Influential world travel website TripAdvisor handed out more than 150 certificates of excellence to Cayman hotels, restaurants and tour operators in 2013 – more than triple the number from the previous year.
To qualify for the award, businesses must maintain an average rating of four stars or higher, based on traveller reviews on the website.
They must have had a presence on the site for more than 12 months and must reach a certain volume of reviews to qualify.
A total of 157 businesses in Cayman snagged the award in 2013 compared with just 42 in 2012.
The website currently has a total of 100 million reviews and has become an influential driver of business, particularly for smaller operators who rely on word of mouth over slick marketing campaigns.
Ken Hydes, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, said the performance of local businesses on the website was encouraging.
“The significant increase in local business receiving award of excellence from TripAdvisor is a clear indication that the tourism sector continues to recognise the value of the delivering the highest levels of customer service and the value of being engaged in social media that can impact visitor choices,” he said.
There were 35 businesses awarded certificates for excellence in the accommodations category, 53 in the attractions category and 69 in the eateries category.
According to the website, the most popular things to do in the Cayman Islands are visit Stingray City, dive the North Wall with Cayman Marine Lab and beach horse riding with Spirit of the West.
The top restaurant is currently vegan eatery Bread and Chocolate, though the establishment doesn’t yet have enough reviews to qualify for a certificate of excellence. The Caribbean Club on Seven Mile Beach is rated as the top hotel by reviewers while the Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman is ranked as the top bed and breakfast establishment.
Stephanie Boyle, public relations manager for TripAdvisor, said it was encouraging to see how many businesses in the Cayman Islands had received awards.
“The certificate of excellence award recognises top performing establishments that are consistently offering travellers an outstanding customer experience.
“We’re delighted to be celebrating the success of great hospitality businesses that have earned this achievement and it’s a pleasure to see that the number of businesses receiving this award in the Cayman Islands has significantly increased in the last year.”
Ronnie Anglin, of Captain Marvin’s Watersports, said social media and websites like TripAdvisor were increasingly influential.
“It is all based on customer reviews, that is one of the reasons this is so important. We work hard at what we do and it is great to get recognition from our customers. Cayman has been getting its share of recognition on TripAdvisor and other sites and that is good for all of us.”
The Alexander Hotel in Cayman Brac was one of 42 businesses island wide to win the award in both 2012 and 2013.
General Manager Timothy Dilbert said the Sister Islands had been well represented in the TripAdvisor awards for the past few years.
He said tourists were increasingly attracted to the laid back feel of the Brac in comparison with Grand Cayman.
“Cayman Brac has a great tourism product, reminiscent of the old days in Grand Cayman. I’m hearing that a lot more especially from tourist looking to get away from development and consequently spill over to Cayman Brac.”
TripAdvisor top 3s
Hotels: Caribbean Club, Turtle Nest Inn, Cotton Tree
B&Bs: Southern Cross Club (Little Cayman), Pirate’s Point Resort (Little Cayman), Paradise Villas (Little Cayman)
Restaurants: Bread and Chocolate, The Brasserie, Kaibo Upstairs Restaurant
Attractions: Stingray City, Cayman Marine Lab, Spirit of the West