A recently renovated Starwood property, Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach is named a gold list property by Conde Naste Traveler. This distinctive Marriott brand hotel seeks to give its guests a memorable experience with a unique perspective. Attracting those interested in being part of the well-being movement seeking to eat, play and sleep well, the brand caters to the upscale traveler. This Grand Cayman beachside property is no different. It offers up a cosmopolitan and spacious lobby with ocean views, modern pool with two hot tubs, a collection of oceanside & poolside cafés and bars, Spa, workout facility, and children’s play area on the beach.
Marriott is known for family centric resort experiences and worldwide consistency. This Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort has been recently remodeled and is now branded as the “Beach House.” The presentation is well thought out with made to order crepe station, mojito bar and gelato carts in between the beach and the pool, lively lobby space, and an upscale oceanside restaurant. You can watch turtles swim in the lagoon that separates the hotel lobby from the ocean and there are plenty of hanging tree loungers to curl up with a good book and lose yourself. Themed dinner options are hosted most nights. Our favorite: unlimited lobster night at the oceanside Veranda restaurant.
Best Beach: Westin
Westin has the quintessential picture perfect white sand beach. US News Travel rated it as the #1 beach and is the kind of space you picture when you think island holiday vacation. Water is as smooth as glass and is as blue as the sky. You have space enough to get your own umbrella and plenty of distance between you and the other guests enjoying the sand.
Unfortunately, there has been some beach erosion that has impacted resorts on the south end of Seven Mile Beach and the once lovely and expansive Marriott beach is a thing of the past. Loungers are literally stacked side by side and their limited number makes them difficult to grab. To add more lounge space, they have placed a few large in-water trampolines slightly big enough for a family of 4 (pictured). For those who don’t swim, have small kids who might not be comfortable making their way through the ocean, or for those who don’t like to get wet, these loungers aren’t always an appealing option. My family, however, found them pretty novel which was great because there were days when beach loungers were taken by 9am. Also, the once beautiful artificial reef teaming with life has declined over the last few years.
Best All Ages Kid Appeal: Marriott
The Marriott has free Go Pros, a gelato cart between the ocean and pool, great organized kids games on the beach, retro style bikes for rent, and a mountain of free beach toys. They had things that could appeal to a wide range of children, from the very small to the teenagers in your group.
Best Under 12 Kid Appeal: Westin
The Westin has made a huge effort to appeal to the under 12 crowd with a strategically placed giant outdoor foam block play park between the ocean and Ferdinand’s Restaurant right on the sand. This makes for an incredible opportunity for grown ups to either dine or simply grab a cocktail at Ferdinand’s covered patio while the kids play. You can also send the kids to play while still under your beach umbrella and lounger if you set up camp on the far end of the beach. When the kids needed a change of pace, they can build while you continue to lounge beachside 20 paces away.
Best Pool: Both
Adults say Westin. It is modern, packed with more grown-ups than kids and has a swim up bar. This is the largest fresh water pool in Grand Cayman.
Kids say Marriott (pictured) because the water was warmer, rafts & water toys are available free of charge and had more kids to play with.
Best Dining: Marriott
Marriott wins hands down. Both restaurants had incredibly tasty food and meals were creatively themed to add to the vacation fun. The food was presented beautifully and the dining spaces nailed the shabby chic beach vibe.
For gluten free diners, the Marriott wins as well. In fact, this Grand Cayman property has some of the best gluten free dining we have experienced throughout the Caribbean. Favorites: chef made gluten free pancakes and French toast at the Anchor & Den Breakfast Buffet (even served with gloves to avoid cross contamination), gluten free muffins baked fresh daily at the grab and go Crepe Station (pictured), hummus and raw vegetables and gluten free pasta on the kids menu at Veranda overlooking the sea. During the festive themed nights, they also allow a la carte ordering which helps those with allergy cross contamination buffet concerns. You could easily stay on property your whole vacation without getting tired of the gluten free food on offer.
The Westin performed very poorly in providing something decent to eat, gluten free or otherwise.
For gluten free diners there was lack of knowledge about cross contamination practices. The beach side grill had gluten free bread (bonus!). But, when I saw grill marks and questioned the shared grill surface of the beachside outdoor grill, it took them an additional 25 minutes to have another restaurant on property make the grilled cheese in a pan. To their credit, they did give us three grilled cheese for the price of one (pictured) but...had I not questioned the plate, we could have ended up being gluten’d.
We also tried the brunch buffet at Ferdinand’s and were extremely disappointed with the food quality overall--not just the gluten free offerings. They had no gluten free pancakes or muffins and begrudgingly made gluten free French toast. Also, kids under 3 eat free, not 5 like the Marriott’s Anchor and Den.
Across the board, it was some of the most expensive and least tasty of the food we ate on the entire island.
Worth the Ocean View Upgrade: Westin
Westin has modern and spacious rooms that are well worth the upgrade to ocean view. Plus, there is no middle ground here. Upgrade for an ocean view or you get to stare at a parking lot.
Not ready to blow the cash on the ocean upgrade but don’t want to spend your whole holiday staring at concrete either? Marriott does a great job of giving you that in between choice of a Courtyard View room (pictured). This is a great option to still stare at water and have a relaxing tranquil setting with iguanas and turtles roaming right outside your window without paying a large sum for a view of nature. But be warned: although the Marriott has spent significant time and money redesigning the common areas and the guest experience throughout the hotel, the rooms are still pretty outdated. Not much has changed in room from 8 years ago when we first started staying here.
Best Bar: Westin
Westin has two excellent bars that set it apart. The swim up pool bar has a seating area steps from the beach, and the sleek modern bar in the spacious lobby overlooks the palm trees swaying in the breeze on the beach.
Marriott does set up a bar cart between the pool and the ocean but it doesn’t provide you an area to sit and sip. And although the décor is nice inside at the bar, the limited and awkwardly spaced lobby seating doesn’t give you much room to spread out and stay awhile.
Upscale, modern, relaxing resort providing an incredible beach and swim up pool bar offering limited reasonably priced and tasty dining options.
Family-centric upbeat shabby chic beach resort, offering plenty of activities for travelers of any age that provides scrumptious cuisine through various themed dining nights.
Consider renting a car while staying at either location on this relatively safe island. For Marriott hotel goers, this affords you the opportunity to explore other locations because the beach is so limited and crowded. For Westin guests, car rental allows you to leave the resort to enjoy better tasting and more reasonably priced food.
We used Hertz. But, this and most other major car rental companies are located a quick walk from baggage claim directly onsite at the airport.
Tip: Don't hold out for free upgrades to a larger car at this popular island destination. Book a car with enough space for your family and belongings ahead of time. When they say no room for a large suitcases, they mean it (think Europe small, not American small).
Also, remember that Grand Cayman is a British territory. If you happen to be an American tourist, make sure you are comfortable with driving in what you consider "the wrong side of the road" before renting here.