Mixed results this Easter

The hotels and resorts of the
Cayman Islands are reporting mixed results for the start of 2010, boosted by a
busy Easter season.

Penny Cumber of Cayman Villas said
that Easter was booked solid but this was the exception rather than the rule
for what has been a difficult March.

“Two years ago March was our best
month and pretty much fully booked, between 75 and 100 per cent booked between
repeat visitors and newcomers to the island.

“Last year was down to about 50 to
75 per cent and this year it may be less than 50 per cent on average,” she

Slow start

This year showed a slow start,
agreed Arie Barendrecht, owner of Cobalt Coast, who noted that it was “a little
slower than last year” but group bookings were on the up.

“Easter is strong; March in itself
is always [good] – in the States you’ve got Spring Break and there’s parents
with kids who dive, high school age and college age which makes up our market
from March into April and of course Easter always helps.

“Strong group bookings form the
base to build on so we’re looking good there,” he said.

Other hoteliers noted that Cayman’s
staging of the CARIFTA games is boosting occupancy figures during the Easter
and spring period.

Grandview Condos chief Max Hillier
said that occupancy there was between 10 and 20 per cent lower than the same
time last year, a figure he said was in line with the current climate.

“We’re doing OK; we’re keeping our
heads above water and doing as best as can be expected in the current economic
situation,” said Mr. Hillier.

On Little
Cayman, Peter Hillenbrand of Southern Cross Club said that the
season had been reasonable but was down on 2008’s numbers.

“The first week in April is a
little slow but that’s an exception on the season. The first two weeks in
January were slow too but that’s typical [in the Industry in general as it is] just
after New Year.

“Since then we’ve been maintaining
a steady occupancy so that’s positive. We didn’t really start to feel the sharp
downturn until summer 2009 so at this time last year we were still doing very
well,” said Mr. Hillenbrand.


The prevailing industry trends are
for last minute bookings for a shorter period of time than in previous years
with customers seeking cheaper deals, explained Miss Cumber.

Fewer visitors not only affects
hotels, she noted, but also associated businesses including restaurants, car hire
and even the buying of groceries and petrol.

Kenneth Parsons of Andy’s Car
Rental said that the company makes sure to keep up to date with tourism figures
because increased or decreased arrivals had a measurable effect on associated
tourism businesses.

“We made some changes last year
because of the downturn and decreased the fleet [but this year] we’ve noticed an

“We’re [now] in the process of
getting new vehicles because the potential [for the future] looks very good. Even
with the decreased fleet we’re up from last year so it’s definitely picked up,”
he explained, before adding that 2006 had in retrospect been a peak across the
board for tourism and tourism-related businesses on the Island.