We had been to Mexico many times over the past few years and decided it was time to go somewhere completely new. We decided on Grand Cayman and quickly chose to stay at the Marriott.
About two weeks or so before we were to arrive we received an email from Arlene, a Marriott concierge. It was essentially a preformatted “welcome, we’re glad you’re coming” type of email, but it did invite us to ask questions, etc. so you know we did (we’re a little needy like that). We exchanged several emails with Arlene and Davina (another concierge)prior to arrival and based on these emails we were sure we were going to experience a high level of service while there.
So… let the vacation begin! We had a layover in Charlotte on the way out. It was supposed to be about an hour but our departing flight was delayed (go figure). We arrived in Charlotte at the time our next flight was scheduled to board and we had to get from one terminal to another. Luckily the terminals we had to go between were right next to each other and easily reached; not so lucky… I had to pee and who wants to pee in the airplane cess-pool of a bathroom (I mean, seriously, public bathrooms are bad enough). They had started boarding a bit late so when we got there they were just starting and the heavens opened up and the angels sang as I spotted a bathroom directly across from our gate (Aahhhhh!). The flight was pretty uneventful-a good thing, and we arrived and made it through immigration in a flash. Grand Cayman has a very small airport so it was good that our flight was the only one that came in at that time. We saw Tropical Tours as soon as we exited the airport (our transportation). The guy wasn’t what I would call rude… just not friendly. Dude, this may be your job but it’s my vacation-how about a smile? I was praying this guy (our “welcoming” committee was not an indicator of what was to come). I suggest snagging a taxi; it’s not worth the small savings to go the route we did.
The Marriott was only about ten minutes or so from the airport. The bellman helped us out of our van and handed us fruit punch. It was so tasty and I couldn’t even taste the alcohol. Weird! Well that’s because there wasn’t any. Well, that’s not how I vacation… We got there around 2ish and check in wasn’t until 4 so we thought for sure we would be hanging out in the lobby for a couple of hours. Nope! They had a room for us! Awesome! We were invited to go to our room ourselves and asked if we needed help with our luggage. Yes I do! Maybe I’m spoiled but I don’t expect to be asked if I need help, I expect them to have the bellman grab my luggage and show me to my room. This delicate flower does not carry her own luggage (not on vacation anyway-I am only a luggage wrangler at home when I can’t talk my oh so loving husband into doing it). We asked that the bellman bring our bags and were told he would meet us in our room and we were then given directions on how to find it. We walked through the lobby which is super small and noticed that it was completely enclosed. Most places that we have visited in the Caribbean are open air which leads to the ambiance and that wasn’t the case here. We soon learned that this hotel was very small. It reminded us more of the types of hotels we stay at when we’re in the states or on business trips. I would not call it a resort. This is probably because a lot of the folks traveling here are, in fact, doing so for business. All those banks ya know.
I read some other reviews that indicated that the place needs renovated… I agree. It is clean and well kept, but dated. The room had carpet (I never think this is a good idea in a tropical climate) and the bathroom vanity was really low (like 1950’s, Mad Men low). I’m sorry but I am not interested in bending over down to my ankles to brush my teeth. I also fought with the shower. The handicap bar is in a bad place for us short people. Hubby never had a problem but me? The stupid thing K.O.’d me on day one! I knocked into the thing with my elbow three times and then when I bent over to get my shampoo… Right in the eye! NOT THE FACE! I’m made of tough stuff so I did not let the tears fall but good god that mess hurt! (Hubby thought my loss on round one with the handicap bar was hi-lar-i-ous!-don’t forget hubby, I know where you sleep!) So beware if you are 5’2” or shorter. The other thing about our room… it was located right next to the elevators. You may be thinking-that’s cool cuz you’ll be able to come and go more easily. Maybe… if that’s what you’re concerned with. But it was not cool to hear every person on our floor coming and going-especially those folks that were drunk and partying. If I wanted to party with you, I would be. I don’t want to hear your drunk butt falling over outside my door. If you get this room-ask for another one-you don’t want it. Our A/C was possessed: in a good way. I would be sitting, laying, standing and suddenly feel hot…, think it… and boom, the A/C starts blowing. Cool air… right on me… every single time. I kid you not. Nice! There is an alarm clock in the room but you won’t need it. Why you ask? Because the ROOSTER that lives on the grounds will happily wake you up at 6:30/7:00AM every morning. No problem! And our view… well it was of the Comfort Inn (the hotel next door). We got to see the kid’s sandbox and their pool. Nice! (insert complete and total sarcasm here) On day three of our trip, we learned if we leaned over the rail and to the right-WE HAD AN OCEAN VIEW! We didn’t pay for an upgraded room so the view of the neighbors should not have been a surprise but ever the spoiled brat that I am, I expected better just because I wanted it (why doesn’t everyone just give me what I want-I don’t get it (Wow! Whose fault is this? Mom? Dad? My loving husband?)).
