We just came back from our week-long spring break vacation. Not a lot of thought or research went into planning this one, as we pretty much were headed wherever our Starwood Preferred Guest hotel points would take us. The ground rules for this trip were that it had to be a non-stop flight not longer than four hours, the hotel had to be located on a great beach, and no rental car was needed. It would be an added bonus if it was someplace we’d never been before. We plugged in our requirements, and out popped the The Westin Seven Mile Beach Resort in Grand Cayman. After a few cursory checks on Tripadvisor, we booked our reservations.
The hotel itself was as we expected – comfortable, but not fancy. The beds were not quite as heavenly as in other Westins, but good enough. Thanks to our SPG gold status, our room was upgraded to Ocean View. Had it not been, we would have had a lovely view of the street. That would have been a big downer for me. After all, half the joy of a tropical vacation is sitting on the terrace, looking at the sea. And this particular terrace came with sunset views. Perfection.
Although we’ve been on many Caribbean island family vacations, this one was unique in a few ways. Not unique in the physical sense of the island, but more in the way of my own personal mindset. This was the first beach vacation we were taking since I left my job, so for once, I wasn’t high-tailing it down to the Caribbean with a brain and body more burned than out than a California wildfire. I found that I had pretty much unwound by the time Happy Hour had arrived on Day 1.
And… it was our first tropical vacation with a TEENAGER in tow.
It used to be that we’d go on vacation and try to find a “friend” for Junior Goo Shoes to hang out with, so he wouldn’t be bored. We were almost always successful, especially the time in Aruba when we met a wonderful family from Pittsburg, who we are still in touch with. But now, he seemed to be content hanging with us on the beach, working on his tan, and entertaining himself by reading or watching a movie on the iPad. He did find ways to escape the presence of his parents, by heading up to the room in the afternoon, or down to the lobby at night for some ooVoo with his friends. If we happened to invade his space, he’d snap that laptop shut faster than an alligator’s jaws on its dinner. His phone was a constant companion, but we insisted that he shut it during meals so we could have actual conversations. I don’t know why I found this surprising, but entire families sat glued to their own personal devices in restaurants, without a word between them, and I was damned if we were going to be one of those.
Speaking of restaurants, OMG, were they pricey! The value of the US dollar was comparable to being in Europe, adding on about 25% to everything we spent. Prices for taxis and restaurants were not for the feint of heart. We did go to a couple of restaurants worth mentioning. Calypso Grill had a real Caribbean vibe and great food; The Wharf had a beautiful outdoor setting on the water, complete with a school of tarpons swimming just below. It was a perfect choice for our last night. By the end of our one-week stay, I’d eaten conch (say it like a local – it’s “conk”) in every imaginable way – conch chowder, conch fritters, conch stew, conch muffins, conch ice cream…I’m conched out!
Travelling with our teenager turned out to be just fine. We didn’t once hear him say he was bored. He had a great time swimming in the sea…that is, until he got stung by a jellyfish or something. Then it took some cajoling to get him to go back in, but eventually he did. He and Mr. Goo Shoes went out for a couple of spins on a jet ski, and we all headed out on a short tour of the area, the highlight of which was a trip to the world’s only turtle farm. And then, just for the hell of it, we went to Hell and back on a tour bus. Seriously! It's a tiny town in the West Bay area that boasts a jagged formation of rock that looks like it's the remains of a hell fire. And what would Hell be without a post office and gift shop? Not surprising, it was hot as... I could go on and on with the Hell jokes.