What does luxury look like to you? When I was playing college soccer I considered the continental breakfast at the Mankato “Amerc-Inn” to be completely lavish. (They had French Vanilla coffee creamers). Travelling about Europe, finding a hostel whose storage lockers actually worked represented total indulgence. Throughout my life I have always basked in the joys of mini luxuries. That is why staying at the Ritz-Carlton, a hotel whose name alone incites feelings of extravagance, was truly an experience like no other. Keep reading to hear about my weekend at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. I promise it’s not your average review!
The view from an oceanfront room at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is truly what dreams are made of. Every time we returned to our room after being out for a while, we had to go out on the balcony to relive the experience all over again. Looking out over the shimmering pool and expansive turquoise waters was all I needed to feel I got my money’s worth. I went a little bit crazy on the Nespresso machine in the room, raising countless coffee cups over the balcony like a caffeinated Gatsby.
I achieved the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long while in the King bed. With its perfectly fluffy white duvet and heavenly pillows, it was like sleeping on an expensive cloud. Floating about the room in my hotel robe and applying my makeup in front of the bathroom’s double vanity really served to remind me of my life goals. All together, the room gets an A+ for its mesmerizing seascape and bliss-inducing ambience.
The Pool + Beach Activities
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman caters to a wide range of luxury interests. For many people, vacation means piña coladas delivered to your lounge chair. For others, vacation requires a bit of action in the form of exercise or activities. Whatever type of vacationer you may be, the Ritz has you covered. Bryan and I dabbled in both the lazy and active lifestyles by dividing our time between the lounge chairs and water sports. On Saturday we enjoyed a poolside drink and snack from Bar Jack. We then rented some complimentary paddleboards. They turned out to be a great workout for me and a little nap for Bryan. (He just treated his as a makeshift floatie — no judgement whatsoever).
I highly recommend the water sports, but be careful with Bar Jack. We paid US $60 for our two drinks and a tiny side of fries — GASP! (The price of luxury, I guess?) Sunday we switched it up with lounge chairs on the beach. We much preferred this as there were far less screaming children on the beach. (Not what a teacher needs on her vacation) NO RUNNING! We also committed a little “whoopsie” by bringing our own cheap wine to the hotel lounge chairs. We most likely would have have slipped under the radar had we not requested an ice bucket for said wine. Ah well, a little opportunism never hurt anybody.
Featured below: Blossom Village by Collective Swim
After feeling gypped by our “light” refreshments at Bar Jack, we were a bit wary when it came to room service. That being said, I went on a short walk to pick us up some Island Naturals for lunch. (Zen Buddha Bowls with vegan chorizo YUM!). In the evening we discovered our amazingly thoughtful friends had ordered us a cheese plate. It was delivered to our room along with a cake to celebrate our anniversary, compliments of the hotel. We certainly felt very special and grateful to our friends and the hotel staff. We took all this deliciousness out to the balcony and enjoyed an anniversary “dinner” that couldn’t be beat.
Since our faith had been restored in the idea of room service, we dared to order breakfast to the room on Sunday morning. I ordered the Cayman Continental (a bit different from the continental breakfast in Mankato). It consisted of a large French press, juice, a bagel, a beautiful yogurt parfait, and a fruit “plate.” (More like a small fruit cup through my American eyes). It was all delicious! This costed about US $28…not great but not ghastly. As for Bryan, he ordered a more traditional breakfast (eggs, meat, hash browns, toast). At first he was wildly disappointed because they botched the order but quickly recovered as they brought us a brand new breakfast. In the end, we were quite happy campers. Eating anything with that kind of view — who could be upset?
If you’ve read the review thus far, you can probably guess Bryan and I are not really what you would call epicureans… nor are we foodies. That being said, if you’re looking for a well-informed fine dining review, I suggest you look elsewhere. This particular weekend, we actually didn’t eat in any of the restaurants. (Unless you count our exorbitantly-priced sweet potato fries from Bar Jack). However, I have eaten at both Taikun, the gourmet sushi lounge, and Seven, the illustrious steakhouse, and obviously both were ridiculously delicious and expensive. For a much more thorough and helpful review, I suggest you consult The Island Epicurean who offers reviews on all four of the Ritz-Carlton restaurants.
Spa & Fitness Center
One of the major selling points for us was the fact that we were allowed free reign of the spa and fitness facilities. The complimentary section of the spa includes a steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi. Of course I meandered my way through each area pretending I was a well-seasoned spa-goer who doesn’t panic the minute they sit down in a 160 degree Fahrenheit room (nightmares from Final Destination — the indoor tanning scene). Despite my initial hesitation, I felt very relaxed and terribly sophisticated after my first spa session. My only complaint was that there was no tea being served in the changing room and I just feel that was a grave mistake.
Next up is the gym which to our satisfaction we found virtually empty save for a couple valiant weekend warriors. The ultimate sign of luxury for me was a basket of new (or at least clean) headphones for gym-goers. I gratefully “borrowed” a pair to use on the TV attached to one of the the ultra-chic and stealthy ellipticals. Yes, ellipticals can absolutely be described as chic. (The elliptical at my apartment gym sounds like it’s about to fall apart at any moment and certainly does not have a TV attached). By the time all was said and done I felt like a proper Victoria’s Secret model leaving the spa/gym; my face glistening with the expensive kind of sweat only the Ritz-Carlton can produce.
As mentioned before, my lodging experiences throughout my life have entailed college soccer road trips, $15/night Euro hostels, and even a rodent-infested quarantine facility. BUT, I do come from the Midwest and let me tell you that people are NICE in the Midwest. (Not talking about you, Illinois) That being said, I have high expectations when it comes to customer service and I would say, although unsurprisingly, the service at the Ritz-Carlton met and exceeded my expectations. It’s pretty wonderful that this experience is available to island locals during COVID and the fact that the hotel staff upholds the same service standards even for local “small-spenders” speaks well of their company’s culture and values. From the rum punch welcome drinks to the kind anniversary gesture, we truly felt special throughout our short stay.
To bring this most unconventional review to a close, here are my final thoughts on the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and on luxury hotels in general. As someone who is perfectly content to spend a week sleeping in a camper or a hostel bunk bed, I was surprised at how much I relished the luxury experience at the Ritz-Carlton. I believe it is something that everyone deserves to enjoy at least once in their life. Now that I’ve opened this door and have had a taste of the good life, I already am feeling the need to repeat it in the near future. I would recommend a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman to vacationers and locals alike. But whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy the simple pleasures in life just as much as the luxury ones!
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