A lot of new tourist properties have recently opened and many more are coming on stream in the next couple of years in the Cayman Islands.
Attendees of this year’s Cayman Islands Tourism Exchange were given a rundown of the new tourism product offerings Friday at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
CITE, organised by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, enables travel wholesalers the opportunity to meet with Cayman tourism operators for updates on new offerings, products and services of the Cayman Islands.
As of 20 April, 2007 available room stock on Grand Cayman was 4228, on Cayman Brac 208 and on Little Cayman 146, giving a total of available room stock of 4,582.
Director of International Marketing with the Department of Tourism, Shomari Scott said there had been 5,100 rooms before Hurricane Ivan.
‘So we’re 500 bedrooms off, but we have a lot of new developments coming, so soon enough we’ll reach and surpass that number.’
Mr. Scott commented that the Cayman Islands’ product is now much better than it was before Ivan, making Cayman a truly luxury destination.
With regard to new or rebuilt properties, there are four in North Side – Coral Loft, North Point Condos, Fish Bones, Heritage House; two in Cayman Kai – Islands House #17, and Parrot-ise; in East End there is Hibiscus Villas and Cayman Calypso Purple House; in South Sound, Sea Song; and Head O’Bay in Little Cayman; and Beach Point Villas, Copper Turtle and Southern Star in Cayman Brac.
Several new properties coming on line in Cayman Brac will help offset the loss of the Divi Tiara hotel rooms, said Mr. Scott.
Other new developments projected to open in 2007 in the Cayman Islands include Caribbean Club, Water’s Edge, a new phase of Morritts Tortuga, and a small eco resort.
Those projected to open in 2008 include the Renaissance, Resort at Ivory Point, Beachcomber, Crystal Azure, Point of Sand.
For 2009 those expected to open are Mandarin Oriental, Cayman Brac Club, Monteclaire, Sea Breeze and Beach Bay Residences, South Bay Villas, Waterford Club, Grand Caymanian Phase II, Coconut Harbour Resort and Cayman Kai Resort.
Properties under renovation include the Cayman Club, with a projected opening of 2009 and Hyatt and Dragon’s Pearl opening dates have yet to be confirmed.
With regard to airlift, as of April 2006 there were 82 weekly flights with 10941 weekly seats, and in April 2007 this went to 81 weekly flights, but with 11403 weekly seats.
As of 23 June 2007 non-stop service between New York and Grand Cayman begins.
New products emerging include Camana Bay, with restaurants, shops and six-screen cinema, Countryside Shopping Village with a mix of stores and restaurants, and the 24-acre Boatswain’s Beach.
Mr. Scott noted that the Cayman Islands National Museum should be opening up again in about six to eight months time.
He outlined some of the changes and improvements at Pedro St. James, such as the new Hurricane Ivan memorial and the new wedding gazebo.
The QEII Botanic Park has also a new Palm Garden in development, and a picnic area by the lake.
Mr. Scott also noted that Pirates Week has changed to November for better weather, with a bigger festival, and is more focused on heritage and culture. The 2008 festival will run from 6-16 November.
The Cayman Craft Market, Mr. Scott said, is to have a new sound system to provide local music and the last week of each month will highlight artisans from various districts.
New offerings from the National Trust include a guide Mastic Trail hike on Wednesdays at 9am, a Blue Iguana Recovery Tour on Tuesdays at 2pm and three bird watching tours over the next two months.
The Mission House opens 5 May, with one room featuring a display of Women in Cayman’s History.
The Governor Gore Bird Sanctuary at Spotts, Bodden Town has re-opened, and over 60 species of birds have been observed there.
He noted the transition from Esteban Gallery to Esteban Gifts, which will offer products depicting Caymanian history and culture.
Mr. Scott also outlined the many new restaurants opened this year.
District Administration Marketing and Promotions Manager Chevala Burke outlined some of the new offerings for the Sister Islands.
In the Sister Islands the website is being revamped as well as creating an additional website with information predominately relating to Cayman Brac.
A greeting/welcome table has been set up at the airport to welcome visitors to Cayman Brac. The table is stocked with fruit punch, swanky and peppermint candies.
Events to take place include the Brac Bash in early August.
A discussion is to take place on doing a smaller version of Family Week this year.
The Brac Jackpot is from May 18 to 20 with perhaps some NFL players visiting for the event.
There are plans for a soccer tournament in August 2008 (with NCAA teams from the US).
Discussions are also to take place regarding mini heritage days at the Heritage House.
Also mentioned were new day trips to Cayman Brac from Grand Cayman with Brac Real Tours Limited.
Two new watersports businesses have been set up on Cayman Brac: InDepth Watersports and Blue Planet watersports.
Underwater Warriors is a new charitable, non-profit programme on Cayman Brac to provide scuba diving as therapeutic recreation for injured servicemen and women.
The second phase of the Lost City of Atlantis dive and snorkel site is about to commence and will include statues of war veterans poised as the guardians of Atlantis.