Marc Langevin, here in a Caymanian ‘cottage’ from which drinks are handed out to arrivals, is king of the Grand Cayman castle, the luxury hotel that is Ritz-Carlton. A would-be Parisien engineer, he certainly manages to make all the cogs in this complicated hotel work seamlessly, even at busy times. Just imagine his challenges. The 144-acres of land, total, are on twp sides of the main A1 highway running up the west coast of the island, at the stretch that is known as Seven Mile Beach even though it is only 4.5 miles long. The two buildings are connected by a 150-yard covered bridge, that is a splendid gallery of local art.
So, he has the occupants of 365 bedrooms to cosset – round the year, 55 percent are repeats – plus there are 69 condos. He and his 800 team members have to make sure there are more than enough beach chairs. There are also the partners set up when the hotel opened, with its stated ‘seven wonders for seven miles’ (of beach). These continue to be that beach, and Ritz-Carlton’s renowned service, plus Nick Bollettieri for tennis; Greg Norman for the golf course; the La Prairie Spa, Jean-Michel Cousteau‘s programmes for kids and adults alike, and Eric Rippert, for food, year-round and at special times.
Ah, I have just missed it, sadly. January 16-18, 2015, saw the annual hotel Cook-Out, which Eric Rippert always leads with his great friends, tapas king José Andrés, and the legendary Anthony Bourdain – last week, his invited guests included Daniel Boulud, who, like all the culinarians, came for three days with their families. What a marvellous interaction that must have been. I am sure they all enjoyed not only the beach but, at the rear of the other block, what Langevin has turned into a more-adult outdoor club, with free cabanas around the pool, and boats to hire to meander, right from the pool-side dock, through the golf course to the coast and offshore sandbar with its famous stingrays.
There is so much to do at this luxury hotel that you might need to go home for a rest. There is an outdoor movie theatre, with films changing nightly – watch from chairs in the sand or from the outside terrace of the adjacent Italian restaurant. Oh gosh, the dinner choices: I am tempted by sushi in Taikan, leading right off the main rear lobby (it used to be a wine bar but this is much more appreciated). The lobby, like the whole hotel by the way, has been splendidly brought up to date by designer Bill Johnson. What were presumably typical turn-of-century dark wood columns and panels are now light, bright and just right for today.