Alchemy: a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.
Like a game of word association this mysterious noun rose unbidden to my mind when I summoned the essence, the visualization of Caribbean. There is unquestionably something in the water, in the air, in the feel of fine-grained sand beneath one’s feet. There’s a gentle energy in the current, a kiss of power upon the waves. Perhaps it’s the delicate winds that blow… Balmy. Yes, a balm that heals and soothes the soul.
Despite commercialization, power lines, and traffic, the islands of the Caribbean still hold an ancient element that stirs the primordial joy of existence within us all. Cayman Islands are no different.
I was invited by the Department of Tourism and Travel Agent Magazine to participate on a 2017 advisory board. I had recently been awarded as one of the top 30 Under 30 travel advisors in the country by the publication and the islands were desirous of a Millennial professional’s opinion.
Admittedly, I knew very little of the destination. What came to mind were off shore bank accounts and chain hotels, and while this is an undeniable part of its makeup, Cayman Islands are truly so much more.
The people of the islands offer something magical called Caymankind.
According to www.cayman.com.ky, “More than just a people or a place. Caymankind is an approach to life. Caymankind is about the entire experience of Caymanian culture. With over 135 nationalities living together in harmony, Caymankind is all about our islands' people, history, resources and traditions. Visitors experience Caymankind as a feeling of joy. A reminder to savour life's most precious gifts - family, love, honour. It's the sense that you can do more, be more and mean more.”
And it’s true... I experienced it for myself. From the smiling officer at customs, white teeth and beautiful dark skin, to the blue eyed, blonde haired receptionist at the lovely new Kimpton Seafire Resort, the same genuine spark of warmth and hospitality seemed to light everyone’s eyes regardless of what hue.
The Seafire was our host hotel, Grand Cayman’s first luxury boutique hotel, and I was suitably impressed. The lobby is bright and airy with an adjoining library featuring artifacts and historical photographs creating a definite sense of place from the moment one arrives. The spa is exceptionally beautiful, an oasis of serenity where one might luxuriate in 8,500 square feet of purpose built peace.
Then there was my room. One of my all-time favorite moments whilst traveling is the second the light turns green indicating entry, and I open the door. Anticipation becomes a surge of excitement as I enter and explore the accommodations with childlike fascination. Honestly, it never gets old. To me the feeling is akin to opening a treasure box. The curtains must be drawn immediately to reveal the view, the bed tested for softness, the bathroom examined for a deep soaking tub or rainfall shower. There’s gratitude like spring, new every time, in discovering a handwritten note with my name on it next to a bottle of champagne or fruit basket.
The Seafire’s rooms present a striking contrast in whites and blacks with pops of vivid fuchsia and orange. The blue that the view provides, however, is the most valuable shade of all, the crowning stroke to a masterpiece.
As I wrote for Travel Agent Central, “The new Kimpton Seafire is a stunning example of modern, approachable luxury. Flawless design showcases breathtaking ocean views, while brilliant pops of color and elements of the island’s heritage give true sense of place. From the fresh-faced staff to the on-the-sand dining, this hotel is a Millennial’s dream.” See the full story by Joe Pike here.
Indeed, with six dining destinations: sophisticated Ave, the aforementioned on-the-sand Coccoloba, Oasis Pool Bar, Seafire Pool Bar, Seafire Pantry, and the one-of-a-kind Avecita, not to mention the expansive pool complex, and included amenities such as evening wine receptions, beach and paddle board yoga, kayaks, sail boats, snorkeling equipment, and WiFi enabled GoPros…one really need never leave.
Of course, I recommend that you do. Grand Cayman is the self-titled Culinary Capitol of the Caribbean and there are some delightful dishes to be discovered, spicy and fresh. It hosts the annual Cayman Cookout each year with big name chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, José Andrés, Emeril Lagasse, Christina Tosi, Terrance Brennan, Daniel Humm, Tim Love and Roland Passot. There’s also wonderful history, diving, and dancing in the evenings. Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands, the other two being Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. It boasts the famous Seven Mile Beach voted “Caribbean’s Best Beach” by Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine.
An intriguing pirate past culminates in a week long extravaganza each year. There are also year-round attractions like the can't miss Stingray City, world-class shopping at Camana Bay, Cayman Turtle Farm, and diving Kittiwake. Kittiwake was the submarine rescue ship that recovered the Space Shuttle Challenger Blackbox and now she rests offshore Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman has an incredibly sound infrastructure and is one of the safest destinations in the world. For anyone who desires a sandy getaway complete with peace of mind, Cayman Islands make an ideal destination.