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Review of Westin Grand Cayman for NBC Washington

PHOTO: Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa (c) Sery Kim

Scouring 1.063 million square miles of the caribbean to find the most radiant beach is an exercise of extreme gluttony. After all, the 33 islands of the Caribbean have so much parity in their translucent waters and shapely sands, this is akin to picking a favorite strand of hair.

Yet even in this near interchangeable terrain, the 700 feet of pristine white sands at Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa stands at the top of the mountain of its peers. Literally not a pebble can be found in the flawless beach which mirrors tons of empty bags of sugar before gently emptying into the purest aquamarine waters one can find in the Caribbean.

PHOTO: Seven Mile Beach in Grand Caymans (c) Sery Kim

While the Westin’s 343 guest rooms themselves are a bit dated, though the Westin Heavenly Bed remains quite comfortable, the pristine outdoor amenities and food and beverage program quickly makes a guest realize where the money was (wisely) invested and re-invested.

Foremostly, the food-and-beverage program has been revamped under the confident yet humble hand of New York City trained Executive Chef Sandy Tuason. His menu at the gut renovated Beach House Restaurant would compare confidently with any of his peers in the wrenchingly difficult New York City restaurant industry. Enticing medley of flavors stir within unique platings.

PHOTO: Beach House Restaurant at Westin Grand Cayman (c) Sery Kim

Take his Peanut Butter and Jelly Foie Gras. “This is the best foie gras you will ever have,” the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Westin Grand Cayman boldly predicted. As someone who is repeatedly told a dish is “the best” of whatever is presented, I swiftly ignored the comment and ordered the dish with trepidation. After all, foie gras is one of my favorite dishes in the world and I was cynical enough to believe this classic European dish could not be conquered by a Caribbean island.

How wrong I was.

PHOTO: Peanut Butter and Jelly Foie Gras at Beach House Restaurant (c) Sery Kim

Chef Tuason’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Foie Gras was a Willy Wonka-esque journey in colorfully interactive food. A large platter with seven equally spaced quadrants of food was placed in three horizontal lines with a visually compelling plating. The foie gras, nicely cooked, was at the center like an island of liver while the highest and lowest lines were gastronomic drops of varying kinds of jelly, in equally varying sizes. In the center were different textures of peanut butter so that your fork would have to pull from three horizontal layers, in seven quadrants, the ideal pitch of imaginative taste. A gloriously interesting dish.

PHOTO: Gorgeous Branzino at Beach House Restaurant (c) Sery Kim

While foie gras might not be for everybody, the beachfront service of Tortuga Beach Grill & Bar offered a tremendously engaging and more accessible dishes like the familiar Shrimp Taco. While most shrimp taco dishes I have eaten have puny shrimps akin to the size of a black-eyed pea -- or even more puny flavors -- Chef Tuason’s Shrimp Taco was a rainbow of hefty sizes and rich flavors. The shrimps were fatter than a White House turkey on Thanksgiving morning, with pico de gallo, crema fresca, jalapeños, cilantro, lime and pickled onions providing a zesty overarching theme. The $18 price tag could easily have been higher and nary a complaint will be found.

PHOTO: Shrimp Taco at Tortuga Beach Grill & Bar (c) Sery Kim

Additionally, the beverage program matches the exceptional food service, a key to beachfront vacationing when being outdoors in the punishing rays makes anyone thirsty. Though I had never drank a Mudslide before, after tasting Tortuga’s combination of vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua and chocolate syrup, I quickly became addicted and having searched in vain for an equivalent combination I can say Tortuga has the best by far.

PHOTO: Mudslide at Westin Grand Cayman (c) Sery Kim

If, after eating and drinking an embarrassing amount of food and beverage, you have energy to try watersports, the Westin Grand Cayman provides a wealth of water activities a literal foot from the hotel.

PHOTO: Banana Boats at Red Sail Sports (c) Sery Kim

PHOTO: Trying to paddle board with two people (c) Sery Kim

Conveniently on the beach between the rooms and the water is Red Sail Sports, providing wakeboarding, scuba, banana boats, paddle boards, catamarans and various other activities. I literally was in-and-out of the water all day and while I indulged in 3-4 Mudslides, a full breakfast of Chef Tuason’s deeply satisfying Blueberry Banana Smoothie (soy milk, honey and all natural granola brittle), large lunches and even larger dinners, which is the only reason I can deduce for me managing to lose weight on this trip. I don’t know in what alternate universe this can occur, but apparently it can at Westin Grand Cayman!

My sole complaint is the less-than-average spa. As an avid spa goer, my facialist talked during the entire service, which is annoying and not relaxing, and my skin was not properly treated. She exfoliated for a mere 15 seconds and had a terrifying time of extracting any pimples or zits, with her instrument consistently failing to penetrate my skin. I was praying fervently I would not be scarred Hopefully the new spa director will bring the service on-the-level.

Overall, the Westin Grand Cayman felt like an oasis of happiness and now, knowing it exists, I can not wait to return for an annual pilgrimage.

PHOTO: Welcome gift from Westin Grand Cayman (c) Sery Kim

PHOTO: Buddy time at Westin Grand Cayman's sunset (c) Sery Kim

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