Cayman Time

Cayman Blog from The Reef Resort in Grand Cayman

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Photographic Art at The Reef

Regular Reefians may remember that we have had 12 lovely framed prints hanging in and around the lobby since last summer.

They are the creation of talented Caymanian Photographer, Patrick Broderick, who has finally confirmed pricing of US$350 per print. The prints are not framed but are limited editions and signed by the artist. They would make a very special gift or souvenir of your relaxing time spent here.

Patrick’s keen intuitive eye connects to his photography subjects with a very quiet sense. His use of a natural composition and lighting draws the viewer into the works. One feels Patrick knows his subjects well, as the intimacy is obvious, be it a landscape or portrait. His attention to detail enhances the work as well as his use of available photographic technology.

- Lesley Bigelman, Former Director
National Gallery of the Cayman Islands

More information is available on Patrick’s website, his contact information is below :

Patrick Broderick
30180 Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
Ph. 345-947-8400    Cell 345-925-9247

AND GET THIS: If guests order and pay for their prints whilst at the resort, we will extend a discount of $20 on each print.

Castro has left the building………..

But no worries, he is in the very capable hands of Gerald Dilbert. Gerry will be opening an aviary/parrot Jungle within a few months. He will have 1 acre of land under netting so that Castro and his new found friends can fly to their heart’s content!! Gerry said he was taking Castro home to meet a female bird, her name is Cheetah!!. I will go visit him later this week, to take pictures of him in his new home, and will of course blog them for you all to see. Since the aviary is not yet ready, Gerry has built a temporary aviary behind his house where he will keep Castro and the rest of his birds.
We are all excited for Castro, as now he has the opportunity to meet friends of his own, of course he has “people friends”, but he was lacking in “bird friends”!! He will be greatly missed by the staff and the owners of the resort, but the good thing is that the aviary will be located behind the Frank Sound Fire Station, near the Mastic Trail . So in reality he is only 15 minutes away!!

Age is just a number

News from Los Angeles: After working for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for 76 years, Arthur Winston is celebrating his 100th birthday by retiring.
In the last 72 years, Winston has missed just one day of work, in 1988 when his wife died.

This got us to thinking about our own staff and how lucky we are also, to have such dedicated workers.

Papi started at The Reef Resort on February 9th, 2001. He is the beach attendant and with ours being one of the largest resort beaches on the island (1600ft) he takes pride in keeping it looking tidy and beautiful.

Papi is very dedicated. The other day he was having severe back pains but continued to work. Mr. Lawrence the Resort Manager really had to force him to take a day off and rest up. In all his years that was his first sick day. He’s 71 years of age (and looks great in a cowboy hat ;)

Ms. Barbara Forbes works for Housekeeping at The Reef and is very reliable. She can sometimes be heard muttering away as you walk past her, maybe this is the secret to success because she is always here when scheduled. She’s 64.

Vida Christian, one of our Housekeeping supervisors, also has a fantastic attitude to work. She’s 52 years of age going on 32 with boundless energy and good humour – Vida is totally dedicated to the keeping the resort clean and our guests happy.

Many employers these days are reluctant to hire individuals who are considered to be reaching the end of their careers – The Reef’s policy is not to discriminate in any way and to employ people for their abilities and positive attributes – after all, age is just a number and besides, the three staff mentioned above would put many a 21 year old to shame!!!

Conservationism evolves for our future

Biodiversity has never been so hot on the agenda.

Further to our blog on the Cayman Sea Sense initiative – Conservation of Cayman’s rich environmental diversity received a further hefty boost last week with the official launch of the Cayman Islands Darwin Project.

The UK Government are funding the project with a US $300,000 grant – Cayman’s bid for this was successful in the face of global competition.

The Caymanian Compass covered this story and Monday’s edition outlined the plans;
which include the creation of satellite imagery maps of the Islands’ physical features that will be used as baseline information.

In addition to the satellite mapping, it seems the other two main components of the CI Darwin project are:

1) to aid the development of a biodiversity action plan for the Cayman Islands outlining a specific set of actions that need to be taken to preserve the extraordinary diversity of species on the Islands.

According to the Caymanian Compass, the plans will focus on habitats and species of both ecological and commercial significance, such as conch and lobster; indigenous species unique to the Cayman Islands, such as the silver thatch; and threatened and endangered species, such as the Grand Cayman Blue iguana and the Nassau grouper.

