On a sugar-white stretch of Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, Palm Heights has all the fronds and retro finds to reach breezy, beach-house heaven. The palm-lined pool leads down to the shore, where sunloungers and sunshine-yellow parasols are set up for days spent staring out to sea, mainlining rum or working out with one of the personal trainers on the sand (or a combination of all three). Some suites have marble bath tubs on the terrace for at-one-with-nature cleansing, and all spy the sparkly Caribbean Sea. Regular wellness retreats are held to offset the cocktail and conch-fritter action – and a super spa is coming later this year.
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A $70 credit to spend on food and drinks during your stay
Noon. Earliest check-in, 4pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £768.25 ($1,061), 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 $60.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast (from about US$20 a person).
The hotel hosts regular exercise and wellness retreats, along with rooftop yoga, personal training and beach workouts – it’s also home to a fancy freediving centre.
At the hotel
Beach, gym, library, ping-pong table, board games to borrow, filtered-water station on each floor, free paddleboards, snorkels and kayaks to borrow, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Apple TV with Netflix, full-size Aesop bath products, Bose speakers, two minibars (one to detox, the other to retox), tea and coffee kit, beach bags and air-conditioning; game consoles can be placed in your room on request. The Two Bedroom Oceanfront Penthouse Suite has an infrared sauna too.
Our favourite rooms
Each room has at least a glimpse of the sea, but go full frontal with one of the ‘oceanfront’ or ‘beachfront’ categories. If you’re a fan of alfresco ablutions, book a suite with the bath tub out on the terrace and feel at one with nature.
There’s a lengthy pool leading down to the sand, lined by palm trees and sunloungers – but the stretch of Seven Mile Beach set up with yellow parasols makes it a tough call. There’s another outdoor pool with a Jacuzzi and terrace.
A spa and wellness programme is launching later this year, but for now spa treatments are available in-room.
You’re on one of the Caribbean’s finest stretches of sand – load that suitcase with swimwear, flip-flops and snorkels.
The hotel’s communal areas are accessible for wheelchair users, and some rooms have been specially adapted.
All ages are welcome. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to rooms, and there are two-bedroom suites. Babysitting is available with two days’ notice for US$18 an hour, plus taxis and an after-hours surcharge.
The hotel sources most of the fish and vegetables for its restaurant from local fishermen and farms, and uses corn straws instead of plastic ones. In-room bath products are full-size, and you’ll have decanters of filtered still and sparkling water to drink instead of plastic bottles.
Ask for a seat closest to the sea and watch the waves crash as you devour conch.
Even the mirrors have palm fronds on them around here – dig out your finest foliage-covered fabric and wear with pride.
Tillie’s menu travels the world, spending a lot of time in the Caribbean, with Jamaican, Cuban and Mexican flavours, but stopping in on Asia, too. The island’s produce is put to good use: expect fish from that morning’s market, Cayman-tomato salads and tostones (fried local plantains), along with empanadas, conch fritters, curries and snapper ceviche. Breakfast dishes include fried eggs with mashed plantain, fried cheese, red onions and salami; coconut milk and cinnamon porridge; and French toast with cane sugar and tahini.
The oceanfront Coconut Club is a great place to start trying some island rum – or stick to the mocktails, which someone has obviously spent some time naming: the marvellous monikers include Fennel Lime-Aid and Bodega Watermelon Slushie. Jerk-aubergine bowls, burgers and tacos are on hand if you’re hungry. Tillie's also has an outdoor bar.
Tillie’s is open all day, until 10pm, with breakfast served between 7am and 11am. The Coconut Club’s hours are 10am to 7pm.
Most of Tillie's menu can be served in room on request.
Palm Heights is on the western shores of Grand Cayman, north of George Town and in the middle of Seven Mile Beach.
George Town’s Owen Roberts International Airport is closest; the drive should take around 15 minutes. Hotel transfers cost US$150 one-way, but local taxis are also available.
It’s under 10 minutes by car to George Town and there’s free valet parking at the hotel – but if you’re planning to hang firmly around Seven Mile Beach, you won’t need wheels.
Worth getting out of bed for
Palm Heights is in the centre of Seven Mile Beach, with its own stretch of sand for guests to stake out. Walk up and down all seven miles, picking your patch for sunset. The hotel is on the east coast of the island, which is still a lot less populated and has plenty of wild areas for dips. Borrow the Xbox or one of the board games or books at the library, or stage a ping-pong tournament at the outdoor table. Borrow the free kayaking, snorkelling and paddleboarding equipment, or head to the on-site dive shop to get kitted out for jet skiing, freediving or scuba diving. The hotel can also arrange helicopter trips to other islands – set off for a day dive on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Hop on horseback and trot along the beach – the horses around here are partial to a dip and you’ll be able to swim with them while still in the saddle.
Alarm-clock snoozers who’ve missed breakfast can find refuge at Lauren’s, where breakfast burritos, shrimp Benedict and any-kind-of omelettes are served all day. Islanders love Calypso Grill mostly for its daily catches, but also for its waterfront seating where you can enjoy specials like ginger tuna and lobster and shrimp in champagne sauce. More super-fresh seafood awaits at Cracked Conch, where the namesake marine mollusc can be eaten in chowder, ceviche and (obviously) cracked – with pickled fennel and curried tartare sauce – forms. Upstairs at Kaibo is set in an old plantation house, with a six-course tasting menu and possibly the biggest rum collection on the island.
For cocktails on the sand – and a tacos and ceviches to soak them up with – head to Coccoloba, where happy hour gets even jollier thanks to regular live music.
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 beachfront hotel in the Cayman Islands and unpacked their rum and island-made jewellery, a full account of their sunny break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Palm Heights in Grand Cayman…
At Palm Heights, it’s what’s inside that counts: namely, the decor of this palm-lined property in Grand Cayman. It’s a breezy beach resort, but that doesn’t mean the decor has to go unchecked: the hotel has been artistically filled with vintage furniture (much of which was sourced and shipped from French flea markets), a collection of rare books and both mid-century and contemporary accents. The pool has stiff competition in the form of a patch of Seven Mile Beach, where the hotel has helpfully laid out sunloungers and signature-sunshine-hued parasols (to match the egg-yolk-yellow-and-white-striped towels; we told you the design was considered). At Tillie’s, all the flavours of the Caribbean from Jamaica to Mexico come together in island favourites like snapper ceviche, conch fritters and fried plantain – and we guarantee that the Coconut Club has the rum cocktail for you. If you like piña coladas… it’s time to plan your escape.