We Headed South To The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
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Our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman for 16 days was a wonderfully relaxing luxury getaway. The oceanfront balcony was the perfect spot for views out over the crystal blue waters. And for stunning sunsets! We found so much to do on the resort. There were many great food options right on the resort. And we even had the best Afternoon Tea at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
The customer service reflected the standards we had come to know on our stays in first class resorts and on our luxury getaway to the Ritz-Carlton Montreal. We did love when we were delighted by the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton. Our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman was a great way to finish up the birthday celebration that started on our visit to Niagara Falls.
Flying In And Out Of Grand Cayman
As we left Toronto to fly to Grand Cayman, the temperatures hovered just above freezing. We were so glad to head south to recharge our heat batteries. It was an uneventful flight and we arrived on time. It all started so well.
We later learned that parts of the Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman had just had a major redevelopment and expansion. When we landed, we were behind a large number of flights already on the ground. After we came down the outside ramp, it was a long walk in the heat to the customs area. And then we found the longest line-ups we have ever seen in the Caribbean. Our previous visits to Grand Cayman were by cruise ship, so we did not know if this was a normal situation. But it took us an hour to make our way through passport control. It was a good thing we had a 16 day stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman to relax after we finally got our bags.
We grabbed a taxi at the airport. They were readily available and the wait was not long. But we got our first experience with how expensive taxi travel was on the island. Most fares were fixed rates as we travelled around the island. And the fares always surprised us. It made renting a car for two days a cost effective alternative. Even though we did have to pay $20 for a local driving permit even with an International Drivers License!
The long line ups at the Grand Cayman airport were a distant memory when we finally returned back to Toronto. We travel for almost 6 months a year so we are no stranger to returning to Toronto at all times of the year and of the day. But we could not believe the line-ups we faced at passport control in Toronto. We had never seen the lines curl through the whole area. By the time we cleared Toronto customs, all of the bags had arrived.
We loved our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. But long line ups were not a great way to start or finish our vacation.
Welcomed In Style
When we finally made it to the hotel, we were welcomed in Ritz-Carlton style. If you are celebrating a special event, Ritz-Carlton is the place to do it. As we entered the lobby, Marina came up with the first birthday treat. After we checked in, she walked us to our room.
Our sweet upgrade was a penthouse level room overlooking the ocean. We spent many hours enjoying this room with a view.
We found yet another chocolate birthday treat in our room. And I was again surprised when my birthday was recognized when we ate around the resort at Andiamo Italian Kitchen, at Afternoon Tea in the Silver Palm Lounge and when we had a great steak dinner at Seven. And then we arrived back to our room one day to find Happy Birthday on pretty swan towel art.
On our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, every day felt like my birthday!
Enjoying The Crystal Blue Waters
The waters in Grand Cayman were enticing. We saw some of the deepest blues. But there were so many other colours in the crystal clear waters. There was no wonder that the water called to us every day.
When you stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman you will find two large sections to the resort. We stayed on the ocean front side. When we were walked to our room, we followed a long corridor through the enclosed bridge over the road. This was called the Gallery Bridge because of the local art displayed along the walls. The carpet had a yellow stripe and we were told to simply “follow the yellow brick road” between the two sides of the resort.
There was a large clover-shaped pool on the ocean side with lots of loungers. All areas of this pool were quite deep. Foam filled water loungers and toys of every kind floated in the pool.
The beach had rows of shaded loungers. There was a gentle drop off as we walked into the water. And the water was almost the same temperature as the pool.
On the other side of the resort, there was another pool by the harbour marina. This was a little shallower. And most of the day it was a quieter spot to lounge.
Pool and beach “concierges” were set up at each pool and for the beach. Several strengths of sunscreen and after-sun were available. Cold water dispensers ensured we stayed hydrated. The concierge staff would get you a lounger and set it up with a cover, towels and an umbrella. But if you just want a lounger, be prepared to reserve one early. They were held for a many hours before the staff released them.
If you wanted a bit of pampering, you could rent a cabana at one of the pools or at the beach. They had a covered roof and different food options.
There were a lot of water options on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. Many people we met merely moved from pool to beach and back.
We Tried Many Of The Water Sports
We headed down to the beach on the first day to check out the water sports. Over the course of the 16 day stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, we managed to try all of the non-motorized water equipment. We were fitted with a life jacket when we took out any resort gear.
David finally got to try stand up paddle (sup) boards. I thought I got great pictures. But the knock-off GoPro we brought with us was totally useless.
We took the double kayak out. There was a clear bottom and we looked down as we went past. We never did get out over the reef to have something interesting to see. The water tricycle looked like a lazy way to enjoy the water. But we found it hard going to move it through the waves.
