Orion Developers, the owner and developer of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Dragon Bay, laid off 12 workers on Tuesday.
Orion’s Michael Ryan said his company rationalised operations and decided to hand over certain strata-based functions to the hotel because there was a duplication of efforts.
Mr. Ryan said only a couple of the laid-off staff worked in construction. “Hopefully, most of them will get picked up by the hotel, or that we can hire them back in time.” The layoffs had nothing to do with the prospects of Dragon Bay, Mr. Ryan said.
“The project is still looking good,” he said, admitting, however, that it hasn’t progressed as fast as anyone would have liked because of the poor economy.
“But we had the best Christmas at the hotel ever, with 98 per cent occupancy,” he said.
“The sales team was very busy over Christmas. There is definitely interest out there and we had the best quality interest that we’ve seen over the past two years.”
The Ritz-Carlton hotel and beach-front residences formed the first phase of Dragon Bay. Next came the completely sold Exclusive Island, followed by the DeckHouses and now Secret Harbour. All three are on separate islands in Dragon Bay. Mr. Ryan said five of the 19 DeckHouses are sold and turned over, with a sixth well under way, and all of that island’s infrastructure is completed. Work on the first phase of Secret Harbour began in 2010.“We’re moving forward as best we can in the current economic climate,” Mr. Ryan said.
Despite the slower-than-desired pace of sales, Mr. Ryan said he is encouraged about the future of Dragon Bay. He said some of the measures put in place by the government recently – like the temporary reduction of import duty – were steps in the right direction.
“We applaud that and we hope it spurs activity,” he said. “But what we need to create is an environment that makes investors want to come to Cayman. Hopefully this is the first of many steps that will take us in that direction.”