasses (in sets of six), a French press for morning coffee (perfect for sipping with pastries like pain au chocolat from a local bakery that get delivered to your door), and all the gadgets and cutlery you can dream up. (Forget to pack recipes? Glossy hardbound cookbooks are available in each cottage.)
Or, if you want to leave the cooking to someone else, Cotton Tree's private chef Keith Griffin will cook a multi-course meal right in your cottage or under the stars. Setterfield is happy to come along to discuss the food-and-wine pairings he's devised for the meal. What might Griffin prepare? Glad you asked; think yellowfin tuna ceviche with coconut-lime dressing and West Bay conch fritters. (And dinner hasn't even started yet.) Entrees and desserts might include panfried mahi mahi with plantains, rice, and beans; and coconut lime panna cotta with rum flambéed mango.
When the hotel is booked with more than a few guests, owner Heather Lockington likes to introduce her favorite Caymanian tradition: a Friday-night fish fry. Cooking the fish in coconut oil (from coconuts on the grounds), the experience also includes fried plantains, soup, johnny cakes, and other regional foods. Lockington encourages guests to leave their cottages for a couple of hours and join her, along with her family and friends, for a taste of Caymanian culture.
Photo credits: All photos courtesy of Cotton Tree Grand Cayman