Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
A 5-star luxury resort located on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is a 5-star luxury resort located on the amazing Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. I first had the chance to stay at this property back in January of 2018 where I attended the infamous Cayman Cookout. The Cayman Cookout, while being an incredible culinary event hosting some of the worlds best chefs, gets a step up in the fact it is held at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, which just so happens to be situated on one of the world’s best beaches. Hard to have a bad time, right?
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman falls under the Marriott umbrella which in turn means you can in fact use Marriott Rewards points to stay here (although not for the days of the Cayman Cookout). At the time of this post you can book a Garden View room starting at 60,000 points per night. However if you are looking for that Ocean View room, you're going to have to fork over a whopping 150,000 points per night (or 60,000 + $450USD). Ouch! That's a lot of points considering both the Marriott Rewards Credit Card along with the new SPG Luxury Credit Card (soon to be renamed Bonvoy) have a signup bonus of 75,000 points each. If you are looking to pay out of pocket, room rates get well into the 4 digits per night. That being said, this Rewards Category 7 property is pristine, with some of the best service I've experienced anywhere.
The check-in process begins a few days before your arrival with a welcome email from the property looking to see if there are any special requests you may have or any special assistance needed. For those visiting the island, there is no Uber or Lyft available, so your options of getting to and from the airport to the property are either a taxi (approx. $30 each way), or pre-arranged car service through the Ritz ($99 each way).
When you do arrive to the property, you will immediately notice its tame driveway. Nothing overly fancy or glamorous, but none the less, clean and functional. You also get the sense the hotel looks small, with no tower(s) being seen. You would be wrong however, because when driving up not much is in view. A long hallway shortly after check-in takes you over and across the road leading you to the "main" portion of the resort (pools, beach, rooms, etc.) along with lower levels not seen from first glance.
When arriving I was immediately greeted by several bellman who were all smiling and happy to be of service. They walked me into the lobby and guided me to the front desk. While checking in at the front desk another employee came by to offer a refreshing cocktail and piece of rum cake (a local pastry). The check in process was smooth and inviting, getting me excited for the stay. When walking in you notice the fresh flowers in the middle of the room and the beachy themed decor, which is seen throughout the property. Exactly what you expect to see for a beach vacation/stay. While the beachy theme is seen throughout, it is not cheesy or overdone, allowing the luxury side to shine.
The hotel grounds are some of the most beautiful and one of my all time favorites. There is something to be said about this property in that although it's of a good size, it really has a "home-like" feel, making it a great place to get away. No massive convention center style hallways here! Smaller hallways are uniquely decorated with local artists work (such as Dready) throughout the property and something just feels cozy about the place. The property overall feels warm and inviting while also tropical. Nothing about the property feels "empty" or missing, and that's a good thing. While I do not golf, the property has a world class 9-hole golf course that I've been told is spectacular. Are you a family with kids? The property also sports an interactive water attraction they call Starfish Cay. While not personally utilizing this amenity, it can be summed up as a water playground. I literally just made that word up but feel it describes it well.
There are 2 pools on the property with the larger one being closer to the beach and also where all the action is. The second pool which is closer to the lobby never seems to have anyone in it. It may be because that pool is not near the beach, or the bar, so why head to this one in the first place? (*shrugs*).
The Mozart of the property, the main act, the reason most make their way to Grand Cayman...the Beach! The property does a good job of making sure folks are comfortable when setting up for the day. There are plenty of chairs laid out which you can use at no cost, however the day beds and cabanas will run you around $500 for the day. You have the ability to order food and drinks as servers from Bar Jack make their way around the beach, just make sure your yellow flag is pointed up to get the server‘s attention. The sand is amazingly soft and when you decide to get in the water, there are some floating large sized donuts you and a +1 can get in (don't worry they are tied down to the bottom).
The Room It's important to know the room I had booked was the Ocean View room, which at least for me is mandatory when going on a beach vacation. Who doesn't like waking up to the ocean every morning!? The room itself was a good size, located in the Ocean Tower part of the resort and included a spacious balcony. The King sized bed was extremely comfortable as I slept like a baby in it. There are the usual room amenities such as a coffee (Nespresso in this case) machine, mini bar, etc.
