Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands and the best fit for MICE travel. Unfortunately due to limited meeting space the Caymans are a better fit for Incentive Travel over meetings or conferences unless those are under 250 guests. Grand Cayman has seen a recent surge of business in the last two years given the lack of Zika concerns and also having been missed by Hurricane Irma. The recent renovation of the Westin, current Margaritaville project and Kimpton new build has increased the number of resort hotel rooms available to help keep up with demand. One key factor in choosing the island of Grand Cayman is safety. It is said to be one of the safest islands in the Caribbean in terms of violence, theft, and also food/water quality.
Ritz-Carlton, 375 Sleeping Rooms, 20,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is one of the more interesting properties in the Caribbean. Like most Ritz properties it offers that 5 star service throughout the hotel. The property has a large residence owner pool and this takes up a large part of their oceanfront inventory. With that said the property has two sections. One side is oceanfront and the other is located over a closed overpass to the opposite side of the road facing the golf course, bay, and a highway. Unfortunately for guests depending where you are located you most likely have two different experiences. There is one large pool and F&B outlets located on both sides for guests to enjoy throughout the day.
The La Prairie Spa and golf course are two of the biggest highlights on this property. The spa is world-class and one of the nicer high end products visited in the Caribbean. The golf course is located right off the back of the property within walking distance and also has an indoor swing analysis setup for small groups to enjoy. Also there is a small dock with access to the inlet for private boat trips to go swim with the famous stingrays.
Due to the nature of the property and residence ownership there are some unique suite options that you might not find at other Ritz properties. Guests can rent oceanside suites from 1, 2 and 3 bedroom setups for large families or groups.
We found this is one of the busier properties in terms of children. It is very family friendly with a splash pad/children's pool setup and we found the pools overrun by families and children each day.
The beach in the Caymans does not disappoint and the setup at the Ritz is one of the better ones on island. Plenty of beach chairs, attentive beach attendants and crystal clear water with white sand between your toes.
Like any Ritz there are a handful of food and beverage options that are the typical Ritz prices and this property is slightly more due to the nature of food costs in the Caymans. The property is located only a few minutes walk from the Westin and a few additional restaurants if you wanted to get out and explore.
Overall, the over the road setup and high number of children lowers the rating down to a B. Definitely not my favorite Ritz but again not a bad option if you are looking for 5 star service, easy flight, and a gorgeous beach.
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, 343 Sleeping Rooms, 9,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
The Westin recently underwent a major overhaul of all of its property and the results are impressive. The new room product has a great beach house feel, the pool decks are more open and inviting, and the lobby has the floor to ceiling windows with beach views from the moment you enter the hotel.
For those looking to host a meeting or incentive trip, the indoor meeting space is pretty limited but the outdoor entertainment space is plentiful. Plus the Governor's Ballroom should be sufficient backup space for breakfast or evening events given the number of sleeping rooms on property. The Governor's Lawn has been turfed and is perfect for a welcome party with the ballroom and bathroom close by for easy indoor/outdoor events. Plus the pool deck and beach are additional options for larger groups.
The hotel does a great job of providing nightly entertainment to keep guests on property with sunset live music on the pool deck each evening. The outdoor bar was always crowded but bartenders keep the drinks coming in a timely and friendly fashion.
The spa was everything you would need, just not the high end luxury of the Ritz. The Westin has had many outdoor beach-side treatment options for cabana massages throughout the day.
The beach is also a great size and the beach service is sufficient with buttons to let attendants know when you need your next drink or to put in a food order. Creative and fun way to ensure guests are attended to in a timely manner without being bothered while relaxing.
Also do not forget about the swim-up bar which some guests love and others could do without.
Prices in Grand Cayman post hurricane have definitely continued to climb but if you are looking for beautiful beaches in a fun and safe environment the Westin is for you.
Overall a B+ rating after the recent renovation and for the budget might be actually preferred over the Ritz for the young, hip group.
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, 295 Sleeping Rooms, 5,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
This was the most disappointing of the properties. First the beach is extremely limited as the water comes up close to the stairs/pool deck/restaurant. It's not the wide white sand beaches you would envision in Grand Cayman. This property did not have competition in the past so has gotten comfortable. With the Westin renovation, addition to Kimpton, and upgrades coming to Margaritaville, this property will need to undergo a major renovation to continue to compete.
Also this property has very limited indoor meeting space so has a very high number of leisure travelers and Marriott rewards redemption guests.
The food and beverage outlets, including Sunday brunch are the main highlight for this property.
Overall a C+ rating when comparing to the rest of the properties on island. Might be fine for a family vacation but might not be the perfect fit for your next incentive trip. The Westin blows away this property in my personal opinion.
Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, 266 Sleeping Rooms, 12,000 Sq Feet Meeting Space
This is a very interesting new 5 star addition to the Caribbean. This is the hot new, young, hip and trendy hotel for those looking for a great pool, beach, room product and food options. They did a great job with décor and design to keep that Caribbean beach house feel but also with a contemporary colorful vibe throughout the guest rooms and lobby.
The beach restaurant and pool bar provide an impressive casual yet sophisticated lunch, dinner, and drinks option for those looking to stay outside and enjoy the Caribbean weather. The food quality was high and the restaurants were extremely busy.
The beach is wide and the beach chair setup is perfect for families, couples, and even group events. There's plenty of space for everyone and you do not feel like you are sitting on your neighbors lap. This is important since the property is very popular for families with children. The beach service is attentive and friendly.
The meeting space is everything you need for backup space for outdoor events or indoor breakfast meetings, etc. It's traditional meeting space but with bright colors and that beach house feel.
The spa had great indoor and outdoor space but the only negative we found was the outdoor "Hot Tub" didn't appear to get hot. But it is co-ed and open to all guests, not just spa guests which is a nice perk.
Also important to note is that this property is the furthest from the airport and it can take 40-45 minutes for a transfer.
Also the pricing has been extremely high with the recent Caribbean inventory issues due to the hurricanes. The Kimpton has priced itself significantly higher than the Ritz on island for most dates.
Overall an A- rating for this new 5-star player to the market. If budget is generous and you have a younger age demographic then this could be the perfect spot for you. The Ritz targets a more service-oriented clientele whereas the Kimpton targets an amenities driven clientele with their pool, gym and restaurants.
Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman, 285 Sleeping Rooms, No traditional meeting space
So this is another interesting project that is happening in the Grand Caymans. Unfortunately, I believe the hotel rebranded before it was ready. The rooms renovation was actually impressive but the rest of the resort has a LONG way to go. The setup is difficult as there is a timeshare resort between Margaritaville and the beach. Also some of the pools and resort features are shared with the timeshare guests.
For those guests who visit the Margaritaville property in Hollywood Beach, Florida they would be disappointed with the Grand Cayman option.
Overall a weird layout and current rating of C but with the vision they have and some time/money this property could eventually move its way up. The major challenge is to make this the perfect option they would need to acquire the timeshare in front of them and make those rooms smaller suites.