A look at the latest hotel openings in the Caribbean and beyond

A weekly look at the latest hotel and resort news.

Cayo Levantado Resort, a brand-new resort under the Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts portfolio, is now open for reservations and will start welcoming guests on June 1, 2023. Located on the island of Cayo Levantado in the Dominican Republic, just a few miles away from Samaná Bay, this rebranded, and extensively renovated property marks Bahia’s evolution into the luxury hotel management segment with the aim of improving its offer and adding value to the tourism sector. 

The island is made up of three sandy and palm-fringed beaches, one being open to the public and two that are exclusively for guests staying at Cayo Levantado Resort. The resort offers two swimming pools, two spas (including a jungle spa), an outdoor CrossFit area, a beach club, a personal training studio, a beauty salon, botanic garden, a wide range of entertainment activities and an exclusive area focused on wellness. Guests will be able to choose from three à la carte restaurants, one buffet restaurant, four bars and a coffee shop. Two additional specialty restaurants give visitors exciting dining options outside the all-inclusive offerings.

Hyatt Zilara Riviera Maya officially opened its doors in Riviera Maya, Mexico, surrounded by lush mangroves. The exclusive adult oasis boasts 291 sophisticated suites with elegant amenities, modern décor and sweeping views of the resort grounds and sea. The all-inclusive resort is situated on 1.5 acres of pure white sand beach with easy access to the Cancun International Airport and only six miles from Playa del Carmen.

All rooms and suites feature spa-like bathrooms with rainfall showers, turndown service, LCD satellite TV’s, Wi-Fi internet access and complimentary minibars with soft drinks and premium beer along with 24-hour in-suite dining featuring chef specialties. Each guestroom offers a furnished balcony or patio with views of the ocean or garden.

Inspired by the art and architecture of pre-Hispanic Maya culture, Zen Spa provides a serene atmosphere for relaxation and wellness, featuring soothing and restorative treatments with ten indoor treatment rooms. Zen Spa also offers a master suite with a hydrotherapy tub, sauna and steam rooms, a fitness centre with group classes, strength zone and cardio area, and a full-service beauty salon.

Hilton is expanding its luxury portfolio in the US with plans carved in stone to develop the all-season Waldorf Astoria Lake Tahoe. Expected to debut in 2027, the mixed-use development will introduce 76 guest rooms and 61 best-in-class Waldorf Astoria branded residences.

Managed by Hilton, the new build luxury hotel will mark Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts’ first property in the treasured Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lake Tahoe is North America’s largest alpine lake recognized globally for its blue water, 72-mile shoreline and renowned ski resorts and terrain. It is no surprise that in 1960, Tahoe was home to the Winter Olympics. Boating, biking, hiking, climbing and golfing are just a taste of what draws athletes and adventurers to this locale today.

RIU Hotels & Resorts has inaugurated a new 5-star establishment with 428 rooms on the beach in Cancun, Riu Palace Kukulkan. The new adults only hotel offers 24-hour all-inclusive service.

The new hotel offers a wide array of culinary choices with a total of seven restaurants: the main Don Julio, a buffet with terrace; the Japanese restaurant Sunakku; the Krystal, with fusion food; the Mexican restaurant la Casa de las Flores; the Italian restaurant Rossini; a poolside steakhouse fit for meat lovers; and the grill Pepe’s Food with barbecue delights served throughout the day. It also has five bars: the lobby bar Daiquiri, with a mixology specialist and daily signature cocktail; Capuchino patisserie and ice cream shop; la Latina lounge; Mamasita pool bar; and the Lounge bar.

Outside, guests will be able to enjoy up to four pools in addition to direct beach access from the hotel. They will also have wellness and beauty services available at Renova Spa. One of the hotel’s special features is that interested guests are able to book Elite Club by RIU rooms. Guests selecting this exclusive service will have access to separate and personalized check-in  and late check-out, a welcome gift, aromatherapy and a Premium beverage dispenser, among many other perks.

Villa Ponta Melagrana, an ultra-exclusive villa located in Montenegro’s charming fishing village of Pržno, has launched globally.

With picturesque views of the turquoise Adriatic Sea, the Sveti Stefan Peninsula and Sveti Nikola Island; Villa Ponta Melagrana is one of Montenegro’s most luxurious villas and is available for exclusive hire only to ensure the utmost privacy.

Catering for up to 22 guests across eleven spacious bedrooms, Villa Ponta Melagrana includes amenities like a sauna, gym, beauty and massage room as well as an indoor swimming pool, and outdoor infinity pool for guests to enjoy a hotel experience in the privacy of their own villa. There is also a full-service spa, with therapists on demand, to offer bespoke massage and other wellness treatments.

