The Ritz: Staycation

It's no secret that a large chunk of the first six months of our year consist of longer hours at work, less free time, and limited chances to see each other during the infamous "busy season". N's busy season started early this year, with his insane hours kicking in during early December. After New Years, he had a string of about ten weeks without a single day off. Meanwhile, my season ramped up more gradually, with each passing month requiring a bit more than the last. By the middle of March, we both were feeling the pressure, so when an opportunity to stay at the Ritz for a drastically-reduced price crossed our path, we made the obvious choice.

We live on a small island. Nothing is very far away. To drive from one tip of the island to the other takes under 90 minutes. And if you know the location of the Ritz - in the middle of Seven Mile Beach, literally two blocks from where I work - you may be wondering we would consider staying there a vacation, being so close to home and all.

But I would give you an incredulous look and call you "very silly indeed" for asking such a question. The moment I so much as set my pinky toe on the Ritz property, I feel the spirit of escapism come upon me. The buildings and the grounds are neat, well-manicured, and impressive. Helpful amenities are provided at every turn. Each employee seems to make it their personal life's goal to ensure your happiness and comfort.

But this much I already knew. What I didn't know was that our friends "on the inside" had gotten us a free upgrade to a room with an oceanfront view.

taken with the iPod Touch 5

The photo above was taken at about 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, after we'd both left work on time (bonus!), checked into our surprisingly oceanfront room (wow), and finally taken 5 consecutive seconds to exhale.
Worries and pressures dissipated, like they often do, as we gazed out to sea.

One funny little thing that happened a few moments after the above photo was taken: Our room phone rang, and it was the front desk calling. The Ritz staff are so darn helpful that they wanted to know if there was anything they could do to help with our check out in the morning?

"Ummm, thanks, but no thanks - just getting settled in here, guys..." (Hey, our fault for only staying one night, right?)

After that brief amusement, our next agenda item was dinner. Part of the staycation package deal was a $100 resort credit, which was burning a hole in our pockets. We decided to use it on a date at Taikun - the Ritz' upscale Japanese restaurant.

We both love sushi, and we'd at one point or another been to all of the other Ritz restaurants, so Taikun was an obvious choice.

The servers at Taikun were true to Ritz tradition - warm, accommodating, pleasant, and attentive. Our main server helped us navigate the menu - most of which was difficult to pronunciate - and while I ordered off the maki (sushi roll) and nigiri (raw fish on top of sticky rice) menus, N got the 3-course tasting menu.

One of his courses.

My plate of amazing rawness.

A unique experience that Taikun offers is the chance to experience real, fresh wasabi, grated using the traditional sharkskin method at your table.

Apparently the stuff I've been calling "wasabi" up to this point
was just dyed horseradish! Shame.

Dinner for two in a nice, cushy corner booth.

Dinner would have been enough, but when our server described the unique qualities of Taikun's assorted mochi - Japanese ice cream - we had to give it a go.

Mochi, like so many other Japanese dishes, uses a base of rice that is pounded into a paste, and then filled with ice cream.  Here's a quick shot of the cross-section of the dessert after I'd taken a bite:

taken with the iPod Touch 5

We certainly enjoyed the entire dining experience at Taikun. Can I say that my palate is so sophisticated that I was able to appreciate the superior quality of the sushi and other offerings? I can not. But the opportunity to enjoy an evening of upscale service, food, and beverage was a welcome treat, not to mention we were well overdue for a date night.


Since the whole reason we were staying at the Ritz had to do with a specific resident discount, it should be no surprise that we knew some of the other guests that weekend - other residents who were also looking for a 24-hour staycation. For the rest of the evening, we had a great time hanging out with J&L in their mansion of a suite, loving the chance to catch up with friends and not be in the office late on a Friday night.

Per my usual, we were up bright and early on Saturday, not wanting to miss out on any quality resort time. Part of our room charge included a free breakfast, which had a value of US$40 - not something I wanted to sleep through!

