Cayman Islands launches solar-powered electric rental cars

The Cayman Islands are taking steps to preserve their fragile island ecosystem by launching a fleet of eco-friendly, electric Wheego rental vehicles and installing solar panel charging stations for electric vehicles throughout Grand Cayman.

The new stations, produced by U-Go, generate electricity using pollution-free solar cells, reducing carbon emissions to zero. Over the next year, 12 stations will be installed throughout Grand Cayman, the first in Governor’s Square. The initiative is part of a move toward nationwide Green Globe certification, an industry certification program for sustainable tourism. Members of the Green Globe alliance are recognized for saving energy and water resources, reducing operational costs and contributing positively to their environment and communities.

“We are thrilled to be able to introduce this technology to the Cayman Islands in an effort to further preserve our treasured ecosystem,” said Hon. McKeeva Bush, Premier of the Cayman Islands, in a release. “Our natural environment, including the Mastic Trail, the Blue Iguanas, and our pristine waters, is a source of national pride, which we plan to maintain for years to come. This development is crucial to our success.”

The Coconut Phone: A quirky luxury in Grand Cayman

Have you ever been on vacation, laying under a palm tree on a white sandy beach with turquoise waters glistening beneath the sun, and thought about how a tropical cocktail would complement the moment perfectly? For those staying at the Ritz Carlton: Grand Cayman, there’s no need to remove yourself from your comfortable paradise as the hotel offers an amenity that will allow you to order drinks, lunch, and whole lot more right from your lounge chair on Seven Mile Beach: The Coconut Phone.

The Coconut Phone is a complimentary service for guests that allows them to type in and click exactly what they want to eat or drink and have it delivered right to their lounge chair. This sweet piece of technology also relieves the burden of having to bring a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to the beach, as the Coconut Phone is internet-capable and can be used to browse hotel services to make reservations for things like golf outings, the spa, and restaurants. And, since it is iPod Touch equipped, you can also enjoy listening to over 1,000 songs that are already stored on the device, which comes with a waterproof armband. Now, there’s no need to worry about ruining your gadgets at the beach.

For more information, visit the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman website.

Lonely Planet offers Halloween alternatives

Once you pass a certain age (read: enter middle school), the novelty of dressing up and going trick or treating grows old. That is, of course, excluding those who wait all year to dress up as a slutty nurse or Snooki from The Jersey Shore.

In fact, seasoned travelers know that the over-the-top portrayal of Halloween is rather limited to American culture, and that people from other countries often raise eyebrows when we describe our obsession with this admittedly pagan holiday.

So whether you’re traveling, looking for a reason to escape the costume circuit or simply seeking a reason to celebrate that doesn’t involve a skankalicious rendition of an otherwise admirable profession, we’ve found this great list from Lonely Planet of worthy Halloween alternatives.

From mid-October to early November, embrace the Dia de Muertos in Oaxcaca, Mexico, enjoy a classically English bonfire night in East Sussex, celebrate the Festival of the Horned One (sounds dangerous) in Italy, or practice your “talk like a pirate” skills at Pirates Week in the Grand Cayman.

And, of course, if you really want to dress up, Scott Carmichael has the season’s best travel-themed costume suggestions.

[Flickr via I am Rob]

Collect Marriott freebies with “Trick or Tweet” promotion

As Halloween approaches and the weather gets cooler, we realize that winter in the northern US, with its short hours of daylight and negative wind-chill factors, is just around the corner. Suddenly, it seems like there’s no better time to book a tropical vacation. If you’re thinking about a trip to a sunny island paradise, log in to Twitter and start following Marriott Resorts.

Now through the end of October, the company will be giving away daily coupons for perks at Marriott Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Even if you aren’t planning on traveling until the temps dip a little lower (or even until next year), you can still take advantage of the freebies. The vouchers are good through December 20, 2010.

All you need to do is follow Marriott Resorts on Twitter and watch for their “Trick or Tweet” tweets. Click the link and download your voucher, which will be good for deals like free drinks, free rounds of golf, discounted spa services and more. Each voucher is good at a specific resort, so follow along and collect the deals that work for you.

Free drinks in Grand Cayman or a cheap spa treatment in Aruba? I’m feeling warmer already.

Hidden Gems: Hell

This week, humanity witnessed the (nearly) unprecedented: the dreaded 6/6/6 came and went fairly innocuously. Some people celebrated by desecrating churches. One woman celebrated by giving birth to a baby at 6 in the morning…that weighed 6.66 pounds. Some kids in Jersey celebrated by staying home from school.

I didn’t do any of that silly stuff. What did I do? My plan was devilishly simple: I went to Hell.

In case you had a Hell of a bad geography teacher, Hell is located at roughly 19.30 N, and 80.30 W — in the northwest corner of Grand Cayman. Seriously. If you look at a map of the island, you’ll see a place marked Hell. Considering its location, there’s very little chance that it’ll ever freeze over.








Although famous for its glisteningly-white Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman is not ringed entirely by soft, sandy, toe-loving beach. In fact, much of it is surrounded by ironshore, a rough, sharp, gray, limestone rock that would cut the toes of anyone who stepped on it.






Legend has it that in the 1930s, an Englishman visited the spot, shot at a bird, missed, and muttered, “Oh, Hell.” The name stuck. A wise, forward-thinking Cayman resident, Ivan Farrington, had an epiphany: Yes, he thought, I can’t do anything else with this useless Phytokarst formation — this place must be Hell. And like any good entrepreneur, he set forth to create his vision.

On the morning of 6/6/6, my father and I went to Hell. No, we didn’t go in a handbasket; we rented a car. After winding past massive hotels, and through a small neighborhood, I found an ominous-looking intersection. This must be the place.







I made a hard right, drove past Hell’s only gas station (an Esso), and pulled into the parking lot. However, I was careful not to park in the wrong spot.






What is this place, I thought? Could it really be Hell?







Or just a commercialized version of it?









First, I wandered out back, where the ironshore pokes up ominously, and I realized how inhospitable the terrain is. Only a devil could love it.









He loves it so much, in fact, that he guards it…

















Fearfully, I left the ironshore and made my way to the inner circle of Hell.







I took a  deep breath, and I made a pact with the devil: let me escape this place alive, and I promise to tell the world about you and your establishment.




After shaking hands with the devil himself, I entered the store. I was surrounded by t-shirts, fridge magnets, bumper stickers, and every imaginable kind of hellish gee-gaw, all hocking Hell:

  • “My mom went to Hell, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”
  • “If you can read this t-shirt, then she fell the Hell off the bike!”
  • “Get the Hell out of my way!”

For the literate, you could even purchase a postcard from Hell, affix a Hell postage stamp to it, and mail it from Hell’s own mailbox.






It turns out that although you can purchase cold drinks in Hell, there is no restaurant: no Hell’s Kitchen to serve up hot wings or fiery chili.

I chose a shotglass (“I made it to Hell and back”) and made my way to the front counter. Mr. Farrington was there, and he took my money. I asked if I could take his photo. He paused, looked at me, and asked, “Well…what the Hell are you waiting for?”









I thanked him and turned to leave. But before I did, I leveled my gaze at him and snarled, “You, go to Hell!”

I rushed from the store, jumped in my car, gunned the engine and got the Hell out of there. Fortunately, despite being there on 6/6/6, I did not spontaneously combust.

I know this is one Hell of a story, but it’s completely true. If you don’t believe me, why don’t YOU go to Hell!