Prices for exclusive hire of up to six bedrooms start at £5,980 per night.

A tantalizing food journey through San Juan, Puerto Rico

With a blowtorch in one hand and a rocks glass in the other, Dennis Rivera meticulously lights a small pile of tobacco leaves sitting on a slab of wood from a Spanish white oak sherry barrel on fire and places the glass on top to infuse it with the smoke. Rivera, a brand specialist at Puerto Rican rum distillery Ron del Barrilito in Bayamón, is creating a cigar fashioned — a twist on an old fashioned — made with ingredients like chocolate and orange bitters, cocoa powder, and rum instead of rye.

“It smells amazing already,” he says. “This is a cigar simple syrup. We do it here ourselves; we create the tobacco syrup in house.” Ron del Barrilito is the oldest Puerto Rican rum, made in the same way since 1880, but the cocktails on offer in the visitor’s centre are fresh takes on classic cocktails. Here, rum bottles fetch as much as US $750 for a collector’s edition that’s been aged for 35 years.

After touring the premises and learning all about the history of the business and the distilling process, the tables have turned, and now I’m the one mixing drinks by taking part in a mixology class offered on site, concocting three rum-based drinks, including a pina colada.

Nicknaming the one-ounce shot glass “Monday” and the two-ounce glass “Friday,” we follow the instructions and skillfully create some top-notch cocktails. The reward is not only to drink the fruits of our labour — everyone in the class is also presented with an official certificate for successfully completing the course.

Now, who said drinking couldn’t be educational?

A gastronomic adventure

The next morning, as local chef Nivia Villanueva arrives at Plaza del Mercado de Río Piedras, a traditional market in San Juan, her eyes light up when she sees the abundance of fresh local produce on offer just a few short weeks after the destination was hit by Hurricane Fiona.

“Look at this!” she says with excitement, holding up a large avocado that’s quadruple the size of the typical ones found in grocery stores back in Canada. “We also need peppers, onions and garlic.”

 

Our mission today is to pick up the ingredients needed to prepare a typical Puerto Rican feast for lunch. We’ll soon be whipping up dishes like mofongo, a local favourite made from fried mashed plantains. Since moving back to Puerto Rico to be part of the solution and recovery efforts after the devastating impacts of hurricanes Maria and Irma back in 2017, Villanueva has been on a quest to share her love for cooking and the history of Puerto Rican cuisine with travellers. She strives to source local ingredients as much as possible as well as to support nearby farmers and small businesses.

“I share my passion for Puerto Rico’s culture and cuisine, emphasizing local products and my secret ingredient — a pinch of love,” she explains. Although the bounce back was much quicker this time around (there are barely any traces of impact left in the San Juan area), the Puerto Rican-born chef wants to get the message out that the island is open and ready for visitors. By night, we’re told the area surrounding the market transforms into a vibrant spot for nightlife with ample bars to choose from.

Food: a cultural connection

After gathering all the necessary ingredients for our gastronomic venture, we head to Villanueva’s condo apartment to get cooking. Our group is spread out across the kitchen chopping vegetables and mashing the plantain down in small wooden containers. Progress is made quickly and a short while later, we’re lining up to plate our concoctions. The end result is quite possibly the best tasting meal I’ve ever had a hand in cooking.

The next day, Elliot Cintron of The Spoon Experience guides me through the picturesque cobblestoned streets of Old San Juan to five culinary stops while also stopping by some interesting sights in the area like the smallest apartment building in San Juan — which fits between his outstretched arms — and La Puerta de la Bandera, a large colonial door with the image of the Puerto Rican flag alongside some street art. I’m on the Sunset Walk & Taste Tour, which is as much about food and drinks as it is about getting a historical overview of the 500- year-old city.

Our first stop is Chocobar Cortés where almost everything on the menu has a chocolate element from the avocado toast to the aptly named chocoburger. Even the cocktails incorporate the sweet ingredients with options like a chocolate old fashioned using chocolate bitters. We’re here to sample frozen chocolate — essentially the opposite of hot chocolate and more like a chocolate shake, which hits the spot. Another delicious stop is at Singular restaurant for cocktails and Arroz Congri, a dish made up of black beans and rice in this case topped with steak. The restaurant is located in the Hotel El Convento, a historic hotel in the historic walled city of Old San Juan set in a former Carmelite convent dating back to 1651.

Just when I think I can’t possibly squeeze in even more food, Cintron brings the group to Señor Paleta, an ice-cream and popsicle shop utilizing local products. The locations of the food tour stops vary slightly each day but one thing is for sure — no one leaves hungry.