On the way to the pool you pass this super cute turtle lagoon that runs through the inside of the exterior of the hotel grounds. At least it’s cute until you smell the turtle poo! Never fear, it’s not a constant and you have to be down wind. Good times! Across from the lagoon they were creative with the landscaping and used an old Schwinn as a flower pot. It was very creative! Now dear old hubby is worried I’m running out to buy an old Schwinn for our front yard. Don’t you worry husband of mine, that’s work and you know better:-) The pool is BEYOND SMALL! Holy Schmoly! I have friends with bigger pools in their backyards. We managed to finagle chairs every day but it was hard-there’s just not enough room for all the people. That being said, you kind of see what everyone else is doing. There was this chick, she had to be 40+ that was talking up these two boys (they couldn’t have been any older than 19-20). She was flirting up a storm-ma’am if you are reading this… shame on you! When she left, we overheard the boys telling their DAD all about it! Oh for god’s sake! So be careful about your business at the pool-people are watching:-) They do have these cool towels that are actually long enough to cover the entire lounge chair and they have a lip that hooks over the top of the chair so that don’t come loose. How have I never seen these things before? Marriott did have a waiter that would wander the pool and beach regularly and you know it ain’t vacation if you don’t get your drink on. Hubby mixed it up and tried the Drink of the Day every day and a bunch of different things off the drink menu. Me? I mostly stuck to a Sea Breeze… it’s light, refreshing and just like drinking water, right? I mean you gotta stay hydrated with all that sun. BRING ON MORE SEA BREEZES! So thanks to the Sol bar staff for keeping us fed and liquored up (cuz lord knows when you’re at a pool with other people’s kids-liquor is a must!) …So side note on the kid thing… We did leave the pool early one day specifically because of some people’s kids (they might as well have spit in my Kool-aid, AKA my sea breeze). I’ve never understood bringing a, fill in the blank (2-4-6-8-12-16-whatever), year old kid on vacation with you. Leave your kids at home! No one wants to hear them scream, cry, fight, throw a fit, flirt with a 40 year old woman or jump in the pool splashing anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby, etc., etc., etc…. You’re on vacation for god’s sake! If you want to ruin yours… stay home, don’t ruin mine too!... Back to the pool, one day, one of the staff brought around a big tray with rocket popsicles (ice cream truck style)on it and just handed them out to anyone that wanted one. We were in the pool and I could hardly contain myself. Me! Me! Me! Bring one to me! I want one! I yanked the wrapper off and started licking it immediately. I noticed everyone around me had pulled their wrappers down so that the melting popsicle had somewhere to puddle around the stick. Well, no, I was not that smart and had popsicle juice melting down my arm like a five year old-YUM! I had gotten a little crispy on my top half so we had to open up an umbrella but just to cover that area on my personage. I know it’s so not cool to worship the sun anymore but I was raised during the baby oil slicker days and I can’t let go of that beautiful real sun glow (don’t judge me). So my workhorse (AKA hubby) got up and moved that umbrella eleventy-hundred times while the sun moved throughout the day so that my tummy and legs were never in shade and continued to get tan. Thanks baby!
All that “water” required a workout so we did… every morning. The fitness room is small (are you sensing a theme here?) but has all the basics. All of the cardio equipment has individual TVs on them so I don’t have to listen to your viewing choice (maybe I don’t want to watch your GMA-maybe I’m sticking by Today even though Matt Lauer is hanging on by a very thin string (I’m with you Matt!)). Of course when I looked over one day to see what hubby was watching… good grief! It’s a metaphor for my life… I’m watching news (the Today show is news, right?) and he is watching… CARTOONS! Yep, grown man…cartoons. I also want to reach out and say thanks to the guy, on our first day working out, that farted and jetted out of there and left the rest of us to try and survive the death sentence he left us with… so thanks dude! Another day a super sweaty guy got off a piece of equipment and did NOT wipe it down after he was done. YUK! Lesson learned… wipe down equipment BEFORE and after use! The bigger point here is that we worked out EVERY DAY! We didn’t crap out even once-yeah us! Ok, back to the hotel…
We had breakfast every morning at Red Parrot right off the lobby. So everyone gets the buffet, hubby included (he’s a creature of habit), and even I did on our first day. Day two, I looked over the menu and decided I had to try the Crunchy French Toast. What’s Crunchy French Toast you ask? Yummy Goodness-that’s what. It was beautiful! Two slices of thick whole wheat bread dipped in batter and then in… wait for it… corn flakes! Corn flakes=crunch. Who knew? They present it with blueberries and slices of bananas and strawberries on top and then sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Pour on the low-cal syrup they give you and enjoy. Heaven! Go, try it… you’re welcome!
