Cayman Time

Cayman Blog from The Reef Resort in Grand Cayman

Author Archives: TomCayman

theReef is all about guarantees.. we guarantee it !

Although it is noted on our home page, it may have slipped some people’s notice that theReef is adding guarantees to make your vacation planning simpler.

Our latest guarantee is our “Barefoot Beachfront Guarantee“, which can be simply summarised as :

“theReef guarantees the lowest price for a beachfront room”

Of course there are one or two conditions…it would be unfair of customers to tweak a guarantee to compare our rates to those of resorts without full service amenities or a pristine beach like ours, after all :) …. but our focus is to make it simple for you to plan your vacation and know you are getting the best price for a beachfront room.. and don’t we all want a beachfront room ?

I think we have hit on something, as just the other day I received an email from TravelZoo that they sent out to hoteliers to encourage them in their marketing. Now, TravelZoo are well known for their eye-catching “Top20″ ads, and in fact we were impressed with their efforts when we used them for one such effort a while back, but this latest shows how the industry is going away from being straightforward with their pricing..just as theReef is giving you a guarantee of clear and simple pricing. I know which I prefer ! So, this from TravelZoo :

“People care about the view – lead in with an attractive rate, then offer upgrades to ocean view. 34% of our audience books an alternative deal once enticed leading to a much higher room rate than what was originally promoted.”

Can you say “bait and switch” ?

bait-and-switch

I’m not picking on TravelZoo here, this is an industry trend.. just warning you as the traveller to be warned.. and to be sure in the knowledge that at theReef you are guaranteed a beachfront room.. hey, ALL our rooms are beachfront, you can’t go wrong !

Now THIS is something I’d LOVE to see at a wedding at theReef

Weddings are invariably uplifting and life-affirming and our team at theReef is so happy to be a small part of the many weddings we host every year.

Still… we’ve never seen anything quite so cool as this video.

You’ve probably all seen this already…..one of the most popular videos on YouTube ever.

Watch as the whole wedding party gets into the act of a fantastic dance into the church, you can just imagine how much fun this tight bunch of friends had thinking this up and rehearsing it.

The video is five minutes long.. but don’t skip a moment.. it just gets better and better as it goes along… and when the bride comes in….post a comment to this blog and tell me what your reaction was…..be honest… tears in the eyes and a smile… ?

View the video here …enjoy !

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theReef is taking PRIDE in Customer Service

theReef’s PRIDE team (led by Deputy GM Brian Ebanks) is featured in today’s Caymanian Compass, article here .

An extract :

“The Reef has embraced PRIDE and is making customer service a top priority in its growth and development.

The 162–room resort located on Grand Cayman’s East End is using the Department of Tourism’s PRIDE (which stands for Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence) customer service training programme, with over 75 per cent of the organization’s employees having undergone the training since the DoT introduced it over a year ago to raise customer service standards in the Cayman Islands tourism sector.

“We wanted the Reef to spearhead the movement to transform customer service in the Cayman Islands,” said The Reef’s Deputy Resort Manager Brian Ebanks.”

For more information on PRIDE, visit www.caymanislands.ky/pride

Help theReef design the first #reefathlon event via Twitter

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Ok, so perhaps I’m far too geeky, but I’m going to try to take our philosophy of running theReef based on customer feedback to a different level.

On Sep 27th (latest update… as CI Cycling are running an event on Sun 20th) we are going to run the first of our “Reefathlon” events, geared around getting both local and visiting cyclists to enjoy the experience of cycling whilst staying at theReef.

Where did this idea come from ? Well, this year the National Roads Authority in Cayman finished putting a lovely coat of SMOOTH blacktop down on the roads in our area (thank you!), so cyclists now have a fantastic 19 mile loop right in front of theReef !

With virtually no traffic, more than three quarters of the loop being coastal roads offering incredible scenery and cooling breezes, as well as two of the nearest things we have on our flat island to “hills”, this road is fast becoming a mecca for local cyclists.

For our visitors, my master plan (beginning to sound like Dr. Evil !.. but my intentions are good ) is to make theReef THE place to take a Caribbean vacation for cyclists. After all, golfers take their clubs on family vacation, divers their gear.. why not cyclists their bike ?

