A remarkable Caribbean hotel
By Alexander Britell
GRAND CAYMAN — My fiancée told me to look at the ground.
No, I hadn’t dropped anything. She was pointing to the carpet.
Because the carpet – the carpets – at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman are rather remarkable — filled with artful flowers, different on every floor. They are artwork, as much as the local art that dots the walls. And they tell you a lot about the place.
Because if a hotel that cares this much about what the floor looks like, it’s not hard to imagine what else they’re concerned about.
And it shows. When we arrived, the valet was more than a valet, offering water, giving us tips on the area, telling us all the places where we could retrieve our car.
The reception agent then gave us a full, detailed tour of the property.
Everyone who ever came to our room greeted us by name, whether it was the room service attendant or the housekeeping — or anyone else.
When we left, every single staff member we passed wished us a safe trip, managerial staff or housekeeper, stopping to do do as they passed us in the halls.
And then the coup de grace. We ordered room service. But I had forgotten to take down the do not disturb sign. We waited for breakfast, and then got a phone call.
The room service attendant was right outside the door, but he had seen the sign and did not want to disturb by knocking. So room service called, informing us of the situation. And then we opened the door to let him in.
Think about how many hotels you’ve been to, Caribbean or otherwise, and how few if any would ever do that. It is a subtle thing, but an essential sign.
Plainly, the service was the best I’ve ever had at a hotel in the Caribbean.
It was, for me, enlightening. To see how good service can be at a Caribbean hotel — this was a new level, one that so few in the region actually attain. But it was natural here.
Because service is what separates good hotels from great hotels, the thing that turns a great hotel Ito a luxury hotel. Indeed, it’s great service that is the fundament of luxury.
But this 365-room hotel is more than that.
It is Seven Mile beach, one of the best stretches of sand anywhere in the hemisphere, where you simply raise a flag and within a minute a waiter is taking your order for a painkiller. Or two painkillers.
Plainly, the service was the best I’ve ever had at a hotel in the Caribbean.”
Where a waiter will even deliver a prosecco right to the water’s edge at sunset.
It is Taikun, the terrific sushi restaurant where our server hand-ground fresh wasabi right from the root, a thing we had never seen.
It is the Silver Palm Bar, where you feel as if you are in a great hotel bar in London or Paris, sipping Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros or a Rum Old Fashioned.
It is Seven, which serves up steaks and seafood and a kind of jerk tater tot that must be consumed.
That’s without mentioning, of course, the resort’s signature Blue by Eric Ripert, one of the top restaurants in the whole Caribbean.
It is also the rooms, luxurious, clubby but flush with modern, inspired accents, with a Nespresso machine and a superbly comfortable bed.
And it is the Silver Rain spa, a La Prairie outpost that is as good or better than any you’ll find in the Caribbean.
Because this is a spectacular hotel — a hotel that sets the standard for what a Caribbean hotel should be.
A hotel that reminds that a luxury hotel is not so because of its name, or its food or its beach, as great as they all may be.
A luxury hotel is so because of the way it makes you feel.
Even when you’re looking down at the ground.