You come to the Caymans to be spoilt rotten. It comes at a premium – after all, this is a financial stronghold of the Caribbean – but the pay-off is mighty, especially if you book at Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa. Here, all you could desire from a paradisiacal getaway is wrapped in a glossy package and presented with the utmost deference. Rooms and beach houses face sunsets painted by a celestial hand (hence the hotel name), Seven Mile Beach is steps away, you’ll dine on lobster and champagne one night then fish tacos and mezcal the next, and the enormous spa is chock full of the Cayman’s mood-boosting spirit. And, these indulgences are extended to all ages – kids have a beachy bolthole in Camp Seafire and encounters with stingrays, starfish, turtles and more wild wonders are just part of daily life in this tropical haven.
Get this when you book through us:
Free daily breakfast at Ave Restaurant (a bedroom, each stay)
Double rooms from £451.39 ($620), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 10% per room per night on check-out and an additional resort fee of $80.00 per room per night on check-out.
Mr & Mrs Smith guests get the hotel’s full English breakfast for free as part of their Smith Extra (a bedroom, each stay; usually US$40 a person), plus a welcome gift. Guests must pay a daily US$80 resort fee.
Your resort fee covers a host of extras, including watersports equipment from local experts Red Sail Sports (kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, water tricycles, floating rafts, snorkelling gear and sail boats); hire of cruiser bikes; daily fitness classes, such as beach and paddle-board yoga, Boxfit and Beachfit; free dining for children under five in Ave or Coccoba; and loans of GoPro underwater cameras with built in WiFi (the SD card is sold separately at the Red Sail Shop). Being a Kimpton hotel, there are a few of the brand’s signatures, such as a living room area with books and a ‘Morning Kick-Start’ programme, where guests get free access to the press reader and a ‘get-up-and-go’ playlist. Keep an eye on Kimpton’s social media too – occasionally a password is released that unlocks free extras.
At the hotel
Public beach, gardens, spa and hammam, beauty salon, fitness centre, living room, pantry, kids’ club, concierge, laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: flatscreen TV, tea- and coffee-making kit, bottled water, mini fridge (call staff to stock it), air-conditioning and free WiFi. The Bungalows, Oceanfront Suites, Beach House and the Presidential Suite have a full kitchen too.
Our favourite rooms
First and foremost, be sure to get a room that faces west (the clue’s in the name with the Oceanfront or Oceanview rooms) – the sun rises in the east, remember, and those end-of-the-day light shows are something to behold. All rooms and suites are similarly if stylishly decorated, so it depends on how much space you need – to truly feel like your offshore accounts are in order, book one of the Bungalows or the Beach House, both of which have large outdoor spaces all to yourselves, a luxurious kitchen and plenty of space to play. The Presidential Suite is, naturally, an impressive space too, for its large terraces and alfresco kitchen.
The heated Seafire pool (open from sun up to sun down) winds curvaceously around banks scattered with red sunloungers and gently swaying palms. Set just by the beach, from certain angles it looks as though its clear turquoise waters are flowing into the Caribbean. A sectioned off shallow area with Baja shelves to perch on makes it safe for fledgling waterbabies, and parents can keep a watchful eye from the bar. Those seeking a little more intimacy can hire a private cabana.
Have your knots pummelled out with salt stones, get a pout more luscious than the local parrotfish or take a punt on ‘youthification’ as you lay on a quartz bed and singing bowls play at the beautifying behemoth of a spa. In 8,500sq ft of space, dressed with glittering blue tiles to mirror the sea’s shimmer, there’s a soaking pool, the only traditional Turkish hammam in the Caymans, a hair salon and beauty parlour – plus, seven treatment rooms where wellness experts make you feel anew.
And, considering the world-besting beaches and rampant natural vistas you have for working out in the wild, the fitness centre pushes the boat out, with 1,770sq ft space encompassing garden- and sea-view treadmills, elliptical cross-trainers, bikes, weight machines, yoga mats and balance balls. If only fresh sea air will do, take yoga classes on the lawn or balanced on a paddle board, or hop on a cruiser bike for a breezy pedal to lively Camana Bay. Personal trainers can be arranged on request.
The hotel has collaborated with local watersports experts to provide all you need to explore over and underwater, but if you have goggles and snorkels that fit you snugly it’s worth adding them to the suitcase.