The Ritz breakfast is served in the same restaurant as Seven - the posh steakhouse on the island. As it had been over a year and a half since I'd been to Seven, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see that the restaurant had been completely redesigned, and had totally lost the former "hotel" feel. Along with a completely new floor plan, all the tables were covered in dark leather, contrasting with the clean, white comfortable chairs.

taken with the iPod Touch 5

The breakfast selection at the Ritz held temptations for everyone in our party, with offerings that ranged from the traditional American selections (eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast) to European offerings (breads, cheeses, quiche) to Middle Eastern (fish, olives, fresh fruit.)

taken with the iPod Touch 5

Bread station. This is dangerous.

taken with the iPod Touch 5

They also had a smoothie station and a fresh-squeezed orange juice machine. Ever since the cleanse we did last year, I've cut out my daily glass of Tropicana. But to watch your orange juice be prepared from oranges that are being peeled and squeezed before your very eyes? I'll take seconds, please.

taken with the iPod Touch 5

Making choices when all options are tempting was tough, but I felt pretty pleased with my (first) plate of breakfast food:

taken with the iPod Touch 5

The wonderful thing about weekends and buffets is you actually have time to slowly enjoy your first plate, chat and laugh with friends, contemplate a second plate, loosely plan out what you want to do for the day, determine you definitely have room for more, decide the only thing on your agenda involves surf and sun, and then go get that second plate of food.

taken with the iPod Touch 5
After breakfast, SS and I went to a yoga class in the Ritz' gym, which was just the right amount of exercise on a Saturday morning after a full breakfast. 

The only other agenda item was a bit of sailing on one of the Ritz' Hobie Cats. I have absolutely no experience with sailing, but AK - one of our friends also on the staycation weekend - knew what she was doing. I was just along for the beautiful ride!

                             photo credit: AK

The rest of the afternoon was spent oscillating between the beach and the pool with friends.

Our only interruption was a mid-afternoon refreshment.

taken with the iPod Touch 5

And my favorite little highlight of the day: Getting to watch JW and her mom enjoy the beach together.

JW is such a sweet two-and-a-half year old doll - always the happy, entertaining sort that keeps you laughing at the cute things she says. (And she says a lot - in full sentences! I love toddler conversations.)

That mermaid doll was a gift from the Ritz, left in her room for her!
What a sweet touch.

Twenty-four hours later, we once again packed our bags and went back to our normal lives, feeling massively refreshed and so thankful for the opportunity to experience a short vacation on this beautiful island.

And I can honestly testify that halfway through busy season, a Ritz staycation is exactly what we needed.

Speaking of busy season, you'll have to forgive the lack of posts on this blog over the past month and over the next eight weeks or so. It's time for me to hunker down at work and get 'er done. July 1st (post deadline) is looking more and more attractive (and yet more and more impossible) with each passing day.  But, like we always say, "It will all get done." Somehow.

In the meantime, the readership's choices are to A) be patient and wait for my schedule to calm down or B) petition for NS to guest post in my absence.
Choose wisely!!


  1. great post! definitely makes me miss the relaxing and luxurious cayman lifestyle. good luck with the rest of busy season! i'll be praying for you!

  2. What a wonderful staycation, I've been meaning to go on one myself.

    My friends love to visit the Ritz for their high teas. The sushi also looked excellent...but I must say the mochi looks suspiciously like the boxed kind drizzled with some compote to lighten them up ;] If you're a big fan of mochi Trader Joes sells the authentic kind for a very affordable 3.75 or so

    Also the breakfast array looks amazing! We're huge foodies as well, and you and your husband make a beautiful couple. Fun blog post, thanks!

    PS. Stay strong in the busy season! We've kept very busy as well but having fun perks and snacks around the office definitely helps.

    1. I can't recommend it enough! Glad you liked the post, thanks for the feedback!

      PS. Would love to have access to a Trader Joes!! :)

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