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“Excellent and careful dive operation, very good restaurant, adequate hotel, no beach”
Review of Sunset House

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Sunset House
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in George Town
Certificate of Excellence
Scotts Valley, California
Level Contributor
137 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 143 helpful votes
“Excellent and careful dive operation, very good restaurant, adequate hotel, no beach”
Reviewed 14 August 2011

This is, above all, a dive hotel. Calling it a resort would be unfair. It caters to divers, and any non-divers will be much better off staying somewhere else that has a beach.

Sunset House is not near any other restaurants, markets, beaches, or attractions. It has steps in and out of the ocean for shore dives (pretty good reef there, too), and piers for boats, but there is no beach, so if you're going to Grand Cayman to lie out on the sand and drink umbrella drinks, stay somewhere else. If you want to dive all day--and maybe all night--this is your kind of place.

Dive Operation:

A bit of background might help you evaluate this review. I've been diving since 1967, was an instructor for 10 years, and have logged just under 2000 dives.

On this trip I joined a group of divers from around Fort Worth, Texas. Our group included divers who were brand new (certified in lakes, no previous ocean dives), as well as much more seasoned divers, several of whom had decades of experience in the water.

That kind of a group presents a challenge for any dive operation. Divemasters have to strike a balance between safety and freedom, so that everyone has fun without scaring the new divers while the old salts get to do what they do best. In my opinion, the staff did an excellent job.

Briefings were detailed and clear; guided tours were offered at the start of every dive for anyone who wanted to hang out with the divemasters; assistance with gear was always available; beginners were actively watched over; and experienced divers were allowed to do pretty much whatever they wanted as long as they stayed within the island's standard depth limit (100') and came up within an hour or so. Out of habit, I kept an eye on the divemasters to see if they were looking out for our group, and was impressed by their level of attention, especially with regard to the newer divers with us.

You air-hogs should be aware that the operation still uses aluminum 72s instead of more common 80 cubic foot tanks, and we had quite a few short fills (around 2700-2900 psi seemed to be the norm instead a more satisfactory 3000 psi, especially in a small tank). Check the O-rings on your tank valves, too. During our week's stay, we got lots of tanks that had leaky O-rings.

Nitrox (EAN32) is available but it costs $12 per tank. That's kind of steep, especially for a short fill in a small tank. There is no unlimited nitrox plan, probably because there is no compressor on site. All the tanks are brought in by an outside company that takes away the empties are refills them every day.

Restaurant:

This hotel actually has a very good kitchen. It has an extensive Indian menu as well as more standard burgers, fries, mahi, coconut shrimp, etc. If you're a chicken tikka fan like me, you probably won't want to eat anywhere else off the property.

One disappointment at the bar is that the tropical drinks are all made from pre-packaged mixes. You're not going to hear a real coconut getting cracked or a real pineapple getting blended when you order a pina colada.

Also be aware that there's a slightly weird tipping policy. If you pay cash at the open-air bar/restaurant, nothing is automatically added to your bill, but if you charge your meal to your room, or eat in the air-conditioned formal-ish dining room, there's a 15% service charge added unless you're on a meal plan.

Lodging:

The hotel is basically a place to eat, sleep, and rest up between dives. The buildings are standard concrete block structures--some with porches--and the rooms are somewhere between Motel 6 and Holiday Inn standards.

Our room had a smelly bathroom, as did several other rooms our friends occupied in the same building above the hotel reception. The maintenance guy said it was due to the toilets being supplied with well water, but I have my doubts. In any event, he was unable to do anything about the smell other than to add a deodorant to the toilet tank. That lasted about one flush, so we just kept the bathroom door closed all the time. On the positive side, there was a fierce air conditioner in the bedroom and we slept comfortably.

Nearly of the hotel staff was extremely helpful and had a positive attitude, though there was one crabby person at the front desk who always said "No, we can't do that" to virtually every request. If you encounter her, you'll know that immediately. Wait until she's off duty and then ask someone else for whatever you want. You'll probably get it if it's reasonable.