Many of the hotel’s rooms and suites have specially adapted bathrooms, and all have a phone-ring alert, bed shaker, and visual alarm clock and fire alarm. All public areas are accessible, there’s braille signage and staff who can read out menus, and servi
If your well-behaved pet fits through the door (and passes the Cayman Islands’ rigorous animal checks), they can stay for free, and they’ll get treats and a personalised bowl. There’s a maximum of two pets to a room. See more pet-friendly hotels in Grand Cayman.
Children are very welcome indeed – they may even have more fun than you. Camp Seafire keeps tots to tweens entertained, restaurants cater to fussy smalls and babysitting is available for US$100 an hour (one days’ notice is required).
Camp Seafire takes children from age three-and-a-half, and from thereon up the hotel provides engaging activities. Teens will happily hang on the beach.
The Bungalows or Beach House have lots of room for little ones to run around in, plus ample outdoor space and a kitchen where you can ready milk and baby food or prep meals for a quiet family night in.
The joyously considered kids’ entertainment at the hotel may make you want to regress. There’s a popcorn booth at check-in, a kids’ corner serving chocolate milk each morning and their own special social hour later in the day. Camp Seafire is where little ones aged three-and-a-half to 12 gather to engage in activities that follow a different theme each day. It’s adorably dressed with a soft undersea playroom (think squishy rocks, octopi and fish) and shelves packed with craft materials and musical instruments. Half-day sessions (US$55 a child) run from 9am to 12 noon or 1pm to 5pm; full-days (US$99 a child) run from 9am to 5pm; or evening and hourly sessions can be booked. Scavenger hunts, beach games, cooking classes, nature walks, sand sculptures, underwater photoshoots and jewellery making – all with an island twist – are part of a fun-filled day. A new splash park with waterslides is slated for late in 2021 too. Teens will love the pool and beach, and there’s a snooker table and table tennis for rare rainy days.
There’s a safe shallow section in the Seafire pool where kids can borrow inflatables and paddle in peace. There’s no lifeguard on watch, but the poolside bar is well placed for eagle-eyed parents and staff are trained in CPR.
Handily, the dedicated kids’ room service menu – with mac and cheese, chicken tenders, pizza and other favourites – runs from 5.30pm till 10pm, covering bedtimes for all ages. Meals for under-fives are included in the resort fee, and kids are welcome in Ave and Coccoloba too (Avecita is more adult in style) and the hotel can provide booster seats and highchairs or heat up milk and baby food too.
Both nannies or babysitters can be arranged. Babysitting is US$100 an hour and must be booked a day in advance.
No need to pack
The kids’ club is a veritable toybox, but you may want to bring some beloved playthings from home to distract them during downtime.
Events are taken seriously here – kids’ birthday parties involve 3D cakes, themed activities and decorations and face painting, and seasonal treats include meeting Santa and Easter egg hunts.
The chefs put on a show at Avecita, where a small group can sit at the counter and watch slicing, dicing and flamboyant grilling moves. Otherwise, there are no diminished returns with the sunsets here, so if it’s in view, you and the sky are golden.
Seafire has a trio of restaurants to try, all overseen by well-seasoned chef Massimo De Francesca. The main event, Ave, which overlooks Seven Mile Beach from its lofty perch 24 feet above sea level, covers surf and turf with some Caymanian oomph, say ceviche of whatever the fishermen dragged in that day with mango and papaya, lobster with mojo sauce, octopus with potato foam or pork belly with a spicy orange glaze. Beverage manager John Stanton has pulled together a worldly wine list to complement – with some roll-the-barrel-out listings – and conceived elegant cocktails: say, a Sgroppino with yuzu sorbet, vermouth and prosecco. Avecita (an intimate dining room inside Ave) is a more adult concept where 10 guests sit at the chefs’ counter (with more tables close by) and watch them artfully cook and plate five courses of fine tapas dishes and pour excellent Spanish wines. Coccoloba, on the other hand, is where you line your stomach with tacos stuffed with the likes of mahi mahi and escabeche or short rib and kimchi, and ice-cream ‘sandis’, before deep diving into the margarita menu and other agave-based party-starters. It’s not too wild for kids though, who’ll love the flavourful bite-sized snacks. On Sundays, pick from sushi platters, seafood, cheese and charcuterie boards and fluffy pancake stacks at brunch, washed down with your pick from the liquid cocktail buffet (hello), and take note of what special themed meals are planned – these might include barbecoa nights, tacos and tequila or Moroccan feasts. And, the Pantry is your go-to for Covid-safe breakfasts and picnic planning.