—STORY BY ANN RUPPENSTEIN

Top Chef Canada winner visits the Caribbean’s culinary capital

With an abundance of fresh seafood, seasonal ingredients and talented chefs, the Cayman Islands is a destination that is home to a fantastic restaurant scene.


The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is using a newly crowned culinary heavy hitter to promote the destination’s culinary scene.

The department held a recent Toronto lunch where the food was prepared by Tre Sanderson, who was recently announced as the winner of the Food Network Canada’s 10th season of Top Chef Canada.

The Caribbean’s culinary capital

Sanderson has visited the Cayman Islands, getting a first-hand look at what the department of tourism labels “the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.”

It marked the first time the popular show filmed an episode internationally.

“As the culinary capital of the Caribbean, we knew that we would be able to provide a unique location for the chefs and production team — with a variety of experiences that showcase the international influences, amazing ingredients and cuisine, island flair and sophisticated infrastructure that sets us apart from other destinations,” Raymond Mathias, who oversees the department’s Canadian office, told the Toronto gathering.

“We were amazed by the creativity of the four remaining contestants as they competed in a variety of challenges across heritage and hospitality sites in Grand Cayman, and explored the farmers’ market, local fish shacks, recreated a garden party reminiscent of events at Cayman Cookout and Taste of Cayman, and even managed to find a few moments to enjoy our glorious beaches.”

Camana Bay Farmer’s & Artisans Market

Dining options in the Cayman Islands also got the thumbs-up from Eric Abboud, vice-president of Insight Productions, producer of Top Chef Canada, who praised the destination for having a “great restaurant scene.”

Mathias, noting it has been nearly three years since his department hosted an event in this country, told those on hand that “we look forward to seeing you in the Cayman Islands again very soon.”

Mathias also congratulated Toronto-based chef Sanderson — who prepared the food served — on his win.

An emotional Sanderson in turn told the gathering that being named Top Chef Canada was a “special moment” for him.

STORY BY: IAN STALKER

Photos courtesy of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and Food Network Canada

Nassau’s only boutique beach hotel is now taking reservations

Goldwyn Resort is now accepting reservations for arrivals beginning Feb. 1, 2023.
 
Perched on a pristine stretch of Cable Beach, this resort is an intimate, modern retreat that stands in contrast to the large resorts of Nassau and departs from the traditional beachside aesthetic.
 
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Goldwyn Resort is designed with a nod to the seaside travel of yesteryear combined with the best in today’s luxury travel. Designed to celebrate the nostalgia of a grand era of travel, Wynn Hospitality LTD. presents their spin on a luxury Bahamian holiday with privacy and personal service, world-class cuisine and an epic sea side location.
 
“It is with very good reason that we welcome Goldwyn Resort & Residences to Small Luxury Hotels of the World as our one and only property in the Bahamas: the new beachside luxury retreat offers a more authentic, boutique island resort experience than the much larger neighboring Nassau properties,” said Kenan Simmons, Senior Vice President, Americas, of Small Luxury Hotels ofthe World. “From its beautifully appointed oversized rooms and contemporary island living philosophy, Goldwyn is an ideal partner to continue to bring discerning SLH members the smaller, independent luxury travel experiences that they desire.”
 
Goldwynn Resort will feature 81 studios, one- two- and three-bedroom suites, and three expansive Edge suites. The three-bedroom signature Goldwynn Suite is the ultimate in an oceanfront resort stay, with 1,940 square feet of interior space, three balconies, two terraces and 270 degrees ofunobstructed ocean views. All studios and suites feature full kitchens or kitchenettes, private balconies and views of the Bahamian ocean or manicured golf course. The inviting accommodations showcase locally curated artwork, rich textures, bespoke design elements and a dazzling palette of bright whites, cool blues, and sun-kissed metallics that capture the colour journey of a typical Bahamian day.
 
 
The resort’s signature restaurant, OIA, will offer a fusion of flavors influenced by MediterrAsian specialties, and rooted in Japanese traditions of preparation and presentation. OlA’s panoramic oceanfront views are shared with Bar Paul, a casual lounge by day and energizing space by night. Amara, an open-air eatery located on the infinity-pool deck, serves light fare and libations overlooking the Cable Beach coastline. Guests can opt to dine poolside in a private, butler-serviced cabana, just steps from the water’s edge. Atria is a stylish, yet unpretentious casual hub infused with natural light and showcases the world’s tallest indoor relief sculpture – a spectacular five-story art installation by Bahamian master artist, Kishan Munroe.
 