2) Funding from the Darwin Project will be used in providing public education on preserving biodiversity. Workshops and activities will be planned around practical conservation projects.

One such project is the proposed native tree nursery at the QEII Botanic Park in the hope of establishing a nursery as a self-financing sourse of native plant material to encourage the use of native plants in landscaping.

A website has been set up called – the site is currently ‘under construction’ but I’m sure we’ll be telling you more about this project as it continues.

Home Alone ?

As of now, making calls to those you left back home is better value at The Reef.

We have reduced the flat connection fee for calling toll free call card numbers from your suite – down from US$3 to US$1 flat fee.

The Thirsty Surfer will be selling $10.00 and $20.00 calling cards.
Now you can use these cards from the comfort of your own beachfront suite, for just a dollar.

This might come as a surprise in the light of today’s news that the cost of living in Cayman has increased by an average of 7 percent in 2005…

These figures are reported in the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) and it’s thought that major contributors to this rise are increases in the housing sector, as a result of higher rental and insurance premiums.

The following information on the CPI is taken from today’s Cayman Net News:

In 2005, Cayman’s annual average index rose in six of the eight major groups. A high of 18.7 percent was registered in the housing group, which includes rent, maintenance, insurance and utilities.

Increases in alcohol and tobacco were second with 5.2 percent, followed by transport and communication, 3.9 percent; food, 2.8 percent; and personal goods and services, 2.6 percent. The lowest rise of 2.2 percent was in the education and medical group.
The two groups that showed a decline in 2005 were clothing, by 2.3 percent; and household equipment, by 2.2 percent.

For the love of Seafood and the Oceans….

Choose Cayman Sea Sense items next time you dine out in Grand Cayman.

The Cayman Sea Sense project is a sustainable seafood education program dedicated to helping restaurants and their customers make informed and environmentally positive seafood choices.

Castro’s Hideaway at The Reef is already upholding principles of sustainability – there is an inspection process to go through and we are waiting for this to happen.

What is sustainable seafood? The Cayman Islands National Trust’s website lists it as the following:

A species that is abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.

A species that is well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.

A species that is harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.

A species that has a method of catch which ensures there is limited habitat loss associated with the harvesting method.

The project will assist local chefs and restaurant owners in general, in reducing the number of non-sustainable seafood items on their menus. Participation is open to any restaurant that provides at least one sustainable option on their menu, with a commitment for continuous improvement. Full certification comes when all seafood items on the menu are sustainable.

So be sure to look out for the Cayman Sea Sense icon on menus which will allow you to choose sustainable seafood options as certified by the Cayman Sea Sense Team.

Annual Agriculture Fair

This was an exciting event as usual. This took place on Ash Wednesday. It’s a day for all of the local crafters and farmers to come out and display their goods for sale. There were also booths where they sell local food, cooked the good old Caymanian way!!! Things like cassava cake, stewed turtle and a whole lot more!! This is a great stop for visitors to the island, to get to know the culture a little more. They also had activities to keep the kids entertained, like cake walks, and horseback riding. It’s a fun event for the whole family!!

Mardi Gras rocks Cayman

How about Mardi Gras on the beach…
Kaibo hosts their 7th annual Mardi Gras Celebrations on the east side of the island (about 20 min drive from The Reef Resort)
This year’s high light is Lady Precise, a vocalist and freestyle performer out of Vancouver, next to local Rock Band Ratskyn and DJ Presser and DJ Johnny G, who are Mardi Gras alums and many more. And of course food & drinks in Mardi Gras style are offerd all day for this event from midday to midnight.
If you missed it this year, plan for next years celebration, every year on Ash Wednesday, which by the way is a public holiday in the Caymans.

Strip Mall soon to be opened

The latest update on the strip mall across from the resort is – to be opened in April.
A definite addition to this side of the island will be the Foster’s Supermarket with groceries and other items.
If you are arriving in April/May please check with our concierge team on the progress otherwise we recommend on doing your grocery shopping in George Town/near airport.
You may stop at Foster’s Foodfair or Hurley’s Supermarket conveniently located on your way to The Reef.

The Sun, the Sea and…..Stingrays!!