Anyway, back to Twitter. The first step down this road is our first race, a 19 mile Time Trial on the morning of Sunday September 27th.

Core concept is to set an entry fee that includes an overnight stay at theReef with a beach BBQ / pasta party the night before, then the race, then everyone can socialise afterwards again with some cool drinks at the beach bar.

Already working on some sweet giveaway goodies, plus there WILL be prizes on offers to challenge both visiting and local cyclists to take on our reigning Cayman time trial champion, Jerome Ameline, otherwise know at “TGV”.

So…planning in high gear now, website for the race “soon come”, but help with the planning by following me on Twitter @TomCayman, the hashtag is #Reefathlon

Tweet me !

Staycations at theReef

Many thanks to my friend and respected journalist, Alan Markoff, for his article in The Observer on Sunday of Jul 5th on his staycation at theReef.

Two things of note on this. First, Alan would definitely tell it like it is (ie if he had a problem, he would put it in the article!), and second, he paid full rate.. didn’t ask for a freebie, didn’t tell me he was writing an article.

Given that high level of journalistic integrity and ethics, makes the fact that his article was a glowing commendation all the more sweet ! :)

Wow ! New HD360 Virtual Tours – just like being at theReef

Hi folks

I’m so much into Twitter (follow me @TomCayman), Facebook etc, plus being a Destination Expert for Cayman on Tripadvisor… that I’m not blogging like I used to… sorry !

However really must bring this one to your attention.

We recently had the folks at ICEPortal shoot some new HD Virtual Tours for us, and they are AH..MAZING !!!

If you’ve not actually been to theReef yet, this will show you the resort in such high definition (make sure you watch it full screen) that is really is like being here.

Go to our home page and click on the Virtual Tours link on the top right, then click on the HD360 tab… or heck, just click this link here

Enjoy ! and see you here soon.. not virtually, but for real :)

Fabulous wedding photos from theReef

Another great wedding at theReef… phew, wedding season this May has been very busy.

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These and more great photos on Courtney Platt’s blog

$79 for a beachfront suite in Cayman – no way !

Yes way !

(dude !)

Call us crazy, but we are doing our part here at theReef to snap people out of their hesitancy to book their summer or fall vacation…as we figure you just won’t be able to resist this crazy low rate.

Come on.. $79 for a beachfront suite in the Cayman Islands… you just gotta do it, huh ?

All that gorgeous sand and clear blue waters await you.. the perfect recipe for some Simple Relaxation !

Now, just to make sure you get out the credit card and send the email / make the call /book online, we are giving you a few days to think about it.. but then only a short window to actually book.. miss the window and the rate goes up !

So.. visit our “One Beach’In Suite” page at www.thereef.com/beachin , then be ready to book anytime between 5pm EDT Wed 13th and Midnight Sat 16th !

To make sure you have no reason to stall any further, we have also introduced our “Simply No Worries” guarantee ,  so you’ve got nothing to be worried about.

Still, for those who always procrastinate, the regret if you miss the window will be tempered by our Simply Summer Savings sale, giving low rates on ALL our room types all summer and fall long. These rates represent savings of at least 35% from our regular low summer rates, so the deals are there all year long for you in 2009 !

Finally.. and straight from the horse’s mouth.. you WON’T see these rates again next year.. this is the silver lining in the dark clouds that 2009 have brought to the global economy.. carpe diem !

To blog ? Twitter ? Facebook ? Tripadvisor ? Yikes !

Ok, so we’ve not been blogging much lately. Been a busy time for the resort, but the other Reef bloggers have good excuses (Linder is in the middle of a very busy “Wedding season”, Brian is fully into his new role as Deputy Resort Manager (congrats Brian!), etc etc).

I said the others have good reasons… me ? Not so much..just getting addicted to Twitter, Facebook and Tripadvisor… all new ways to talk to people.

I spend far too much time on these places, but if you can’t find anything to watch on TV, you can follow me on Twitter @TomCayman, and I’m frequently found hanging out on the Tripadvisor Cayman page on their forums.

And no…TV bores me.. except BBC News America, The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report… but normally got the laptop with me then too !

