TI returning as part-hotel

Renovations to Treasure Island Resort are well on the way to completion and by the end of this year about 50 of its current 290 finished rooms could be available as tourist hotel rooms.

The well known Seven Mile Beach resort has been transformed into what will be a mix of apartments for lease, corporate extended stay room and family holiday resort rooms. All its current 290 rooms have at this stage been fully renovated. In fact, one retail space and only a few of TI’s rooms (all with ocean or pool views and access to the beach) are still available for rent.

The renovation work, which is costing about $6.75 million, is being undertaken by Restoration Cayman, LLC, a partnership of long-time Cayman resident Harry Lalli and some of his family. Together they purchased the resort in June 2005.

Currently some of the main parts of the building are still under renovation, such as the main lobby area, and these areas need to be completed before licenses can be approved for hotel rooms from the Hotels Licensing Board. It is hoped that this can be complete toward November, Mr. Lalli said.

For that period a stock of 50 hotel rooms should be made available, he said.

At the moment Mr. Lalli envisages that two thirds of the rooms will always be long-term rentals, unless the market changes and there is a call for less long-term accommodation.

An additional 33 hotel rooms are also planned for the resort, and could be built in about nine months’ time.

So, with an eventual 323 rooms in total, from just over 100 of them (roughly one third) could be licensed as hotel rooms when the project is fully completed.

The additional hotel rooms are to be located above the lobby where the nightclub and old banquet rooms used to be.

A fitness centre is also to be constructed at the property.

According to a press release from Restoration Cayman, each of TI’s current 290 rooms is fully furnished and equipped with modern amenities including internet access, cable television, and local telephone service. Meanwhile skilled craftsmen are refurbishing the TI’s common areas and constructing a more dramatic main entrance.

This entrance will include an upgraded lobby bar, which will remain very much Caribbean in style. However, the lobby bar is to be moved to the left of its current location so there will be a pool view from the lobby.

When TI comes back as a hotel it will still be in the same price range for tourists as it was before – the low to medium, or ‘more affordable’ rate range, says Mr. Lalli. He feels there is certainly a market for this price-range of hotel here.

The good news is that for long term rentals, those who have been renting all through the renovations will not have to fork out extra money because of them. The rent remains the same, Mr. Lalli confirmed.

In fact, many of Treasure Island’s long-term residents are staff members of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

To simplify matters for TI’s residents, all utilities, including electricity, water sewage, TV with digital cable, local telephone services, and internet access, are included in the monthly rental rates.

The Treasure Island name stays also. ‘Everyone knows it as Treasure Island,’ Mr. Lalli commented.

The press release outlines how the Gills, Mr. Lalli’s family partners, are master renovators.

‘In St. Louis the Gills have recently converted a vacant fraternal temple structure into a movie theatre, a bowling centre, and dozens of apartments. A second project involved the rehabilitation of a quiet former cloister into garden apartments. And a third project involved the purchase and re-branding of several square blocks of a largely abandoned inner-city tract into what has become one of its region’s hippest neighbourhoods.’

However, the Gills are calling TI their most exciting project ever.

‘Seven Mile Beach is one of the best-known addresses in the world. We’re thrilled at the opportunity to do something unexpected: preserve affordable housing opportunities in the heart of a paradise,’ Amy Gill said, adding, ‘Our hope is that TI will be a quiet secret shared by our regular guests and by our working neighbours along the beach’.

Her husband Amrit said, ‘(Hurricane) Ivan was a disaster, but it had this benefit. It gave the three of us the unique opportunity to rebuild something affordable to almost everyone, within walking distance of every popular restaurant, bar, and club along Seven Mile Beach.’

Mr. Lalli is prior owner of nightspot, Matrix, and was instrumental in developing the Islander Complex. He runs pirate cruises from George Town harbour.

Anyone interested in leasing one of TI’s newly renovated rooms can call the resort on 745-7777.

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