The Pedro St. James Historic site is to become richer in cultural activity through initiatives such as wine and jazz weekends and an upgraded restaurant, Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford told Business after Hours attendees Monday evening.
The Chamber of Commerce event was held at the historic tourist site for its grand re-opening.
Guests intermingled in the courtyard area for the formalities while a tasty buffet of food was on offer in the café. Attendees had the chance to tour the castle grounds and buildings or relax with a drink on the terrace overlooking the sea.
Mr. Clifford said proposals from interested parties are being sought to expand the cafeteria into a casual restaurant by day and a more upscale dining experience by evening.
Pedro St. James has weathered at least 13 other major hurricanes in its time, the Minister noted – but none as severe as Hurricane Ivan which ravaged Grand Cayman in September 2004.
Since then the historic site and birthplace of democracy in the Cayman Islands has been closed as a cultural attraction because of damage sustained, with only limited site rental and the gift shop open.
Mr. Clifford outlined how he made Pedro St. James’ restoration a priority when he took office, challenging its staff to make the property more economically viable.
Now the historical and cultural aspects of the site have been preserved and the site offerings have been enhanced to cater to new markets, such as special event rentals.
Mr. Clifford outlined how important Pedro St. James is for the Go East initiative. This is a tourism initiative he has launched to market the beauty of the rural districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side in order to give visitors a more Caymanian experience.
Pedro St. James’ geographic location and cultural origins make it well suited as an anchor site for the Go East initiative, he commented.
The Minister also noted that the TAB is in the process of recruiting a specific marketing person to market its attractions, including Pedro St. James.
President of the Chamber of Commerce Morgan Da Costa said that although there was nearly $1.5 million worth of damage to the facility it has been brought back to life better than ever.
CEO of the Tourism Attractions Board Gilbert Connolly described the road to Pedro’s recovery as being ‘long and bumpy’.
However, he said, despite the many challenges of the project it was a labour of love.
‘This evening’s event forms another footnote in the history of Pedro St. James,’ he said.
Mr. Connolly said the fact that the recovery was achieved on time and within budget was because of a great restoration team and thanks was due to Minister Clifford, Ministry of Tourism’s Acting Permanent Secretary Gloria McField-Nixon, TAB Chairman Kirkland Nixon, OBM, Allenger Construction, Restoration Curator Mary Peever, Cinequip, Electrical Enterprises Group, the site’s General Manager Carson Denny Ebanks and Assistant Manager Debbie Bodden.