News from our hotel partners

Summer fun at Seafire

It is a common belief that with great challenges come great opportunities. With the hotels of the Cayman Islands facing their biggest challenge ever as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's an opportunity to engage with local residents like they never have before. Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is embracing that opportunity. 

In addition to its unprecedented staycation offerings, Seafire is now offering several weekend retreats aimed at residents of all ages who are staying at the resort.
The "Seafire Beach Club" concept involves three weekends of themed events that include music, food and various other activities tied to the theme.

Family time

The first Seafire Beach Club weekend, called "Family Date Nights," takes place 14-16 August. Family-friendly activities over the weekend include a sandcastle-building competition, movies under the stars with popcorn and gelato treats and beach lantern-making activities for kids.

On Saturday 15 August, a special family feast will take place at the Seafire Beach Deck showcasing a wide selection of culinary delights served family style. The event features live music, fire dancers and other family-friendly activities, including a beach bonfire.

Wellness

Personal wellness is the theme for the weekend of 21 -23 August. The "Feel Good Weekend" features a line-up of Grand Cayman's wellness-centered island entrepreneurs. 

Saturday 22 August starts with a personal boot camp followed by a yoga session on the Beach Deck, complete with a selection of fresh organic cold-pressed juices. Other wellness activities include a kombucha tasting, a "lunch and learn" with a gut health expert and a session that teaches “15 ways to remove negative energy from your home.”  The Spa at Seafire will also offer its new holistic spa therapies that focus on mind, body and spirit.  

The weekend also includes Seafire's first showcasing of plant-based culinary delights, as well as organic and biodynamic rosé sparking wine.

Hotel guests for the wellness retreat will enjoy a 5 p.m. late checkout to enjoy spa experiences, which includes a sale of up to 70% off on spa merchandise. 

Forever Friday

The last weekend of August pays homage to the Friday vibe — all weekend long.

Several of Grand Cayman's favourite DJs will be on hand to get people dancing. The party gets started at 9 p.m. on Friday 28 August with soca music on the Beach Deck. 
The action moves to the pool the following day, with electrifying house music setting the tone, while dancers sip "rosé all day."

Brunch at AVE restaurant on Sunday finishes up the fun-filled weekend.

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This article appears in print in the August 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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The ultimate staycation

By: Alan Markoff, Camana Bay Times editor

I like to go places I've never been for my birthday.

In my 61 years, I've found myself on 10 July in faraway places ranging from exotic (Fiji) to cultural (Italy) to decadent (wineries in British Columbia) to rustic (tent camping by a lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains).

This year, however, I was grounded, unable to take flight to a new experience. 
Or so I thought.

The trip came up suddenly and unexpectedly. The arrangements were simple. There were no security checkpoints, no immigration lines, no customs lines, no worrying about overweight bags, no taxi fares, no rental cars, no travel stress. I didn't even have to get on a plane, because I was simply driving the 15 minutes from my home to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. This is where my wife Lynn and I would experience the Ultimate Staycation to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary two days later.

Respite

For nearly three months, we — like most Grand Cayman residents — were basically housebound, roughing it in a state of domestic captivity. The so-called new normal was very much a bland normal. Three days and two nights at The Ritz-Carlton provided a much needed respite from pandemic stress and added lustre to our dual celebrations.

Since late June, the government has permitted hotels to reopen for resident staycations. In order to create some revenue and provide work for their staffs, hotels — including The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman — now offer residents unprecedented staycation deals.

Since the opening of the resort almost 15 years ago, I have spent countless hours attending a variety of events at The Ritz-Carlton, but had only previously spent one night there: in a garden-view room after a service club event. Having a vacation stay in an oceanfront room — a standard feature of the Ultimate Staycation — for my birthday was indeed like going someplace I'd never been.

Celebrate in style

A stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is a stay at a Ritz-Carlton, pandemic or not. We experienced the same high level of Ritz-Carlton food, Ritz-Carlton amenities and Ritz-Carlton service that I've come to expect. If anything, the service was better — albeit, behind protective face masks — than normal, a reflection perhaps equally attributable to the happiness of staff to be working again and to fewer guests than normal, allowing for more personal guest attention.

The staff at The Ritz-Carlton seem to relish celebrations, almost as an excuse to be even nicer to their guests. Before we stepped foot in my room, I had been wished a "happy birthday" twice. Upon entering,  I immediately saw white towels on the king-sized bed, rolled up and banded in a way that looked like a three-tier birthday cake, topped with a handwritten card wishing me birthday greetings from the housekeeping team. There was also a small cake, shaped like a sandcastle and a souvenir birthday gift left in the room for me.

