If you find yourself longing for a more personal vacation experience that allows you to truly live among and interact with the locals, perhaps a bed and breakfast is just what you need. These three accommodations on Grand Cayman offer that warm Caymanian hospitality the island is most known for with many of the perks of a major resort or hotel.
Shangri-La: #1 Sticky Toffee Lane, West Bay
Shangri-La: the word itself has become synonymous with paradise and this enchanting Bed and Breakfast certainly lives up to its name with seven lush single bedrooms, a two-bedroom self-sufficient apartment that sleeps families of up to six persons, a roof-top widow’s walk, lakeside views, a freshwater pool and sun deck, and access to some of the island’s best fine dining in the district of West Bay with the likes of Ristorante Pappagallo, Calypso Grill, Osetra Bay, Cracked Conch and a number of other smaller eateries. Seven Mile Beach is only a five-minute drive away where powder white beaches meet live entertainment and even more epicurean delights. Eileen and George Davidson, owners of this picturesque piece of property, say their location is what makes their Bed and Breakfast special: “It is a hidden gem situated on a serene and peaceful lake.” And it truly is.
The Davidson family purchased the property in 2000, knowing they would someday do something very special with it; five years later Shangri-La welcomed its first guests. Since then the Bed and Breakfast has predominantly provided a relaxing escape for couples, but caters to a variety of guests, special events and is a picture perfect location for weddings.
“Most of our business is through word-of-mouth from previous guests and many come back year after year,” Eileen says. “We really care about the comfort and happiness of our guests and, because we are smaller than a hotel, we can offer a personalized service, lower costs and a smaller and quieter establishment conducive to a relaxing stay.
“Aside from that, we try to do things a little differently at Shangri-La when the opportunity arises, like adding amenities our guests specially request. Just recently we have purchased bicycles to allow our guests to explore the area at leisure; beach chairs, towels and coolers for the beach; and we have installed free wireless internet. It is the little things you do to make each individual’s stay unique and memorable. This is what keeps them coming back!” Or perhaps it is the spread of breakfast quiches, French croissants, Belgian waffles, buttermilk pancakes or whatever else the chef at Shangri-La fancies that morning.
In-room massages or reflexology can all be arranged as well as other spa services like waxing, facials, nail and hair services and even bridal packages.
Prices for this utopia experience begin at only USD119.00 per night. Visitshangrilabandb.com for more information.
Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn: #18 Pebbles Way, George Town
Cayman-born and raised Carol “Tootie” Eldemire-Geddes loves to share her island’s history and culture with the guests of Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn. “They love the stories I tell them,” she said in an interview with me. “Quite often I sit with [the guests] by the pool to just have a chat.” The vibrantly coloured Bed + Breakfast is tucked away in a quiet residential area on the southwest side of Grand Cayman. It comprises of a number of standard Bed + Breakfast rooms, studio suites, one-bedroom garden suites and a four-bedroom apartment.
Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn was first built as Tootie’s family home by her late-father in 1976 but was turned into a guest house only a year later when he passed away. “My mom decided to open her doors to visitors,” Tootie shared, and so Eldemire’s Guest House was born. It was the first tourism guest house in Grand Cayman. Some years later Tootie’s mother also passed away and she inherited the property. The decision to honour her mother’s love of the tourism industry and welcome visitors to the island was not difficult for Tootie; the business had been doing quite well and a love of the service had grown within her.
Since then Tootie has changed the name to Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn but the warm and hospitable welcome expected by this family-owned-and-operated Bed + Breakfast has been the same since it first opened its doors 37 years ago. Tootie’s granddaughter, Elena, offers a friendly face and spirit for the Inn’s guests at check-in while her husband, Bob, is an experienced scuba diving instructor; together the trio have served just about every nationality and type of guest.
Surrounded by a lush garden of trees and flowering shrubs, a unique island experience and relaxing atmosphere are what Tootie, Bob and Elena impart upon their guests at Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn. “We go out of our way to make our guests feel at home,” Tootie said. “We put fresh flowers from our gardens in every room at check-in, and we are willing to serve all of our guests’ requests and needs while here.”
Just across the street from Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn one can experience the most magical shore diving experience, teeming with a rainbow of fish and underwater wildlife; and only a few steps away is the ever-popular My Bar restaurant and bar serving some of the best Indian and Caribbean foods and enthralling sunset views there are to be seen from dry land. Even closer yet is the secluded Smith Barcadere beach, with its dramatic limestone formations, sandy shores and an abundance of shady sea grape trees idyllic for reading and relaxing.
Escape reality with the rustic charm of Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn for as little as USD85.00 per night. Visit eldemire.com for more information on rates and availability.
Annie’s Place: #282 Snug Harbour, George Town
Over a bowl of homemade strawberry and raspberry sorbet, tourism ambassador of the Cayman Islands Annie Multon told me a little about herself: “I have been in the tourism industry for 55 years. Today, I hold the Cayman Islands Badge of Honour award for my efforts to preserve the Caymanian way of life, but long before then I started as a room maid at the Pageant Beach Hotel, one of only two hotels on Grand Cayman at the time. Since then, I have held every position imaginable and I have worked at and managed at least seven other properties on the island. While working at the condominiums visitors would often ask me where they could find a good Bed + Breakfast close to Seven Mile Beach. My husband, Peter, and I live nearby in Snug Harbor, so this gave me an idea: and so was born Annie’s Place.”
The two cozy single bedrooms are located within the home of Annie and Peter, a very amusing and hospitable couple. The ever-helpful Miss Ruth has cared for the property and its guests for over 25 years, preparing her favourite Caribbean breakfast of ackee and codfish or any other special requests that come her way.
Since the Bed and Breakfast opened in 1998 it has welcomed a steady flow of young families, single persons and couples but Annie says, “All of my guests are special and I insist my family and staff treat our visitors that way.” In fact, Annie has been known to welcome her guests to special holiday meals with her own family. “My family and I make the time to talk with our guests, telling them about our islands, culture, where to go and what to see while here.”
Fine china and crystal served with breakfast, a personal key to the Multon home and fresh flowers from the garden are just a few of the special touches Annie insists upon to make her guests feel more at home while visiting; and the extra care and attention is certainly appreciated by her guests. “Some of our guests from Europe and Canada have returned to Annie’s Place five times.”
As with any property, location is a key factor and with Seven Mile Beach, a major grocery store and duty free shopping all within walking distance of Annie’s Place, the decision-making process is certainly less daunting; and if that does not seal the deal, perhaps star-gazing on the eastern-facing outdoor patio will do the trick. “Our open air patio allows the stars and moon to be watched in total solitude at night.”
Rates at Annie’s Place begin at an affordable USD99.00 per night and include free wireless internet, local phone calls and access to a nearby tennis and volleyball court. For more information visit anniesplace.ky.
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Published: Skies Magazine, July 2014