The latest boutique hotel on Grand Cayman, Palm Heights’ retro exterior (which takes inspiration from the Caribbean of the 70s) hints to the playful and hedonic rhythm of Founder and Creative Director, Gabriella Khalil’s island hideaway.
A hotel with a seriously sunny disposition, you’ll instantly note an optimistic canary-yellow hue brushed across the umbrellas, towels, furniture, and more, setting the tone for a serotonin-surging stay.
The Packing Edit
Joyful – plain and simple; though, aesthetically, it’s anything but ‘plain’ – that brief is more ‘Slim Aaron’s takes a trip to Grand Cayman’.
Bedrooms are places of calm and balance. Neutral tones of taupe, camel, and ecru engulf you on entry, whilst some eclectic design pieces dotted throughout – from modernist couches to abstract paintings – keep this fizzing. We stayed in room 416, a rather epic suite with views of the ocean and the pool. Comprising of two bedrooms, two bathrooms (plus an outdoor circular stone tub), and an XL balcony, the suite offers a real sense of place and imbues a certain homeliness – there’s a kitchenette and dining table, not to mention a bountiful mini-fridge stocked with Tortuga Caribbean rum cake, Luna bars, Haribo, Pringles, and Nutella sachets (because a GENIUS was put in charge of the mini bar line-up).
Turndown service is a real treat – on any given evening you might be delivered vegan kale chips (properly delicious), vegan and gluten-free brownies , or even a Himalayan pink salt and coffee scrub to help you further unwind. Other nice additions: USB charging ports located bedside the bed, a BOSE Bluetooth speaker, and a pillow menu – try the coconut aromatherapy memory foam pillow to “lull you into a tropical state of mind”.
Room rates are exclusive of a daily resort fee of $75. Additionally, there is a room tax and service charge of 23% nightly.
The Little Extras
The Garden Club, Palm Height’s spa and wellness concept, has some major plans in the works, so watch this space (well, actually watch the space adjacent to the hotel which is/will be accessible to hotel guests via tunnelled sound instillation). For now, guests can receive in-room treatments spanning massage to facials (choose from iS Clinical and Tata Harper) and waxing. Our advice: post-flight, book in for an 85-minute deep-tissue massage – it will ease you right into holiday mode. Janine Martins, a multidisciplinary healer and psychic from the Cayman Islands, is also available to offer sound healing, energy balancing rituals (reiki healing, crystal healing, and biofield tuning), and/or a psychic reading, with each of the treatments listed priced at $250 for a 60-minute session.
Bookworms – make an appointment at Libraryfetish and paw (well, no don’t) first editions of Interview amongst other hard-to-find titles. And now, a word about the gift shop. As someone who loves hotel merch, I can say with confidence this hole-in-the-wall teller is a truly fun spot. Pick up a pair of tube socks, some sunshine-yellow sliders, a little Dr. Sturm skincare, a bespoke fashion piece courtesy of someone cooler than me or you, and more – you’ll need a hotel tote (or three) to carry your haul home, as ‘one and done’ isn’t really the MO here.
Need to do some work? Firstly, snore. Secondly, there’s a conference room that is quirky enough to distract you from the fact that you’re working on vacation.
The Food + Drink
Tillies serves as the hub for all meals (though there are other places to venture across the hotel to dine, as you’ll soon learn). Serving breakfast through to dinner, the space effectively comprises of three sections, each with their own mood: beach tables plotted amidst plants and trees, outdoor patio seating, and indoor dining.
Following the natural order of the day, breakfast at Tillies is very relaxed. Grab a coffee, a fresh watermelon juice (or a mimosa), some granola, a little avocado toast perhaps, some ricotta pancakes, or maybe a breakfast burrito to set you in good stead. For lunch, choose from a selection of salads and sandwiches, the raw bar (oysters, ceviche, and poke), grill bowls (jerk chicken or piri shrimp), and so on. Taking diners on “a voyage through the Greater Antilles”, come evening, Tillies’ fresh and eclectic Caribbean fare really shines. Tiki torches take position on the sand whilst light-strewn palms become illuminated, and a great soundtrack gets you pepped for the night ahead. From small bites of beef tartare or and 1/2 dozen East Coast oysters, to grilled fish and goat curry (lest we forget a side of sweet plantains or cream corn added to whatever you’re ordering) there’s no chance you’ll go hungry, or underwhelmed. Vegan options include coconut aguachile, beet tartare, and mustard green fritter.
Yashinoki will shortly be opening opposite Palm Heights, but for now chef Takumi Maruse’s menu can be enjoyed at the Coconut Club. Pretty much everything is great: the zesty salmon tataki; the tuna tartare; an insane wagyu creation (heaven); nigiri and sashimi – choose from hamachi, ikura, maguro, and more –; plus old faithfuls like spicy tuna rolls and California rolls for the less adventurous. The sundae and the baked Alaska make excellent desserts, whilst the delicate rose and lychee martini, and the Japanese highball (made with Mars Iwai whiskey, yuzu juice, ginger ale, and bitter) are the perfect note(s) on which to end.
The Coconut Club itself is a private guest lounge and beach bar that opens from 10AM until late. With a tented ceiling and cocktail hour from 5PM (aka ‘golden hour’), it’s up there with our favourite spots at Palm Heights. Wondering what to order? Signature cocktails Pink Mule and Tillies Rum Punch are a good place to start and are certain to help make those shoulders drop.
If you fancy something that’s fuss free, head to Paradise Pizza for Neapolitan-style pizzas, hearty salads, and shawarma flatbreads. Gingham tablecloths and white trellising set a jovial Italianate scene. Red and white pizzas take centre stage, but theatrics go up a gear for Mambo Italiano – a lively night at Paradise Pizza that combines prosecco, pizza, pasta, tiramisu, and karaoke. Not for you? You can also order your pizza to go.
The To-Do List
There’s an on-site gym which is open 24 hours a day and daily group fitness classes, like strength and conditioning workouts and yoga, are held in the morning and early evening. Available to guests free of charge, check the events calendar for the weekly timetable offered by resident trainers. For a more bespoke workout, guests can arrange a PT session at a charge.
Fancy a day on or by the gin-clear water? For the latter, head down to the beach earlyish to reserve your choice sunning spot. Those looking for something slightly more exerting than a half-hourly rotation for optimum tanning can enjoy a whole host of complimentary water equipment, from snorkel gear and crystal kayaks to paddleboards – these are located to the left side of beach rental spot on the beach.
Other beachside activities – jet ski safari, fishing excursions, and horse riding can be arranged at the front desk for a fee. If you’ve been out exploring on a Monday evening stop by the Film Club, located on the roof and relax with a classic film served with a side of popcorn, pizza, snacks, and wine.