Beach and pool

The west side of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman sits on one of the best parts of Seven Mile Beach. It's been years since I last leisurely enjoyed that section of beach.
The first day of our stay, we checked in, quickly changed into our swimsuits and headed for the beach, lounging in chairs just feet away from the shore. It was late afternoon, however, and we had dinner plans, so we had only an hour to enjoy the sun, sea and sand that tourists pay top dollar to enjoy.

Arranging for a beach cabana has always seemed extravagant to me, but I learned differently the next day. Cabanas offer shade, comfort and on the day I was there, the ability to stay on the beach even when it rains. 

In the cabanas, there was a refrigerator with water and soft drinks and a few snacks. Personal attention was supplied by Myles, our cabana butler.
We spent six glorious hours on the beach, enjoying several forays into the sea that afternoon. It was the longest spell I've spent on the beach at one time, probably in my entire life.

Food and beverage

I know the food and beverages served at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman well. One of my shortlist of favourite restaurants is Taikun, which in my opinion not only serves the best sushi on Grand Cayman, but also the best sushi I've eaten anywhere. That was the choice for my birthday dinner.

Although we normally choose the omakase — a five-course meal with the selections left up to the chef — a new menu item caught our eye. "Sensei" is a selection of traditional sushi dishes, including sashimi, nigiri and maki. The Sensei meal for two was probably big enough for four and left little room for dessert. However, since it was my birthday, Taikun was going to serve me dessert no matter what. The "Bonsai" dessert is fashioned like a tree, with chocolate limbs and branches and green confection leaves, planted in a chocolate crumble ground that covers a layer of caramel, making it both a sight and taste sensation. 

The plan the next day was to enjoy Bar Jack's famous fish tacos while in our cabana. However, the Ultimate Staycation package includes a daily breakfast at Seven restaurant and after eggs Benedict and a side of smoked bacon, there was not room for lunch. Instead, we saved ourselves for dinner and opted for frozen cocktails instead.

Dinner at Seven included delicious and juicy Niman Ranch steaks — the restaurant is after all, first and foremost, a high-end steak restaurant in the evenings — which came with a choice of rubs and sauces. The side dishes were served à la carte, and the truffle mac and cheese was so good, we might make it the main course of a meal in the future.

We finished our dining experiences with lunch at Andiamo on our anniversary on Sunday, right before we headed for home. Andiamo's pizza and an order of Parmesan truffle fries were the kind of comfort foods we often eat when travelling, making us feel as if life were normal again — and we didn't have to suffer from jet lag!

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This article appears in print in the August 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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The perfect beach meal

Dining on Seven Mile Beach while watching the sun melt into the Caribbean Sea is one of the sublime experiences Grand Cayman offers. The food need not be fancy to enjoy this experience, but it helps if it's delicious and served with friendly professionalism. 

At Bar Jack, the beach restaurant/bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, a sunset meal is a tasty experience that is not only by the sea, but also, if you want, of the sea. You can still get a cheeseburger in paradise (and a good one at that, made with Niman Ranch all-natural beef) if you want, but the most popular menu items come from the sea, just steps away from where you dine. Why eat a cheeseburger when you can have seafood by the sea?

Fish tacos and more

For those who like fish and tacos, Bar Jack's fish tacos are a must-try. They start with a layer of blackened snapper pieces and are then topped with Caribbean coleslaw, toasted pumpkin seeds and lime aioli. The tacos are served with lime wedges, which give them a refreshing tartness. The combination of ingredients creates a Caribbean flavour that is unique, delicious and satisfying. 

There are three, fully stuffed tacos in an order, which is plenty for one person to eat, or for two or three people to share as an appetiser. 

There are several other seafood options on the Bar Jack menu, including conch tacos, wahoo ceviche, tuna poke sushi rice bowls, lobster and shrimp corn dogs, blackened fish burgers made with mahi mahi and crispy shrimp po-boy sandwiches.

The wahoo ceviche in particular is excellent. Made with one of the most loved food fish in Cayman waters, it combines starfruit and lime juice, red onion, pieces of orange and avocado to form a zesty seafood treat. It is served with tortilla chips and is easily shared with two to four people. 

In addition to seafood and burgers, Bar Jack serves a variety of sandwiches, salads and bowls as well as chicken wings, quesadillas and nachos. Sandwiches and burgers are served with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, seasonal fruit or a mixed green salad.

