The Meridian - Grand Cayman

Feast Party Stay Play Thrive
Unless you want to build your own overwater bungalow, you can't get much closer to the famed white sands and sapphire waters of Seven Mile Beach than the Grand Cayman Meridian condo. When Thom and I arrived earlier today and stepped through the back door of the lobby, we realized we had discovered one of the best properties on the island, right in the heart of the famous strip.

We also quickly realized we had made a big mistake. Wesley, our son, was back in Texas. It was, after all, a quick trip and we didn't want him to miss school. But the six-story Grand Cayman Meridian condo, designed by acclaimed local architect Brian Butler and officially opened in November 2005, is not just one of the most luxurious of the many condominium properties nestled among the big boys like The Ritz-Carlton, the Westin and the Marriott, it's also one of the most family-friendly.

There are 28 units in the tower, all spacious enough for families with children. We've taken one of a pair of two-bedroom, two-bath units on the fourth floor. The rest of the units are even bigger, three-bedroom and three-bath units with around 2,000 square feet of space. Ours, like the others, features a gourmet kitchen with all the accoutrements, washer and dryer, central air conditioning, cable TV and high-speed Internet access.

Condo living, particularly on the scale of The Meridian, we discovered, differs little from the big hotels. The Meridian has its own helpful concierge who can arrange anything from scuba diving to island tours, there is maid service every day but Sunday, fresh beach towels, and it is conveniently located right across the street from a grocery store (and near several restaurants). We stocked up for breakfasts and lunches--we have a beautiful screened-in patio with a view of the beach?but plan to do dinners out.


Since the 1950s, the three fingerling islands nestled south of Cuba and west of Jamaica--Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac--have been favorite destinations for divers and snorkelers for the crystal clear, warm waters and legendary undersea landscapes, from soaring arches to plunging walls. But these days, even non-divers are falling in love with the crystal waters and white beaches.

The beach, of course, is the main attraction. This afternoon, after a quick lunch in the condo, Thom and I grabbed our towels and sunscreen and headed down to the lounge chairs. The beach slopes gently here, and soon we were a hundred feet off the shore, floating in the 82-degree sea with the sun warm on our faces.

From our vantage point a hundred feet off the coast in the shallow water, we could see the almost endless sweep of Seven Mile Beach all the way down to George Town, where the coal-black and white Queen Elizabeth II is moored. The small port city, with its shiny bank and insurance buildings, shopping malls and craft markets, is a tax-free nirvana where you can find everything from authentic Spanish doubloons and Cuban Cohiba cigars to Gucci bags and vials of CHANEL.

Tonight, Thom and I are grilling steaks out on one of the guest-only barbecues, and then we'll hit the Jacuzzi.


Today we booked a private charter with the concierge to go see Stingray City where dozens of southern stingrays converge on shallow sandbars for daily feedings. A private charter was the way to go. Only slightly more expensive than the group tours, we had the clear waters to ourselves and spent over an hour patting and playing with the gentle rays.

Back at The Meridian, beside the free-form pool, we watched the children splashing and playing and felt a momentary pang of regret that we weren't able to bring Wesley along on this adventure. But, as Thom reminded me, it's just another good excuse to come back. And if you're going to play hooky, The Meridian is the place to do it.

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