The bathroom was a good size, easily enough for 2 people to get ready at the same time. The tub was a good size although I did not actually use it. The toiletries consisted of Asprey products, which are the usual for Ritz-Carlton properties. It was configured with a stand up shower and dual sinks, which are always a plus when traveling with a +1. I will say water pressure is an important aspect of a hotel shower, at least to to me. The shower here fell a bit short with its water pressure not being weak, but also far from strong. I had an issue with the water temperate not getting hot, but a quick call to the front desk and that got fixed in no time.
The room overall was very clean, smelled fresh, and instantly put me in a good mood when opening the balcony door to paradise. I find it hard to believe someone can get tired of that kind of view!
There are a total of 6 restaurants (2 being lounges) on property, and I've been able to have a meal at 5 of them. The only one I really can't speak to is Andiamo, which is the properties Italian restaurant with a Caribbean theme. While you most certainly won't have a bad meal at any one of these options, there are 2 that stand out, Blue by Eric Ripert and Bar Jack. Why you ask? Both of these deliver when it comes to a tropical, Caribbean atmosphere.
Blue by Eric Ripert offers an elegant fine dining experience that is sure to leave you with a smile on your face. Locally sourced? Absolutely. While Marriott has contracts in place forcing most of its restaurants to use seafood provided (*cough* frozen fish), it is rare to have a restaurant which is allowed to serve items such as locally caught seafood. Blue by Eric Ripert is one of those rare instances. And really, if you are coming to Grand Cayman which has some outstanding fishing, I think most people hope they are having fish from right outside the window. The restaurant itself while being one of the best restaurants on the island, fully delivers when it comes to ambiance, quality and experience. A great spot for a night out while not having to leave the property.
Bar Jack, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum is that beachside casual lounge everyone looks for when on vacation. Pina Colada please! Nestled next to the large pool and beach you find Bar Jack, normally full with patrons having a few drinks and enjoying what I would consider better than average finger foods. One of my favorite items on the menu is the West Of Cayman salad with the local catch add-on. I found everything from the salads to the blackened fish tacos to be of high quality. You really can't go wrong. Did I mention they have really friendly bartenders who make some killer drinks? If I didn't, I'm telling you now. Stop at Bar Jack to relax and have a drink (or few) or meal while enjoying the outdoors. Oh, and be sure to try their Signature Pina Colada.
Seven is another great option which I've only had the pleasure of enjoying for breakfast. Named after the beach of which is borders (Seven Mile Beach), it is a more causal experience. Although, it apparently turns into what they call a steak experience in the evening. With seating both inside and outside they offer a good option buffet in the morning including freshly squeezed juices. Seven is my go-to in the morning to kick off the day. I found myself not even eating much for breakfast, but more-so having a nice cup of coffee in the outside seating area enjoying the Caribbean atmosphere. If you've eaten here for dinner, I'd love to hear your thoughts and if this would be a recommended spot.
Taikun, which is located near the lobby, is the property’s sushi restaurant. While the decor inside is on par of what you would expect from a higher end sushi restaurant, unfortunately the quality of seafood here just did not seem to deliver. I have had the opportunity to eat here twice and neither time had me leaving in awe. While I would not go as far to say it is a place to avoid, there are absolutely better options to choose from both on property and in the surrounding area. Now to give credit where credit is due, I do have to say the Salmon Rice Foie Gras was phenomenal! You only get a few bites, but if you find yourself at Taikun, be sure to order it.
The Silver Palm lounge, while not a restaurant, offers appetizers, afternoon tea, cigars, and a Champagne cocktail menu. Enough said. It is located just outside the lobby, sporting a nice marble bar and has what I consider some of the best bartenders on property. I asked the bartender to make me a spicy mezcal margarita and he executed perfectly. A great place to stop for a drink before heading to dinner, or to relax. Great atmosphere that always seemed to be popping when I would walk by.
Restaurants on property:
Blue by Eric Ripert (fine dining)
Bar Jack (beachside lounge)
Silver Palm lounge
Why do I feel there is never enough detail given when folks are looking up information on fitness facilities? Either you don't get the full idea what is available or there are limited photos. Let's change that. The fitness facility here is one of the highlights. Loaded with free weights (that go over 50lbs), a smith machine, leg press, cable machines, bicycles, treadmills, and even a yoga studio, it is everything you could want in a road gym. Kept clean and located next to the spa, it's open from 6am-8pm, enough time to make sure you get a morning or evening session in. This is a huge plus for a resort and hotel in my opinion, something many lack.
