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Grand Cayman - Is it really as expensive as they say?

Grand Cayman - Is it really as expensive as they say?

Jul 26th, 2007, 03:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 4
Grand Cayman - Is it really as expensive as they say?

Hi everyone . .
I am still on my search for a Carribean location for my husband and I to go to in December.
We want to use my Marriott points, so we are limited on island.
We were considering Curacao or St. Thomas, but have heard that while Curacao is beautiful that the beach on front of the Marriott is not verynice - murky water, rocky, water shoes needed. (We like to completely relax when we're on vacation . . we like to stay on the property most days, all day, either lying on the beach or by the pool, so the beach in front of the hotel is important to us.) I have also read that the pool area at the Curacao marriott is very crowded.

In regards to St. Thomas, we have heard wonderful things about the beach in front of the Frenchman's Reef / Morning Star, but have read that if you're staying at the Frenchman's Reef (which we would most likely be staying as we'd be using points), that the walk from the hotel to the beach is annoying . . . a steep hill and a failry long walk to the beach. We don't need our room to be oceanfront, but we would like to be fairly close to the pool/beach from our room.
The other thing that we read about the Marriott on St. Thomas - not sure about the Marriott in Curacao - is that there is nothing around it as far as shops, restaurants, bars, etc. That you need to rent a car. Although this is not a dealbreaker for us, we would prefer to be able to walk around and walk to dinner, shopping, etc.

For an example of a vacation we loved - - we went to Maui and stayed at the Sheraton on Kaanapali beach. We absolutely loved it!! While the hotel was nothing super-luxurious, it was on a fabulous location - the widest part of Kaanapali beach . . . the pool area was large and never crowded, we snorkeled right off the beach there, and we could walk to the other hotels where we could go to dinner. It was a wonderful vacation.

So . . . we are undecided.

In the beginning we had been thinking about Grand Cayman. We love snorkeling and had heard that the snorkeling is fabulous there. However, a few people have warned us against going, saying that everything is very expensive and not worth it for the prices you'll have to pay.

Is this true?

Has anyone stayed at the Marriott resort on Grand Cayman (not the Courtyard)? Is it nice? Is the pool area nice? Is the beach in front of the hotel nice? Can you snorkel right there?

Also, is the Marriott located in an area where you can walk around and walk to shops/restaurants/etc?

Finally, is it really that expensive?
Are there a nummber of choices as far as dinner places, or is pretty much every place expensive?

Sorry for all the questions, just want to make the right decision for this trip . . . Has taken me years to accumulate all of these Marriott points, and I want to use them right!!!

Thanks so much everyone, for your feedback!

BelaGirl is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 06:07 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 13,177
Hi we just went to the Grand Cayman on Marriott pts. The hotel is nice and we had a nice room.(no view) The hotel pool was small. Since we were there for the beach, it didn't matter too much to us. The island had good snorkeling. The beach in front of the Marriott was somewhat rocky. I needed water shoes. This was a definite downer for me. The water is very clear and beautiful.
Time of year: We went in June. It was HOT and humid. I did not expect it to be so humid. We had a little rain, but nothing to dampen our trip. There were not huge crowds. The Marriott had people, but it wasn't overly crowded.
Food: Food was very good on the island, but it was expensive. Our dinners for two adults and two teens(big eaters) came to between 200-250 USD per night. We all ate adult meals. (Cayman money is worth more than USD, so you lose money.) The adults had a couple of drinks with dinner. That also includes tip. So for two adults, I would say look to spend about 125 on dinner. (Which doesn't sound too bad. I guess I am shocked my kids are starting to eat like us, thus costing us so much more )Every restaurant seemed to cost close to the same amount of money. I would highly recommend GC for a safe, easy going vacation with good food.
I have not been to Curacao or St. Thomas so I can not comment on those properties. I have heard wonderful things about Curacao. That was harder for us to get to from central VA.
The St. Thomas hotel is larger scale than the GC one. I imagine it has more services as well. The GC hotel has been refurbished just this past year and so everything looks nice. I know the Frenchmen's Reef is older. I am not sure if they have done any remodeling.
We have used Marriott points in Aruba. The Marriott Stellaris hotel was much larger scale than the GC hotel. The beach had nicer sand in Aruba too. (no water shoes necessary). The food is excellent in ARuba and the cost may be less. The snorkeling was definitely better in GC.
Back to GC, the island is very friendly. I have never been to an island with friendlier people. Everyone said hello. Everyone was helpful. We felt very safe walking the beaches late at night as there were many other couples/families walking as well.
Aruba was nice too and the Marriott there had more amenities.
We have also gone to San Francisco (cool city) on Marriott points. Hawaii also has some great Marriott locations. Have not been to St. Kitts, but I know that is a very new property (maybe 3-4 years old?)
We came home this past June and we felt that since we flew free and stayed free, everything didn't really cost us all that much. We had some wonderful dinners. We also had some wonderful excursions (my kids went scuba diving and parasailing). We all took a snorkel cruise. So, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to GC.
I would not call the hotel spectacular, but it is a Marriott, not a Ritz. I think the ARuba hotel had more pools, swim up bars, a casino, etc..., but GC was quieter and still very nice. Good luck choosing. I am sure you will have a great time at any one of these properties.
One more thing: You mentioned walking distance. We could walk to some places, but short cab ride to different restaurants on GC was easy too. We tended to cab there and walk home along the beach. The town is where the shopping is, but it closes up promptly at 5pm. We walked to some stores, but I am not a shopper. There were some stores with lladro type things downtown, but i am not really interested in that stuff. Hope all this helps.
girlonthego is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,950
There's a little boat at the Reef in St. Thomas that shuttles you across the harbor to downtown Charlotte Amalie for shopping, lunch, etc. There's a beautiful pool with swim-up bar & elevators that take you down to the beach area. I don't recall that's it's a horrendous walk from there. The views of the harbor especially at night are spectacular & you feel you can reach out & touch the cruise ships as they come and go.

