Travelers headed to the Caribbean this winter, be warned: you might be fighting up with up to 54% more travelers over the same beach chair. As American travelers flock to warmer climates in record numbers, flights and swimming pools will be packed this year.
Whether you dream of hotter-than-ever destinations like Grand Cayman or under-the-radar beaches on up-and-coming islands, travel experts say that to avoid overcrowding on your next vacation, consider one crucial factor: resort size.
A Caribbean Travel Craze
Data from ForwardKeys on travel to the Caribbean predicts that already remarkable visitor levels will continue to grow by double-digit percentages through the rest of the fourth quarter of 2023. Perennially popular destinations like the Dominican Republic, for example, will continue to boom with up to a 54% growth in international arrivals through the end of the year.
The beautiful Cayman Islands, nestled between Cuba and Mexico, are currently the number one trending international travel destination among United States travelers. A report by Skyscanner identified that recent searches for trips and resorts in the Cayman Islands were up a whopping 483% over the same period last year.
The statistics don’t lie. Resorts in bustling Grand Cayman are seeing record numbers of bookings, even in the usually slower summer season when most travelers enjoy nicer weather back home. At The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, one of the island’s best resorts, occupancy grew by 35% over 2022 levels, even as room rates also increased during the same period.
While it looks like all Caribbean destinations will be busier this year, travel experts agree that something as simple as resort size could be the most crucial factor to consider when planning a vacation away from the crowds.
No matter what island you choose, smaller resorts generally provide the laid-back ease that most travelers to the Caribbean dream of. “I always enjoy staying at a smaller Caribbean resort because of the intimate and peaceful atmosphere,” says Bella Bucchiotti, travel writer at xoxoBella. “Smaller resorts offer a more personalized experience and are often located in more secluded and natural settings.” Whether you’re looking for a deserted beach or don’t mind being within walking distance of all the action, the luxury of privacy can add to the experience.
However, smaller properties also make travelers consider what they want most from their vacation. “When choosing a smaller resort, travelers should consider the trade-off of fewer amenities for a more authentic and serene environment,” says Bucchiotti. Due to size, most smaller resorts can only provide a fraction of the amenities that oversized resorts can, leaving travelers to pick and choose the non-negotiables for their vacation.
The Westin Grand Cayman
Located on the largest of the trending Cayman Islands, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa is a prime example of a Caribbean resort that balances a manageable size and laid-back feel with the must-have amenities travelers don’t want to give up.
Wellness is a brand pillar of the Westin, meaning the breezy Caribbean vibe is one of the resort’s most important priorities. “Even with more than three hundred rooms, the resort feels like a boutique hotel with friendly service and personalized attention,” says Lucy Taylor, who has been a part of The Westin team for nearly five years. The resort still feels peaceful even during a busier-than-usual low-season of travel.
Meanwhile, The Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa still has the big-time amenities that make a beach vacation memorable. It’s home to the island’s largest freshwater pool and the largest slice of beachfront on Seven Mile Beach, considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. An impressive wellness program with an endless list of therapeutic spa services and a range of adventurous activities makes each day at the resort something special.
New and improved dining options at The Westin draw visitors to the resort above and beyond those who spend the night as guests. The resort’s newest restaurant, woto, is the only dedicated sushi, poke, and ceviche spot on the island and a taste of why the island is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Cayman Coffee Exchange is another addition anyone will love. It’s an easy grab-and-go spot for everything from lattes and sandwiches to a quick breakfast before sailing excursions.
Escape the Crowds
But what’s the price of staying at a smaller resort? “Travelers generally have to pay potentially higher prices for a more exclusive and private experience,” Bucciotti reminds travelers. It’s another factor to consider when weighing just how important it is to escape the Caribbean travel craze this season.
Loyalty programs at resorts that are part of larger hotel groups can offer tempting savings and upgraded experiences. Coupled with year-end savings and discounted deals, choosing a smaller resort can be downright affordable if done correctly. Savvy travelers may find that escaping the crowds is easier than they think.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.