Cayman Brac – Where to Stay

Cayman Brac has a handful of hotels and resorts, as well as a decent B&B and several apartments. Several private villas on Cayman Brac can also be rented, most of them basic but well maintained, ranging from one to four bedrooms. The rental fees are quite reasonable, and normally the price for extra couples in the larger units is only $200 per week (singles $100–$135, children often free), representing substantial savings for families or couples traveling together, while the kitchen helps reduce the price of dining out. In addition, government tax and often a service fee are sometimes included in the quoted rate (be sure to verify this), and most villa owners arrange a 10% discount with car-rental agencies. As a general rule of thumb, properties are thoroughly cleaned before your arrival; you must pay extra if you want daily maid service, and a one-time cleaning fee of $50 to $75 is usually assessed for end-of-rental cleaning. Owners can sometimes arrange to prestock the fridge. Each villa has a manager who must meet you at the airport (or car-rental agency), then escort you to your home; you’ll be provided with his or her contact information during the reservation process. Rates are sometimes discounted in the off-season. Contact the tourist office for information.

Most villa owners mandate a three- to seven-night minimum stay in high season (assume at least one week’s booking during the Christmas holiday unless otherwise noted), though this is often negotiable. Some owners will leave a kayak or snorkeling gear out for guests’ use. If such amenities are included, they’re mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, properties have landline phones; local calls are usually free, but phones are generally locked for international calls. If your GSM provider works in the Cayman Islands, activate the international capability, but note that service is poor or nonexistent at some villas on the south side beneath the Bluff.

Alexander Hotel.Hotel. This chic boutique business hotel elevates Brac lodging to a new level, though with no on-site activities to offer vacationers who make up the larger proportion of Brac travelers, its ultimate target audience is unclear. The hotel is extremely handsome inside and out, seamlessly merging classic (modified cupolas to colonnades) with contemporary (striking blown-up nature photos and giant Constructivist-style squares in lime and melon dominate the lobby). Stylishly appointed rooms feature an earthy color scheme from champagne to chocolate with chrome-and-black accents, flat-screen TV, kitchenette, pillow-top mattress, and Wi-Fi; bathrooms have only a shower. Though the hotel is set back from the water, rooms 210–214 offer the best views. The bar is a fun hangout, overlooking the sea and a saltwater pond bustling with whistling ducks, although the sound level can be fairly high on karaoke nights. A marina is tentatively being planned. Pros: high-tech amenities; stylish yet affordable; next door to small shopping mall for sundries and food; delightful alfresco bar. Cons: two-minute walk to a pebbly beach; small pool; inadequate bedside and bathroom lighting; no on-site activities; Wi-Fi spotty in some rooms. | Rooms from: $179 | Off South Side Rd. | West End, Cayman Brac | 345/948–8222, 800/381–5094 | www.alexanderhotelcayman.com | 29 rooms, 2 2-bedroom suites | No meals.

Brac Caribbean and Carib Sands.Resort. These neighboring, beachfront, sister complexes offer condos with one to four bedrooms, all individually owned and decorated beyond a “starter” design. The Brac Caribbean balconies overlook the sea; Carib Sands’ overlook the water across the extensive pool area. The nattily nautical Captain’s Table restaurant and poolside bar at Brac Caribbean is a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike. The Sands grounds are particularly pretty, with buttonwood and ficus “fences” and fragrant oleander bushes buzzing with butterflies. The units here tend to be more vivid though often weirdly configured. Many have nice touches such as French doors opening to the beach, hand-painted mirrors, and walk-in closets. Numbers 111 and 114 are particularly stylish digs with splendid views. The Brac Caribbean units (most are reserved for long-term rentals) feature a more flowing layout but more generic decor. Pros: lively restaurant-bar; excellent value for families, especially with weekly discounts. Cons: pretty but narrow, often unmaintained beach; limited staff; Wi-Fi dodgy. | Rooms from: $165 | Bert Marson Dr., Cayman Brac | 345/948–2265, 866/843–2722 | www.caribsands.com, www.866thebrac.com | 65 condos | No meals.