Mangrove Spa welcomes guests to a holistic ecosystem where they can stabilize and maintain their well-being through the power of touch, ancient rituals and mind body wellness technologies. Treatments are designed with Pevonia, Dermalogica, and Biologique Recheche products to deliver a high-quality spa experience, bringing guests to a new level of peace and relaxation. This intimate and sophisticated sanctuary includes three treatment rooms (including one couple’s suite), a nail and hair salon where guests can enjoy multiple simultaneous salon treatments and an outdoor cabana where guests can bask in the beautiful Bahamian seaside atmosphere.
 
The stunning beachfront location, merely 50 feet away from the turquoise waters, will accommodate small weddings, corporate events and a wide array of special occasions, celebrations and memorable
escapes. The Goldwynn Resort’s private yet prime location is just fifteen minutes from Linden Pindling International Airport and ten minutes from downtown Nassau. Goldwyn Resort is dedicated to providing the best in-class luxury service and experience in the region. Guests are invited to make every minute on property second to none.

This hotel in Grand Cayman is home to the island’s only sushi spot

With travellers permitted to enter the Cayman Islands without the need of any additional documents or health-related steps due to COVID-19, the destination is open for business and Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa is welcoming all travellers looking for a luxurious and memorable Caribbean getaway.   

Occupying the most expansive stretch of Grand Cayman’s famed Seven Mile Beach, the beachfront Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa features 343 guestrooms and suites, boasting the island’s largest inventory of guest rooms on Seven Mile Beach with Caribbean Sea views.  

Guests also have access to an array of wellness amenities including a daily activities schedule, morning beach yoga, a 24-hour WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio, The Hibiscus Spa, featuring 13 treatment rooms and a menu of over 60 wellness treatments, as well as a recently renovated freshwater pool – the largest in Grand Cayman. With Red Sail Sports located on the property’s beach, guests are also just steps away from an array of watersports activities.  

Travellers arriving to Grand Cayman will now have access to the island’s only restaurant specializing in sushi, ceviche, and poke with Westin Grand Cayman’s woto, which officially opened in June 2021. Led by Chef Ronald DeLa Torre and his award-winning culinary team, woto offers the freshest and most delectable chef-crafted sushi, ceviche, and poke the island has to offer. A new Sunday Brunch offering, available for hotel guests and locals, is available at woto from 12 – 3 p.m. with a choice of three menu items, a dessert and bottomless prosecco for $75 per person. Woto is also open daily from 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm. 

The property is also home to the Cayman Coffee Exchange, which recently underwent a one-million-dollar renovation. The grab-and-go café is the perfect place for guests to stop by for a quick pick-me-up as they head off for a day of sightseeing in the Cayman Islands. Cayman Coffee Exchange offers freshly brewed coffee, pastries, breakfast burritos and more.  

News of the removal of travel restrictions comes at a perfect time as Cayman Airways will start offering nonstop flights to Grand Cayman from Los Angeles International Airport on Nov.5, 2022, making travel from the West Coast to the Cayman Islands much easier.  

In honor of the new flight option, Westin Grand Cayman is offering a 20 per cent discount and a $300 resort credit per stay (with six-night min) now through Nov. 30 for guests booking a stay from Nov. 6, 2022 – March 4, 2023 traveling via Cayman Airways’ new direct flights. The promotion can be accessed with promo code YX1 as well as via booking page and boarding passes must be presented upon check in. 

In the Cayman Islands, you’ll find a rum that’s been aged 42-feet under the sea

The Cayman Islands is home to a rum with a unique aging process. Seven Fathoms rum — which takes its name from the depth at which the rum has been aged — is the only spirit producer in the world to age its rum underwater.

“The term Fathom is a unit of measurement, roughly the length of one’s outstretched arms. This was most commonly used to measure rope, which was once one of the main industries of the Cayman Islands many years ago,” says Walker Romanica, owner and distiller of Cayman Spirits Co., which produces the rum. “So Seven Fathoms, or 42 feet, is the approximate depth at which we aged a portion of the rum that goes into every blending of Seven Fathoms Rum.”

The rum is aged under the sea in American white oak bourbon casks where it is rocked by underwater currents to mimic a concept that dates back to the golden age of rum.

“The concept of aging underwater goes back to a time when there was something called Ocean Rum, or Dock Rum, which was a term given to barrels of rum that had made a voyage in a barrel across the ocean,” he says. “People knew this rum had aged better because on the ship it had been rocked by the sea. This stirring of the barrel and the rum is called agitation and it is something many distilleries seek to achieve today, we are just doing it in a unique way, using what we have naturally available to us here in the Cayman Islands.”

