Tourist Islands of
the West Indies
Travel & news discussion about the Cayman Islands
Sandy - Our boss
Sharon - My best friend of 30 yrs. (also went to STJ with us)
Susan - My friend for 20 yrs.
Me - You know who I am by now
Sandy owns an Incentive Travel company. That means we plan and implement travel programs for companies who reward their top performers with a trip and meetings/banquets in different locations every year. I worked for Sandy about 10 yrs. ago but quit after we had a bit of a run-in. We remained friends, however, and I never did find another job I liked as well. Last April, I got the opportunity to work for her again and I jumped at it! I got both Susan and Sharon jobs with Sandy way back when, and they have remained working for her all this time. Susan comes in one evening a week to do the books, and Sharon comes in on an "as needed" basis when we are running a large travel program or have big mailings to get out, etc. Sandy puts hundreds of thousands of dollars on her credit cards every year and gets hundreds of thousands of miles in return.
Every year, Sandy takes "the girls" someplace nice for Christmas using her miles. We all get to go somewhere cool, and it doesn't really cost Sandy a dime out-of-pocket. In the past she's taken the girls to Sedona, San Francisco, Las Vegas, etc. This year, when I came back from St. John in May I was going on and on about how great it is, so Sandy said, "It's always been my dream to go to the Cayman Islands. How about if I take you guys there for your Christmas trip?" We all jumped at the chance! I tried to talk her into STJ, but the Caymans were her "dream" and she's paying, so we go where she wants to go. Who could complain? It was a bit tricky to get 4 round trips with miles, but not impossible. We got two tickets with American Airlines miles and two matching tickets with American Express points. I did it all online. First I researched the flights we wanted and then I just went to AMEX and found that flight and booked 2 tickets. Then I went back to AA and found it again and booked two more tickets. After hearing some of the "miles" horror stories on the forum, I was surprised at how easy it was!
Since I was the "Caribbean expert" of the group (ha!) it became my job to research places to stay, rental cars, places to eat and things to do. Sandy really is a "resort" person, while Sharon, Susan, and I are more laid back and don't particularly want to be in the resort areas. I found a condo called Mango Kai out at Rum Point and we all agreed it was just perfect. Not knowing very much about the island, we determined that this was the place we wanted to stay and the price was right. $1750 US for a 5 day minimum ($1925 total with taxes, etc.) so I booked it and we split the cost 4 ways. Our first day of the 5 was spent traveling, so we were really only on the island for 4 days. This was the first time on Grand Cayman for all of us and there are a lot of things we didn't see, but we still had a pretty good time for being in a place with relatively nothing to do.
Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
We left on Tuesday, Jan. 8th to go up to Los Angeles and stay at the Westin near the airport for our early flight out at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Sandy hired a private car to take us up to the hotel and bring us back from the airport when we came home. We were rudely awakened by the alarm on my cell phone at 4:30 Wednesday morning, and were out in front of the hotel at 5:00 for the shuttle to the airport. The airport was pretty darned busy for that time of the morning, so I was glad it was a weekday and not a weekend. The flight to Miami was uneventful and we were scheduled for a 3 1/2 hr. layover (originally about 2 hrs., but AA kept changing it and I didn't want to hassle trying to get 4 flights, paid with points changed, so we flowed with it). Our flight was 1/2 hr. early getting in, so we sat on our butts for 4 hrs. in Miami. The 6:45 flight to Grand Cayman was on time and we landed on the island approximately 1 1/2 hrs. later. The airport was empty and they still had their Christmas tree up and all decorated. We picked up all the free stuff at the visitor desk and were through customs & immigration in nothing flat.
Mango Kai http://www.caymanvacation.com/Mangokai/about.cfm was super! 2 bdr. & 2 1/2 baths on a lagoon. It is equipped with 2 kayaks, 2 bicycles, a Jacuzzi. It has a very well appointed kitchen, a wonderful screened lanai and is beautifully decorated. Each bedroom has it's own bath and walk-in closet, and a balcony that seems outside, but actually opens into the screened lanai. Pretty cool. There's a sofa bed in the living room, along with TV w/ satellite, stereo and DVD player. There is free high-speed wireless internet access, however you do need to bring your own computer. We were walking distance (maybe 5 minutes!) to all of the amenities at Rum Point. There is (was) a resort at Rum Point called The Retreat, which was owned by Hyatt, however when their lease came up for renewal a month or so ago, they did not renew (for whatever reason, I can't remember) and Red Sail Sports took it over. The "hotel" is not open, nor is the restaurant we were sort of planning to eat at. However, all of the recreational stuff is still a going concern. The souvenir shop, snack bar (good hamburgers and sandwiches) and The Wreck bar are all open and there is table service on the beach. Red Sail Sports is headquartered there and you can rent wave runners, schedule dive trips, trips to Stingray City, rent snorkel gear, etc. All of the Hyatt's lounge chairs are still there and anyone can use them...so we did!
