In 1986, Gladys Howard purchased a piece of paradise – 7 acres of seclusion on the south shore of our most placid retreat, otherwise known as Little Cayman. From that land sprung the now internationally-known Pirates Point resort.
Gladys passed away in 2015, yet her legacy lives on, on the island where iguanas have the right of way and traffic is halted to let aircraft taxi to and from the runway. She was queen of the environment, a peerless preservationist, and anything flying, crawling or swimming was her subject.
Gladys was a very good friend of mine and when time allowed, I always made it a point to stop by and visit her on my Little Cayman fishing jaunts. She was an amazing chef with a bubbling personality and would often invite me to stay for dinner, but not without setting down some strict rules; for example, I was not to mention eating queen triggerfish around her very conservationist dive guests. Such chitchat was a big taboo.
Susan Howard, Gladys’s daughter, was left to take over Pirates Point after Gladys’s passing. She has immersed herself in the day-to-day resort operations, as well as making some long-needed renovations aimed at improving the comfort of guests. Recent renovations to the 11-room resort have added a boutique feel to the accommodations, bar and restaurant.
Pirates Point’s intimate size has always contributed to its characteristic personal touch and welcoming ambiance. Most serious divers enjoy the compact size and casual atmosphere of a boutique-style inn rather than the chandeliers and bow ties of a corporate hotel.
Although fresh paint, ceiling fans and colorful beddings have been added, the laid-back simplicity of Pirates Point is still there. In fact, besides the diving experience, that’s what draws repeat guests back year after year: the aura of the informal, not buttoned up.
The lounge has been primped up, yet the nautical creations of the annual art contest winners are still proudly displayed for all to enjoy. Anything that floats, accumulates barnacles or attaches to driftwood has been fashioned into a piece of oceanic mastery worthy of a fine gallery exhibit.
The dining room has a new fresh look, however, décor and furnishings are never the talk of this occupied space of the resort. Here, the approach to food is distinctive and memorable, as all dishes are made from scratch. No store-bought, processed foods are served. Each day, the two chefs make every bread, appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert from fresh ingredients. Chefs Dianne and Winston also cater to any dietary needs and do their best to honor any special requests.
Gay Morse is still running the office (when not captaining a ship) and her husband Ed ensures that anything that required maintenance is maintained. Oh, and by the way, Ed plays a mean guitar and croons for the guests every now and then.
Gladys Howard studied at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne, both in Paris, France, and cooked with Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and James Beard, among others. She was given a number of awards in her time on Little Cayman, recognizing her contribution to the environment, tourism and business. These are just some of them:
In 2003, in observance of Queen Elizabeth’s 76th birthday, Gladys was awarded the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour for services to conservation and tourism in Little Cayman.
- She was a recipient of The Yellow Rose of Texas, granted by then Governor Ann Richards to native-born Texas women who have achieved their goal and contributed to society.
- She won a Cayman Islands Stingray Tourism Award for Long Term Service in 2008.
- She was given the Cayman Islands Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
- In July 2015, the National Trust honoured Gladys by naming the community center in her name.
- She was made an Honouree of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame on Oct. 2, 2015.
To book your stay at Pirates Point in Little Cayman, visit www.piratespointresort.com or call 948-1010.