Although some European wineries and cava producers have started aging their products underwater, Cayman Spirits Co. remains the exclusive spirit producer to use this method. 

“A few whiskies and even some beers have also ventured to ship their liquid in barrels on ships circumventing the globe, to achieve a similar effect,” he says. 

To get a taste of the unique rum firsthand, the distillery offers tours Monday through Saturday “where you can come and get the full experience of the rum at Cayman Spirits Co. Distillery.”

In addition to Seven Fathoms Rum, visitors can also sample a variety of spirits that are only made and sold in Cayman, including some seasonal specialties only available certain times a year like Mango Brandy and Scotch Bonnet Vodka.

 

Here are some of the best tips for a successful sports fishing trip to the Bahamas

The Bahamas is a destination associated with blissful relaxation and lazy days of sunbathing on pristine sandy beaches. For a certain subset of travelers, the ideal Bahamian trip involves less time on the island and more time spent miles offshore on a charter fishing boat. The Bahamas is a sportfishing hotspot, drawing both veteran and aspiring anglers from far and wide with the promise of exhilarating big game fishing. We’ve got you covered if you’re interested in going out on the open waters on your own deep-sea odyssey but don’t know where to start. Here, we present a beginner’s guide to deep-sea fishing in The Bahamas…and how you might reel in a majestic tuna, wahoo or mahi-mahi that lives up to their legendary reputation!

What is deep sea fishing?

To start, you’ll need to understand what deep sea fishing is all about. If you’re picturing a small tin boat on a placid lake, you’re mistaken. Deep sea fishing often takes place in ocean waters about 100 feet deep so that anglers can target the largest sporting fish. You’ll definitely have to put in the work to catch these species; some specimens easily weigh over 100 pounds. Many prized fish caught off the shores of The Bahamas have tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, meaning reeling one in is a test of mental and physical strength.

If your heart is set on catching a legendary big fish, let’s dive in deeper about how to actually do so. Within The Bahamas, there are many favourable areas in which to go deep- sea fishing. Picking a perfect fishing spot is tough, but some of the best in The Bahamas are the waters around Bimini, Treasure Cay, the channel between Andros and Nassau and the Exuma trough. As a beginner, your best bet is to find a great charter with an even better guide to help you navigate the waters. As you might expect, we’ve prepared a helpful list for you below.

How to choose a charter

You can’t go wrong stepping aboard any of these trusty charters. For new and even experienced anglers, they represent one of the most consistent ways to return to shore with an impressive catch:

Yellowtail Charters

You’ll find family-owned Yellowtail Charters in Nassau. This deep-sea fishing business runs on three generations of sportfishermen with significant experience navigating the waters offshore. The expertise and knowledge of the captains at Yellowtail Charters will maximise your potential for catching big fish. If you want to experience the excitement that comes along with a deep-sea fishing trip, this is the charter for you!

Hunter Charters 

You’re bound to have a blast during a day out with Hunter Charters. The captains at Hunter Charters take pride in giving guests an incredible fishing experience. The owner and operator of Hunter Charters, Paul Smith, has been fishing in Nassau since 1979. The experienced crew takes their guests only 15 minutes off the shore of Nassau for some of the best deep-sea fishing in The Bahamas. Come aboard their clean, modern charters for some world-class fishing!

Chubasco Charters 

With over 30 years in the boat chartering business, Chubasco Charters has been joyfully guiding visitors on their fleet of four sportfishing boats. Chubasco Charters has made quite a name for itself in the deep-sea fishing industry and often sets annual catch records. If you want to get in on the action, Chubasco Charters will be delighted to share in the joys of deep-sea fishing. They prioritise their visitors, so you can expect nothing but smooth sailing on your deep-sea fishing adventure with Chubasco Charters.

Once you’ve decided on the perfect charter, you’re well on your way to making a big catch. You can prepare for your trip in several ways, so we’ve compiled a few tips to ensure your success!

What to bring on the boat

It’s not just about choosing the right rod. There are a number of elements to consider when prepping for what can be a long day at sea:

Clothing 

Clothing is very much weather-dependent. On a hot sunny day, you’ll want to bring a light, breathable long-sleeve t-shirt to protect your skin from the sun. Consider also wearing shorts on hotter days and on cooler days, opt for pants. Also, bring additional layers like a windbreaker and an extra shirt. Ultimately, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting fish slime on!