For those of you who have not yet visited us here in Grand Cayman, the sandbar at Stingray City is a MUST do. Our trip goes out every Tuesday afternoon. For those of you who think you wont get in the water, no worries, you can see them as clear as day just sitting on the boat (I should know as it took me my second trip before I got in!!). Nothing to be afraid of though, as Leona puts it, they are like great big tame cats!! Just remember to let go of the bait otherwise you’ll get a stingray hickey from the suction!!

Tini & Cosmo – The Resort Patrol

For everybody who was wondering how Tini & Cosmo have been doing, …please look for yourself. They are well and back together. Tini had four beautiful kittens back in December and spent several weeks at the Humane Society in George Town. The volunteers there are doing a fantastic job for homeless cats & dogs on the island and Tini and her offspring were very well taken care of as it would have been difficult to guarantee their safety around the resort while nursing. They were visited often by Linda, Patricia and myself. Unfortunately one kittens was lost to a virus, but Patricia, our Human Recourses Manager actually decided to adopt two of Tini’s little ones and the third one also got adopted. Siblings Tini & Cosmo got both neutered/spayed and are now happy to be back together at The Reef as you can see. They are looking forward to your visit :)

A new addition to The Reef is “Leona’s World of Art”. Leona, our activities director, is seen here painting her new arts & crafts room. Behind this door lies all kinds of crafty ideas, from painting to making refridgerator magnets . She does a variety of crafts with the guests from Tuesday through Friday. Make sure when you come down you sign your kids (and kids at heart) up for a few days of arts & crafts!! :o )

World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir visits Cayman

The Cayman Art Festival started off with an excellent show.
Cayman got to see a great performance of the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir at the First Babtist Church in George Town.
I had seen them several years ago in my hometown in Germany and would go to see them again at any time. The atmosphere was great, they had everybody off their seats.
If you are interested have a look at their official website for their tour plan.
After the show they were also available for autographs and questions.

Orientate and Win

If you’re coming to The Reef this year, don’t forget to attend the Sunday Morning Orientation Breakfast at 9am.

Not only will you get to hear about what’s going on for the following week, (even if you’re a regular here it is a useful refresher)
but you also get the chance to win prizes, including this lovely sunshine yellow Reef Resort t-shirt.

Not available in shops!

Keeping Afloat with New Technology

The Reef Resort is the only property on Grand Cayman to offer the newest swimming pool technology and Chlorine Free Swimming for our guests!

We’ve employed a new method of cleaning in order to offer you ‘maximum bather comfort’ during your stay here. So there’s no more chlorine smell or swimmers red eye to deal with.

Here’s the science:

When an electrical current passes through a sodium chloride solution, Chlorine is evolved in the anode: 2 Cl– –> Cl2 (g) + 2e–

Since Chlorine gas is soluble in water, it enters into solution as hypochlorous acid.
Cl2 (g) + 2 H2O –> 2 HOCl + 2H+

Hypochlorous acid is a powerful sanitizer and oxidizer.

This new Saline Technology offers you a friendlier pool as the new 24 hour automated measuring and recording system cleans our pools using electrodes and coarse rock sea salt – providing clear, soft, odorless pools for you to cool off in. Wonderful news for you, your skin and that favorite bathing suit (which should last a bit longer before fading now).

Divers Alert: New Business Hours for Thirsty Surfer

This news will be especially of interest to morning divers or in fact anyone who likes to wake up to the smell and taste of freshly ground coffee.

Our on-site Liquor Store and Internet Cafe, will now open its doors half an hour earlier than before; providing great coffee and a welcome boost for anyone heading out on the morning 2-tank dive with Ocean Frontiers, or indeed for anyone wishing to do nothing more exerting than head back to their suite with a tasty take-out.

You can find the door to the Thirsty Surfer to the left hand side as you’re approaching the main entrance to the lobby.

New opening hours are:

Monday to Saturday 7.30am – 7pm
Sunday 10am – 5pm

(Liquor sales only permitted 10am – 7pm Monday to Saturday)

Radical Honesty

If you’re a regular visitor to The Reef Resort website you may have noticed the frequently updated guest reviews towards the bottom of the home page.

