Thursday, February 13, 2014

Grand Cayman Recap

Here's where I get all obnoxious and lay a couple dozen tropical vacation photos on y'all as yet another snow and ice storm pummels parts of the country... 


Forgive me.

A while back {possibly prior to discovering we were expecting #2}, E was invited to attend a conference in Grand Cayman with a plus one.  This annual opportunity is usually given to higher-ups, but E's boss already had business scheduled out of the country, so he was kind enough to pass the gig along to E... and I was more than happy to sign on for a few days of fun and sun.  Once we realized I'd be 32 weeks pregnant for the trip, we decided to extend our stay by 2 days and make a proper "babymoon" {gag gag gag} out of it!  This ended up being perhaps the most perfect beach vacation situation for us, as E is not huge on lounging about all day, so we planned a few active pursuits for his free days while I was free to pool/beach-veg to my heart's content while he was conferencing. 


Before I get into the details / our recs, it's definitely worth noting we were able to splurge on some extras since our airfare, lodging, and the majority of our meals were comped.  The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is l-o-v-e-l-y but also f-u-c-k-i-n-g e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e.  Like, laughably pricey, even for a Ritz {not sure if this had to do with high season pricing or the fact that this particular location declared bankruptcy 2 years ago and is attempting to make up a major deficit}.  A salad at the pool snack bar?  $15.  Would you like a chicken breast on that?  That'll be another $10.  And oh by the way, that's Caymanian dollars, so really you owe $33 for that light lunch {+ an automatic 15% service charge! wahoo!}.  


So, yeah, please note this is not how we normally roll.  And while it's fun to feel as if you're living in a Ciroc commercial for a week, I recommend you find someone else to foot the bill unless you are actually P.Diddy. 



We arrived in Grand Cayman around 3:30 in the afternoon, hailed a cab to the Ritz, grabbed our free welcome rum punch {/bullshit pregnancy appropriate Caymanian lemonade}, checked out our rooms, and promptly skipped down to the beach.  

Overall Ritz Impressions: Aside from the exorbitant prices, this is - as expected - a super nice resort.  All the staff is very friendly and accommodating; you won't go 30 minutes without someone asking you if they can get you a fresh towel or a beverage. The rooms are large. Free coffee and tea served every morning {along with $3 pastries, making it the cheapest breakfast option by far}. The property is rather sprawling; at times, I felt like I was staying at a smaller Vegas resort {lots of walking and stairs to keep those pina colada calories at bay, I suppose}.  For a luxury hotel, it seemed very kid-friendly.  There is an adults only pool, but it really plays second fiddle to the big, family friendly pool {big floats and kid-sized beach chairs available} with beach access.  There is also a little "drive in" theater that plays Disney movies near one of the restaurants, complete with tiny picnic tables.  Free snow cones served poolside at 3pm {you best believe I shoved some 6 year olds out of my way each day in order to get my pineapple-orange}.  The majority of the conference events were held at the Ritz {including the al fresco beach welcome dinner}, and everything seemed to run very smoothly. 



After a stroll on the beach, we enjoyed a beverage at Bar Jack {the poolside / beachside bar / grill} and then ate dinner at the Periwinkle.  E had a veggie pasta, and I had a pizza with arugula, truffled cream, and prosciutto, and it was all delicious. Resort restaurants include the Periwinkle {mostly Italian offerings and very casual}, Seven {a nice steakhouse}, Taikun {sushi}, and Blue by Eric Rupert {super fancy prix fixe fish place}, as well as Bar Jack and the indoor lounge area.  We opted to leave the property for our other 2 free evenings, so I can't speak for Seven, Taikun, or Blue. 



We spent our first full day splitting our time between the beach / pool and the golf course.  The Ritz has a private 9 hole course.  I am not a golfer, but I can drive a cart and read a magazine with expert skill.  The course was pristine, and we only saw 2 other groups on the green.  The iguanas, on the other hand, were everywhere.  Pretty fun to see those guys lumbering about, although the Caymanians apparently hate 'em {lots of literal shit, we were told}. 




Finished just in time to discover those snow cones.  Score! 



We dined at Calypso Grill in Morgan's Harbor that evening.  Highly recommend!  Make a reservation for the deck overlooking the bay, if you can.  E had the seafood linguine, I had the lobster & shrimp in champagne cream {I win}, and we both tucked into the famous sticky toffee pudding {there's actually a street nearby named for this delightful dish... how fun would it be to live on Sticky Toffee Pudding Lane?}. 



For our second full day {and E's last free one}, we splurged and rented a beach cabana.  Full disclosure: we did this because we were {WRONGLY} informed it would come with a mini-fridge that included a bottle of wine and some beer, and when we priced it all out in our heads, we realized renting a cabana was a really sweet deal vs. paying for alcohol at Bar Jack.  Yeah, um, turns out we were entitled to all the soda and fruit juice we could drink {plus a fruit platter and some snacks}, but, uh, no booze.  Oops.  It was still a super amazing way to spend a day at the beach... and you better believe we loaded about 30 cans of diet coke and cranberry juice into our beach bag at the end of the day like a couple of low-rent posers.  Whatever, WE PAID FOR THAT JUICE. 