North Side Primary School learns to swim at theReef


I’m a proud swim parent and (in my spare time!) am working to turn the Cayman Aquatic Centre (including 50m pool) from dream to reality.

A core part of that dream is to “waterproof” Cayman’s kids, and that means ALL of Cayman’s kids.

In the Eastern Districts there is (until the new Frank Sound High School is built) nowhere for primary school children to learn to swim.

We’ve therefore done our part at theReef to help, with North Side primary school being taught in the larger pool at theReef two mornings a week.

This is noted in today’s Cayman Compass , including a picture I took last week as I saw the school bus parked by the pool one morning.. boy, those kids were having way too much fun !

Batabano Street Dance Recap

This years Batabano was once again a fun time for all who attended. As i was not able to attend the actual parade, what i can give you is a secondhand account.
“The parade was excellent and had people wining up and down the street for a long time, there were great big costumes and all those who marched were definitely enjoying themselves. This was certainly one of the best Batabanos i have been to in a little while” said an anonymous source.
As for myself, I arrived at Batabano shortly after 8pm just in time for the street dance which was already under way. Walking through the streets of George Town which were completely blocked off, one can almost feel that the whole island is packed into this one area to have a great time and let loose.


There were designated areas for food and drinks where you could get local dishes like Turtle Stew, Conch Stew, and of course adult beverages.

The stage area was set up right in from of the harbour which provided a great backdrop for the soca bands that were performing. They had the crowds jumping and moving at the snap of their fingers through out most of the evening.

From all accounts it was another succesful Batabano and i hope you can down and enjoy it with us here next year.

Blogabano

It’s finally here as Batabano has hit Grand Cayman!!!


Thursday night is the masquerade ball at Pedro’s Castle. Friday night will be the “Friday Night Fete” and the big Machel Montano concert. If you have noticed Ive been blogging allot about concerts recently(big music fan) so its only right i let you all know about whats new and exciting music is coming to Cayman.

Machel Montano is a huge Soca artist and originally hails from Trinidad. Some of his hits include “Big Phat fish” “I just wanna dance” and “Jumpin” to name a few.

As well, Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires (Calypso) will be performing in what has become his seemingly annual performance here at Batabano. many other talented local artists will also be on the bill.

After all that fun Friday night, get ready to wine during the street parade on Saturday afternoon as well as the Adults only street dance at night time.

I will be giving you a detailed report about Saturday nights events.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue

Cayman Wildlife Rescue will be hosting a Pub Quiz at Triple Crown Restaurant on May 31st.

A pub quiz is basically a trivia game, with much of the questions revolving around popular culture-sports, music, things of that sort. Teams of four will compete, with prizes awarded to those who do the best. Last year’s pub quiz was so successful that they decided to make it an annual affair.

Cayman Wildlife Rescue is a program of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands that is staffed by volunteers and funded by donations and fundraising. CWR rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife with the aim of releasing affected animals back into the wild.

So head to To Triple Crown on May 31st, who knows you might win something from The Reef.(Hint Hint)

Time is on my side…..yes it is.

One of the more frequently asked questions by both owners and future guests is, “What’s the time there right now?”

Thanks to Mr. McCarthy, your time concerns have been answered as Island time has now been replaced by Cayman time. Take a look at the top right hand corner of our website and you’ll see the local time here in the Cayman Islands.

No more worrying about calling a family member too early, or calling the reservation department too late. Simply, visit our homepage before you make a call.

Beres Hammond Concert

Performing April 25th, 2008 the one and only Beres Hammond will be performing here in Cayman. Reggae lovers of any age will know Beres Hammond as the king of smooth reggae and lover-rock.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Beres has accumulated smash hits such as “Love from a Distance”, “Standing in my way” “Double Trouble” and “Living Dangerously” just to name a few. Still going strong and always a favorite here in Cayman, this is one concert not too miss.

Local acts such Impulse Band (one of my favorites), Stewart Wilson and Tinga Stewart will be opening the show.

The Name Game

Today’s Caymanian History lesson will focus on 3 uniquely caymanian last names of Ebanks, Bodden, and Watler.