There’s no mystery in how we do this, it’s quite simple. After experiencing the wonders of our beautiful resort, the discerning traveller is often compelled to put finger to keyboard and write all about what a great time they had here. We encourage you to visit and post your own thoughts – and here you’ll automatically receive an unedited position on the most prominent part of our site.

(If honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom – I’m wondering if our website was originally written in hebrew?).

Are we crazy? No, just confident in our product and service.
It’s a risky business to post independent guest reviews straight onto your home page – so much in fact that we’re the only resort we know that does it!

The Reef Resort at New England’s largest Travel Show

The Department Of Tourism brought some sunshine to cold Boston and last week’s Vacation Outlet’s Travel Expo. Together with several Caribbean islands, Mexico, Europe and many more exhibitors the vacation spirit was high. The show attracted several thousand visitors to give them ideas about their next holiday destination.

The Cayman team of six (represented by the Department Of Tourism, Cayman Airways, The Marriott and The Reef Resort) answered 1000′s of questions regarding the islands, diving, flights, the hotels and many many more. Cayman Airways is also offering again non-stop flights from Boston to Grand Cayman.

Many visitors used the great offers and booked their next trip directly at the show.

And to all who visited us at the booth – thanks for stopping by and we look forward to seeing you soon in Cayman.

The Happiest Hour

The latest photos from Linda’s Friday night Happy Hour at our beach bar have been published on The Reef Resort website bringing back sweet memories for all you Reef dwellers out there.

Some of the latest batch hold record figures as Linda’s Friday night fan-base grows like a great 2 for 1 oak from a tiny 2 for 1 acorn.

If you’re left wondering, ‘who is this Linda with the liquor?’ look out for a blog by Cool Beans later this week for more on Linda and friends.

Wedding Central

Hot off the press, the Spring 2006 edition of ‘Destination Weddings and Honeymoons’ magazine features The Cayman wedding of Andrea Simkins and Philip Watt.

This two page editorial feature covers all aspects of the wedding that took place last summer. The Reef Resort was ‘Wedding Central’ for just under 90 guests, who traveled from around the world to join them.

TomCayman brought the opportunity for this article to the attention of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, early enough for them to be able to proactively pitch it. Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Magazine has a circulation of 175,000 and growing as the trend for ‘eloping’ continues to explode. This issue will be on the newsstands for the next 3 months.

Now people everywhere will be reading about the wonders of getting married here on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.

Mann Power

Michael Mann is back in the hot seat taking care of all our Reefians and bringing some extra life to the place.

Great news! Michael has not only returned to The Reef but has also brought back the ‘Star Gazing’ weekly event – hosted by The Mann himself at 7pm on Sundays (just after Happy Hour – now no falling off the dock anybody).

And here is one of our budding astronomers Jonathan, last week at the ‘come back’ session, peering at the stars as Michael navigated the night sky for us.

The Fish Report

Another whopper of a day for Ecoventures yesterday.

Captain Joey and 1st Mate Shane hooked up this huge Yellow Fin Tuna and friend
(Barracuda) yesterday afternoon. Joey is seen here standing on our beach with his catch.

There was plenty to go round and the fresh Yellow Fin tasted beautiful, grilled with a sprinkle of salt, some freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.

PS/ Notice Joey’s ever increasing wardrobe of orange items. I’ve heard of orange clothing being worn by hunters to increase visibility but it appears that it may be a good luck charm as well.

Caribbean Creativity

We’re not all sand, sun and sea you know. The Cayman Islands are the only location in the Caribbean to have their own International Arts Festival, held from 10th of February 2006 until the 18th.

Traditional entertainment comes in the form of The World Famous Harlem Gospel Choir – reputed to be one of the finest gospel choirs in the world. It travels the globe sharing its love of music, faith in the joy of music and raising money for children’s charities.
They will perform on Friday 10th February at the First Baptist Church on Crewe Road at 7.30pm
Ticket Prices: $25CI in advance, $30CI at the door
Children under 16 $5CI
More information on Harlem Gospel Choir: here

On Thursday 16th February, again at the First Baptist Church on Crewe Road at 7.30pm, ‘Bones Apart’ will perform. They are described as “The truly awesome, phwoarsome, foursome”

Their concert incorporates not only theatre and costume, but music of all styles and genres including baroque, classical, romantic, latin, jazz, contemporary and popular as well as numerous commissioned works for trombone quartet.