Our rental car was arranged for us though the condo owner. We were picked up at the airport by McCurley's tours and driven out to our condo (45 min. from the airport) where our car was waiting for us. On the way to the condo, BA (Beth Ann aka Mrs. McCurley) stopped at the market for us and we picked up stuff for breakfast and lunch, because we weren't sure about restaurants, etc. yet. Luckily we bought breakfast stuff because there is only ONE PLACE ("Over The Edge") that serves breakfast on that part of the island, and that was about a 20 min. drive from Rum Point (we never did eat there, but I'm told it's good and reasonably priced). There are relatively few restaurants around there, so you really haven't much choice for any meal, unless you're willing to drive a distance. There's nothing even close to a Deli Grotto or Baked in the Sun like on St. John. We kept wanting to try The Lighthouse which is on the way to George Town, but we just never made it. From the way BA described it to us, I think it's pricey, anyway.
We arrived at the condo about 10:00 p.m., settled in, and about 11:00, Sandy & Susan decided to go into the Jacuzzi.
Sharon and I were beat so we crashed. I really have no desire to sit in 108*F water when the temp outside is 80 anyway! Well, the permanent resident in the adjoining condo (who actually turned out to be one of the nicest people on Earth) yelled at them to turn the Jacuzzi off because she was trying to get some sleep and she had to get up early in the morning. Sandy & Susan were a bit chagrined for having disturbed her, but all was well and they were ready to pack it in anyway. It must be hard to be a permanent resident connected to a vacation rental. We all had sympathy for her. During the night there was a torrential downpour and some gale force winds that I thought were going to ruin our next day, but by about 8 a.m. everything had settled down and a beautiful day was ahead of us. I got up at 8:30 and I thought no one else was stirring yet (I didn't see Susan out on the lanai reading), so I went back to bed and didn't move again until NOON!! So unlike me!!!! I hate that... wasted half the day! Sharon sleeps until you drag her out, so I was still up ahead of her! I got into the shower and NO HOT WATER! So, I took a cold shower anyway, because I felt so grungy from our travel day the day before. I called the management company and they sent a guy over right away who said the hot water issue was just a matter of adjusting the timer and from then on there was no problem. By now everyone was up and we all had a little breakfast and headed over to Rum Point to see how the snorkeling was. It was VERY crowded with cruise ship people. Apparently Rum Point is one of the optional shore excursions offered on the cruise ships. We managed to find ourselves some lounge chairs and a place in the shade and we plopped our stuff down.
Sharon & I went out snorkeling and what a disappointment that was! The reef, where all the fish are, is about a mile out, so you need to get a boat if you want to snorkel out there. The water is pretty shallow most of the way out to the reef, where it drops off and becomes The Wall where the water is approximately 50 - 60 ft. deep. Excellent diving, so I'm told! We found a small rock formation about 200 feet out from the shore and there were a few fish there, but not much. The beach at Rum Point is pretty good if you stay around the food/bar area, but if you go over to the point, it's covered with sharp, sharp rocks.
In fact there are LOTS of rocks on the beaches and in the water, however, I never really felt the need for the water shoes I took with me. At the rockiest beach we went to (East End) my fins worked fine in place of water shoes. We headed back to our condo about 4:00 p.m. and by now all the cruisers had gone back to their ships. On our way past the Red Sail Sports counter, we made reservations for a Stingray City trip the next day. Once back at the condo, we got cleaned up and decided to go to the Kaibo Bar & Grill for dinner. Technically, we could have walked it, but not knowing for sure how far it was, we drove. The outdoor atmosphere was really nice and we watched the sun go down from our table (we found out later that there's a very nice restaurant upstairs, which is part of the Yacht Club, I think).
The food at Kaibo Bar & Grill was just average. I had the sweet & sour chicken (sorry, no food porn pix on this one), which was presented beautifully, but tasted like Chinese take-out and gave me kick-backs all night long (urp!). Sandy ordered the tuna steak med rare, and it came pretty much raw (it was about 1" thick) but she didn't send it back. Sharon & Susan had salads and baked Brie. No one was overly impressed by their dinner, however Sharon and Sue both said that the salads were really good. After dinner, we went back to the condo and Sandy put in a load of wash (Geez! We had been there one whole day and it was time to wash clothes already???). We went into the Jacuzzi for a while. I only went in because my shoulder hurt from carrying my gazillion pound tote bag all day the day before and the hot water helped it stop hurting, along with copious amounts of rum and a dose of Aleve. LOL!
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- Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:43 pm
- Location: So. California
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