If it were easy for hotels to earn Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Star awards, there would be more than seven in the Caribbean and 210 in the entire world with that accolade.
But it's not easy, which is why having The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman receive the five-star designation last month, becoming the first and only hotel in the Cayman Islands to be so recognised, is a big deal.
“We are incredibly proud and honoured to be recognised as a Forbes Five-Star Hotel, which is a testament to our consistent dedication to provide personalised experiences and service to our guests," said Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman General Manager Marc Langevin.
The Forbes Travel Guide, which was founded by Mobil and the publishing company Simon & Schuster in 1958, and was once called the Mobil Travel Guide, is the oldest travel guide in the United States. Through a licensing agreement, it became the Forbes Travel Guide in 2008. Although the Mobil Travel Guide was intended as a guidebook for motorists in the United States, the Forbes Travel Guide is focused on luxury around the globe, using the tagline "We verify luxury."
The original Mobil Travel Guide Star Ratings provided ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas on a scale of one star to five stars. When it became Forbes Travel Guide, the ratings were reduced to three categories: Five-Star, Four-Star and Recommended.
Unlike some rating systems, Forbes Travel Guide inspectors visit properties anonymously to ensure they have the same experience as a typical guest.
"We pay our own way. No one can buy a rating; all ratings are earned through our objective inspection process," the Forbes Travel Guide states on its website. "Our highly trained inspectors visit every property we rate, evaluating based on up to 900 objective criteria. Our hotel stays span a minimum of two nights."
In describing what a Five-Star rating means, Forbes states, "These are outstanding, often iconic properties with virtually flawless service and amazing facilities."
The inspectors assess the facilities as well as service.
"Our Star Rating system emphasises service because your experience at a hotel, restaurant or spa goes beyond looks — how it makes you feel is what you will remember most," the Forbes Travel Guide website states.
Langevin praised The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman staff for providing the high level of service that helped earn the property a Five-Star award.
"Our ladies and gentlemen have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to this achievement through a journey of continuous training and outstanding attention to detail to elevate the level of personalisation and genuine care in our day-to-day activities,” he said.
On its website, The Forbes Travel Guide has listings for each of the properties it inspects that receives a Five-Star, Four-Star or Recommended rating. In addition to various information about the hotel, the listing includes highlights of its inspector's report.
One of the highlights on the listing for The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman includes, "As you journey to your room, you will indeed know you’ve arrived in Cayman: Grab a tropical welcome drink from the lobby’s miniature, pink-shuttered island cottage, and pass through hallways that serve as gallery space for local artists."
The website also praises several aspects of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman's facilities and programmes, including the Greg Norman-designed golf course, the The Courts Tennis Center, Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment, the La Prairie Spa, the restaurant Blue by Eric Ripert and the Cayman Cookout.
In earning a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel award, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman finds itself in elite company in the Caribbean, joining two hotels in Puerto Rico, two in St. Barts, one in Antigua and one in Barbados as the only hotels to have that designation in the region.
Only two other Cayman Islands hotels have earned a rating from the Forbes Travel Guide; Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has a four-star designation and the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa has a "Recommended" designation.
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman opened in December 2005 and Dart purchased the property in 2017.
Dart now has three hospitality properties along the Seven Mile Beach corridor, having developed and opened Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa on the northern part of Seven Mile Beach in November 2016 and having purchased Comfort Suites in 2019.
Dart Senior Vice President Hospitality Enrique Tasende said the Five Star Award was a testament to the commitment to excellence demonstrated by the staff of The Ritz-Carlton.
"As the owner of The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Dart is extremely pleased about what it means not only for the hotel, but also for the Cayman Islands," he said. "To have Forbes Travel Guide, the global authority on verifying luxury, include Cayman among destinations that provide the most exceptional experiences in the world is a powerful endorsement."