If you combined the charm and solitude of a vacation home with the bells and whistles of a hotel chain and the personalised service of a bed and breakfast, you’d find yourself swathed in the luxurious barefoot elegance of Cotton Tree. Situated at the northernmost point of Grand Cayman’s West Bay, the charismatic boutique hotel encourages guests to make themselves at home in any of the four two-bedroom, plantation-style cottages, each enveloped in a natural sanctuary of indigenous trees and flora. This is certainly not your cookie-cutter hotel experience, and with the “home-away-from-home” comforts added, it’s no wonder.
Put simply, redefining vacation experience experiences and Caribbean hospitality is what Cotton Tree is about. Yes, there is the highly sought-after view of an oceanfront room and the delicacies of Caribbean cuisine to be had, but there’s so much more to this distinctive property. Cotton Tree offers a refreshing blend of services that are unique to the culture of the island and personally designed and delivered by owner and brainchild behind the Cotton Tree vision, Heather Lockington.
“The cottages are as private as home, but of course, not like home at all, unless one lives virtually steps away from the beach and has a personal chef and sommelier,” Lockington said.
Trusting her instincts and uncompromising dream to create a unique experience for visitors, Lockington developed a property that offers an opulent abode and unique Caymanian hospitality. Each 1,600-square-foot cottage is amply equipped with classic contemporary furniture, Caribbean chic decor, Egyptian cotton sheets, a spa rainforest shower and Jacuzzi tub, gourmet kitchen complete with the finest appliances and equipment, plasma televisions, an iPod docking station, Wii gaming system and free Wi-Fi. Daily housekeeping services, a high-tech security system and personalised concierge services are sure to complete your “hotel” experience. But what makes Cotton Tree to uniquely different from other on-island hotels is the genuine Caymanian hospitality and personal touches.
“I do aim to make my guests feel right at home,” she went on to say. “I had a guest [who] loved Dragon Stout [beer] and I knew she was returning and stocked her fridge with it. She was pleasantly surprised when she saw it and felt special as a result. This really brings home to me that a hotel is not just about bricks and mortar, but also about service and feeling.”
Often times, Heather is known for picking fruits from various local trees – banana, guava and mango to name a few – found on-site and surprise guests with baked breads and muffins. An evening caboose cookout of fried fish and fritters served in sea grape leaves accompanied by freshly squeezed lemonade is also favoured among guests. “This is all free [to our guests] and they really appreciate that we are giving them a real feel of the Caribbean.”
Cotton Tree has been Heather’s lifelong dream and resulted from a desire to offer visitors a property that represents her homeland in a modern light. It was a chance encounter with some American tourists that solidified her belief that Cayman was in need of a different type of hotel. Having travelled the extensively about the world herself and vacationed in some of the loveliest hotels, Heather sought out her revelation and is delighted that Cotton Tree has defined a new category of fine hotels in the Cayman Islands. “It it makes the guests comfortable we are happy to do it,” she said matter-of-factly.
Aside from the cottages, Cotton Tree offers guests a quiet gazebo suitable for yoga, a spa pavilion hidden among the sea grape trees, a freshwater pool, fitness centre and a personal chef and sommelier on call. Nearby attractions include the Cayman Turtle Farm, the newly sunken ex-U.S.S. Kittiwake, Barker’s National Park – idyllic for bird watching or a bike ride – and activities such as swimming with dolphins and horseback riding along the beach at sunrise or sunset. Seven Mile Beach is a mere 10-minute drive away and many of Grand Cayman’s finest dining experiences are within the immediate area. On-site art and traditional cooking classes are available, as well as other added services such as grocery shopping, dry cleaning and babysitting and childcare services.
This stunning and aptly appropriated hotel has welcomed families, wedding parties and honeymooners, girlfriends on a getaway trip, celebrities and VIP guests since it opened its doors in April 2009. Cotton Tree has been featured in many influential magazines, including the likes of Caribbean Living, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Travel Weekly and Boutique Design.
For more information on Cotton Tree and to reserve your stay, call (345) 943.0700 or visit caymancottontree.com.
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Published: Skies Magazine, November 2011
Editor’s Note: Cotton Tree closed its in 2015