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A Heavenly Palette of Colours
Member Name: Plumptious
Date: 26/01/01, updated on 09/05/05 (135 review reads)
Advantages: Paradise is as wonderful as it's supposed to be.
Disadvantages: Expensive, not for the easily bored.
I was helping an acquaintance select a hotel in the Caymans, when I realised that I had a tip or two which someone else might find useful, so here goes.
Seven Mile Beach is the Mayfair of the Caymans. I recommend a room there. It has a really good beach and is very central. Don't worry too much about overcrowding as most of the hotels all have private beaches, which by their very nature will limit numbers.
The thing to watch out for is that hotels will boast of this address in the brochures, but do read carefully to see if they are actually on the seafront. The "beta" rate hotels may be on "Seven Mile Beach Road", but they are on the other side of the road, the side not facing the seafront. Not the end of the world, but a walk of several hundred yards crossing another property will be involved to gain access to the beach. This would be a disappointment to anyone not forewarned and expecting to stroll down to the beach from a seafront hotel room.
Properties of note on Seven Mile Beach include the Governor's residence and "The Great House". This is a lovely building with a summer sky blue roof. It looks lovely in the tropical setting. If you watched "The Firm", starring Tom Cruise, this where the swish penthouse suite which appeared in the film is. It was selling for 2 million US dollars at the time.
At one end of this road is Georgetown, the capital of the Caymans. Be warned, it's not very big, being smaller than the average high street. A good place to stock up on groceries and suchlike, and as good a place as any to start thinking like a local. <
So, there I was, with my armful of shopping at the counter. There were two assistants behind it, and I was the only customer in the shop. They started chatting. I waited. They continued chatting. I waited expectantly. Their conversation continued.
After a long while, they turned round and served me. It was later explained to me by my mother, who had lived there for a while, that I would have been quite welcome to join in the conversation. There would have been no conceivable need to miss out on an interesting discourse. After all, where could I possibly have been rushing off to? The post office, maybe? Well, the same thing would probably have happened there. Anyhow, the post office closes at half past three, so I would have been cutting it fine. It's best not to try to squeeze too many things into one day in paradise.
It's a totally different world. If you get invited to a party, most of the directions will probably consist of driving north/south/east/west until you get to Doctor A's house, at which point you take the take the next turning left/right, and continue driving until you get to Doctor B's house.
This is because a lot of the roads are still not named. The houses belonging to doctors tend to be the bigger ones and so serve as splendid landmarks.
If you get tempted to invest, then it may be of interest for you to note that properties at the East Side tend to be larger, set in several acres rather than just the one acre. This is because the East Side has fewer sandy beaches like those on Seven Mile Beach, and so is deemed less desirable. However, the rocky outcrops on these beaches have a more wild and majestic presence which the tamer white sands lack.
This reminds me of a bit of local gossip:
Fifty years ago, the Caymans were little more than a mosquito infested swamp. Not very prosperous, they also suffered the indignity of the other Caribbean islanders in
sisting that the Cayman's national bird was the mosquito.
The little portion of land that was farmable tended to be inland, away from the sandy beaches and the salty sea. When an estate was divided up, the firstborn would traditionally receive the more desirable plots, which were inland.
Half a century later, the Caymans have been discovered as a tourist destination. Untouched and as yet untainted, it truly is paradise. Its irresistibility has resulted in numerous hotels springing up by the pristine beaches. Prime plots sell for millions.
So what's the problem? Foreigners arrive, hand over some money, hang about a bit, and go away again. The Caymanians are now more prosperous. This is great.
Well, the problem is that the prime plots are the previously worthless seafacing pieces of land. The second and third son are the ones raking it in, not the favoured heir apparent, who was bestowed the more farmable inland plot. This has caused a few disagreements between siblings.
So, what is there to do?
This is not the place for you if you want to shop. The Caymanians tend to visit Miami twice a year armed with a couple of empty suitcases. Visiting said destination involves a week of frenzied shopping and results in two suitcases full of essentials for the next six months. Even taking the air fare into account, it's cheaper that way.
There are a few places to visit. Conservationists might find the turtle farm of interest, and the Caymans is to scuba diving what Hawaii is to surfboarding. The main attraction is simply the clean environment, balmy air and relaxed pace of life.
Friday nights are great for anyone fancying a night out. The hotels battle for custom by offering free buffets. They normally have quite a good selection. I have a vague recollection of barbecued chicken wings. It is a very pleasant way of spending a Friday evening. There's normally a band, and one hotel even o
ffers a two hour boat trip out into the bay. All you pay for are any drinks you have, and there's no pressure to buy.
My fondest moment is wandering away from the crowd to walk by the water's edge. The bright lights were left behind me, but I could still hear the band. I removed my shoes, braced myself, and placed my feet in the water.
Nothing. The icy cold shiver never happened. I had been conditioned to the weather in the UK so well, that I had forgotten that I was now in the tropics.
The waves which lapped over my feet in the enveloping night were warm and soothing. Balmy air caressed my arms and legs. It occurred to me then, as I stood there with the strains of calypso music washing over me, that this would be oh so perfect for a honeymoon.