Despite its small size, Grand Cayman offers a surprising range of accommodations: large luxury resorts, medium-size chain hotels, cozy condo enclaves, locally owned guesthouses—from boutique-y to budget, not to mention private villas.
The massive Ritz-Carlton resort on Seven Mile Beach was the first of several larger developments constructed under new laws allowing seven-story buildings. It was followed by the classy Caribbean Club Condominiums and the rebuilt upscale Beachcomber. Now high-rises sprout like fungi along Seven Mile Beach, each vowing and vying to be better—or at least grander—than the last.
Some of the acceptance of ever-grander development can be attributed to the lingering devastation of 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, which totaled the island. The 230-room Hyatt Regency hotel, long the island standard-bearer, never recovered from the damage; Hyatt eventually withdrew from its last management responsibilities. For good or bad, Ivan provided many complexes with an excuse to renovate, even rebuild from the ground up and go ever higher. While the tacky, dilapidated condo enclaves were swept away, now practically every sizable lot of Seven Mile Beach is in various stages of development.
Brace yourself for resort prices—there are few accommodations in the lower-cost ranges in Grand Cayman. You’ll also find no big all-inclusive resorts on Grand Cayman, and very few offer a meal plan of any kind. Happily, parking, at least, is always free at island hotels and resorts.
Caribbean Club, Cotton Tree, Lighthouse Point, Reef Resort, Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Westin Grand Cayman
Coral Stone Club, Lacovia Condominiums, Reef Resort, Westin Grand Cayman
Best for an Ecofriendly Trip
Cobalt Coast, Compass Point, Lighthouse Point
Best for Families
Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
Reef Resort, Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
Best for Romance
Caribbean Club, Cotton Tree, Turtle Nest Inn
Seven Mile Beach is Boardwalk and Park Place for most vacationers. In a quirk of development, however, most of the hotels sit across the street from the beach (though they usually have beach clubs, bars, water-sports concessions, and other facilities directly on the sand). Most of Grand Cayman’s condo resorts offer direct access to Grand Cayman’s prime sandy real estate. Snorkelers should note that only the northern and southern ends of SMB feature spectacular reef development; the northern end is much quieter, so if you’re looking for action, stay anywhere from the Westin Grand Cayman south, where all manner of restaurants and bars are walkable.
Tranquil West Bay retains the feel of an old-time fishing village; diving is magnificent in this area, but lodging options are limited, especially now that the long-promised Mandarin Oriental remains on indefinite hold.
Those who want to get away from it all should head to the bucolic East End and North Side, dotted with condo resorts and villas. The dive sites here are particularly pristine.
The Cayman Kai/Rum Point, starting at West Bay across the North Sound, offers the single largest concentration of villas and condo resorts, stressing barefoot elegance.
Prices in the hotel reviews are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season, excluding taxes, service charges, and meal plans (except at all-inclusives). Prices for rentals are the lowest per-night cost for a one-bedroom unit in high season.