Longtime tourism worker reflects on decades of Cayman Kindness

For more than 40 years, she helped build our country’s reputation for “Cayman-kindness”.

From cleaning guest rooms to waiting tables, and cooking up breakfast, Ms. Doralee McLaughlin said working in tourism opened up avenues she never thought possible as a young girl in East End.

Tonight… She looks back at her decades of service.

“Life would have been very hard without tourism. I don’t know nothing else but working in tourism,” said Ms. McLaughlin, who said her long career in tourism started with not a single step, but a long long walk.

“The day that I left home, walking to go to Tortuga Club to look for a job, and walked all the way to the Tortuga Club. That was how bad I wanted and needed a job,” she remembered.

Before tourism, she said the work was tough.

“I used to go in the bush and cut the thatch palms and twist and make ropes,” she said.

She told Cayman 27 that first job in housekeeping at the old Tortuga Club helped her build a life.

“I raised three children on tourism, I built my home, I got to travel,” she said.

Through the years, she did it all, from housekeeping, waitressing, cooking, and eventually back to housekeeping.

“The part that I really loved about it was meeting the people. That was one of the reasons I went back into housekeeping, because in the kitchen you don’t get to meet no one,” she said.

Although she admits the island has changed through the years with development, she said she would like to see the industry grow.

“Many of those people who come here on the cruise ship are the people that come back as our stay-over guests, so I think they should try and do all they can to enhance the cruise ship berthing facility. Get something going, something,” she said.

She urged today’s young Caymanians to follow her footsteps into a rewarding career.

“These days there’s so much different opportunity in tourism, that I would encourage the young people to go for it, there’s no shame in working in tourism. That’s the highlight of the island,” she said.

And though she’s retired, she still has some big plans for the future.

“Smelling the roses,” she said. “I’m going to relax with my children and grandchildren and I want to do a little traveling this year.”

Ms. Mclaughlin said she’s seen a world of change during her long career.

She told Cayman 27 she’d like to see tourism to expand in the island to include more attractions in the eastern districts.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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