Residents and visitors have been curiously monitoring a construction just north of the former Gecko Bar over the past months.
Making a striking impact on the Seven Mile Beach shoreline, the property is Cayman’s newest tourism attraction: a tiki bar and watersports centre called Tiki Beach.
‘Tiki Beach is a full service facility the likes of which have never been seen in Cayman,’ explained developer Ernest Smatt.
‘Among the services that will be offered are a specialised restaurant and bar and full beach services.’
The building design comprises three tiki-style palm thatched huts, its supporting poles set upon wooden decks. Design architect John Doak describes the simplistic wood framed design and architectural concept as ‘barefoot, rustic elegance’.
‘With the name Tiki Beach, the project required an iconic roof feature, hence the steeply pitched shape rising high above the treetops, to announce its location – according to some sailing friends, it’s already becoming a navigational landmark,’ said Mr. Doak.
While the tiki roof may appear authentic, the decision was made to use synthetic thatch in the interest of durability and cost-effectiveness.
‘If we used the real thing, it would need replacing every few years. This roof is actually solid underneath with thatch on top,’ said builder John Hurlstone.
Mr. Smatt said the team behind the project hopes it will have a major impact on Cayman’s tourism environment, serving locals, hotel guests and cruise ship visitors.
‘We will be serving the clients we were serving at the Beach Club Colony, although this facility will not be a hotel,’ he said.
Flanked on either side by the kitchen and watersports pavilions, the largest of the three pavilions is the 40ft x 60ft beach bar with room for 100 to 150 people.
Open on all sides to the cooling tropical breezes, the bar area spills out over wooden decks arranged with linen covered banquettes and lazy chaises, able to accommodate an additional 100 to 150 people for outdoor dining.
Two gazebos, roofed in a style that resembles the inverted hulls of Cayman’s traditional catboats will be able to accommodate small groups, said Mr. Doak.
Mr. Smatt said plans are for Tiki Beach to be the beginning of a new brand of first-class beach facility.
‘Our hope is that this vision will be fruitful, and will be a positive contribution to Cayman. Everything one does should be the best it can be,’ he said.
Also raising interest is the fact that the project is being built at a time when Cayman’s construction industry is in the doldrums.
With the project due to open at the end of January, Mr. Hurlstone says his firm was fortunate for the work given the financial straits many businesses in the construction business are in.
‘A niche was identified for an upscale beach facility and Tiki Beach certainly provides a great venue to enjoy a beautiful stretch of Seven Mile Beach,’ said Mr. Hurlstone.
‘We hope residents and visitors alike will find the spot an attractive oceanfront location.’