Carrybean is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 04:03 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
I enjoy GC but it is definitely a sanitize d island experience.

Food and drink are very pricey, comparable to Bermuda, beaches are great and quality is good. We stay in hotels that do not allow cruise ship passenger in to use the facilities (Ritz).

We are on our way there next weekend for 3 days.

If you have enough Marriott points to upgrade to the Ritz, I would. It is a wonderful property.

The beach is one of the best anywhere and this is why we go.

Curacao is charming but not a place for beach people. And I hate St Thomas. It is overdeveloped and charmless. I stayed at Frenchman's Reef and you will need car to get anywhere.

I would choose GC in a heartbeat over those and am not a fan of Aruba as it is is not lush, but arid, quite expensive and also looks more like Miami Beach than anywhere in the Caribbean.

I travel on points a lot as well and, if a great beach and good food options were my top criteria, I would choose the JW in Cancun or the Casa Magna. Great beaches, just redone, and lots to choose from in terms of food and activities.

kfusto is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 05:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 129
I wasn't aware that you could upgrade a Marriott to a Ritz??
Between your 3 choices, with a strong interest in snorkling, I would go with Cayman. I've never really given St. Thomas a chance...
Curacao Marriott has nice personality for a Marriott, but snorkling/diving pretty mediocre and yes, water shoes were needed last stay there. The beach in front of the Marriott is very limited compared to the rest of 7 mile beach, but you can still walk the lovely stretch and swim along the way "parking" at your pool.
I hope that your schedule is allowing you to go before December holidays as planning anything between Christmas and New Year's takes on a whole new dimension of challenge...
allietoo is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 446
I think you need to make a choice as to what's most important: Beach or Snorkeling.

If a smooth non-rocky entry beach is a huge factor, GC Marriot might not be the right choice. Their beach is also somewhat thin, and fits about 2 rows of beach chairs. The pool area is nice, but very small. Depending on when you go, it could be crowded. Now the snorkeling on the other hand is excellent. A couple properties south is Treasure Island resort, that has a grea reef about 75-100 yards out from there beach (also rocky). There are many other snorkeling options around the island that are some of the best shore snorkeling we've done.

Now if the perfect entry wide beach is morte important, I'd say go with Aruba.

Food is expensive, as well as drinks, but there are plenty of cheaper options to be found. So it really depends on your tastes. The US dollar is only worth .80 in Cayman money, so you definitely are at a disadvantage. I honestly wouldn't let prices scare you off. Just be prepared to pay higher than normal for just about everything, and it won't be a shock. Average dinner at the nicer places will run $100-150 dependiing on drinks or wine. Several other choices that are more casual where dinner for two should run $70-80. Go and enjoy, and don't let a few expensive dinners ruin a beautiful spot. Just be ready for it.
ScottB is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
allitoo, yes, you can use Marriott points for the Ritz as it is same holding company.

More points are required and the detail can be found on the Honored Guest Website.

BelaGirl, Ritz MoBay might be a good choice as well.
kfusto is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 129
Found it! Thanks.
allietoo is offline  
Jul 28th, 2007, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,832
So, you decided to reconsider GC again even though initially you ruled it out, huh? We have been to all three of these islands. You will spend $$$$ on GC. The snorkeling and all water sports ARE fabulous there. One way you can save money there is by not renting a car. Many places are within walking distance. The bus system is extremely reliable and inexpensive. Many people will tell you you must rent a car. We never did and never regretted it. We mainly saw and went everyplace on our list either walking or through the bus. We used a taxi once. The dining options are plentiful and the food very good. BUT, it is very commercialized.
Having said that, do not rule out Curacao too quickly. We stayed at the Marriott and the water was never murky. Water shoes were a good idea, but we never used them. We just scoped out a better part of the beach. We never once saw the pool area ever be crowded and we were there in February - high season. The hotel does have a shuttle that runs twice a day into downtown for free. Plus, you can always advise them that you would be interested in sharing a cab. They are big mini-van's so your space is not being invaded if you choose to do that. It's no different than if you went on an excusion. And we loved the locals in Curacao.
I would put STT as your third choice. None of these islands are going to be like Maui - although I'm sure you knew that already.
Knowing is offline  
Jul 30th, 2007, 09:44 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1
Going to Grand Cayman for the first time this Christmas - anyone have any information on things to do during that time? Any "reasonable" restaurants you can recommend?
gldnpear is offline  
Jul 30th, 2007, 01:51 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 13,177
We liked Ragazzi for italian food-very good. The 7 restaurant at the Ritz was expensive, but no more really than most. The service was very attentive and we had delicious filet mignons! We felt the price worth the meal and service.
We had a good dinner at Deckers. I did not like the Wharf. The food was not good.
girlonthego is offline  
Jul 31st, 2007, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,832
Meals are not inexpensive there, but Eats is very reasonable. The Hotel restaurants are always expensive. We had a lovely meal at Ragazzi's.
The service was wonderful. We also had a very nice meal at Decker's and a place called Grand Old House. That was a wonderful experience. Great food and service. Lovely outdoor setting right by the water. Expensive but worth it. Actually, we found all of the service to be fabulous everywhere except at the Westin. Everyone on the island is friendly. We went to the Lone Star one night and our waiter bought me a margarita. We also went to Athena's
and the manager bought my husband and I a drink down there.
Btw, most of the food is imported, but the mahi mahi is excellant.

Knowing is offline  
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