Room Tip: Ask for a ground-floor room if you plan to carry dive gear to/from the boat every day
See more room tips
  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank glewbel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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540 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (189)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Austin, Texas
Level Contributor
54 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 August 2011

The rooms are typical 'rustic' motel 6ish dive lodge rooms. The food is exceptional. The location is decent, though there is no beach--kind of absurd with such spectacular ones nearby.

But the scary part is the diving. The diving itself is so-so. Nothing compared to Little Cayman, but then we weren't in GC during a sunny idyllic week. The operation is great at providing freedom to dive however and wherever you like. But the scary part is the extreme lack of care they take in terms of looking out for divers, counting them on the boat and showing the sights. If you want a guided tour, it's looked at as fine, but for amateurs. Personally, I like to follow around a dive master who knows the territory and can point out which branch the seahorse is sitting on. I have been diving since 1986, all over the world, including Grand Cayman and Little Cayman. This tops the list as the most laid back and unsafe operation I have ever experienced. If you are fine being totally on your own and don't want anyone asking about how deep or how many dives you've done that day, and simply letting you do whatever you want, wherever you want, this is a good place for you. If you find it nice to have a divemaster look around and check in with you occasionally, or point out interesting things, it is not.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank swankyhotels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
shandytara, General Manager at Sunset House, responded to this review, 23 August 2011
Dear Swankyhot,

I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts, however, I am not certain you were actually diving with Sunset Divers, based upon your description of the diving procedures. I am not trying to demean your review or your opinion but your scenario is not what our instructors offer to our dive guests. On every dive, deep or shallow, our instructors are in the water and we offer guided dives, and we check our guests back onto the boat after every dive using the boat roster. Our guests are free to use their dive computers but if they go into deco we'll know about it from their computer alarm system. As part of the dive package we offer complimentary unlimted shore diving so our guests are free to get a tank whenever they want and most do so to dive the great reef we have in front of the hotel. If you want to contact me directly to elaboarate on your experience I would like to hear from you and I can be reached at ken.thompson@sunsethouse.com .

Sincerely,

Ken Thompson
General Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 July 2011

A great specialty dive resort that's all about the dive. The food is quite good at both the restaurant and bar and you can't beat the sunsets at the bar. The rooms however could use a lot of TLC and haven't been refurbished in years. However, most that would stay here in the first place may not mind the room because the diving is so convienent.

Speaking of the diving, the daily boat dives leave right off the volcanic beach behind the resort and couldn't be easier. There seems to be an unlimited supply of dive tanks available for shore dives and the dive shop team, Pete, Charlotte and the guys are always available for some help.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank VectorW8t
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 July 2011

We stayed at Sunset House in April/2011. After check-in, we were sent to find are own hotel room with bags in tow. Great start! The rooms are very out dated, dirty, and have noisy a/c units. We did enjoy the free breakfast, made to order. The dive shop is fair but we always felt rushed to get in, get out, only 40 min SI between dives, and get back before noon. Never understood this when the offer no afternoon dives? The reefs where ok. Over fished over dived and tressed out from hurricanes and garbage. This was our first trip to Grand Cayman and we were very dissapointed. If we ever return it would be to dive at Little Cayman instead.

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Diverkel-Colorado
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Wichita, KS
Level Contributor
97 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 July 2011

We stayed at Sunset House for the 3rd time this June, albeit for just 1 night, while waiting to board the Cayman Aggressor. Since we were only going to be here for 1 night we arranged a courtyard room. The rooms are more than adequate for those who are there to dive. Clean and good air conditioning are what we desire. My Bar has great drinks and food, the Seaharvest Restuarant has an excellent breakfast and really exceptional dinners. Indian cuisine is there specialty. The dive shop is very handy for shore diving. The best thing about staying here is the staff. The front desk and office staff is very friendly and accomodating and we highly recommend this place for divers. This is not a 5 star property but if diving and convienence is a priority then consider staying here!

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank dresf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Jose, California
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 July 2011

Sunset House is a decent diver's resort. It's clean, basic and has the advantage of being right next to some good sore diving. For the week my wife and I were there, we found the employees and customers to be friendly and, important in the evening hours, quiet.

