Member Stories

Mixing Work and Play with Family in Grand Cayman

Corioli Souter often finds herself plunging to the depths of the world’s oceans to research 17th century Dutch shipwrecks and find sunken treasure. While the trips can take her to amazing places, the journeys usually end up as stories she tells her family in Perth, Australia.

Maritime archaeology “is my work, but it’s also my passion,” says Souter, who is a curator at the Western Australian Museum, and lectures at The University of Western Australia. “I’m lucky and fortunate in my job to travel to wonderful parts of the world. One of the downsides of that is if I can’t take my family.”

For its new “You Are Here” campaign, Marriott International found a perfect opportunity to help Souter, a Marriott Rewards member, share her love for diving with husband Shaun and five-year-old son Torin, flying them nearly 11,000 miles from Perth to the Cayman Islands.

Grand Cayman is a popular playground for divers who explore its many shipwrecks that went down in the time of pirates and buccaneers who sailed around the Caribbean.

“The clarity of the water lets you see them,” Souter says, but “there’s also an amazing cultural heritage that’s unique to the area. There is a problem of treasure hunting in the Caribbean. You’ve got quite a lot of great stuff that’s still preserved on the seabed. It’s an underwater resource that belongs to everyone and divers need to understand to leave those things where they are so other people and future generations can come and enjoy them.”

In fact, “one of the best places to learn to dive is in the tropics,” Souter adds, because of its warm, clear, safe waters.”

For Torin, who was already starting to follow in his mother’s footsteps, it was just the environment he needed to improve his own diving skills.

“He was pretty good in the water before,” Souter says, but in Grand Cayman, “my son was able to master the art of snorkeling. Because of the wonderful conditions, he had the confidence to master it here. He just looked so good, so confident and so happy.”

The more than 30 hours of flying didn’t take much of a toll on Torin, who kept busy watching movies while making his first international trip to Grand Cayman. His longest flight before that was the four hours it takes to get from Perth to Sydney.

The Souters didn’t mind the long journey. The resulting memories the family would make was well worth the trek.

In addition to mastering snorkeling, Torin swam with friendly stingrays on the island’s popular Stingray City, and joined his family as they explored the island’s pristine white sandy beaches and kayaked through a forest of mangroves, one of the many eco-tours offered by the Ambassadors of the Environment, created by renowned oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, which uses the island’s ecological resources as a living laboratory and natural classroom.

Some of what they did appear in Marriott Rewards’ first TV commercial for its new You Are Here campaign.

Travel can turn anyone into a storyteller, and with its You Are Here campaign, Marriott Traveler and Marriott Rewards are exploring how being a member has enabled individuals like Corioli Souter to enrich their lives with memorable experiences and live in the moment.

“It’s very hard to separate work and play so it’s great to come to a place like this and share it with them,” says Corioli Souter, who also calls out Turkey, Sri Lanka and anywhere in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Asia and Southeast Asia, where you’ll find Dutch shipwrecks, as some of her favorite places to dive.

The opportunity to visit Grand Cayman came as a surprise to the Souters.

Ten days before the trip, “we were in the middle of winter in Perth getting on with things,” Corioli Souter recalls. “We found out about it on Sunday night, were talking with people in L.A. on Monday morning and were told we’re going on Wednesday. It’s been a dream really.”

A dream the family didn’t want to pass up. Going halfway around the world to Grand Cayman was also an opportunity for the Souters to introduce Torin to a part of the world where his father is from; Shaun was born in Jamaica, and hadn’t been back since he turned one.

“To bring Torin to a similar environment and show him the tropics was a great opportunity,” Corioli Souter says. “This was getting as close to Shaun’s birthplace without really going there.”

Trips to dive sites like Grand Cayman have increasingly become more important for Corioli as she watches Torin get older.

“When I come home, I’m telling the stories of what I’ve done,” she says. “When I go away on field work he often wants to go with me. Now I can say he has. If I can do both, work and play, then it’s a shared experience and lasts with us for a long time.”

The Souters already know they’ll be back to the Caribbean.

“Our first time to the Cayman Islands has been fabulous, and we’d love to explore the Caribbean a bit more,” Shaun Souter said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

And it’s always been a big draw for Corioli.

“Let’s face it, I love the tropics,” she says. “It’s always lovely and warm.”

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