Sunscreen

There’s not much to elaborate on here, but most definitely bring sunscreen. We suggest also bringing sunglasses and a baseball hat or any other brimmed hat! You don’t want to burn, and a brim may keep any sea spray out of your eyes.

Food and Drinks

Many charters offer everything needed for a fantastic fishing trip, like food and drinks. Check out the website of the charter you’re using for specific details. If food and drink aren’t included, you’ll want to bring plenty of drinking water, snacks and lunch for a more extended trip. It takes a lot of energy to reel in a truly massive fish!

After preparing and planning for your first deep-sea fishing trip, it’s time for the real fun! On the day of your journey into the bright waters of the Atlantic Ocean, you can expect plenty of excitement! Bring your camera because this will be a day you won’t want to forget!

Getting there:

  • Daily flights from Toronto to Nassau with either Air Canada or WestJet.  
  • 2-3 flights weekly from Montreal to Nassau with Air Canada beginning Nov. 5.
  • Weekly Air Canada flights from Toronto to Great Exuma beginning Nov. 13.
  • Weekly WestJet flights from Calgary to Nassau beginning Nov. 26.
  • Weekly Sunwing flights to Freeport, Grand Bahama from Toronto & Montreal beginning Dec. 17.

Experience the wonders of the Cayman Islands

After passing through otherworldly formations of stalactite and stalagmite crystal structures formed over millions of years, our tour guide at Cayman Crystal Caves on Grand Cayman leads the group to the aptly named Bat Cave where dozens of bats are hanging and flying around the dimly-lit ceiling. 

“When you do look up, please keep your mouth closed!” he warned as the bats whizzed above our heads.

“Why?” I pondered for a brief second until I understood all too quickly as I felt something liquid drop onto my head. “Bat poo!”

Proceeding with the belief that being pooped on is a sign of good luck, I took a closer look at the walls and ceilings of the caves lined with icicle-shaped rock formations, which continue to grow slowly from single drops of water.

Exploring this underground world of the Cayman Islands is one example of the unique experiences that await travellers on a trip to the tri-island destination, which also includes Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The attraction, which offers three caves that visitors are able to explore, is debuting a new zip-line next month set above the surrounding lush tropical forested area.

Another memorable place to visit on Grand Cayman is Pedro St. James, a national historic site which provides a glimpse into life in the 18th century.

Tour guides like Trisha Richardson-Jackson share engaging stories about how the site became known as the “Birthplace of Democracy in the Cayman Islands” by being the venue where the decision was made to form the first elected parliament back in 1831.

In the 1990s, the Government of the Cayman Islands purchased the property and restored the Great House, which survived hurricanes, fires and vandalism, to its former glory over an extensive restoration period.

Notably, the stairs of the Great Hall is also the location where Captain Anthony Pack read the Emancipation Act to end slavery in the Cayman Islands and other British Territories.

The site is also home to the new oceanside Thatch & Barrel restaurant, where visitors can learn all about the local rum scene by taking part in a rum sampling. One offering is 1780 Pedro St. James Dark Rum, named after the historic location.

Another local rum with a notorious story to tell is that of Seven Fathoms Rum. Created by Cayman Spirits Co., the rum is aged in American white oak bourbon casks in the ocean at a depth of its namesake seven fathoms, which equates to 42 feet, where it is rocked by underwater currents. The process stems back to the golden age of rum where rum stored on boats was believed to have aged better than the barrels that were stored on land.

For those looking to soak up some local beer instead, The Cayman Islands Brewery Ltd. is a fun location to grab a flight and learn about the beer making process.

On the wild side, the Queen Elizabeth ll Botanic Park is a non-profit outdoor garden and wildlife facility dedicated to preserving natural environments. In addition to enjoying the great outdoors, visitors have a good chance of encountering the endangered Grand Cayman Blue Iguana. The park is also home to the Blue Iguana Conservation facility.

Of course, one of the most notable and Instagram-worth excursions in Grand Cayman is Stingray City, where travellers get the chance to swim and get up close and personal with stingrays.

Whether travellers are staying in the destination or visiting by cruise, there are many unique ways to spend time on Grand Cayman.

BY: ANN RUPPENSTEIN

Discover the Dutch Caribbean’s hottest new resort with a heart-shaped and luxury bungalows

As the motor coach pulled out of the airport headed for Sandals Royal Curaçao, couples on board started exchanging how long they’ve been married.

“Thirty-two years,” exclaimed one couple.

“Forty-four years,” boasted another, causing the bus to break out in applause.

“One day!” shouted a pair of newlyweds, garnering cheers all around.