From 5pm to 6pm each day, join in the hotel’s Social Hour, where you’ll get a free glass of wine or beer and snacks – an excellent precursor to the island’s party spirit – after dark, you’ll find pockets of jubilant celebration along Seven Mile Beach, likely spurred by the psychedelic sunsets. And, if you’re concerned about social distancing, this can be taken in your room. Each eatery has a considered alcoholic offering, whether you’re savouring rich Spanish wines in Avecita, craft cocktails in Ave or chilled sangria or fruit- and herb-laced mixers at Coccoloba. Start your night in the Ave Bar and Lounge, sipping a libation muddled with house fixings and local fruits, or sampling spirits from across the globe. Then jam tipsily down to Coccoloba for enough margaritas to sink a catboat or the signature dessert-y drink Coccoslide, with vodka crème de cacao, coconut and cold-brew coffee.
At Ave, breakfast is served from 8am–11pm, dinner from 6pm–9pm, and brunch from 12 noon–3pm. At Avecita, tapas plates are served from 5pm–8pm. Coccoloba runs from 12 noon to 9pm.
From 7am to 11am, hearty breakfasts are served; from 12 noon to 5.30pm, lunch on pizza and burgers; and till 10pm dine on the likes of steak and lobster or tempting veggie dishes.
Hello sunshine – and technicolour dream sunsets… The Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa is steps from the ritzy stretch of Seven Mile Beach on the west coast of Grand Cayman, auspiciously placed for dazzling sea views.
The hotel is a fleet 15-minute drive from Owen Roberts International Airport. There are direct flights from major cities throughout the US (Miami, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa); flights from the UK arrive via the US or Bahamas; and travellers from further afield will make at least one stopover. Transfers can be arranged from US$100 one-way; a taxi will cost around US$40.
It’s possible to explore the island by taxi or bus. On this arm of the island, the unspooled silver of coral-sand Seven Mile Beach is on your doorstep and capital George Town is just a 10-minute drive away. However, the nature reserves to the east deserve your attention too, and busy-bee visitors may save money by using a hire car. You can acquire wheels at the airport; you’ll need to buy a permit before you get behind the wheel and remember, this is a British Overseas Territory, so you drive on the left. Watch out for death-wish chickens too. Valet parking onsite is included in the resort fee.
Worth getting out of bed for
Rum Point, Crystal Caves, Stingray City: there’s no doubt about it, you’re deep in the Caribbean, even if the Caymans are an overseas British territory. The Caymans have a reputation for being business on top, Tommy Bahama down below, but there’s plenty of paradise island to explore, especially if you venture inland and to the east. But, you can calibrate your holiday mood on Seven Mile Beach, which is right in front of your hotel. Technically, it’s five-and-a-bit miles long, but with fine coral sand like this and sea the colour of a Blue Lagoon to gaze out over, you’ll be far too chilled out to quibble. The hotel has Sci-Fi-esque pods and loungers to book and staff will help you set up in your desired spot and bring you drinks as needed, sometimes free treats too. A 15-minute drive south brings you to capital George Town, a cosmopolitan centre that’s maintained its sunny roots, where primary-hued buildings have charming porches. It’s worth visiting for souvenir shopping (may we recommend the Tortuga Rum Company and Cayman Spirits Co for a pick me up) before exploring further afield. Further east is more traditional Pedro St James, of interest for its restored 18th-century ‘castle’ (really, more of a grand house) that gives a glimpse into the island’s colonial past. Beyond this point you’re into the wilder parts of Grand Cayman; acquaint yourself by taking the Mastic Trail, named for the colourful trees along its route, which winds through marshland, forest, the island’s highest point and several IBAs (Important Bird Areas). Then, continue your nature odyssey in Queen Elizabeth II Royal Botanic Garden for woodland walks, kaleidoscopic flower gardens and to spy endangered blue iguanas (it’s illegal to touch them, so hands off). Go further along the coast and you’ll come across the Crystal Caves, an underground lake naturally bejazzled with stalactites and stalagmites, and Starfish Point where its titular critters can be seen in the shallows. And Rum Point, ironically where the rum-free Frozen Mudslide was invented, one of the island’s jump-off points for kayaking, snorkelling and boat tours. On the south coast, Bodden Town’s pirate caves will be a hit with kids – notorious seafarers (including Blackbeard) would use these shady passages for shadier dealings and there’s a mini zoo onsite too. On the west coast, head to the northerly tip to the Cayman Turtle Centre to interact with the residents and help the hatchlings reach the water in season. And enjoy holiday romance at Stingray City, where you’re encouraged to – carefully – kiss the friendly creatures as you swim with them. May’s Batabano Carnival is as feathered and sequinned as you’d hope and little ones will get swept up in the celebratory ambience, but they may prefer the swashbuckling events of November’s Pirate Week Festival. For another mind-blowing spectacle, take a nighttime boat tour to see the bioluminescence.
