The Cayman Islands Government in collaboration with a local businessman and a foreign company has nearly finalised a deal that will create a dude ranch on land off the Queen’s Highway.
The dude ranch will be one of the pillars of the Government’s new agri-tourism focus.
‘Spurred by the popularity of the movie Brokeback Mountain, dude ranches are all the rage right now in the United States,’ said a Department of Tourism spokesperson. ‘People are longing for that ‘Brokeback’ experience, and this allows the Cayman Islands the opportunity to take advantage of that.’
Bookings at dude ranches are up 30 per cent over 2005, according to the Wyoming-based Dude Ranchers Association.
Dude ranches, which are traditionally located in the American West, are places where people can go to experience what it would be like to be a cowboy or cowgirl.
Typical activities at dude ranches include horseback riding, hiking, fishing and cattle wrangling.
‘It’s basically a camp for adults,’ said the Department of Tourism spokesperson. ‘At night, people sit around a campfire, eat hot dogs and baked beans, tell stories, sing songs and pass gas, just like in the movies.’
Cayman’s dude ranch will have horses, cows, bulls, pigs, goats and chickens to give the guests a true taste of local ranching.
Guests will be also be able to partake in a limited number of tourist activities in or from the Eastern Districts only, such as hiking the Mastic Trail, visiting the Botanical Park, deep sea fishing, diving and snorkelling at Stingray City.
The DoT thinks the tropical twist to Cayman’s dude ranch will attract a niche market.
‘We might not have the breathtaking mountain views, but we have a warm climate and our own beauty,’ the spokesperson said.
The dude ranch will be built close to the Salina Reserve on a 16.8-acre property. A nine-mile circular bridal trail/hiking trail will be created along natural easements in the interior of the island.
Very little in the way of structures will be built on the site. There will be a coral and stable for the horses and live stock, but guests will sleep on hammocks under lean-tos or in tents. There will be several communal hot tubs on site, along with a building with restrooms, showers, lockers and massage rooms.
One main cabin for dining, playing cards or other games, and meeting will be erected.
The dude ranch will only be open from December 1st through May 31st.
‘We’ve decided to not open during hurricane season,’ said the owner of Cayman Dude Ranch Experience (CADRE). ‘It would be too wet and there would be too many insects in any case.’
Guests will camp in one week sessions from Sunday to Sunday. Some camp sessions will be all male, some will be all female, some will be couples, and some will be mixed singles. Children under 18, however, will not be permitted.
Despite the storyline of Brokeback Mountain, CADRE made it clear it will not market itself as a gay facility, but it will not market itself as a non-gay facility either.
‘Our policy will be ‘don’t ask and don’t tell’. It’s none of our business. People can have the cowboy experience any way they want it.’
A press conference has been called for noon tomorrow at the Agricultural Pavilion to announce further details, said DoT spokesperson April Fuldjah.