Visit their Website here

And it’s not just about the music – the festival is moving towards the cutting edge as The Better Read than Dead Society, an experimental drama group based in the Cayman Islands, get set to perform at the festival.

The group does not rehearse, does not learn lines but meets on a monthly basis to perform readings with an emphasis on spontaneity and the unanticipated. Roles for actors and actresses are selected blind from a hat. The Society’s view is that a play is better “read” than “dead” (an expression inspired by The Globe Theatre in London which used to hold lively staged readings of unfamiliar works in the same vein).
The Better Read than Dead Society will be performing during the Festival and encourages willing spectators to join in the theatrical illusion by participating. Time, Date and Venue of their performance will be available soon at the Cayman Arts Festival Website here

Pied Peart

Thanks to Jim and Sharon Van Dyke who sent in these ‘action’ photos of John ‘The Pied Piper’ Peart, one of the Reef Resort Maintenance Crew.

John has pioneered the lunch-time fish feeding from our dock which, as you can see, is proving popular – especially with the scale-skinned community (that’s the fish I’m talking about… unless you forgot to wear sun-block).

Sharon emailed and told me; “It was such fun for Jim each day at noon, feeding the fish. John was so nice and what a good activity for the guests”.

“It was like watching the pied piper as he walked out onto the dock people all over the beach started walking over and he usually drew quite a crowd. It was fun!”

Sharon and Jim also saw someone at night with a fishing pole on the dock. They said when Jim mentioned it to John he was irate. John would like to protect the fish that live under our dock so that snorkelers can enjoy them for time to come.
After all (and have you ever known me resist the opportunity for an easy pun?) we have other fish to fry!!

Go East

When TomCayman (of The Reef) and Steve (of Ocean Frontiers) originated the ‘Go East’ initiative, little did they know that their angle would be co-opted by the Ministry.

Extract of Article from Cayman Net News:

THE Ministry of Tourism’s “Go East” initiative, which intends to create more business opportunities in East End and North Side, is bearing fruit with the proposed construction of Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the eastern districts.

The Mandarin Oriental group, which has 23 luxury hotels, has earmarked a beachfront area along the Queen Elizabeth Highway in East End, Grand Cayman, for one of its seven new hotels.

Work on the five-star property is expected this year and completion is set for 2007. At start-up the international group hopes to construct 150 guestrooms.

Tourism Minister, Hon Charles Clifford, is thrilled at the news that the Cayman Islands has secured another leading hotel chain with businesses in 17 countries.

“We’re very happy to have a Mandarin Oriental coming to Cayman,” said Mr Clifford. “Now that we have the Ritz-Carlton we’re likely to see competition following competition.”

The Minister said the company had identified a local contractor and he expected work on the hotel to begin in the coming months, given the commitment to have it ready next year.

“I would expect that they would start construction this year because they indicated that they would be opening sometime in 2007, when they made the announcement several months ago,” he said.

The location of the new hotel also pleased the Minister who noted the traffic congestion on the Seven Mile Beach, the busiest strip of land on the Island.

“There is a substantial amount of development on the Seven Mile Beach already and until we get additional infrastructure in place in terms of roads, it will be difficult to accommodate additional properties,” he noted.

Mr Clifford added, “We’re particularly happy that they have chosen the eastern end of the Island to develop.”

According to the Government official, the eastern district would receive special attention to allow for tourism development there.

“The Ministry is going to do what it can to facilitate the development of that property in the Eastern District,” the Minister said.

He disclosed that his Ministry was keeping an eye on the project and would facilitate the developers.

Mr Clifford stopped short of saying what impetus or assistance Government would provide the Mandarin Oriental, which has over 8000 rooms in its hotels in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

“We will do what we can as we normally do to facilitate their investments and development,” he added.

He also disclosed that a representative of the Four Seasons hotel chain has expressed an interest in coming to the Cayman Islands to investigate the possibility of establishing a property here.

Of course it would not be honorable to seek ones own honor – so Tom and Steve don’t seem to mind that the Honorables themselves are exerting the Go East idea without mention of its humble beginnings; they’re just glad that other people are discovering the East End.

We look forward to our new neighbours at Mandarin Oriental and the additional restaurant and spa choices they will bring to the area.