After a “healthy” breakfast, we’re off to explore. You can get all over the island using their bus system. It is super cheap ($2.50 per person U.S.) and easier than trying to not kill yourself driving a rental on the wrong side of the road. We took the bus into town… Let the shopping begin! We always load up on alcohol when we are in the Caribbean (no we are not alcoholics) because it’s so much cheaper than at home and hubby can get one his favorite Cuban rums too. But… not in Grand Cayman! Oh, no! You can only buy alcohol at the airport on your way out unless you buy it at one of their local liquor stores (not located in the main shopping district) where the prices are double or more! The shopping area can only sell to the cruisers and they have to deliver it to the ship-can’t even hand it off to the person! So now we have to buy our stash at the airport and stuff it in our luggage after immigration in Charlotte like smugglers. Hey, you do what you have to, to get that sweet stuff home! Hubby had decided that we would walk back to the hotel. This may have been my fault as I had mistakenly shared with him that I had read a review where someone mentioned that they walked from the Marriott to Georgetown in 30 minutes. Well, they had not been shopping all day, had they? And my feet hurt! Let the whining commence! Hubby shuffled me back to the bus depot so quick my head spun around exorcist style! I am really not spoiled… I promise! Walking just would have been stupid when my feet hurt and there was a perfectly good bus with A/C that was ready to take us back to Marriott for a mere $5! ‘Nough said!
As if we hadn’t shopped enough already, Hubby decided that he wanted to hit a little shopping area he had noticed very close to the hotel because he could not find a T-shirt when we had gone shopping (there were tons of them-his royal pickiness just didn’t like any of them). I told him I was very sure there wasn’t anything there. I didn’t want to go-I did. Hubby hates when I’m right and frankly I was (of course), there was nothing there (so don’t waste your time either). I don’t handle being wrong well, but I’m worse when I’m right:-) Hey, he knew what he was getting into when he married me!
Because being on vacation alone isn’t relaxing enough…we did visit the spa and did a couple’s massage that included a Jacuzzi tub with champagne. I love a good massage and these ladies did great. I’m just not so good at the face down part. I get stuffy and start to have a hard time breathing. So we start face down in the donut pillow, because that’s my life. I’m relaxed… feeling good…getting the knots worked out…sniffle…still feeling good…relaxing…having a hard time breathing…calm down…please turn me over…just relax…be calm…can’t breathe…enjoy this…relax…calm…need to turn over now…calm down, this is good… turn me over NOW, I CAN’T BREATHE! She finally has me flip over and all is right with the world and I am relaxed. It was great but my inner crazy has a mind of it’s own. After the massage they leave us to enjoy our champagne and Jacuzzi. Holy heck it was hot! We had to run the cold water for a minute straight so our skin wouldn’t melt off…very relaxing! The champagne was good too. Spa day was also our anniversary and when we returned to our room late that day, the staff had delivered a bowl of strawberries and champagne. There was also a letter from Arlene, concierge extraordinaire, wishing us a happy anniversary. Nice touch Marriott. Thanks! And Yum!
Our last full day there we hopped back on the bus and went out to the Turtle Farm. You absolutely must GO-GO-GO! It was so amazing! It was so cool to get as close as we did to these massive creatures. And to top it off… you can hold the babies (they are 2 years old or younger)! WOW! So freakin’ cool! Hubby took pictures and video of my experience and I was supposed to do the same for him. I got the pics fine but I am electronically challenged and no videos seem to exist of him holding the babies. I swear I did exactly what he told me to do but still… no video! Whatever! He knew better when he asked me to do it!
There’s a Tortuga bakery across the street from the Turtle Farm so we loaded up on rum cake from our favorite place. If you think you like rum cake and you’ve never tried Tortuga-then you have not had rum cake. They make THE best rum cake ever! We always load up when we are in the Caribbean. It’s an absolute must… and who doesn’t love cake? So go and get some and you can thank me later.
We really enjoyed ourselves at the Marriott and the service was exemplary. We left feeling relaxed and ready to go home and see our own little one (of the furry kind). Thanks Marriott-y’all rock!