It’s a fitting scene as Sandals Resorts has long garnered a reputation for providing luxury Caribbean vacations for couples and Executive Chairman Adam Stewart says the newly-opened west-facing resort is designed for couples eager to soak up the sunset.

“Sandals as a brand is about two people in love. Our tagline is, and has always been ‘Love is all you need’ — because everything else is included at Sandals,” he explains. “And the number one thing that customers are looking for to maintain romance, when they’re here in the Caribbean, is that sunset.”

New to Sandal’s sixteenth resort are the Kurason Island Suites, luxury bungalows set around a heart-shaped pool with an island at the centre, and the Awa Seaside Bungalows with private infinity pools overlooking the water. Guests staying in these upscale room categories also have complimentary access to MINI Coopers that let them hit the town and explore in style and comfort.

The suite life

The 351-room and suite property features 11 culinary concepts, including eight restaurants and three beachside gourmet food trucks, and 13 bars. Vincent pays homage to the famous Dutch painter with a European fusion menu; Gatsu Gatsu offers extravagent sushi creations and Zuka offers culinary traditions and flavours representative of Central America and South America.

As a first, Sandals Royal Curaçao offers a dine out program, where top tier guests can eat out at eight local restaurant partners in the capital city of Willemstad — included in the package price. 

“Our purpose is to share the four corners of the Caribbean with the world and the best of the Caribbean. I get the honour of running around the Caribbean all day long, flying on planes, scouting, looking and seeing what’s the best. As you look over here, it’s about as damn good as it gets anywhere on the planet,” Stewart says pointing out to the resort, which is located on 44 acres. 

On the island

Off the resort, the vibrant city of Willemstad is loaded with boutiques, street art, bars and restaurants to explore. Walking across Queen Emma Bridge, the floating bridge that connects the Punda and Otrobanda neighbourhoods, is a must. This is where visitors will find the colourful stretch of buildings that makes up the Handelskade — one of the most recognized views of the destination. 

Clarita Hagenaar, the 79-year-old founder of Clarita Food Trails, points out that the buildings used to be all white. 

“Legend has it that we had a governor who said stop painting the houses white because of the reflection of the bright sun,” she says. 

Fact or fiction, the historic figure is said to have ordered the change because the reflection caused him to suffer terrible migraines. Nowadays, the colourful pastel-honed hues of the buildings are part of the charm of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

With dishes influenced by Dutch and Afro-Caribbean cuisines, culinary tours with Clarita Food Trails end at Plasa Bieu, an old market that’s an authentic lunch spot for locals. The informal dining spot is a tasty way to indulge in fresh and homemade meals like salty pork stew, bòkel (salted mackerel), kabes ku higra (cup and liver stew), kadushi (cactus soup), bonchi kòra (red bean soup), and iguana soup.

For a relaxing way to spend the day, Island Routes runs catamaran and superyacht tours to Klein (little) Curaçao, a small uninhabited island with piercing blue water about 42 kilometres from the main island. Along with snorkelling for sea turtles and providing an idyllic backdrop for a scenic beach escape, there are some unique features to the flat, arid island like an iconic pink lighthouse and several shipwrecks. The most notable is that of the oil tanker ‘Maria Bianca Guidesman,’ which is eroding into the shoreline. 

The 1.7 square-kilometre island is divided into two starkly different sides, with the shipwreck coast being rough, rugged, rocky and dramatic, while the long stretch of sandy beach is picturesque with turquoise waters, and makes for a memorable day trip. 

For those with a sense of adventure, one of the most unique things to do in Curaçao is rappelling down the Queen Juliana Bridge, the tallest bridge in the Caribbean. The experience provides a remarkable vantage point of Willemstad from almost 150 feet up in the air. 

“My youngest client off the bridge was five years old and the oldest was two weeks away from turning 83 years old,” says climbing instructor, Albert Schoop of Vertical Fun Curaçao. 

A police officer by trade, Schoop originally got into rappelling through work, organizing training rappels as the local riot commander, becoming certified as a rappel master and gaining specialist training in tactical rappelling with a Dallas PD SWAT team. 

“Up to 1994 I used to watch rappelling on TV and think you must be very crazy to hang from such a thin rope at great heights,” he recalls. “I started doing it on my own with family and friends and there was always someone suggesting I should do this commercially.”

Along your travels you may hear the word Dushi, a Papiamentu word with multiple meanings. Unlike what it sounds like in English, it’s actually an endearing phrase meaning sweetie, honey, babe or even sexy. It can also be used to describe tasty food or the good things in life — so no matter where you find yourself in Curaçao, make sure it’s dushi.

