This Hotel in the Cayman Islands Has No Keys For Its Doors
It is fitting that Southern Cross Club owner Peter Hillenbrand grew up in a small Indiana farm town, one where he left his keys in the ignition overnight and his doors were literally always open.
He brought that same small-town mentality to the already sleepy 10 square-mile island of Little Cayman, located about 60 miles northwest of the better known Grand Cayman. With a population that currently sits at just under 200, his sense of community and trust seemed to be a perfect fit for the island. Typically, we board up our room tighter than Fort Knox when heading out for the day, so imagine our surprise when we were told upon check in that there were no keys for any of the rooms.
For those traveling from the bustling cities of the U.S., this might sound insane. Yet, it is exactly what sets the tone for the entire trip and definitely the most rewarding concept a traveler can experience in today's relatively untrusting world. The idea of leaving your door unlocked is designed to help you truly leave your worries behind, to pretend like you're on an untouched, semi-deserted island where none of the problems of home have surfaced. And it's easy to do, because you are.
If you've come to Little Cayman, you've come to completely escape reality, to scuba dive and to swing in hammocks, to grab some dinner and a beer before putting your feet up. The property has 14 beach cottages, seven of which feature outdoor showers that look out over the ocean, in which we experienced our first "sunset shower." Definitely inquire about the availability of one of the newer bungalows that are ocean front, shown in the photos in this post. Not only do they get you the best views, but they are the most recently renovated and have large porches (and outdoor showers) with the most direct views of the ocean.
Rates start at $299/night, and you can also purchase scuba packages that include meals to go along with your lodging. Considering it will take most a day or two to get comfortable with the fact that their iPhone is safe sitting out next to the sink, we recommend at least a three or four night stay. If you're diving, five nights is a solid trip and enough time to fully explore the preserved underworld that has helped to put the island on the map.
[Disclosure: Will stayed at the Southern Cross Club while on assignment for another publication, but all opinions are his own.]
[Photo: Will McGough]