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The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman & Stingray City: Last-Minute Vacation Ideas

Dear World,

It’s so nice to see you. It’s been too long and I promise I won’t let this much time go by without traveling ever again.

In a fit of spontaneity, my family and I booked flights and a room at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman on Tuesday of this week. We packed our bags on Wednesday and hopped on the short flight from Atlanta on Thursday. Talk about a last minute vacation! I’m just ashamed that it took me half a year to get my first passport stamp for 2013 – last year I traveled once a month! I’ve got a lot to make up for the rest of this year, but that’s a challenge I’m willing to accept – starting with this 3 night jaunt to Grand Cayman.

After an easy flight, annoyingly long customs line (then again, we are on island time), and quick transfer, we were enjoying burgers beachside at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman by 2:00 the day of arrival. This place is the perfect getaway for a quick trip!

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Grand Cayman is exactly what you’d imagine of a Caribbean island – laid back, not too much going on, good food and a nice beach with crystal clear water. Similarly, the Ritz is exactly what you’d imagine of a Ritz:  it’s such a reliable brand for elegant accommodations and great service. Big thanks to my Marriott rep, Lynda, for putting us on the VIP list and for the fantastic welcome amenity:

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Strawberries with Nutella, creme fraiche, and brown sugar – yum!

If you’re coming to this property, I’d definitely recommend booking an ocean view room or higher since the garden view rooms are typically across the street. While it doesn’t have a full ocean view since we’re on the first floor, the room we’re in (#182) is extremely convenient to the pool and to the residents’ concierge desk. Here’s a tip of the trade: NO ONE knows about this desk, so it’s like having a private concierge to help make dinner reservations and get you transportation to anywhere on the island.

On our second day here, we took one of Captain Marvin’s tours to Stingray City, a must-do attraction for anyone visiting by land or by cruise.

The last time I swam with stingrays, while in Moorea, this happened:

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Since then, not much has changed:

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The rays are HUGE, you just never quite get over these giant, slimy creatures coming at you from every direction. I swear I even rode one for a brief second.

Unlike the tour in Tahiti, this tour gave us the opportunity to feed the rays. I missed the part about how you’re supposed to hold the squid (hint: one should always make a fist to feed stingrays so as to protect your fingers!) and held mine in between my fingers, allowing the stingray to BITE THE HECK out of my fingers! Seriously, it went after the squid so hard that I’m missing nail polish.

According to the internet, stingrays do not actually have teeth, they have vacuum-like mouths that crush crustaceans so they can eat them. Whatever, somehow this stingray gummed my finger to death. It’s still sore today.  Let this be a lesson learned, everyone, please pay attention when the tour guides tell you how to do something…

If you go on this tour, which I highly recommend you do, come prepared to spend an extra $45 to purchase your CD of photos. I mean, you can’t possibly capture memories like this on your own:

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Innocently going in for a kiss…

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…and the stingray takes it to the next level.

According to the islanders, kissing a stingray equals 7 years good luck. I think I’ll just take my chances and blow it a kiss for 3 1/2 years good luck… Don’t let the above pictures mislead you. That stingray made a move on me, not the other way around.

Day three at the Ritz-Grand Cayman we spent enjoying everything about the property: hours on end at the pool and the beach.

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I love the service here – every couple of hours they come by with some sort of complimentary cool-down treat, whether it’s a giant slice of cold watermelon or an ice cream cart. Not so complimentary (but worth a try) are Bar Jack’s famous piña coladas:

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Also worth a try while you’re staying at the Ritz? Sunshine Grill, located in the little motel just right across the road from the property. This hole in the wall restaurant is so good that we’ve eaten here three times (tonight will probably be the fourth)!

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It’s affordable, easy to get to, and some of the freshest island food we’ve had. From snapper sandwiches to fried calamari to award-winning burgers (seriously, this places should be on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), every item on the menu is delicious. Trust me, I know…we tried them all.

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Almond snapper = amazing

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Voted best burgers in the Caribbean!

It’s been a fun little trip down to Grand Cayman and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a short getaway! As for us, we’ll be onto a couple more Ritz-Carlton adventures in the next few weeks – stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’d like to book your own Ritz-Carlton getaway and receive some of our fabulous perks (like complimentary daily breakfast and upgrades), just email info@epperlytravel.com!

 

Lindsey Epperly

My name is Lindsey Epperly and I’m a travel consultant and owner of Epperly Travel, a national affiliate of Century Travel. I’m most passionate about building lifelong relationships with my clients and suppliers, discovering the globe in a way that makes me a better agent, and celebrating with my team when we reach a new milestone. One of our core values at Epperly Travel is to create fun and celebrate constantly – and I’m fortunate to be in a career that allows me to do just that. I’m proud to announce my recent achievements: landing a spot on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List as their Caribbean expert, being nominated for Virtuoso’s Rising Star Award and receiving a place on Jezebel Magazine’s Trailblazing Ten list.

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