La Prairie Spa
During my last visit to the property I was able to sneak in a last minute massage the day before my departure. It was a quick in and out, but the signature massage was just what I needed before heading back home. The first thing you notice when walking in is the amount of white and crystal like visuals, which I found it neat. When walking into the locker room the white theme continued as the lockers were solid white and had a wave like look to them (appropriate for a spa and beach location). I did happen to notice there was no co-ed hot tub, pool, sauna or steam area, so if you are looking to spend time with a significant other, you won't be able to enjoy those amenities together. I was able to use the hot tub briefly before my massage and did notice it could of used a bit of cleaning. My overall impression of the spa was that although it is modern and massage room was great, it was nothing "over the top". The massage however had me feeling real relaxed on my last night.
Glamorous Hair Studio
If you find the need to hit a hair studio during your stay look no further! While I can't comment on services here as I did not visit, it is good to know there is one available onsite. While they are not officially a part of The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, they have made the resort their home. A brief look online you'll be able to see they offer services such as Brazilian blowouts, hair extensions, makeup, etc.
There are a variety of shops to visit throughout the resort if you are looking to do some shopping. Everything from clothing, to watches, to fine jewelry. There is also a beachy type shop near the pool if you were looking to get snorkeling gear, blow up tubes, or sun tan lotions. I found La Boutique inside the hotel to have some nice items perfect for the atmosphere.
Cupboard which is located at the beach level right before leaving the building was one of my go-to places during both trips here. It's a snack shop serving pastries, coffee, beach accessories and souvenirs. I made trips here regularly to get my ice coffee fix, which was strangely unable to be made upstairs at the Silver Palm Lounge. Why they are unable to make an iced coffee beats me, but I guess that would be a suggestion for the property. Cupboard is conveniently located as you as you leave the building on your way to or from the pool or beach, allowing you to grab any small items or food. Check it out and you can't miss it.
Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge
Where are all my Club Lounge users?! Well, I am normally not one of them, but took a stroll in to see what the fuss was about. I found out that sadly during the Cayman Cookout as a Ritz-Carlton Reward Card holder you do not get access to the lounge, however on days that are not in line with the cookout, it is available. Anyways! The club lounge here is very spacious and has local artists’ work mounted on the walls (nice touch!). It has the usual coffee and small snacks available if you wanted to pop in for a quick bite. I would normally say club lounges provide a nice private area to work or meet with someone, maybe even get away from a busy area; but you‘re in the Grand Cayman! Relaxation and quiet areas can be found everywhere around you.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman delivers in all aspects. The one thing that stands out most for me outside of the actual property, and quite frankly the most important piece; is the level of service and attention to detail. I'm going out on a limb here, but after 2 visits to this property I can confidently say The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is right up at the top of a very short list when it comes to the level of service seen at any property around the world. I went as far to make a joke to the hotel manager that I think there are floor sensors in my room. Every time I left the room no matter how many times a day, the room was made up when I returned. Not once have I caught them in the act of cleaning, it was simply done every time I returned. Mind boggling! Joking aside, the hotel staff at this property seem to always be smiling (I mean they are in the Grand Cayman) and finding ways to help the guests. From the moment I arrived I felt at home, to the moment I was dreading my departure, I was always taken care of. Something I think many higher end hotels and resorts miss. While there are many great properties around the world from a location and physical standpoint, not all provide the level of service most expect. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman exceeded that expectation and didn't miss a beat on both visits.
While a week's stay can set you back a few grand here there are some travel hacks to lessen the blow. For those still holding the Citi Prestige credit card, this is an excellent way to cash in on your 4th night free benefit. If you have Marriott Rewards points to use, consider the 60,000 points a night option for a Garden View room. While not facing the ocean, there's a good chance you'll be spending a good amount of time at the beach anyway. One thing is for sure, the Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I've had the opportunity to experience. The water is crystal clear with no rocks, seaweed, etc to ruin your experience.