Saying his project would help the Cayman Islands build its way out of the recession, David Morritt welcomed officials and guests to the ground-breaking ceremony for the first phase of a planned $58 million investment into Morritt Properties’ East End resort development.
“One-fifth of the tourists who arrive by airlines come here, and we’re going to double that,” Mr. Morritt said Wednesday, 4 April.
“We are on a ride, and if you’re ready for a ride, come on the train,” he said.
Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush manned the controls of a backhoe loader to scoop the first shovel full of sand for the construction of “The Londoner”, which will be a 5-storey apartment building commemorating the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The facility will consist of 35 units on the seafront, next to the existing reception building.
Mr. Bush said the groundbreaking is an indication of officials’ hopes for the continuing development of Cayman’s tourism industry.
“The Cayman Islands I think owes David Morritt a debt of gratitude,” Mr. Bush said. “I know the people of East End, and I’ve talked to them, are proud of this resort.”
In addition to The Londoner, the other new components planned for Mr. Morritt’s development include “The Grand Tower”, a 5-storey building with 25 units behind the Morritt’s Grand buildings; “The Eco-Village”, three, 3-storey buildings with a total 45 units, located inland behind the shopping centre; a 4-storey residence building with 32 units, located inland on the road; the demolition of the main reception building, to be replaced by a 7-storey building with a restaurant, bar, conference facilities and luxury accommodations; a 4-storey building with four, three-bedroom luxury apartments, to be constructed as an extension to the new main reception building; and a 3-storey “5000” building with 10 units located next to the existing cluster of “5000” buildings.
The timeline for the entire expansion is five to 10 years, with the goal of doubling time-share ownership to more than 30,000 members. Currently, Mr. Morritt’s development on 12 acres in East End includes two hotels – Morritt’s Tortuga Club and Resort, and Morritt’s Grand Resort – as well as the nearby Morritt’s Shopping Centre, and has about 12,000 time-share members.
‘Not going anywhere’
Mr. Morritt said his resort has seen its share of obstacles, but is presently in healthy financial condition. He said Cayman is his home and he is never going to leave.
“People say hurricanes and recessions aren’t a lot of fun, but I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “There isn’t a better chance for people to get back to nature, here in East End.”
Mr. Bush said his government is proud to assist Mr. Morritt by offering incentives for his development similar to other major construction projects. He said the day that Cayman stops trying to attract and keep investors “is the day when the dog eats our supper”.
“I know David takes the development and the operation of this resort very personally,” he said.
“This is what I like – with most developments, you put it in the ground, and it’s not going anywhere,” Mr. Bush said.