This tour operator is launching a bunch of private jet tours to some of the hottest destinations

Remote Lands, the luxury tour operator offering bespoke travel and small-group private jet journeys is proud to announce their newest expedition within their remarkable travel collection. From Jan. 21, 2023, to Feb. 4, 2023, Remote Lands will offer an extraordinary itinerary through the United States, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Throughout this 14-night journey, just 14 guests will fly aboard a gorgeous Global Express 6000 jet and stay in five sumptuous AMAN properties for a magnificent travel experience.

New York (Jan. 21-23)

Guests will begin their journey at the newly opened Aman New York in New York City, home to world-class museums, rousing Broadway performances and acclaimed restaurants and nightlife. With 83 guest rooms and suites designed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Gathy in the iconic Crown Building in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, guests will enjoy their very own metropolitan adventure. Itinerary options will include unmissable stops to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), Central Park, Empire State Building, a private helicopter tour and much more.

Bermuda and Turks & Caicos (Jan. 23-26)

En route to Turks and Caicos is a touch down on the British colonial island of Bermuda, where guests will explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. George Old Town and walk on the incredible pink sand beaches.

Delving deeper into the tropics is Turks and Caicos, at the southern tip of the Bahamian Archipelago with the some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs and beaches. Guests will have flexibility in choosing from an array of activities on both land and sea, including house reef snorkeling, kiteboarding, hobie cat sailing, yacht excursions and more. A beachside cocktail party with a well-known marine biologist as well as a kayak eco-tour spotlighting the iguana sanctuary and coastal ecology of the island rounds out the stay. For this leg of the journey, guests will stay in Amanyara’s fabulous Pavilions nestled amidst 18,000 acres of tranquil nature preserves.

Dominican Republic (Jan. 26 – 29)

The third stop on the jet adventure is the Dominican Republic, one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries touting rich, cultural experiences perfect for the curious traveler. Itinerary highlights include immersive day trips into the destination’s very best gems: Colonial Santo Domingo, a quaint fifteenth-century city and Puerto Plata, the oldest town in the area that offers spectacular city and coast views. Additional options include a private ceviche cooking class with a top local chef as well as reef and wreck diving in Sosua amidst 20 different dive sites. To celebrate the very best of the traditions within the Dominican Republic, a private rum and cigar class led by Juan Carlos Albert of Arturo Fuento will educate guests on how to blend, roll and distinguish cigars.

Guests will stay at Amanera, a luxurious sanctuary located around a verdant jungle with panoramic ocean views, perched above the golden sands of Playa Grande Beach.

Canyon Point, Utah (Jan.29 – Feb. 1)

A gorgeous vestige of the wild West, Canyon Point is cradled by a staggering landscape of dramatic canyons, mountains, rapids, gorges and desert, with traces of human life dating back 10,000 years. Here, the extraordinary accommodations of Amangiri await travelers, serving as the perfect backdrop of unobstructed desert and canyon views. Activities pay homage to the destination, including a three-hour canyon hike led by a Navajo guide, and petroglyph and ancient culture exploration with an expert guide at Broken Arrow Cave to learn about 6,000 years’ worth of local history. Additional activities include via ferrata climbing, Amangiri’s on-property rock-climbing site; Zion National Park; UTV excursions; hot air balloon rides and a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. To wind down, spa treatments, cocktails and dinners inspired by Navajo tribal cuisine and an array of resort activities await. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Feb. 1 – 4)

The final stop in this great North American journey is Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a destination beckoning nostalgia of the American West and flanked by dramatic mountain ranges. Amangani, meaning ‘peaceful home,’ abides by its namesake by sitting at the nexus of extraordinary wilderness full of abundant wildlife. The choices of activities are plentiful, including skiing across a range spanning over 2,500 acres; snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park; dog sledding; heli-skiing; a private tour of Yellowstone National Park; sunset sleigh rides and more.

“My favorite itineraries include lots of scenic and cultural diversity, which Adventures in the Americas has in abundance across five different countries,” said Catherine Heald, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote Lands. “We visit tropical islands, snowcapped mountains, remote deserts, big cities, charming villages, UNESCO World Heritage sites and great natural wonders of the world aboard a gorgeous Global 6000 private jet.”

The Adventures in the Americas journey will be led by Remote Lands’ CEO and Co-founder, Catherine Heald, on January 21 – February 4, 2023. This trip is priced at $112,888 per person, with a single supplement of $39,888. Children are welcome. While Remote Lands will not require proof of vaccination, travelers must abide by all local government health protocols within each destination. To learn about the Americas journey and other luxe excursions, please visit www.remotelands.com.