There's also a kids' menu that includes the ever-popular chicken tenders as well as build-it-yourself fish tacos, with fun add-ons like goldfish crackers.

Desserts include ice cream, fruit plates and key lime pie, as well as one that is a huge hit with kids or adults who are young at heart: classic s'mores, which are served on a wooden board with a mini hibachi lit with Sterno. All the classic ingredients for a s'more are on the board — graham crackers, marshmallows and Hersey's chocolate bars, along with a pronged skewer. Guests make their s'mores themselves, right at the table, which is great fun for kids and adults alike.

Although the waitstaff dresses casually in shorts, there is nothing casual about their service — it's the same high-level, friendly service you find throughout The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

Drinks

Bar Jack features a full-service bar with beers, wines and cocktails. It's most well-known cocktail is a frozen piña colada. It's made with coconut cream, coconut milk and pineapple juice, which are blended into soft-serve ice cream and then swirled with Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua. It's rich and tasty and has enough sweetness to serve as an after-dinner dessert cocktail.

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This article appears in print in the August 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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Staycationing in the Cayman Islands

It's the year of the Cayman Islands staycation.

And why not? Even if residents don't have much choice in the matter, every year tourists spend big money to vacation in the Cayman Islands.

Given what's happening in the rest of the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourists would likely spend even more if they could come and have a healthy and safe vacation in our tropical paradise this summer. They can't, at least not until next month, but we can and there are some excellent staycation opportunities at Dart-owned properties across all three Cayman Islands in August and beyond.

Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa

With no tourists on island in August, Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is catering to residents with a number of imaginative initiatives. 

"We're trying to come up with as many different options as we can to entice residents to come to Seafire," says General Manager Steven Andre. 

In addition to special room rates, there is also the ability to rent a luxury cabana, day bed or chaise lounge for Seafire's "Day Getaway." These rentals include daytime access to all of the amenities and facilities — including the three-tiered infinity pool — at Grand Cayman's only AAA Five Diamond Resort. On weekends, the Day Getaway includes live music and outdoor activities for kids.

Seafire is also offering a work-play getaway option. The "Office with a View" package offers an oceanfront room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The package includes usage of all amenities, including the pool, gym and non-motorised watersports.

"What we're trying to do is give people an alternative to working from home," says Steven. "You come for the day, we give you an office with a great view, you come down for lunch or you can have room service delivered, you take a break and go for a swim or workout in the gym. You can even bring your pet."

Email [email protected] or call (345) 746-0000. Book lounge chairs or cabanas online at seafire.idaypass.com. 

Le Soleil d’Or

For those looking to get off the island without leaving the Cayman Islands, both Sister Islands offer staycation options. 

Those yearning for a getaway with personalised luxury need look no further than Le Soleil d'Or on the south coast of Cayman Brac.

"Let us take care of you," says General Manager Anoop Jayaprakash. "Our amazing team is always ready to go above and beyond to provide you with a memorable experience."

Le Soleil d'Or is an elegant farm inn that comprises the Manor House with four guest rooms and the Coast House that sleeps three adults or two adults and two children. 

Included with each room is a complimentary daily breakfast that incorporates some of the fresh fruits and vegetables grown on the organic farm.

The inn's private Beach Club, which features a 50-metre pool and a beach with thatched sun shelters, is located less than a mile away.

"We are happy to provide our guests with snacks, water and towels to enjoy at the beach club," says Anoop. 

Other activities offered by Le Soleil d'Or include a complimentary 40-minute tour of the property's 20-acre farm, as well as access to beach bicycles, non-motorised watersports equipment, the fitness centre and basketball and tennis courts.

"In addition, our guests may choose to purchase services such as massage treatments and dive excursions," says Anoop. 

Buyouts of the four-room Manor House are available for groups. For more information, contact [email protected] or call (345) 926-1966.

Paradise Villas

Residents can leave all of their COVID-19 stresses at home, along with their shoes, socks and wristwatch, with a staycation at Paradise Villas on Little Cayman. 

The laid-back inn features 12 beachfront cottages that offer peace, quiet, rest and relaxation. Catch up on some reading as you lounge by the pool or in a hammock and then head over to The Hungry Iguana restaurant when you're hungry. A small grocery store and liquor shop are just a mango-throw away, as is Little Cayman's quaint airport. 

For reservations, email [email protected] or call (345) 948-0001.

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This article appears in print in the August 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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