Locals adore the Calypso Grill; maybe it’s the sun-kissed colour scheme (oranges, yellows, reds), the deck overlooking Morgan’s Harbour and the Sound, or – most likely – it’s the menu of traditional Caribbean dishes (marinated conch; escoveitch) or the champagne lobster. The sticky toffee pudding is deservedly famous on the island. The Cracked Conch feels like more of a date-night destination, with elegant dishes of pistachio-crusted mahi mahi with salt-cod foam and seared scallops with truffle linguine, whose tiki bar elevates the fun. Kaibo, set in an old plantation house, has decor with a vintage feel: tweed couches, leather trunks, ceiling fans and mid-century seating. The seasonal à la carte deserves your attention, but the six-course tasting menu, with mojo-marinated pork belly and red snapper with frijoles blanco, encompasses the flavours of the island.
The hotel ensures that you start the day right (hello, homemade Cronuts), but if you want to explore the local brunching scene, Lauren’s has shrimp Benedict, Baileys-drenched crêpes and full-to-bursting omelettes.
Let your mind drift to those balmy nights when warm breezes roll in from the ocean, palms all around are slick in the humidity and in your hand is a chilled colada – this is the kind of night you can have at beach bar Tillie’s, whose terrace is lined with shaded cushioned sofas and whose menu offers frosé, scotch-bonnet-spiked margaritas and an old-fashioned awash with strong local rum.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this family-welcoming, tropical-with-all-the-trimmings hotel by Seven Mile Beach, unpacked their bottles of rum and fixed themselves a stiff daiquiri, a full account of their frolics with sea life and piratical pastimes will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa on Grand Cayman…
Less ‘barefoot luxury’, a little more high heels and designer swimwear, the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa has the glossy sheen of a Vogue cover – at times literally, with polished floors, high-spec wood and coral-stone finishes, marble bathrooms and glittering mosaic tiles evoking the Caribbean waters. Some of Grand Cayman’s gold dust has certainly been sprinkled on this modern yet expertly conceived hideaway at the white-sand cusp of Seven Mile Beach, yet homages to the island’s nature and heritage have been worked into this glamazon throughout: a replica catboat hangs in the lobby, all rooms bear panels with floral cutouts and splashes of tropical colour, and sunloungers bear the colours of the Caymanian flag. Local artists Carlos Garcia and Dready have designed glow-in-the-dark-murals and keepsake bookmarks; and a curated soca playlist enhances the chill Caribbean feel. However, it does feel like they’ve thrown out the island’s not-so-snappy motto ‘he hath founded it upon the seas’ and replaced it with ‘treat yourself’. Each day guests gather in the library for free wine and snacks, the spa could at a push legally call itself a fountain of youth, and the kids’ club strikes a joyful balance between stylish and playful – little ones get lots of extra spoiling too, such as their own alcohol-free social hour. Pristine lawns are laid out and the beach has pod-like cabanas where you can lay back and tuck into flavour-bomb tacos and frosty margs till the sun kicks off its light show as it tucks into the horizon. And if you need more spectacles, each foray into the island reveals a fresh one: getting up close and personal with rays; starfish gazing; hanging with rare blue iguanas… Yes, at times you may be barefoot, but this is a glass slipper of a stay, which, on being discovered, does all it can to make dreams come true.
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