David took a refresher sailboat session with Nelson on the small Hobie Cat sailboat. In no time at all, he had it down pat so he came back to shore to pickup the precious cargo (me). We sailed out and moved between the two outer markers. David had no problem bringing us back to where we started. We went out a second time to enjoy the great view of the resort from the water.
We are always surprised when we find resort fees on top of room rates. In many cases, we found resort fees that cover many of the things we get from having elite status with a brand (e.g. water and internet). At the our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman the resort fee is quite high. But we found it covered a lot of non-motorized water activities at the resort – kayaks, water tricycles, sailboats and sups.
We were so glad we tried lots of water activities on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
So Many Other Water Sports Options
The water sports area provided masks and snorkels if you did not bring yours. There was not much to see right off the resort. But we were told that the reef came close to shore by the Westin Grand Cayman next door.
For an additional cost, Red Sail Sports runs the power water sports area on-site. There is a good selection of motorized water fun available at the water sports desk – jet ski PWCs, parasailing, a ride on a banana boat or waterskiing. For a fee you could sign up for things like snorkel trips or a sunset catamaran trip.
Red Sail also offered a full range of scuba diving from the resort. There were morning two tank dives and afternoon single tank dives. The dive sites changed a few times a week. You can also do your Introduction to Scuba course with them. The in-water training is done in the pool on the harbour side of the resort.
There was so much fun to be had in the water on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
Activities For Everyone
We discovered much of what the resort had to offer over our 16-day stay. You can start your day with sunrise yoga. I personally loved the idea of this as it was able to give you a relaxed start to the day before getting stuck into all of the other activities. We only did it a couple of times but the yoga instructors were really helpful to us. It seemed that they must have had good training to be able to teach a class as well as this one. I think I even heard one of them say that they knew someone who was taught in the birthplace of yoga, so no wonder they were really good at it. We may have to think about joining a class when we get home as I think it could be something that we would enjoy. There were just so many other things that we could get up to during our stay. When we lounged around the pool, we got cold treats from the staff. At 3:30 every day, we saw kids line up by the gelato stand at the beach pool. Everyone loved the free candy floss or snow cones. They followed by heading inside to the indoor entertainment area where they all began pretending to play with the hotel’s selection of toys while watching the kid-friendly TV programs.
At 6 pm every evening, someone sounded the conch as the sun got ready to set. There were different musicians each evening by the beach. We could even listen to the music from our balcony. And when we were down by the beach at sunset, we got different food samples from the on-site restaurants.
When we had breakfast at Andiamo, we saw the water in the harbour rippling. We watched carefully and saw the big fish surface. Later we learned these were tarpon. And at 5:30 every evening, they feed the tarpon. That was a sight not to be missed!
There is a 9 hole golf course on-site. And two different areas with tennis courts. Even a large uncovered outdoor basketball court to shoot ‘hoops’ in the heat. We discovered the Culinary Centre when we walked about. But never figured out when something might be put on here.
We kept planning to visit La Prairie Spa, if only for the hot tub and sauna. But we simply did not make it. There were a number of shops on the property selling resort gear (clothes, toys, etc), a clothing store and several high end jewelry shops. We browsed but even with Grand Cayman being duty free, we did not buy.
We found so much to do on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. I was surprised that I could never find a program that showed me everything that was happening on the resort each day. It would be great to have the daily program on the tv, on the electronic boards around the resort, on the Bonvoy app or on paper if necessary. We are used to having daily programs when we sailed with Oceania Cruises. I was sure we missed a lot of things on our visit.
Eat Your Way Around The Resort For A Taste Of Cayman
We loved the chance to enjoy a taste of Cayman on our visit. But there was definitely lots of options to eat on the resort. We were delighted to find that as elite status guests we had breakfast every day at Andiamo. There was a large buffet selection to start the day.
When we lounged by the harbour pool, it was great to order pizza from Andiamo from our loungers. At the ocean pool, we could order lunch at our loungers or sit in the Bar Jack. Lunch was a great casual affair.
But if lunch was casual, our Afternoon Tea at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman was the height of elegance. We enjoyed a lovely tea experience served in the Silver Palm Lounge. Complete with champagne.
Any time of day was the right time for gelato. Andiamo had the best gelato available all day. We had it as a single serving. And one night when we had a light dinner, we had one of their signature sundaes. There was even a small gelato cart by the ocean pool.
If you can’t wait for dinner, there is a Happy Hour menu at both Andiamo and Seven. We had a tasty selection of appetizers. And tried several different cocktails. This was a great dinner option for us when we had a big lunch. Or a long day in the sun. The on-site cafe and store called the ‘Cupboard’ also sold light meal options like salads and sandwiches. And after 5pm, the fresh bakery items were sold at 50% off.