The food of the Sunset House is pricey and of average- to a bit below-average quality. Some dishes were good, most were just okay. They have an outdoor bar area that has a beautiful view of the water, and an air conditioned restaurant. Both locations serve the same food.

Sunset House paid for our taxi from the airport to the property.

Sunset Divers provides the residents of Sunset House with dive services. The operation is solid but lacked some of the finishing touches of service and professionalism we experienced last year with Red Sail Sports. For example:

- inconsistent frequency of dive masters (DMs) setting up customer tanks
- one captain who steered the boat with his feet in an effort to look cool
- incomplete site profile discussions prior to dives (Red Sail had diagrams of each site so you could see what the characteristics of the site were. This helped with orientation, navigation and deciding what route you wanted to take)
- the DMs, while generally nice and helpful, lacked that extra level of professionalism and customer orientation that we experienced last year with Red Sail
- the boats weren't as well maintained. They needed fresh paint and I saw a few places where screws weren't tight. The boats weren't dumpy -- they just lacked polish
- the boats lacked a rope tied on the ladder. When the water is choppy, hanging on to a rope instead of the ladder gives a diver some distance from the danger of making contact with the ladder

While the dive sites on the west side were good, the east side has much better sites. There's more wildlife below and less human life above. Granted, there are a lot more comforts of civilization in the George Town area but this comes with a downside: the sites just aren't as good.

I won't dive with Sunset Divers again, in part because of their lack of finishing touches in terms of professionalism, customer orientation and maintenance, but mostly because the west side just isn't as good as the east side.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank bimmergeek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Barbara, California
Level Contributor
21 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2011

We were on island June 20-30 2011 and my family did not stay at Sunset House...BUT WE WILL NEXT TRIP. Here's why...
We are 3 certified divers and we simply stumbled on Sunset House as we searched for a referral dive for one of my sons. Pete, at the dive shop, offered an individual referral dive program for less than we found anywhere else so we took it. We were impressed with the friendliness and courtesy afforded by every member of the dive shop team EVEN THOUGH WE WERE NOT PART OF THE SUNSET HOUSE GUEST CLIENTELE. Even though resort guests have priority, we were offered dive packages and shore dives and treated as if we were preferred guests. Pete was an excellent instructor and he, and his staff, insured that all of our diving needs were met. Dive boat crews were always attentive and helpful, and rank among the best we've experienced. It is because of the treatment and attention we received at the dive shop that we will put Sunset House at the top of our list for lodging on our next visit!

Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
Helpful?
1 Thank lfdcaptain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sunset House

Property: Sunset House
Address: 390 South Church Street, George Town KY1-1106, Grand Cayman
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Cayman Islands > Grand Cayman > George Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in George Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:2 star — Sunset House 2*
Number of rooms: 50
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
No Resort Fees!!! Best Value on Island! We have found the beginning of why so many people love Sunset House, Grand Cayman's Hotel for Divers, by Divers. "Stepping out of my room, feeling the sunshine on my face, catching that breath of fragrant tropical breeze, gazing into the alluring blue water..". More profound words were never spoken! This family owned resort is more of a big guest house, than a hotel. Everything you have dreamed for a Caribbean Dive Vacation is here! From palm trees to an amazing house reef; from 5 custom dive boats, to a famous underwater photographer; from amazing Caribbean concoctions, to spicy Indian dishes; they all await you! And combined with warm Caymanian hospitality, you'll wonder why you waited so long to visit this West Indian oasis, or why you haven't come back sooner. Of course, the Caymans and Sunset House are a diver's paradise, with crystal-clear waters awaiting your arrival. Come to Sunset House today and experience now, what others have seen for over the last 50 years. An underwater photographer's perfect dive. Shipwrecks, curious big eels, cuddly stingrays and a legendary mermaid await you just steps from your room! A perfect place for your scuba diving or snorkeling vacation! Packages include Breakfast, transfers from Airport and so much more! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sunset House Hotel George Town
Sunset Hotel George Town
Sunset Resort George Town
Sunset House Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

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