Following a six-week closure, the Marriott Beach Resort has reopened with a fresh new beach-inspired look and new dining concept, Anchor & Den.
Refurbished areas include the lobby, ballroom, meeting areas, fitness center and the dining area, which offers a host of new culinary options, from a Montreal-inspired creperie to a decadent raw bar.
Dubbed “The Beach House Experience,” the redesign offers a light, airy, natural feel, using neutral colors, polished sun-bleached woods, clean lines and textured fabrics.
The redesign aims to capture the essence of island living in a modern, chic way, while offering a firm nod to Cayman’s seafaring past, unique culture and way of life.
“From a design perspective, the inspiration for our new look embraces a ship-to-shore concept that embodies the themes of the spirit of openness, sense of adventure, craftsmanship and the island’s strong connection with the sea,” said Laura Skec, director of sales and marketing. “The aim has been to capture the relaxing and casual seaside ambience of island living by using neutral textures and nautical elements.”
Skec said that one of the main aims of the redesign was to make the best use of natural light.
“We did this by painting our walls a crisp, clean white and using a sun-bleached wood effect and light-colored tiles on our floors,” she explained.
The use of soft grays, blues and neutrals helps to reinforce the feeling of natural light.
“We focused on neutral and light colors such as white and beige, as well as tones of gray. Different shades of blue were also incorporated as pops of color that are reminiscent of the sea.
“For the furniture, we used different textures, such as polished wood, leather and weaved fabrics to create fun, modern but comfortable seating arrangements. Wood has featured heavily within the furniture itself. This raw element adds a touch of authenticity and reminds us of being out in nature. It is a perfect complement to our nautical theme. This is intended to be a multi-functioning space, where guests can welcome, gather, chill and collaborate,” Skec said.
Anchor & Den
The resort’s new restaurant, Anchor & Den, is the centerpiece of the redesign, offering a flexible dining space for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to a spacious bar area.
There are numerous dining options available throughout the day. These include a juice bar, creperie, coffee and pastry station open until midday; an extensive “Den” breakfast menu offering morning staples, including omelets, pancakes and eggs Benedict; the lunch and dinner menu, which offers more casual dining options, such as burgers, pizzas and quesadillas, in addition to an evening sushi menu; and the full “Den” dinner service, offering a selection of appetizers, entrees and dessert options, in addition to a raw bar.
Starting Nov. 30, the restaurant will also offer a “Boulangerie Brunch,” so named because it will focus on speciality aged meats imported from Europe, regional cheeses and homemade baked breads, in addition to standard brunch classics.
In addition, the restaurant plans to add a dedicated ice cream station and is currently working with Gelato & Co. Cremeria Italiana in Camana Bay to offer authentic, homemade ice creams and gelatos.
Skec explained that the restaurant is based on Marriott’s “Great Room” concept, a flexible open plan space which encompasses the lobby’s restaurant, bar and lounge and transforms throughout the day to meet guests’ needs.
“Central to the great room lobby experience is the food and beverage program with day-long restaurants and personalized lounge. The bar serving breakfast in the morning evolves into the evening focal point, serving craft beer and innovative cocktails,” Skec said.
My guest and I checked out the restaurant for the Den dinner service.
The menu includes seven appetizers, five mains, and seven desserts. There is also the raw bar, which includes jumbo Gulf shrimp, snow crab claws, blue point oysters, tuna tartare, ceviches and tiraditos – a feast for seafood lovers.
We ordered a selection of dishes to share: prosciutto and manchego croquettes served with a spicy piri piri sauce; grilled octopus salad with fingerling potatoes, cumin and white bean salad and olives; braised short rib gnocchi with homemade ricotta; and poached cod in coconut milk with white button mushrooms, wilted local greens and cilantro rice.
Firm favorites were the grilled octopus salad (I could have easily devoured more than one serving) and the poached cod in coconut milk, which was deliciously fragrant. Both were packed with flavor and simply divine.
The desserts are well worth saving room for too. The restaurant’s chef de cuisine is Thais Rodriguez. She joined the Anchor & Den team from Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink where she worked as a pastry chef alongside Hedy Goldsmith, who in 2012 was nominated for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award. Dessert highlights include the salted caramel ice cream jar (toffee ice cream, chocolate shortbread, salted caramel and dark chocolate shell) and the pecan tart. If you have a sweet tooth (like I do), then these are quite simply heaven on a plate.
Rodriguez said that much of the menu was inspired by comfort foods from her childhood, in addition to her travels around the world. The aim, Rodriguez said, is to offer a creative and modern twist on classic favorites, incorporating local ingredients wherever possible.
“My mom’s favorite dishes to cook were my favorite to eat, such as guava ribs, spicy arrabbiata sauce and octopus salad on special occasions,” Rodriguez said. “You couldn’t get us out of the kitchen when she was making those, so I wanted to do them justice and share them with other families and locals.
“The menu is simple, fresh, local, original, rustic and homemade,” Rodriguez said.
In addition to the food, there is also a strong focus on the resort’s cocktail offerings, so much so, that the large central bar includes an “apothecary,” which is filled with homemade syrups and juices infused with fruits, spices, herbs and flowers. Favorites include the “Suave Margarita” (Jose Cuervo Gold, Cointreau, agave syrup and fresh lime juice, served in a mason jar) and the “English Harvest” (Tanqueray, apple brandy, dry vermouth and angostura bitters). If you’re not a fan of cocktails, then there’s also an extensive wine list, featuring wines from Argentina, Italy, New Zealand and Australia, to name just a few.
DJ Nuni Love and Da Funky Marsupial spin the tunes in Anchor & Den every Friday and Saturday night, so even if you don’t want to eat, the bar is a great spot to enjoy some drinks in a lively atmosphere.
< div class='TheImageCaption'>The desserts are certainly worth leaving room for. – Photo: Stephen Clarke