Just back from Grand Cayman

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Mar 14th, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Just back from Grand Cayman

GRAND TIME IN GRAND CAYMAN

This was our second visit to the island, the first being in 2000, well before Hurricane Ivan. We were so excited to come back as we loved it the first time.

Evidence of Ivan: Airport Roof still needs thatch shingles; there are trees down; various piles of rubble; lots of construction going on. I would say that if I hadnít been to GC before, I might not have noticed. It looks like another Caribbean island under construction with some run-down areas, etc.

Majestic Tours takes us from Airport to the Ritz. One of our couples has lost a bag so they are left behind but Majestic Tours makes sure they are taken care of [she finds the luggage within an hour]. They hand us cold scented washcloths and bottled water as we wind our way to the Ritz Carlton.

The Ritz is HUGE. The lobby is stunning with beautifully arranged flowers in vases. We stand in line to check in and rum punch is handed out. We are also explained the layout of the resort [did I say itís HUGE?] and given a map of said resort. When it is our turn we are told that our room is not quite ready yet even though itís 3pm. He is very apologetic. We ask is it oceanfront with king bed? Yes. No worries then, just point us somewhere to change into our suits and weíll hit the beach. We are escorted to the spa to change. Itís beautiful. Itís like walking into an ice cave. Wow. We change, leave our stuff in the lockers and head out to take the long walk tot the other side, the ocean side. They have an elaborate walkway across the street to the ocean side. They have designed it so it doesnít look like a walkway, just meandering hallways full of art and flowers. Nice touch, but a long walk [you really start think about do I really need to see the concierge or can I call, etc.].

Finally making it Oceanside, we wander down to the pool bar to start our journey. The Ritz is HUGE [I know, but trust me youíll keep repeating it too!] and it feels a little overwhelming at first. But then you see the reason youíre hereÖ Wow. The beach is stunning, the water so clear and turquoise, sand so white.

We enjoy a couple of drinks and start to relax. We go for a stroll on the beach and head back to the bar. By now itís 5:00pm but weíre enjoying ourselves so weíre not rushing to the other side just yet. Our group keeps coming down remarking on the beautiful rooms.

When we finally head up, we find out that our room is in fact ready and receive our keys, etc. We take the long walk back to the Oceanside, step into the elevator and discover that there is no 8th floor, just penthouse. Cool! Although, we donít think they are much different than the others but the view is unbelievable. Our favorite spot all vacation is watching the sun set from our balcony. This is nice.


We walk down a beautiful hallway with many windows. Décor is yellow and green with artwork everywhere. We find our room. It is also yellow and green and beautiful. The bed is absolute heaven. A feather bed on top of the mattress, 2 layers of hypoallergenic down pillows with many throw pillows, a down comforter and a charming quilt. You sink into this delicious bed. There is also an oversized chair with matching pillows a desk area and a couple dressers.

The bathroom is also beautiful. Bathrobes, luxurious towels, a rain showerhead, a tub with built in pillow and book holder. The mirrors are beautiful. Every detail is perfect. Oh, and our very own beta fish in a bowl on the vanity. Nice touch.

Then thereís the balcony. Itís the perfect size with a table and two chairs and you look out over the beautiful Ritz pool, bar, beach and the ocean is staring back at you. We left the door open throughout our stay to enjoy the sound of the waves and every morning we were awakened by the lovely sound of a leaf blowerÖ.yep, every morning. Oh well, at least we didnít need an alarm clock. It was amusing to watch a man wander aimlessly around shooting this thing at nothing. He blew more into the pool than out of the walkways. It was odd.

Room service was excellent. Our room was cleaned every morning and turned down every evening with a couple of delicious chocolates on our bed, music playing, ice in the bucket, etc. That was very nice.

Food at the Ritz. The breakfast buffet is incredible [at Seven Restaurant]. Donít miss the caramelized plantains, heavenly. We enjoyed this every morning. The bar food was delicious and the serving trays were a nice touch [bamboo boxes]. Blue and Periwinkle are both by the pool on the lagoon side. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at Blue. We had multiple people waiting on us and they knew us by name. I had the best swordfish. This was our most expensive meal [$250 US for 2]. We ate inside and the décor and atmosphere was lovely, but I just love being oceanfront when by the ocean!

We did not make it to Periwinkle [staff told us dinner was family oriented with a big screen for the kids, etc.]. Others with us went for lunch and had a fantastic time. Itís not crowded at lunch [since itís not ocean side].

