Five Things to Know About the Westin Grand Cayman
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Beach vacations are interesting to plan because some of the best oceanfront resorts can have a ho-hum or even unswimmable beach rendering their location picturesque, but not necessarily functional. Then, of course, some of the best stretches of beach can be flanked by lackluster hotels and resorts that are banking solely on their five-star location to draw in the crowds. Factor in that an ocean-front location is physically hard on properties both inside and out, and even a good beach property is going to have to do regular renovations to stay that way. Finding a beachfront resort on a five-star stretch of swimmable beach, that is new or has kept up with necessary renovations, and that you can stay at for a reasonable number of points can be a challenge. Usually, you can only get two out of three of those wish-list items.
Luckily, the Westin Grand Cayman ticks all of those boxes making it one of our favorite beach destinations of all time, and one that I recommend to other families with little hesitation. I gave our first sneak peek inside the resort already, but now that we are (sadly) back home, here are five things to know about the Westin Grand Cayman in case your family is in the market for a points-friendly beach resort on a perfect stretch of sand.
Westin Grand Cayman is on a perfect stretch of beach
The most important factor in selecting a beach resort is probably the location, and this location could not be better. Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman is home to soft, cool, coral sand and crystal clear blue water where you can build epic sand castles.
This perfect beach is located just behind the resort, so you don't have to worry about getting wet and sandy children to and from the beach in a vehicle. You can use the hotel's beach towels, the outdoor shower area to rinse the sand off your feet, and then hop in the pool before heading back inside.
The Westin Grand Cayman has plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas for guests, though the best spots will go early, so I recommend playing the resort chair reservation game and dropping some inexpensive belongings off at your desired sitting spot first thing in the morning.
There are some waves on this stretch of beach, but not generally big enough to surf or cause trouble for your little kids.
We found the small waves to offer just the right amount of excitement for our little kids while still allowing the water to be very swimmable. I've been to Aruba, the Maldives, the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, Hawaii, and beyond and have never been on a better stretch of beach for young families.
The water is so clear it looks like a swimming pool!
This short video should give a good overview of the hotel and our time playing around the island.
The Westin Grand Cayman pool is fine, but not award-winning
The Westin Grand Cayman has a perfect beach, but the pool isn't outstanding compared to what other resorts have to offer in that department. There is only one pool for everyone at the resort to share and it has a walkable bridge going over the center (so watch out when college spring breakers start wrestling each other on the bridge). The first couple of days we found the pool to be on the chilly side, though by the fourth straight day of sun, it had warmed up enough for us to get in without doing the 'cold pool dance'.
Other than being slightly cool, the Westin Grand Cayman pool isn't bad by any stretch, it just isn't extraordinary. There are no water features, slides, toddler areas, or zero entry offerings. It is just a pretty standard pool flanked by palm trees and some shaded seats. At times it wasn't very crowded, and at other times it was pretty full, largely with older adults and a few families.
There is a swim-up bar at the pool and thankfully some shadier areas to retreat to as you will want to give your skin some breaks from the strong Cayman sun. We had fun in the pool, but I do very much wish they also had a more family-friendly pool with a zero-entry area, or at least a splash pad area for toddlers. For those interested, the neighboring Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman has exactly what the Westin Grand Cayman is lacking in their Starfish Cay splash area as shown below. To my knowledge, they do not sell day passes to that splash area, as that would have been the perfect way to spend some time with my toddler.
To end this section on a positive note, the pool service at the Westin Grand Cayman is very prompt with the umbrellas equipped with buttons that will alert the servers that you would like to order some food or a cool drink. Bottom line, the pool at the Westin Grand Cayman isn't a negative, but it also isn't a draw to the resort as there are much better resort pools out there.
The Westin Grand Cayman rooms are nicely renovated
The Westin Grand Cayman is fresh off a massive $50 million dollar renovation that has updated the entire property, including the 343 guest rooms. All of their king rooms now have a pull-out sofa, as do select (non-standard) double rooms. The standard room that we booked with our SPG points was about 380 square feet with two Heavenly double beds and a nice color palette of island blues, white, and grey.
For a family, I'd prefer two queen beds to two doubles, but what the beds lack in size they make up for in comfort.
The girls obviously gave it two thumbs up for when they were relaxing between trips down to the beach. There were plenty of outlets and chargers for our devices, though note that the WiFi was not very fast and not super reliable. It was good enough to get some work done during the day, but not good enough to rely on for a normal day's worth of work. Hopefully, you aren't at the beach working, but if you are, know that it may be spotty.
