This 144-acre family-friendly resort sits on what feels like a private isthmus stretching between the palm-lined, white powder sands of Seven Mile Beach and a lagoon whose channels lead to North Sound, where Grand Cayman’s most famous (and worth it) tourist lure, Stingray City, is located. Some guests never leave the grounds thanks to the plethora of activities, including a heritage house devoted to eco-education for kids; a Greg Norman–designed, nine-hole golf course; five clay, grass, and hard surface tennis courts; basketball courts; a kids’ water park; and a private cooking school. Rooms have been refurbished in an updated British colonial style and offer loads of comfort. Adults in need of relaxation come for private ocean-view terraces and four-handed caviar massages at the Caribbean’s first La Prairie–branded spa. But the main draw for nature-loving guests of all ages are resident marine guides, trained by Jean-Michel Cousteau, who lead beach hikes, mangrove kayak trips, and snorkeling excursions.
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Seven Mile Beach is a public crescent of white-powder sand shared with other resorts, bars, and restaurants. It’s long enough to absorb crowds and offers easy snorkeling in clear water out to colorful corals. Just south of the beach, Eden’s Rock and Devil’s Grotto are shore-accessible dive and snorkeling sites, 46 feet deep, with healthy populations of tarpon, barracuda, and parrotfish. A 15-minute boat ride away, North Sound is marine life central, with a shark research center and a supervised sandbar where tourists swim with stingrays. The resort is within a 15-minute drive of the international airport, the capital George Town, and the restaurants and attractions of West Bay, including the Cayman Turtle Farm (786 Northwest Point Rd., West Bay), the world’s only captive breeding center for endangered green sea turtles. In George Town, Seymour’s Jerk Centre (South Church Street waterfront next to Atlantis Submarines) is the place to try local barbecue after a visit to the craft market and Cayman Islands National Museum.
Need to Know
Rooms: 365 rooms. From $379. Check-in: 4 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: The signature dining space, the seafood-centric Blue by Eric Ripert, draws discerning diners from all over the island. Five other eateries include Seven, a beach-facing steakhouse popular with locals for Sunday brunch; Taikun, a modern room with community tables serving sushi with sake flights; and Andiamo, offering rustic alfresco Italian cuisine on a terrace overlooking the lagoon. Spa and gym details: The hotel has a gym with yoga instructors, a La Prairie spa, and two pools (one oceanfront). Beach sports include sea kayaks, Hobie Cat and catamaran sailing, and private charters on a Boston Whaler.
Who’s it best for: Travelers seeking luxury and exclusivity on one of the Caribbean’s most popular tourist and cruise ship islands. Our favorite rooms: One residential wing faces the ocean, the other the lagoon and golf course. Designed as an elegant, modernist apartment, the Ritz Carlton Suite’s most exciting feature is a private 700-square-foot ocean view terrace; the least expensive rooms nonetheless have pleasing views of the garden or resort waterways. Good to know: Ask the concierge about cruise ship schedules to avoid tourist tides while sightseeing.