By Amira Hashish
With year round average temperatures of 28 degrees, crystal clear waters and intricate coral reefs the Cayman Islands are brimming with natural beauty. However, the destination has remained more under the radar than many of its Caribbean cousins…until now.
The jet-set in the know are flocking to the hottest new hotel opening in Grand Cayman and putting the dazzling beach retreat on the map. Palm Heights is introducing a contemporary travel crowd who have a deep appreciation for design to the picturesque island. Here is the lowdown on what to expect from the buzzy boutique hotel. Plus, ideas for experiences to factor into your itinerary.
Stay at Palm Heights
Paying homage to the glory days of Caribbean understated glamour, Palm Heights is making waves for all the right reasons. The hotel, perfectly positioned on Seven Mile Beach, has put the spotlight on the Cayman Islands amongst a cool crowd.
Gabriella Khalil, its creative director and founder, worked with designers Sarita Posada and Courtney Applebaum to develop the 1970s-era mansion aesthetic. The trio sourced pieces from Paris, Los Angeles and Mexico to decorate the property. Sandy yellows and bold blue tones, reminiscent of the beach, run throughout each of the 52 bedroom suites, all with ocean views.
Tillies, the hotel restaurant, is right on the sand and offers a culinary voyage through the Greater Antilles. The Coconut Club has a contemporary approach to food and drink; think healthy bowls and tacos. Meanwhile, wellness is celebrated as a social activity at The Garden Club. Modelled on a labyrinth garden, it is a botanical stage for an outdoor athletic club and spa. Leading trainers from around the world regularly take up residency. Straddling something between a hotel and a members space, Palm Heights is a reason alone to visit Grand Cayman.
Try Wellness With a Twist
There is a focus on wellness across the Cayman Islands with plenty of pampering alongside more hardcore fitness options. Vitamin Sea is all about water based fitness. Owner Kiristen Cousins offers paddleboard yoga classes which challenge your body and mind. Another popular activity is kayaking in Bioluminescent Bay. The bay takes its name from the Bioluminescent phytoplankton that live in the water which emit incredible flashes of light. Take a leisurely paddle from Rum Point to Grand Cayman under a blanket of stars for a workout you won’t forget, caymankayaks.com.
Go Horseback Riding in the Sea
Stretches of white, sandy beaches lend themselves to a dramatic horseback riding location in West Bay, George Town and North Side of Grand Cayman. You can go for a refreshing bareback riding dip in the sea or take a trail via Barker’s National Park. Families are welcome as there is riding suitable for all levels while couples might opt for the moonlight ride with a magical ambience, ponies.ky.
Embark on a Culinary Adventure
The Cayman Islands is not short of delicious cuisine. There are more than 200 restaurants across the three main islands ranging from beach vibes to fine dining. For an introduction to the local food scene, Chef Dylan Benoit has created Prime Food Tours which is ideal for groups looking to get to grips with what is on offer. He will tailor the experience to your taste and location, foodtours.ky.
Swim With Stingrays
Snorkel, wade or swim with the resident Southern Atlantic Stingrays which are in abundance at Stingray City; a group of sandbars nestled a short boat journey from Seven Mile Beach. The ‘City’ came to be several decades ago when local fisherman would throw the remains of their catch into the shallow waters, attracting rays who would gather for their feed. These days the majestic creatures will give you a warm welcome into their habitat.
Climb The Buff
Grand Cayman’s rugged sister island Cayman Brac is about a 30-minute flight away. With a population of less than 1500 it feels a world away from anywhere. The island is dominated by a cliff that rises with vertical walls to nearly 150 feet. Its craggy limestone ridge is a must for rock climbers and more seasoned hikers. There are around 110 routes with breathtaking ocean panoramas, climb.ky.
Dive 300M Into the Ocean
Little Cayman, close to the deepest point of the Caribbean called the Cayman Trench, is home to Bloody Bay Marine Park and a coveted diving destination. Plunging 300m, its coral and sea life is a sight to behold. Below the mustard-yellow tube sponges, deep red corals and purple-veined trees you will discover a deep void teaming with marine life, southerncrossclub.com/diving.
For more information head to visitcaymanislands.com.