Many repeat visitors to cayman will soon come to notice the last name of Ebanks is very prominent in all three Cayman Islands. This name is said to be a version of “Eubanks“.In fact, If you were to look in the phone book, the last name with the most pages would be….. Ebanks

I can pretty much guarantee that if you meet an Ebanks in any part of the world, somewhere down the line he has Caymanian heritage.

Bodden is the next name on our list. “Derived from “Bowden“, who along with the Watlers were the first the first permanent settlers in Grand Cayman. This is also where the district and former capital, Bodden Town comes from.

The final name is Watler. “Derived from “Walter”. Once again another of the first settlers to Cayman from Jamaica. A Watler created what is now the Mastic trail which is located a few short miles from The Reef.

Batabano 2008


Its almost that time of year again for Batabano!!!!

For those who may not know, Batabano is the annual carnival in Cayman that occurs the first week of May. This tradition started in 1984 by the Rotary Club is second to only Pirates Week in terms of popularity among visitors and locals. There is a street parade that features colorful costumes with music and dancing all day long.

Just as popular as the street parade are the street dances that occur at night. The latest soca, reggae, and dancehall music pumping through the speakers is guaranteed to put everyone in a festive mood.

The Junior Batabano Carnival starts April 26th and the Adult Parade and street dance occur May 3rd.

For more info please visit Batabano’s official website.

Nuclear Energy

The following article is taken from today’s Cayman Compass.

A US company has proposed a small nuclear power generator for Cayman now that the electricity industry has been liberalised.
The nuclear reactor is called SSTAR – an acronym for “small, sealed, transportable, autonomous, reactor” is being proposed by a Terre Haute, Indiana–based company called Everglow Power Inc.
The company uses the so–called “pocket nuke” line of reactors that come in sizes that can generate between 10 to 100 megawatts of electricity. Everglow Power Sales and Marketing Manager Gordon Zapya said the company was looking to put a 10–megawatt generator here in Cayman.
“We’ve had several meetings with various government officials and we’ve already done a preliminary survey of possible sites for the generator,” he said. “Because a 10 megawatt generator is 40–feet tall, it would have to be installed partially underground to meet your planning code, we must have a site that is at least 20 feet above sea level.
Although he would not say what his company’s preferred location was for the nuclear generator, Mr. Zapya said it was along the north coast of Grand Cayman in an area of indigenous cliff rock.
Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power is more environmentally friendly than other generating methods using hydro or oil–based methods, Mr. Zapya said.
“People are coming to understand that nuclear is the true “green” power,” he said, adding that technological advances over the past decade have also made nuclear power extremely safe.
Disposal of nuclear waste is not a problem with the company’s SSTAR generators.
“The reactor only has enough Uranium–238 fuel to provide a constant source of power for 30 years,” he said. “After that, the manufacturer will come and take the generator away.”
Mr. Zapya said the Cayman Islands need not worry about the manufacturer fulfilling its obligations to remove the spent nuclear reactor.
“The manufacturer will put a significant amount of the purchase price in an investment escrow account here in the Cayman Islands. Over the 30–year life of the reactor, the escrow account will be worth more than the purchase price.”
The SSTAR has several advanced safety features.
“The reactor is passively safe, which means it does not require operator action or electronic feedback in order to shut down safely in the event of some kind of emergency like overheating or tampering.” he said. “Basically, the reactor is idiot proof. Homer Simpson could operate it.”
Because most of the nuclear reactor will be housed underground, only a small portion will protrude above ground.
“The reactor is housed in a mostly–underground bunker that could withstand a hurricane with 175 mile per hour winds or a Magnitude 8 earthquake,” Mr. Zapya said. “In addition, it’s missile proof.”
The protruding part of housing will be decorated so that it fits in with Cayman’s tropical surroundings.
“We’ll paint it pink or some other colour that fits in with the rest of Cayman’s buildings and then nicely landscape the grounds.”
Although the reactor does not require an operator, Everglow Power does suggest at least one security guard on the site, who could also monitor the operation light.
“On the top of the reactor, there will be two lights, one green and one red. The green light will stay on while the reactor is operational and when all the fuel is spent, the red light will come on. Then it’s time for a new reactor.”
The SSTAR has anti–tampering devices and alarms to prevent any rogue elements from trying to steal the fuel for nuclear weapons.
Everglow Power lead scientist Itza Ruse said anyone who tried to tamper with the SSTAR would be in big trouble.
“The reactor’s alphabet alarms – named that way because there are 26 of them – are directly linked to the US Department of Defense. If someone messes with the reactor, US fighters or drones could be deployed from Guantanamo Bay in less than an hour to zap the bad guys.”
Mr. Ruse acknowledged that a lot of people just don’t believe there can be safe nuclear reactors.
“As sure as it’s April Fool’s day, we can light up Cayman safely,” he said.