Seven is poolside on the ocean side. Many people went there for dinner and lunches and loved it. We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfasts there.

We tried to order breakfast room service one morning but it never showed up so we called and canceled. They were apologetic but nothing ever came of it beyond that.

Spa at the Ritz. We had a coupleís hot stone massage. It was very nice. I followed that with a cavier eye treatment which I loved. Others in our group had facials and massages and everyone enjoyed them. It smells so good here. Ask for a sample of the perfume to enjoy. The steam room is wonderful. The whirlpool is too cool for my taste. There is also a sauna if you like that. You can help yourself to a make up tray and they have wonderful lotions for body and face for you to use. You can use the spa anytime.

The workout room is very nice. Personal tvs on the cardio equipment. Classes are fun too. Carlaís a hoot and I enjoyed her kickboxing and soca aerobics.

Food Elsewhere.

Calypso Grill in Westbay. Incredible. Service was slow but good if that makes sense. It was really crowded and our waitress had many tables so it was slow, but she was sweet and efficient. The atmosphere is fun and romantic with the breezes blowing through. I made my reservation well in advance but we did not get outside dining [they do that first come] but we were in a corner with all the doors open so the effect was lovely. Crab cakes were outstanding here and the toffee pudding dessert that everyone recommended was fantastic. Itís a spongy cake that soaks up the toffee and cream on the plate. Mmmm.
We paid $20 for each direction cab [ouch].

The Lobster Pot. We had reservations at Papagallo but this was the night of the bank robbery so they were searching cars heading into and out of West Bay. We switched to the Lobster Pot with many others from our group. It wasnít outside but they had great big windows that opened out so you felt like it was outside and it was right on the water. This meal was also very good.

The Reef Grill at Royal Palms. We had a long table for 20 which I regret now because it took us 3 hours to have our meal. The servers were great, but we should have been divided by them or split at 2-3 tables instead [they walked around to all 20 people instead of having a waitress take half and another take the other half, etc.]. By the time we ended our meal, most were too tired to enjoy the music. The meal was good overall, my sea bass was delicious. But, some people did not like their meals. Crème Brulee was fantastic. I was looking forward to this night as it was our last. We did walk home on the beach which was nice; it took 20-25 minutes.

Other people went to Grand Old House and loved it. The group went to Deckers and loved it. Itís been renovated and the food was excellent. Also people I talked to said the Wharf was their favorite meal. Go figure. We were going to do the Lighthouse on night, but it was just too far.

Over the Edge RestaurantÖwe went here for lunch the day we hit Rum Point. It was fun [we laughed because it was the anti-Ritz in attitudeÖyou need to order because the cook wants to go home, etc.] and the food was good, the view fantastic.

Snorkeling. We rented a car [cute convertible PT Cruiser] and headed to Rum Point. We stopped along the way at Cheeseburger Reef. It took us a few minutes to figure out best way to get in the water [thereís a little beach by Lobster Pot]. The snorkeling was awesome. It was just the 4 of us. We saw huge bar jacks, a lobster, a turtle, and many beautiful fish. The cruise ships were in that day so we were in between the shore and the ships. The little boat traffic started getting bad so we thought best to head out. Next stop was Edenís Rock. Easier entry point [ladder] and there were more people. But it was like climbing down into a giant fish bowl. They were everywhere. Final stop before Rum Point was Smithís Cove. This was a lovely beach area. When we arrived there was just a local family swimming. It was beautiful. There were lots of coral to view here. It was nice to just hang out also. By the time we left, it was crowded and a large tour bus full of cruise ship people was heading our way.

Stingray City. They were much bigger and friendlier than I remember from 2000. We rented a boat from Oh Boy Charters [it was Ďjust okí, we rent a boat each year and this was everyoneís least favorite, boat was not the best and the guides were not as fun as weíve had, disappointing]. The stingrays were everywhere and they came right up to you. Iíve now done it twice so if we ever come back, I can skip it. Definitely a must do though. Oh and when we pulled up there were hundreds of people in the water, not very appealing. But we had our own little area so it was nice.

Westin. You can snorkel out just past the blue tent in front of the Westin. There were many fish and lobsters. Cool and convenient.

Other Places of Interest. Smithís Cove. You donít have to snorkel here to enjoy this quiet little beach. Itís tiny though so go when there are no cruise ships. Rum Point. Iím so glad we ventured out here. It was a fun quirky little place. There are pine trees on the beach! You can walk out in the water near here for a long time and be only ankle to knee deep. We saw some stingrays while walking in this water. There is also a nice stretch of beach just to walk. The wreck bar is nice for drinks. Although they take last call before 5pm, so be prepared. There was only 1 public hammock and it was occupied when we were there.