Day #3 ended with a conference welcome dinner on the beach.  Very fun considering we knew practically no one.



E's full day of conferencing = Kate's morning at the spa.  The Silver Rain Spa is a little like being in an alternate universe.  A very good alternate universe. I wish I'd known sooner that all resort guests can use the locker room showers and amenities at any time, because I would have been slathering myself with La Prairie samples all week.  MISSED OPPORTUNITIES! DAMN YOU!  I had a prenatal massage and a signature facial.  The massage was heaven  {the other prenatal massage I've had was absolute horse crap}; the facial was also awesome, but I admittedly prefer Bliss facials {i sound like an entitled asshole, I know}.  Perhaps better than the treatments themselves was the "relaxation room" which looks like what I imagined heaven looks like when I was 9.  White and fluffy and loads of mixed nuts.

Pool --> Beach --> Pool --> Beach for the rest of my daylight hours. Rough life. 

Conference-sponsored dinner that evening was at an event space called Tiki Beach which would be pretty fantastic for a beach wedding if you happen to be in the market.  We were assigned a fantastic table and enjoyed chatting until the wee hours {re: 11 pm because we're awesome}.  We heard the party didn't actually shut down completely until 4 am... Way to rage, crazy lawyers. 



Happy not to be nursing hangovers, we were up early for a catamaran tour of Stingray City {also conference-sponsored so I don't have specifics... but the charter company was called Red Sail Sports and they were fantastic!} {I've said "fantastic" 3x in the past 10 sentences. Great.}.  Definitely the most touristy activity we participated in, and also definitely my favorite.  There were a few huge tour groups from cruise lines, but, for the most part, we didn't encounter a huge morass of people and had some good quality time with those rays!  



Stingrays are really, really cool. They are so graceful, and the lady-rays are BIG!  I held one, and she was probably around 50 lbs.  Our catamaran captain described their skin as having the texture of a wet portobello mushroom which actually seemed pretty spot on.  I could have hung out on that sand bar and watched them swim all day; very relaxing. 



For our last evening, we ditched our original reservations to check out Caymana Bay -- a new, swanky outdoor shopping center.  We wanted to buy my parents a gift for keeping L all week, and, initially, we thought we'd attend the Taste of Cayman Food & Wine Festival that just happened to be going on that evening.  I think Taste of Cayman would have been a really fun time, but for the ticket price {$45 per person + tokens for wine} we weren't planning on staying long enough to really get our money's worth {8 am flight = 5:30 wake up call}.  Instead, we happy-houred to the sounds of the ToC bands, and then moseyed on over to Abacus - a dinner spot that had been highly recommended by several Ritz staffers. 



Abacus did not disappoint -- E ordered pumpkin ravioli and I devoured a macadamia nut tripletail + chardonnay risotto.  Bonus points for the gorgeous patio. 



And there you have it!  A somewhat brief vacation recap!  Cheers to $12 pineapple milkshakes! 

11 comments:

  1. First, I am beyond jealous (especially because I live in New England and we are currently getting pummeled by yet another snowstorm). Second, "heaven = white and fluffy and loads of mixed nuts" might be the greatest description I have ever read.

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  2. Agree with the ever hilarious HMC about the description of heaven :) glad you two had a fun trip!

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  3. I shouldn't have bothered reading this post, because each picture just made me a little more jealous than the previous one :) glad y'all had a nice trip, though! You deserve it before the craziness arrives with numero dos!

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  4. I'm sorry. I had to stop reading halfway through. My exhaustion and jealousy and frigid hands prevented me from reading further. Seriously- perfect opportunity to take before getting to the newborn phase! xoxo

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  5. thank you for the warm weather mini internet vacation! beeeeautiful pictures. Happy y'all could enjoy~ way to go!!

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  6. Hooray for you and your husband! You are gorgeous! I hope you had a few sips of his wine...
    What/who are you wearing in the last dinner picture - the black/white striped tank dress? It is super cute and looks very comfortable.
    Of course, like all, I am jealous. I wish my husband or I had jobs that came with any hope of any kind of trip. We did get to go to a holiday party where wine and beer were served, a coup for a Utah company. Whatever.

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    1. Thank you so much! The dress is from Old Navy (actually a dark navy stripe) and it is SO COMFY! I also have it in plain black, and I think maybe they make a solid gray, too. So easy to throw on and great for layering now that TX starts having it's random 65 degree winter days!

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  7. Oh man. I am feeling incredibly jealous of this little getaway right now! I desperately need a vacation....especially somewhere warm! And now I want a massage and some mixed nuts.

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  8. Ahhhh, this makes me SO EXCITED!!!!

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    1. Y'all are going to have the BEST time!!!

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  9. PS: I totally adore the naked belly shot!

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happy little comments!