One night we enjoyed a great seafood feast at Andiamo. The menu had an interesting mix of Italian favourites and seafood delights. Another night we dressed up and had a lovely meat feast at Seven. We often ate light at the end of the day. But it was great to enjoy dinner on the resort as a treat. We never did make it to try the gourmet delicacies at Blue or Taikun.
We considered booking a room with Concierge Lounge access. There was food available in the lounge almost all day long. We ultimately decided we would be out and about on the island far too many days. And the cost of the concierge lounge then didn’t make sense. But we definitely ate our way around the resort on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman.
Customer Service At A Big Resort
Most of our experience to-date with Ritz-Carlton was at much smaller hotels. We found the personalized service to be impeccable. But then, we recognized that it was much easier to keep track of guests in smaller hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman was a large resort property covering 144 acres, with 375 rooms and a lot of turnover during our 16 day stay. But on many occasions we still got a very personalized experience. We were walked to our room by Marina. Several of the staff checked in regularly to make sure our stay was going well. After a week we even got a second amenity – a fun sweet treat decorated as the sea. And a bottle of champagne. The champagne was accompanied by another hand-written card.
As I have noted above, Ritz-Carlton did an awesome job of recognizing special occasions. And it seemed that pretty much everyone we met wanted to wish me a Happy Birthday.
We ate breakfast at the Andiamo every day. And after two days Tricia and staff welcomed as regulars. We found the customer service to be excellent. The supervisors watched the tables with a keen eye always catching the smallest issue immediately.
As I have noted in my blog post about world class customer service, first class brands often excel at service recovery. We had a problem with service the first night we ate at Bar Jack. The bar manager Luke realized right away that there was an issue. And there was no charge for our dinner. As result, we went back several times to eat at Bar Jack. And each time, Luke made sure to check on the service. It is this attention to fixing problems that we love to see in world class organizations.
We received a green Ritz-Carlton beach bag when we arrived in the room. And asked about swapping our green bag for a black one. The mini bar team leader Lornatta overheard my request. But when she could not find a standard black one, got us a special black Ritz-Carlton bag. The bag was delivered by Lornatta and her team.
These are just some of the examples of the attention to customer delight we found on our stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. The staff are empowered to go above and beyond to deliver customer service excellence.
Fun For Families
Even though we booked our stay after March break, the resort was filled largely with families. Most of the kids were smaller (probably not yet in school). Or maybe because kids under five eat free? We really had not realized when we booked that this truly was a large family resort.
In additional to all of the things noted above to do on the resort, there were also other things targeted specifically for kids to do.
There was no shallow end in the two pools. And with no lifeguard, parents needed to mind their kids. But beside the harbour pool was Starfish Cay, a waterpark for the kids. We heard the screams of delight as the big bucket dumped the water.
The Ambassadors of the Environment had a long list of fun and educational activities aimed at children and families. At night there were movies at the Harbour Club Theatre, just beyond the parking lot by Andiamo. We heard that most of these were children or family movies. There was also a large games centre called The Wave on the property.
While there were a lot of kids around, we did find it much better than many family all-inclusive resorts we visited when we travelled with kids. There were some quiet spots around the resort. But we did wish there was a small secluded pool for adults only. We heard we are not the only ones who have commented on this.
Our Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman Vacation Was Great
We had a great stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. Our sweet suite was the perfect spot to start and end the day with a perfect view out over the beautiful waters of Grand Cayman. We found so many things to do. The on-site restaurants offered casual food options. And first class destination restaurants for guests and visitors to the hotel. We were spoiled through our stay with great Ritz-Carlton attention to detail. And every day felt like my birthday.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is located on 7 Mile Beach. It was easy to walk to local spots for food. Or to grab a cab to travel a bit further. We rented a car for two days and explored the island. And then came back to relax at the resort. The 16 day stay at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman just flew by.
We booked the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman as a treat to escape winter. Our travel in 2018 helped us to focus our efforts to build up the points in our Marriott Bonvoy loyalty account. And we booked our Grand Cayman 16 day stay using points. We were excited that we were able to book on the old points structure before the points for this resort increased. Even if the resort fee was still an extra cost above points.
Have you stayed at Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman? What was your favourite thing to do on the resort?
Notice: We paid for our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in points and cash. Certainly during our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, we received special perks based on our Marriott Bonvoy Rewards Titanium Elite status and treats to celebrate Linda’s birthday. We were invited to Afternoon Tea and dinner one night at Andiamo by the hotel. It would be silly to say that the wonderful treatment we received at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman did not influence our opinions. But that experience is part of the Gold Standard that Ritz-Carlton delivers. And the comments and opinions expressed in this post truly represent the delight we felt during the entire 16 day stay.
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