The only thing I didn't love about the room was the parking lot view. As a SPG Platinum member I've gotten used to at least getting a view upgrade (though never a suite), but I'm not really complaining since this was high season and at check-in they did mention trying to get us in a room with a view the next day. However, since it only had a king bed + a pull-out instead of two real beds we declined not knowing how comfy the pull-out would be.
The bathroom was clean and modern with good water pressure and had a tub/shower combo that may not be the preference of most adults, but certainly is handy when traveling with little kids. The only slight negative in the bathroom was there is only one sink and it is massive, taking up most of the counter space.
There is a small fridge in the room where you can stash your own drinks or snacks if you wish.
Your (big) resort fee covers some solid activities
The Westin Grand Cayman has a painful $65 USD per night resort fee charge that applies whether you are on a paid rate or an award reservation. Off the top of my head, that is the highest resort fee at any points-friendly hotel that I am familiar with. As a SPG Platinum member, they did give me a $5 discount per day on the fee, but that obviously doesn't make a huge difference when you are talking about a $65 nightly fee.
While I hate the fee, it does cover a decent number of activities and amenities that you can and should make use of while you are at the Westin Grand Cayman. Some of the 'included' activities and amenities are beach yoga, paddle boarding, a welcome reception with wine and snacks, family time in the kid's club, juice in the lobby, ping pong or sand castle tournaments, movie night, s'mores, bottled water, self parking, spa amenities, and more.
For example, we could have rented a stand-up paddle board for about $45, but if you just wait for the 'included' paddle boarding hours in the morning, there was no additional charge.
We found that they would provide as much included bottled water in the rooms as we asked for, which saved us a fair amount over paying island prices per bottle. Even the juice in the lobby was a welcome inclusion as it was tasty, refilled through the day, and the perfect way to give the whole family sometime cool to drink at no additional charge.
The SPG Welcome Reception took place a few evenings a week, and during that time you could head to the bar in the lobby for a complimentary glass of white or red wine and some (small) delicious snacks.
Don't misunderstand me, I think the resort fee is painfully high, but if you make use of the on-site inclusions it isn't as terrible as it seems at first glance.
There is good food close to the Westin Grand Cayman
I'll do a separate post on eating at the Westin Grand Cayman, but it is important to know that there is good (affordable) food within walking distance from the resort. In fact, all you have to do is literally walk across the street to find a couple solid restaurant options in a non-descript shopping center.
We enjoyed our meals at Eats Cafe, Legendz and Yoshi Sushi, that share the same owners and offer quality dine-in or to-go dining options at a fraction of the hotel restaurant costs.
Located just a little further walk away is Sunshine's Grill that is owned by the same group as the Westin Grand Cayman and receives very high marks as an affordable casual dining option, especially at lunch. We didn't make it to Sunshine's on this trip, but we did make it to Camana Bay. Camana Bay is an area that is technically walkable at about 1.5 miles away from the Westin (we walked it), but it is more likely a short $10 cab ride away.
There are many restaurant and shopping options at the high-end Camana Bay area where you will also find some kid-friendly splash fountains. We selected The Brooklyn Pizza + Pasta on a Sunday evening when Kid's Eat Free.
Not only do kids get a free item with the purchase of an adult entree on Sundays, but all meals come with a fluffy loaf of bread roughly the size of my eight-year-old's head.
We found The Brooklyn to be a perfect family-friendly spot to eat as the food got thumbs up from all four of us (big yes to the goat cheese salad!), the prices were reasonable for the area, and the kids could play in the fountains while you waited for your food at the outdoor tables.
Those family-friendly dining options just scratch the surface of what is available to eat near the Westin Grand Cayman, but the important thing to note is that you aren't stuck just eating what the resort has to offer. There are ample, delicious, nearby restaurants to serve a variety of budgets and appetites and that makes me love the hotel even more than if you were stuck there with no reasonable alternatives to keep you fed or entertained.
You can book the Westin Grand Cayman using SPG points
The Westin Grand Cayman sells rooms for $500 - $1,000 per night during the high season, so this is a place where you will want to use your SPG points. You can book a five-night award stay for as low as 48,000 points with the fifth night free, making your per-night average just 9,600 points per night that you can earn via cards such as the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card. This will easily give you a very nice return for each point redeemed.
My entire family ranging from the two-year-old girl to the forty-something Dad thoroughly enjoyed our spring break at the Westin Grand Cayman. We would all absolutely love to return in a couple of years, again using our SPG points to keep our out-of-pocket costs low and the fun quotient high.