Four rooms available now, 22 by the end of 2015 – the goal is to enhance the visitor’s dive vacation experience by showing them the underwater world through the eyes of experts
Sunset House, the hotel for divers by divers, has completed four of what will ultimately be 22 themed guest rooms decorated with the work of some of the dive industry’s elite underwater photographers. The design upgrade is part of a continuing makeover plan by the popular dive resort, to enhance the dive experience for guests who travel here to enjoy Cayman’s famed underwater world. Customers can now book one of these signature oceanfront rooms, or suites, and walk into the beauty of the undersea world as seen through the lenses of photographers Courtney Platt, Ellen Cuylaerts, Cathy Church and Jim Hellemn.
“I’m very honoured to be included in the Sunset House Signature rooms,” says Cuylaerts, who moved to Cayman in 2009 and began diving in 2011 when she also took up underwater photography. She has just been named World Champion Underwater Photographer 2013 in an international photo contest for her diverse and stunning photos.
“As a newby to be able to show my work to divers from around the world makes me very proud,” she said. “The selection of canvasses was difficult, but I chose mostly images taken in Cayman. Every encounter in the water brings something new, and I hope my work inspires people to keep looking with an open mind, every time. Beauty is everywhere.”
Cuylearts is displaying her work in Room 411 at Sunset House, including captivating images of the silversides the visit Devil’s Grotto and numerous sites around Grand Cayman each summer. She hopes her photographs will inspire divers to take a closer look.
“The highlights are not on wall dives, but on the subject, the beauty of every creature big or small. I hope people seeing my work will revisit some signature dive sites and look at them with a different focus, maybe by seeing my work they discover things or details they never noticed before, for example how beautiful light enters grottoes, what excellent reflections stingrays get at the surface.”
Digital imaging and underwater specialist Jim Hellemn, based in California, hopes his photos in room 407 encourage people become concerned about ocean conservation.
“Seeing the natural beauty that’s here allows us to see what’s in the ocean that we need to protect, especially when you see all of the reef life in one area, you really get a sense of what you’re trying to protect in the ocean. I think that’s very important for every diver and every person on land to understand.”
“We gave the photographers free reign to decorate their signature room in the way they want to display photos from anywhere in the world to share their vision of the underwater world – each artist is completely different with their own style,” said General Manager Keith Sahm, who came up with the idea for themed rooms that extend the dive experience topside.
Consistent ideal conditions and a variety of dive experiences have made the Cayman Islands a mecca for underwater photographers, both pro and novice. Sunset House, with its in-house Cathy Church Photo Centre and partnership with the well-known photo pro, cultivates the underwater photography culture and caters to all.
“We’re the capitol of underwater photography here: great visibility, exciting marine life and reefs, and Sunset House has easy shore diving so photographers can just go out and indulge in their sport,” said Keith Sahm. “With advances in technology and digital photography more and more divers are doing underwater photography so we have photographers here every day. It only makes sense to take their dive vacation experience to the next level.”
It has taken a year to complete the four signature rooms, and Sahm hopes to get all 22 rooms done by the end of 2015. Other well-known industry photographers who will have their own signature room include: Alex Mustard, Marty Snyderman, Stephen Frink, David Doubilet, Geri Murphy and Greg Piper, among others.
The partnership between Sunset House and the photographers has benefits for all involved. Prominent Cayman photographer Courtney Platt, who has done several assignments for National Geographic Magazine and has a thriving photo business on Grand Cayman, says the exposure to guests from all over the world is already providing business leads.
“It makes the visit for the diver coming to Cayman more exciting and the rooms become a point of interest for them and their friends who want to see the photos in the various rooms,” he said.
Sahm agrees saying the signature rooms have become social meeting places for guests after a great day of diving.
“The whole idea of this project is to extend the underwater experience for our guests as much as possible, and add more fun to their vacation here at Sunset House.”
About Sunset House
Sunset House/Sunset Divers has been welcoming divers to the Cayman Islands for more than 55 years. It is the only resort in the Cayman Islands, designed by divers, operated by divers, for divers. It’s also the only resort on Grand Cayman that has its own coral reef, with modern and ancient shipwrecks in shallow water right off shore. Underwater visibility on Sunset House’s reef can exceed 200 feet, and a remarkable variety of marine life to be seen there. Our own spectacular 9’ bronze sculpture of the mermaid Amphitrite is one of the most popular shore dive sites in the world. The resort features 52 guest rooms, including 16 deluxe Oceanview rooms, 2 spacious suites and 2 apartments with full kitchenettes. All rooms are air-conditioned, with phones and private baths. Free Hi-Speed Wireless Internet can be accessed throughout the property and a convenient computer station is located in the lobby. SeaHarvest Restaurant offers full menus for some of the healthiest breakfasts, lunch and dinners around and is famous for its East Indian menu. My Bar a popular hangout for both locals and visitors, has been voted “Best in the Caribbean” by Caribbean Travel and Life and the Best of Cayman. Sunset House also features an inviting seaside fresh water swimming pool.