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready……


Dispatches from Vegas from a couple who are very much a part of The Reef family….but who are they ? First to comment with the correct answer wins… well, being first to get it right :)


State of Nevada marriage license $62, Costumes $225, Limo, minister, photographer and Elvis impersonator $825, getting married in Vegas PRICELESS for everyone else there is the traditional wedding.

We took a few pictures with our camera. A lot more we’ll have in week or so. We got married on Las Vegas Blvd. under the famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

View from The Reef

Geez, I wish i was at The Reef. I wonder what it looks like right now………….(fade into dream sequence)………

Yep.

Fish Feeding Goes Live

Below is the first in what i hope to be more live feeds from the reef.

Here is a quick shot of the fish feeding John does daily. As mentioned in previous blogs this is very popular among guests here at the resort. Tarpons, snappers, Shellfish and many other fish wait eagerly at 12 noon for their daily bread.

The Reef Beach Diet

Tired of all those resorts that promise results but don’t deliver? Or maybe you are just looking to lose a couple trouble inches. Well then The Reef resort has an offer for you. For a limited time we are offering guaranteed weather changes in your local area for….. FREE! Yes you read right. FREE!!!!

See the pictures of Carl’s house before he visited The Reef:

Now look at the results after Carl’s stay here at The Reef:

The results do not lie. The inches of snow magically disappear after just one visit!

Now, you might be asking yourself, How is this physically and scientifically possible? How can the Reef affect weather conditions? Well the secret is in our Glycemic weather index that melts snow and increases sunshine to your neighborhood after just a few short days here at The Reef.

So call 1-888-232-0541 for more info. What do you have to lose!!!


Offer not valid on days that end in the letter Y. Also, offer is totally fictional as The Reef nor any person on the planet can possibly change the weather. If we could, we probably wouldn’t announce it on a blog.

When The Daily Show came to The Reef

Back around tax time in spring 2005, I had an absolute blast for a couple of days as The Reef hosted Ed Helms and his crew to do a shoot for the segment above.

Of course back then Blogger didn’t allow videos to be uploaded !

They did the whole shoot, guerilla style, in about two days straight. At the end, I took them out for dinner at Ristorante Papagallo, which has just re-opened after major roof repairs post-Ivan. Vico, host at Papagallo, regaled us with tails (or even ‘tales”.. thx for the edits from “Anonymous) of how he repaired his majestic thatch roof, but poor Ed Helms was exhausted, and could hardly stay awake :)

I might be biased, but I think it is one of the funniest Daily Show segments ever :)

Fans of The Reef may recognise us in a few of the shots :
- Shot of Ed coming out of the sea in a suit
- Ed buried in the sand
- Ed having a massage by the

Weddings at The Reef – on CaymanIslands website

Just been emailed by the wonderful Rebecca Grinnals, telling me that another wedding at The Reef has now been featured on the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism website….


This is the wedding of Andrew and Amber Fullerton…..ably co-ordinated on property by Linda Locke, our inestimable weddings guru…..read the link to the Cayman Islands site for more information.

Remember, we guarantee only one wedding per day… so if you are planning your wedding, make it unique at The Reef…

Oops.. very “sales pitch” blog, sorry, am at a travel trade show !

OFF: The New Buzzword for 2008?

The following article by Nina Zapala, who we are proud to note is part of our creative team (and PR Director) at The Reef, gives great food for thought for planning that next vacation.

Of course you can use your Blackberry and WiFi at The Reef, but Nina’s article is something we could all consider.

Personally, I just came back from vacation in the Scottish Highlands, in a place where there was no cellular service, so it felt good to disconnect the Blackberry entirely !


