The Caribbean, which welcomed a record number of visitors in 2016, is a top group destination for many reasons. Each island in the region (including Grand Cayman, pictured) offers a unique culture and charm, with venues ranging from large all-inclusive beach resorts to elegant boutique retreats.
• Opening this summer is the 126-room Park Hyatt St. Kitts. The property, in Christophe Harbour's Banana Bay, will include a spa, a fitness center and more than 7,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
• The 589-room Barcelo Bavaro Beach in the Dominican Republic was recently renovated. The all-inclusive resort has a convention center that offers nearly 38,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Equestrian Center at the Dominican Republic's 185-room Casa de Campo Resort & Villas offers horseback-riding lessons. Groups can arrange for private guided rides at the resort's cattle ranches.
The 285-room Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman,
inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and author Jimmy Buffet, has opened on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. A transformation of the former Treasure Island Resort, the property has three meeting rooms, three pools, a fitness center, shops and six food-and-beverage outlets, including the 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill; the License to Chill lobby bar; the Margaritaville Coffee Shop; the Banana Wind Café; the Spread charcuterie/wine bar; and Yara, a signature steak house. •
Southwest Airlines has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to serve Owen Roberts International Airport
on Grand Cayman daily from Fort Lauderdale beginning this June. •
The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa
has unveiled the first phase of a $50 million renovation. The lobby and its Catboat bar have been revamped, while the freshwater pool and swim-up bar have been expanded. The new Cayman Coffee Exchange offers light snacks and refreshments, and the fitness center and retail outlets have been enhanced with modern design. Phase two of the project will feature a redesign of all 343 guest rooms and suites, to be unveiled this August. The resort has more than 9,000 square feet of indoor meeting space and 40,000 square feet of outdoor event space, along with a spa and dining outlets that include the new Beach House, an AAA Four Diamond restaurant; Ferdinand's for traditional Caribbean dishes, and the Tortuga Beach Grill and Bar.•
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants' first Caribbean property, the 266-room Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa,
opened along the Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach late last year. Highlights include three restaurants: the signature Ave; the casual beach bar Coccoloba; and Avecita, which features a nine-seat chefs' bar serving seasonal dishes prepared around a wood-fired grill. In addition, Seafire's two pool bars specialize in creative cocktails and light bites. Among the resort's meeting spaces both indoor and out are the 7,076-square-foot Aurea Ballroom, the 10th-floor Presidential Suite and the Seabridge Green event lawn. For downtime, the 8,500-square-foot Spa at Seafire has seven treatment rooms. Guests also enjoy a lovely 500-foot strip of Seven Mile Beach. •
Also perched along Seven Mile Beach, the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman,
has unveiled the largest penthouse in the Caribbean, spanning some 19,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The 375-room upscale resort offers approximately 36,000 square feet for meetings and events. •
On the neighboring Island of Cayman Brac (a 30-minute flight from Grand Cayman), the cozy Le Soleil d'Or
has opened, offering four suites and four private residences.