Saturday, 13 July 2013

Vic & Steve went to the Caribbean, Part 2: Caymans and Ritz-Carlton

beautiful calm sea
The Cayman Islands are beautiful, so many things we could say - wow, tropical, picturesque, stunning, hot, warm clear blue buoyant water, yummy cocktails, exactly as we imagined the Caribbean to be. We were there for an all expenses paid fabulous reward trip for Best of IBM so our experience was sublime, we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Seven Mile Beach (more about that below) and spent the bulk of our 5 days at the resort only venturing out twice - to a wonderful beach front restaurant and taking a catamaran trip to swim with stingrays / snorkel on a reef.

Coral rock
Seven Mile Beach is a stretch of beautiful beach lined with beach front accommodation ranging from the exquisite Ritz Carlton through to backpackers and scattered amongst them a few private homes. The sand is near white, quite fine (but not as fine as some NZ beaches) and soft so you sink into it as you walk, and is very clean - void of shells or weeds. There are however coral rocks buried underfoot ranging from tiny to fist sized, we met a boy with quite a collection who gave me the one in the photo above - his mother was concerned about their luggage allowance going back to the US with so many coral rocks. 
The water is way saltier than our sea water at home, very buoyant and completely clear, no matter how far we swam out we could still see the bottom. There is coral about 50m off shore and fish who stalked us as we swam. It was so very warm, bath like and other than one windy day completely calm. We walked a reasonable way down the beach and it didn't encounter any rubbish and saw cruise ships in the distance. 

The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is simply exquisite with a focus on customer experience beyond anything we have encountered in our lives. Staying there is an experience in itself and as a 5 star (and 5 diamond) resort everything was perfect - no chips of paint, crumbs on the floor, nothing out of place and everything looking new and fresh. 
view from our balcony
The hotel is massive with around 900 rooms, there are 3 restaurants, 2 pools, many bars, large function rooms, golf courses and huge manicured grounds. The stretch of beach out front has chairs and cabana's alongside a beach bar, waiter service to your chair and cabana men to bring towels etc. There are loads of watersport things to do - kayaks, jetski's, things to swim out to and jump off or sunbathe on. We swam and snorkelled, sunbathed and drunk cocktails on the beach.
There are permanent residences and a raft of expensive cars parked out front. Our room was on the beach front penthouse floor, massive for a hotel room with a balcony facing the sea.
The hotel staff are wonderful too, a key factor in the amazing customer experience. We met staff from all over the world - the Philippines, Croatia, Romania, Ireland - you name it. We learned from many of them about the extensive employment process they went through to get their jobs and found them all to be consistently friendly, engaging and incredibly helpful, some even remember our names - an excellent skill. We couldn't walk more than 100m or so without someone saying hello, asking us if we needed anything, giving us directions and even walking us to our next destination.

Find out more below are links to the hotel website and reviews on trip advisor:

We would love to go back to explore the Cayman Islands and stay at the Ritz Carlton Seven Mile beach. It was a fantastic location and the most amazing hotel we have ever stayed in. It was expensive too, after the IBM event we stayed 1 day + night which cost us $NZ1,000 for our accommodation, 2 meals and a few drinks. So we will need to win lotto to go back there.
There is so much more to see in the Caymans as well, more reefs to snorkel and beaches to swim at. 

Next chapter is on the Best of IBM event. 

Poolside dining
beautiful 7 mile beach
Ritz Carlton Seven Mile Beach
Amazing caesar salad
Gallery walkway to our room

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