Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa Deserves Its Five Stars

If you’re headed to the Cayman Islands, it’s the ideal place to stay

March 9, 2024 6:36 am
Pools at the Kimpton Seafire Resort
A view from the pool at the Kimpton Seafire Resort
Kimpton Seafire Resort

“We’re luxury without the attitude.” That’s how Virgil Napier, area director of sales and marketing, describes Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, a 264-guest room estate on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. The property calls itself the island’s “first-ever lifestyle resort” and takes its name from the sunsets you’ll see every night (barring storms) over the Caribbean Sea. The property was even built at an angle so most rooms can experience that glorious moment.

It sounds like a marketing slogan, but I agree with Napier’s assessment. During a too-quick 72 hours last fall, I experienced the best of Seafire — primarily the resort’s new Library By the Sea cocktail bar, which is literally motive enough to visit the property. But there are plenty of reasons why the Seafire was just awarded five stars in the Forbes Travel Guide 2024, the second year in a row the resort captured that honor. Overall, the staff was friendly, the service divine and the atmosphere decidedly unpretentious. Kids and dogs are encouraged. So are Margaritas and Mai Tais on the beach, at least when you’re not engaging in a multitude of water-based activities (some of which will require a visit off of Kimpton’s footprint).

Why Library By the Sea Is Already the Best Bar of 2024
The new Cayman Island cocktail bar is inspired by both classic literature and high-tech kitchen science

If you’re unfamiliar with the Cayman Islands, Napier is happy to play up the area’s reputation. A self-governing British territory about 102 square miles in size and composed of three islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) in the western Caribbean zone, the Cayman Islands are, well, where a lot of offshore finance takes place.

“We are the independent financial capital of the world — when people hide their money, they hide it here,” Napier laughs. He follows up during our property tour with a money laundering joke — is he kidding or serious? Probably the former; living and/or working in the Cayman Islands is really more about favorable tax laws and an island life that’s high on good weather and relaxation and low on crime and unemployment. It’s perhaps why Kimpton opened up residences next to the resort. But for mere tourists, here’s an overview of the property and the surrounding island.

The exterior of the Kimpton Seafire Resort
The exterior of Kimpton Seafire Resort (note: there are cloudy/rainy seasons, so check before you book)
Kirk MIller

The Resort

The Seafire makes good use of its location near the water. The open-air design means that walking around the resort keeps your eyesight in line with both the surrounding bay waters and two seaside pools (and many, many cabanas). Otherwise, there are plenty of garden walks and more than 400 pieces of art across the property to keep you engaged.

There are three dining destinations at Seafire: AVE (coastal Mediterranean), Avecita (a Spanish wood fire restaurant, closed temporarily during our visit) and Coccoloba (a beachfront bar and grill focusing on Mexican street food). The food is seafood-leaning but varied; I randomly had one of the best quesadillas on my life at Coccoloba. You’ll have most of your food and drinks at AVE, but the hotel also offers a 5 p.m. social hour for cocktails and canapes where I was able to try the wares of a local rum distillery.

When you’re not lounging around the pool or beach — or engaging in paddleboard yoga — the Seafire features an 8,500-square-foot spa that offers massage therapy, body treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures and more, with specialized “Gentleman’s Wellbeing” and prenatal experiences. Nearby, a 1,770-square-foot fitness center has pretty much anything you need to stay healthy, or you can rent a bike. Wellness is certainly a focus here, and there’s even a week devoted to it starting in late October.

We saw plenty of kids during our stay, but it was never intrusive or unwelcome. We can credit the resort’s dedicated Camp Seafire kids zone (which includes a water park) for keeping little ones occupied.

A typically fancy and literary-themed drink at Library By the Sea
A typically fancy and literary-themed drink at Library By the Sea
Steve Lagato

Nights can be a little mellow — we enjoyed Champagne in a bungalow one evening, a wine and local food event in a suite during another. Library By the Sea is worth an afternoon or evening on its own. For those not imbibing, the property also hosts local music acts in a series called Kimpton Off the Record, which can take place on the beach or in the hotel, weather permitting. 

The Rooms

As noted, there are a total of 264 guest rooms, suites and bungalows at the Seafire, all of which offer private balconies. The suites are between 1,000 and 4,700 square feet; the beachfront bungalows feature separate suits and kitchens. I spent a decent amount of time in my (normal) room, which still had floor-to-ceiling windows and more than 440 square feet of space — aka more room than a few of my NYC studios.  

A king-size bed in a room at the Kimpton Seafire Resort
Even in the average guest room, you’ll have a private balcony (and a ridiculously comfy bed).
Kirk Miller

According to Napier, beyond the usual post-stay clean-up, the property removes everything and completely cleans and repairs each room every 90 days, even utilizing a proprietary mop/lint roller to get all stray hair, sand and other debris. The 525-strong staff is composed of 51 nationalities, so if any issues arise, you’re bound to find someone who speaks your language. 

What to Do in Grand Cayman

Want to leave the resort? Whereas taxis aren’t cheap, it’s worth getting off the hotel property to experience a cultural and foodie haven. There are more than 200 restaurants and dozens of galleries on the island.

You’ll definitely want to take a trip out on the water. Some common areas to visit include Stingray City, Starfish Point and Rum Point, which are all pretty spot-on descriptions of what you’ll encounter on your boat trip (you’ll snorkel at the first two in some amazingly clear blue water surrounded by sea life; at the latter, you’ll take in the ocean view and drink, well, rum). These excursions are easy to set up at the hotel — even when our party missed our tour bus, the Seafire staff was able to quickly set us up on a private sea tour.

Starfish and stingrays off the coast of Grand Cayman
It’s worth a day trip off-property to swim with starfish and stingrays.
Kirk Miller

I asked Napier, who splits his time between the property and the United States, for his preferred itinerary. “I’d go to a couple offsite underground places,” he says. “There’s a tasting room you’ll never hear about. It’s a wine and liquor store technically, but it’s amazing, and it’s in a little strip mall. A hidden gem. And then second would be the National Gallery. Then dinner somewhere off the property — probably Agua at Camana Bay. It’s an indoor-outdoor Peruvian Italian restaurant. And then there’s a cigar/Martini bar called Backroom; they have the best Espresso Martinis on the island. Chicken! Chicken! is the best rotisserie chicken on the island.”

Napier also alluded to an “underground battle of sommeliers” (you’ll have to ask) and two breweries and two distilleries native to the island. Add in golfing, fishing and pretty much any water activity, and you’ll have a pretty decent and busy enough schedule for your trip there. We stayed three nights but probably could have done the resort’s average of six and not been bored.

The Pro Tip

Napier, a veteran of the luxury hotel space, dropped a little nugget for those booking at the Seafire (or any hotel, really) who aren’t able to afford the larger suites and bungalows.

“Ask for a corner room away from the elevator,” he says. “It takes a few seconds longer to walk to the end of the hallway. But if you’re in the last room, you don’t hear anybody the rest of the night because they’ve already stopped at their room. You also don’t hear the elevator. Also, the room next to the emergency exit stairwell probably has an extra 100-150 square feet of space because of how the property was designed.”

And given the not-so-modest nightly rates ($2,093 was the cheapest price we found recently), you’ll want every advantage possible when booking. Hey, relaxation, five-star service, ocean views and a lack of attitude will cost you, but it’s worth the splurge — and maybe a second residence on a tax-free island.


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