One word that I am predicting may topple this year’s media favorites (some of which are authentic, geo-tourism, Al Gore, and living green) is the word “off”. Today’s travelers aspire to experience an authentic “off” destination, become educated on a destination’s culture and lifestyle, submerge themselves via a return to nature and/or the days of uncomplicated fun: Arts and craft fairs, carnivals, food festivals, and more.

Most people do not realize that during a course of one week they receive over 304 work emails and another 274 personal emails, according to Jupiter Media. These numbers reflect averages and do not take into consideration what a top executive or CEO receives, or for that matter, many of the travel writers I speak with receive thousands of emails daily.

Another recent article also supports my predication of the “off” button becoming a new trend. BusinessWeek penned an article – (11.19.07), entitled “Overloaded Kids turning to Low-Tech”. Although many adults may have the same issues, our youth today have monumental pressures to stay connected. Think text messaging, maintaining their Facebook and/or their YouTube sites, or dealing with their second life Avatar or creating a family of Littlest Pets via a virtual pet social network. The problem is children today are over-communicated, and become anxious trying to keep up with it all. They crave down time to just disconnect and get involved with simple, easy-to-use products and activities. The article in BusinessWeek coined a phrase called “analogue living” which speaks to the idea of children turning off and tuning in to what was once a simple and uncomplicated life reminiscent of their parents’ childhood. What was once thought of as un-cool is now very cool – think carnivals, kite flying, food festivals, and yes, cloud watching. In a nutshell, anything that is easy and offers a human component.

As far as high-end executives are concerned, many are now looking to find destinations that do not cater to their hi-tech needs. They want to power down and stay in the off-mode. How can anyone really enjoy the riches before them if they are attached to a machine with a flurry of never-ending demands? To really gain the most joy and fulfillment from the precious moments a vacation provides, be it culture immersion, learning a new activity or just soaking up the sunshine while relishing the best barbeque and beer within a tri-state area, “off” is an option that both young and old alike will choose.

“Off” is already starting to have an impact, as I recently visited a magical 5,500-acre resort in the Pocono Mountains, Skytop Lodge, (www.skytop.com). All guests were politely but firmly told to turn off all cell phones, Blackberries, etc., as we were all headed to a wonderful place called Goose Pond, home to black bears, beavers, foxes, and more. It was a clear, sky blue day, and we did see hints of animals on our walk. Everyone powered down and really focused on the walk, asking great questions and actually learning about the area and the animals and learning a bit about one another as well. It was a very refreshing experience for all who attended.

Several other places I noted are also about keeping it “off” and I am sure there are hundreds of more. Lake Austin Spa Resort, Texas www.lakeaustin.com encourages guests to restrict usage of cell phones, etc., to their rooms during their stay, while Where You Want to Be Tours also discourages the use of cell phones and pagers on their walking adventures urging participants to “tune into their spirit of adventure” www.wheretours.com.

How can hoteliers tap into the “off” idea? A few ideas are stated above, but the best advice is to seek activities that drive guests to turn off their cell phones and encourage total immersion in the activity at hand. Hence, the rise in spiritual vacations reported by the Miami Herald, on 12.23.07. Think back to the days of yesteryear when the annual arts and crafts fair showcased artisans carving, weaving or sculpting one-of-a-kind creations. Think carnival days where hot funnel cakes, water-shooting pistols with prizes attached, and strolls to catch the next act were the mainstay of entertainment. Take a tip from Where You Want to Be Tours as a big city property can develop a tour that offers off-the-beaten path eateries, boutique shopping, historic stops and architecture of note. Food and music festivals, cultural events and more provide “off” opportunities for any visitor, at any age.

Of course, 2008 will usher in more sophisticated technology, and yes, learning about a place via a podcast or V cast is wonderful, but while a guest is actually on vacation ask them to take the “off challenge”. Yes, they may look at you like you are crazy, but isn’t that half the fun? At the very least you may stimulate them to think, “Do I really need to answer these emails right now?”

Pose to guests the old 80/20 rule, were 80 percent of the emails coming in are junk while only 20 percent really matter. In the long-run what is more important, a satiating vacation experience or time spent with your Blackberry or iPhone? It should be easy to answer when you think in those terms.