Brac Reef Beach Resort.Resort. Popular with divers, this well-run ecofriendly resort features a beautiful sandy beach shaded by sea grape trees slung with hammocks. The dock is illuminated nightly, attracting stingrays, tarpon, and other creatures to entertain you on your after-dinner stroll. The motel-style rooms are simple but spotless, with handsome hardwood furnishings and granite-clad baths. The second-floor and end units (Nos. 118–121 and 219–221) offer the best views; 10 stylish junior suites include microwave, dual showerheads, leather recliners, iPod docks, and flat-screen TV/DVD. There’s a day spa and library with video and board games for use in bad weather. Even the buffet-style food is surprisingly good. Fun theme weeks include Culinary, Arts, and Man Cave. The crowd tends to be older, with a handful of honeymooners and a few small meetings and vacationing families in summer. Pros: great dive outfit; friendly vibe; free Wi-Fi; good online packages; coin-operated laundry. Cons: noise from planes; view often obscured from ground-floor units; mandatory airport transfer of $20 per person. | Rooms from: $284 | West End, Cayman Brac | 345/948–1323, 727/323–8727 for reservations in Florida, 800/594–0843 | www.bracreef.com | 40 rooms | Multiple meal plans.

Cayman Breakers.Rental. This attractive, pink-brick, colonnaded condo development sitting between the bluff and the southeast coastal ironshore caters to climbers, who scale the bluff’s sheer face, as well as divers, who appreciate the good shore diving right off the property. Spacious, two-bedroom units favor soft seashell colors, beach photos, and frilly touches (Aubusson-style rugs, shell-embedded mirrors, painted wooden fish) and have full open kitchens including a dishwasher, as well as a sleeper sofa and washer/dryer. A private shore-dive entrance with a shower and rinse tank is at the cabana–pool area, slung with hammocks and offering breathtaking views of the bluff and beach. Pros: spectacular views; thoughtful extras like complimentary bikes, jigsaw puzzles, and climbing-route guides; very attentive managers who live on-site. Cons: nearest grocery is a 15-minute drive; gorgeous beach is rocky with rough surf; some units slightly musty and faded. | Rooms from: $150 | South Side Rd., near East End, Cayman Brac | 345/948–1463 | www.caybreakers.com | 26 2-bedroom condos | No meals.

Golden Sun/Le Soleil d’Or.Mirjana Mirjanic’s company rents some of the Brac’s newest, most luxurious homes but sets itself apart with the little extras (for a price): in-house spa treatments, personal training, and gourmet chefs, even cooking classes. The rental office also doubles as a delightful little shop, selling Mirjana’s organic foodstuffs (sorrel flower jam, Meyer lemon marmalade), goat cheese soaps, and candles, all sourced from Golden Sun’s own Garden Farm. | 403 Gerrard Smith Ave., Suite 4, Cayman Brac | 345/948–0555, 888/988–0521 | www.goldensuncayman.com.

La Esperanza.Rental. This seaside cluster of mango-and-teal buildings with magenta accents is run by industrious, affable owners who also rent cars and offer free use of (and sometimes transportation to) their private beach 6 miles (10 km) away on the gentler south shore. The apartments and houses are surrounded by towering shade trees and across the street from the restaurant and rocky beach (No. 1 has the best view). Accommodations are attractive if worn, favoring clashing lemon, burnt orange, and fuchsia fabrics with gaudy, often religious artworks and garage-sale furnishings; the houses include washer/dryers. For years this was one of the few spots where folks could mingle and exchange news over drinks (remember, even TVs were few until the mid-1990s), and the restaurant-bar remains an evergreen favorite. Two of the original founders, Bussy and Velma Dilbert, still run the place and ensure personalized attention (they’re always handy with advice and local lore). It’s a tranquil spot, at least until weekends, when it’s usually party central. Pros: fun ambience; good snorkeling; party time on weekends; grocery on-site. Cons: slightly threadbare; weekend parties get loud. | Rooms from: $94 | Stake Bay, Cayman Brac | 345/948–0591 | www.laesperanza.net | 4 2-bedroom apartments, 2 3-bedroom houses | No meals.