A place so wild and pretty
Story and photos by Ashley Rochefort
As the plane touches down at Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town, a nearby passenger prepares to disembark while excitedly telling her seatmate that this is her family’s third trip to Grand Cayman. First-timers to the Cayman Islands will quickly learn that this is not a unique scenario. In fact, Cayman enjoys a high repeat factor at 57%. And after getting to know the destination, it’s easy to understand why. Cayman is coveted for its safety, excellent customer service, and ‘Caymankind,’ the nation’s very own brand of friendliness. Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands, boasts everything you could want in a vacation spot – great beaches, luxury accommodations and amenities, tropical adventures like hiking the Crystal Caves (www.caymancrystalcaves.com) and swimming with wild stingrays (www.caymanluxurycharters.com), not to mention it’s the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
But if your clients are among the many who vacation in Cayman again and again, perhaps they’ll be looking for something new to discover by their second or third trip. Just 145 kilometres off the northeast coast of Grand Cayman is Cayman Brac, a small island wonder with wild shorelines, unspoiled natural beauty, and unpretentious local charm. “As the second largest island in the Cayman Islands, Cayman Brac is equal parts thrill and chill,” describes Raymond Mathias, business development manager – Canada, The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. “Cayman Brac is just one of those unique and special places that people remember long after they depart.”
A few days on The Brac makes an incredible addition to a client’s Cayman itinerary that offers agents extra commission opportunities and clients something new, unexpected and truly off the beaten path.
Getting there is easy enough once you’re in Grand Cayman. Daily flights from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac start around US$120 return per person on Cayman Airways (www.caymanairways.com) and earn agents 4% commission. They’re bookable in the main GDS platforms, including Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan, and Apollo.
Visitors to Cayman Brac can book a free guided tour of the island courtesy of Nature Cayman (www.naturecayman.com). If possible, ask for tour guide, and one of The Brac’s 2,200 locals, Keino Daley. His enthusiasm, earnest love for the island, and laugh are equally contagious. From local restaurant recommendations like Star Island Restaurant and Pat’s Kitchen (where he’ll encourage the conch and rice and peas), Keino shares the secrets of island life with his visitors. On the tour visit the charming Heritage House and Museum, the lighthouse, and two vantage points of the stunning limestone bluff, for which the island is named, that rises 43 metres above the sea along the length of the island.
Cayman Brac is a nature lover’s paradise with trails, cave systems, wetlands, and more than 200 species of birds, including the rare Cayman Brac Parrot. But if it’s the marine life your clients are after, like so many divers who visit the Cayman Islands, be sure to check into the Cayman Brac Beach Resort (www.caymanbracbeachresort.com) which offers a variety of diving packages. “There’s an incredibly diverse marine life and the crystal clear waters make the Brac a must-do for scuba divers,” boasts Mathias.
Unlike so many other Caribbean destinations, Cayman Brac’s beaches aren’t lined with hotel towers or overcrowded with selfie-taking tourists. Disconnect from the rat race at boutique resort, Le Soleil D’Or, a solitude-seeker’s dream. Enjoying lunch at Le Soleil’s Mango Restaurant were a couple of friends, retired insurance salesmen originally from Boston, Ray and David. Ray calls The Brac home one month out of the year, and explains, “spend some time here, and when you go back to the main island and you’ll think you’re in New York City.” Voted one of the 50 best resorts in the world in the 2016 Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards, the resort is the very definition of boutique with just 4 guest rooms (starting at US$350 per night) and 4 villas (starting at US$500 per night) on offer. Of course, Le Soleil has all the fine amenities your clients expect at this price point – two pools, elegantly decorated rooms, luxurious spa treatments, fine dining at Mango Restaurant, and full-service beach club. But like the island itself, the resort has a remote, private feel. Romantic in its seclusion, it’s a perfect place for honeymooners or couples who want nothing to do but bask in the sun and enjoy each others company. Agents can earn a healthy 20% commission on all client bookings. Find them on the GDS with chain code XT. Le Soleil D’Or is also affiliated with Travel Leaders’ Select Hotels & Resorts and Classic Vacations. Full details at www.lesoleildorcayman.com.
There’s no time like the present. Clients travelling to the Cayman Islands between September and Dec. 15 can take advantage of the Fall Only in Cayman promotion with savings on accommodations, attractions, dining and more. Visit www.visitcaymanislands.ca for details.
The Sea Dreams Villa on Cayman Brac is home to the Cayman Islands’ only Jewish synagogue. Accommodating up to 40 guests, the temple’s proprietors welcome any faith or denomination to use the space for wedding nuptials. Ceremonies are preformed on site (or anywhere on Cayman Brac or Little Cayman) by retired US Air Force Maj. George A. Walton. The spectacular property itself runs from the bluff to the sea with fruit trees, gardens, hammocks under coconut trees, and the island’s original solid brass lighthouse on display. To book a destination wedding for your clients, visit www.seadreamvilla.com.
Farm to Fork
Farm Soleil is the 20-acre organic farm at the heart of Le Soleil D’Or. Growing more than 300 varieties of every fruit and vegetable imaginable, plus a flock of 200 chickens, the farm sustains the hotel’s Mango Restaurant – a celebration in fresh, local, seasonal ingredients and an ultimate farm-to-fork experience. If its not used in daily service, produce is canned or preserved, used as natural spa treatments or returned to the earth. Farm tours and cooking classes available.