Grand Cayman: King
of Seven Mile Beach
By Shawn Nicholls,
GRAND CAYMAN, West Indies (Jan. 19, 2003) -- Two of the more riveting scenes from 1993's action thriller "The Firm" take place in Grand Cayman. In the first, Tom Cruise is lured to the beach by a seductive beauty, an act orchestrated by his employer that comes back to haunt him later.
In the second scene much later in the proceedings, one of the "bad guys," played by Gene Hackman, is seduced himself, and the web of mysteries and secrets begins to unravel under the bright Cayman moon.
While the scenes dripped of plot significance and suspense, they also offered viewers a glimpse of a paradise by the ocean - a candle and moonlit gazebo patio, a band playing music in the background, dancing, and everything else associated with dream vacations at the beach.
And this backdrop is not just a Hollywood creation, but actually a resort in Grand Cayman.
The Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman is located on the 90-acre Britannia Golf Club. Only three miles from the Owens Robert International Airport, the resort dominates the famous Seven Mile Beach with its towering architecture, breathtaking golf and posh accommodations.
The resort includes 289 guest rooms, including 63 sprawling suites. A total of six pools are scattered across the property, including a massive body of sparkling blue water complete with a swim-up bar. Access to the private beach club and marina is an added perk, as is the the aforementioned gazebo bar and restaurant that sits beachside.
Part of what makes the Hyatt stand out is that it's unique amid its surroundings. Much of Grand Cayman and the Seven Mile Beach are made up of small beach houses, beachfront cabanas and other single-standing accommodations. And while those options offer travels a different taste of the island, the Hyatt is unmatched in terms of amenities, especially when it comes to the golf.
The Britannia Golf Course is a Scottish style design by Jack Nicklaus. And the Golden Bear's only Caribbean course credit to date is also one of his more creative in that it can be played three different ways.
All day Monday, Wednesday, Friday and on Sunday mornings the course is set up in executive format. The 18-hole, par-57 challenge consists of 15 par-3s and three par-4s. It's a quick jaunt - typically takes a little less than three hours - and perfect for vacationers determined to hit the hot sand of the beach in the afternoon.
The rest of the week the course plays as a nine-hole championship design that can be navigated twice from different tees for a full 18-hole, par-70 experience checking in at just under 6,000 yards.
Had enough yet? Nicklaus apparently had not, as he tossed in one more option. On Mondays and Fridays, you can tee it up with a specially designed golf ball, conveniently coined the "Golden Bear Cayman Ball." The restricted flight design, featuring pimples instead of the customary dimples, turns the executive layout into a par 71.
The beauty of the multiple options is that if you can enjoy the same golf course on consecutive days without the suffering the redundancy that sets in at other one-course resorts. The Cayman Ball is an entertaining and humbling way to trek across a short course, but it messes with your psyche a bit. If you do decide to give it a shot, consider doing so for your last round.
Regardless of the design that you encounter, the landscape is a brilliant mix of challenges, including grassy mounds, rolling dunes, lakes and massive bunkers. The sun beats down on the fairways nearly year round, and the grass is always a plush green, both of which are characteristics not always present in links courses like Royal Troon that the design is reminiscent of.
The 5th hole is particularly memorable given its tee shot that carries the Caribbean Sea, while the closing hole checks in at a lengthy 562 yards and features a handful of water shots.
Other Golf Options in Grand Cayman
If your stay in Grand Cayman is an extended one and you have exhausted the options at Nicklaus' gem, or if you are looking for a little change of scenery, two other courses are available close by. The Links at Safehaven is a true par 71 coastal setting located on Grand Cayman's North Sound. The Sunrise Family Golf Centre, meanwhile, is a roughly thousand yard par-3 walking course that is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Where to Eat
Some of Cayman's more colorful seafood dishes include braised turtle steaks and conch stew. The Jerk chicken and cold beer is also another popular option at many of the outdoor restaurants. The Britannia Grille is solid golf course restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, while Hemingways is a perfect beachfront setting. The Rum Point Club serves up only local Caribbean cuisine and plays live music on the weekends.
Points of Interest
There is, believe it or not, more to do in Cayman that hack it away on the links or sit poolside. Diving tours to Underwater Stingray City leave daily and plunking down into the warm water amid thousands of stingrays is one of the more memorable experiences on the island. The city of Georgetown offers plenty of shopping, dining and night life, while the local Turtle Farm is a good option for the youngsters. Rum Point Beach, although a little bit of a drive away, is a nice escape from the resort setting.
And, finally, no trip to Grand Cayman would be complete without a journey into Hell, the town that is. Although you may not do much more than drive through the small town, laugh at the business signs like "Hell's Best Restaurant" and "Hell's Post Office," before stopping in at a gift shop to load up on corny t-shirts, mugs and shot glasses, it is a trip worth taking.
Getting to Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman is a British Crown Colony roughly 500 miles from Miami. Pretty much any airline makes daily trips to the area, although it most likely will include a stop or two along the way, especially if you are traveling from the north. Delta offers a direct flight from Atlanta, while Cayman Airways flies out of Miami.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman, West Indies
Ph: +1 345 949 1234
Fax: +1 345 949 8528
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