Divi Tiara Beach Resort - Cayman Brac, BWI
TRIP DATE: July 20-27, 1997 and July 12-19, 1998
LOCATION: Cayman Brac, British West Indies
Divi Tiara Beach Resort - CLOSED AS OF SEPT. 2006
1997 - Breakfast and Dinner included, lunch at extra cost.
1998 - All meals included. Alcoholic beverages at extra cost as also soft drinks at other than mealtimes.
1997 - American Airlines to Houston from DFW, Cayman Airlines from DFW to Cayman Brac
1998 - Allegro from DFW to Grand Cayman, Island Air private charter from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac
1997 - Personal flight on A/A from DFW to Houston @ $107, Cayman Air/Divi Tiara Package @ $1300, personal lunches/drinks @ $125
1998 - Dive/land/air/meal (except drinks) package from DFW to Cayman Brac @ $1599, personal drinks @ $40
Note that an all-meal option and an all-inclusive option including alcoholic drinks are available at added-cost during check-in.
DETAILS: Consistent, excellent service! That simple description sums up my overall impression of Divi Tiara Beach Resort and Peter Hughes' Dive Tiara on each of two one-week dive trips to this quiet resort on Cayman Brac. Traveling each time with a group of divers on trips planned by Lone Star SCUBA, the first trip in1997 found 16 divers thoroughly pleased with some magnificent diving, comfortable accommodations, and a very well run dive operation. When 6 of us returned in 1998 among a group of 23 divers, what more could we expect? How about comments like "this was my best trip ever", "absolutely no complaints", "excellent food", or "the dive operation is great"!
While the 1997 trip was considered a big success and left little room for improvement, the 1998 trip did indeed raise the standards even higher. This began with a better-planned trip, avoiding the midnight arrival at the resort by scheduling a private charter on Island Air from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac. Arriving at the resort before noon, the only inconvenience was that our luggage would be delivered to us later in the day, as the small charter plane was unable to accommodate the total combined passenger and cargo weight. So, for most of the afternoon, most of us just lounged out by the bar, the beach, or in our air-conditioned rooms. By early evening, everyone's luggage had arrived intact and undamaged, and was delivered to our rooms. Now we were ready for a week of fun in the sun and sea!
The other improvement made from 1997 to 1998 was in the quality of the food. While meal choices were quite similar, the menu had been raised a few notches in offering more unique fare to choose from. Otherwise, the resort just felt friendly, familiar, and comfortable, with no crowds yet to descend upon it. In fact, arriving 1 week earlier in 1998 than in 1997, there were times when it nearly seemed our group owned the place. With two of the five 40-foot custom dive boats dedicated to us for the week of diving, we truly felt as if we were being pampered and catered to nearly every request. That's not to say that there aren't rules that are discussed and followed, but none were overly restrictive, and there was considerable flexibility shown during the diving as our divemasters became familiar with the individual skill levels of the divers.
Some 89 miles northeast of the too-often-found cattle boat dive operations of Grand Cayman, lie the secluded sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. While Little Cayman is perhaps the best known of these two small islands, it is the slightly larger Cayman Brac that played host to our dive group. Offering more accommodations and conveniences than her little sister, Cayman Brac afforded us the opportunity to enjoy the best of both excellent accommodations and plentiful diving while also being within 30-45 minutes by boat of the Little Cayman's renown wall dives. Additionally, for those who ventured out for a night "on the town", there was at least one popular club - La Esperanza - to go enjoy some dancing to the island music. I'm sure there are a few other local places to enjoy, but with day-in, day-out of dive, dive, dive, and some time for dining and relaxing, there wasn't much time left to explore the island except for those willing to skip an afternoon dive. In my case, I came here for the diving, and that's exactly what I did, managing 17 dives in 1997 and 18 in 1998 including add-on night dives. So, there's little for me to report on with respect to any topside adventures, as 3 dives daily left me ready for some sleep soon after my dinner meal.
Following an island hop by private charter from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac, our group was met at the Cayman Brac airport by Divi Tiara representatives who took us to the resort in air-conditioned vans. Reportedly part of the Peter Hughes' resort tradition, making the guests feel welcome is indeed the type of reception you receive at Divi Tiara Beach. Upon arrival at the resort, rum punch is served to the guests while they proceed with the check-in ritual. All luggage (if it came with the flight!) is unloaded and promptly delivered to the guests' rooms. As mentioned previously, options to the vacation package may be available during check-in, such as extending the meal plans to include lunch, or going for an all-inclusive option which includes the bar tab. Although drink prices are pretty high at the bar, I would guess that most guests would save money by paying as they go. And, while I enjoy an occasional drink myself, my own opinion is that I'm on vacation to dive, and safe diving practices encourage prudent consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Standard rooms at Divi Tiara Beach Resort are comfortable, air-conditioned rooms with two double beds, a table, an ample 9-drawer dresser to supplement the otherwise small open-closet space, vanity, toilet & shower area, alarm clock/radio (don't bother hunting for a radio station), and telephone. While some rooms offer a television and ocean view, those are generally the deluxe rooms. Overall, I would not call the rooms particularly impressive, but that is not expected of most dive resorts unless you pay a premium price. What was important was provided...the rooms were comfortable - in particular, I would say the beds had the best quality mattress I've enjoyed sleeping on of any hotel I've been in, save again for premium hotels. On the calm nights when the humidity became somewhat oppressive, the relieving cool of an air-conditioned room was very welcome. So, I was satisfied with the room for the value of the resort. If any real criticisms were to be mentioned, it would be the lack of an electrical outlet in the vanity area and the absence of sufficient towel hooks or rods to hang wet items on. For the outlet that is available by the dresser, the electricity is the US standard 110-volt flavor. Tap water is also safe to drink.
Oh, what about all that dive gear? Again, the Peter Hughes' tradition prevails. After checking in with the dive-shop and showing them your C-card, you are assigned a hook number and mesh bag for storing your gear in. So, you return to your room and transfer all essential gear to the mesh bag, and then place it outside by the door. From that point on, the only time you mess with your gear is donning and doffing it on the boat. Otherwise, the dive staff picks up your gear bag and rinses and stores the gear for you after each dive day is completed. At the end of the week, the equipment is given a final rinse and returned to the doorstep of your room to be packed for the return trip home. No muss, no fuss!