We ran out of time but would have liked to go to Ivory Kai to see the starfish. Maybe next time!

Overall it was a lovely time. The service at the Ritz was fantastic. There were lots of families so many kids [a little annoying when trying to enjoy the hot tub and their parents no where in sight]. I wonder what the Westin is like now [thought about visiting but ran out of time] as we stayed there in 2000 and loved it. I did not pay my way so I canít say if it was worth it there. I would probably say there are many other places to stay for less that I have loved.

Thanks for great advice here!

Trish

Pics are here...
http://photobucket.com/albums/v59/Tn...N06/?start=all
TnTWalter is offline  
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Mar 14th, 2006, 06:32 AM
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Great report Trish! The Ritz sounds beautiful...but huge! Did you happen to notice the Villas of the galleon condos next door? If so, how did they look? That is where we satyed when we got married and where I will stay agian when we return. How about the trees? Are they starting to fill out again?

Now I want to go back!!!

I tried viewing your photos but was unable to. Could you check and just see if it is temporary maintenance going on? Thanks
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Mar 14th, 2006, 06:49 AM
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works now!
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Mar 14th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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Villas of the galleon condos looked to be in good condition but there was no one there so not sure if it's open.
The trees are doing quite well. It really looked good.
Trish
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Mar 14th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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Thanks for sharing.
That hotel does look ridiculously huge.
I got stuck on your caramelized plantains. Sounds divine!
We have a little less than 4 weeks to go. Except for the cruise ship crowds, we're looking forward to it.
Thanks again.
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Mar 14th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Great trip report, Trish! You've made me anxious to see the Ritz now that it's completed. We stayed at the Westin when we were in GC and were not happy. The countless great restuarants on the island made the trip much better. Stingray City had hundreds of people when we were there also. I felt almost trapped, but it was so worth it. Glad you had such a lovely time!
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Mar 14th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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Thursday is the busiest cruise ship day and that's the day we took the car to Rum Point. Driving through Georgetown shortly after they cruise ships let out, we watched hundreds of people walking down the sidewalk. It looked so not fun. Can anyone say 'moooooo'. Yikes!

Oh the plantains!! My mouth waters thinking about them.....
Trish
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Mar 14th, 2006, 11:56 AM
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Trish,
I really enjoyed reading your trip report and I'm so glad you enjoyed Rum Point. I can't believe they only had one hammock out though, bummer!! Loved your pictures and your right, the Ritz is HUGE!!! Glad you had a great time.
Sandy
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Mar 14th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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TnTWalter,
Hi! I enjoyed your trip report and pictures.We are going to Grand Cayman in May for the first time and I cannot wait!We are staying at Discovery Point Club condos on 7 mile beach.

Christie
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Mar 15th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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knowing...when were you at the Westin? We were there in '00 and loved it. It looked so small this time compared to our mega resort. I do remember the pool was too shaded to hang out in the swim up bar which was a bummer.

christie...I wish I could fit in your suitcase. I'm really missing it already. 5 days is not enough time!
Trish
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Mar 15th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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Trish,
We were at the Westin a few years ago. We just had a lot of problems with mold and mildew in our room and they were not willing to give us another room, their "Heavenly beds" were anything but, and a lot of conventions which means, of course, that the pool area then gets closed off. So... We had actually looked at the Villas of the Galleon, but as I recall they didn't have a pool. In the long run, it probably would have been a better choice regardless. Oh well. As I said, I'm glad you had such a lovely time.
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Mar 15th, 2006, 05:35 PM
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Trish,
I'll leave home in the suitcase!

Christie
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Mar 16th, 2006, 04:03 AM
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Sorry for the typo: I'll LEAVE ROOM in the suitcase! (is what I meant to say)
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Mar 25th, 2006, 01:57 PM
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ttt for Mo
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May 19th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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ttt for parkcitygal.
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May 19th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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Trish, I see you traveled with a group. Did you have any group functions while you were there? We're in the process of planning a work incentive trip in GC and are seriously considering the Ritz. How were they at handling your group? Since you've stayed at both the Ritz and Westin, would it be better to get a resort view room at the Ritz or an oceanfront view room at the Westin? We're trying to decide between the two resorts...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and your pictures. They are very helpful.
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