Old Courtyard Marriott coming down

Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd. has begun to raze the five-storey Courtyard Marriott Hotel and will replace it with a new 10-storey hotel that is scheduled to open in late 2015. 

Jackie Doak, chief operating officer for Dart Realty, said that after the Dart Group purchased the property from developer Stan Thomas in January 2011, it envisioned adding to and renovating the existing structure to create a four-to-four-and-a-half star hotel. 

“We felt very comfortable that we could build around the existing structure,” she said, adding that it was accepted that the room sizes would have to remain small. “So we went down the path of looking for [hotel brands that had experience renovating… existing hotels.” 

Toward the end of 2012, Mrs. Doak said Dart Realty had a comprehensive master plan for the hotel and its site and were close to submitting a Planning application for construction. Interior demolition had already been completed in anticipation of renovation. 

“Then we took a step back and did a fresh evaluation of where we were,” she said. “We really wanted to get the hotel open as soon as possible, but we wanted to know we were putting the right product on the ground.” 

The collaborative evaluation led to a discussion about what could be attained for the property if the building were demolished instead of renovated and a new hotel constructed instead. 

By razing the existing building and starting from scratch, Dart Realty realised it could improve and many aspects of the hotel design, including larger rooms and a larger, better lobby area. It would also allow them to move the hotel farther back from the beach and raise the ground floor, giving the hotel better views of the ocean and protecting it more from storm surge during hurricanes. 

In addition, a new hotel would allow for underground parking, maintenance and housekeeping facilities, all of which would add to the aesthetic experience at the hotel. 

Demolishing the existing hotel and building a new one will also provide more construction jobs, Mrs. Doak said, noting that about 250 people will be employed during the construction of the new hotel. 

One drawback of demolishing and starting afresh versus renovation was that it would delay the opening of the hotel by one year.  

“We’re now looking at the 2015 hotel season for opening,” Mrs. Doak said.  

Even that drawback has a silver lining. 

“It gives us three years before opening to plan and execute our commitment to encourage and recruit young Caymanians with what we call the hospitality heart,” Mrs. Doak said, adding that Dart Realty is looking for Caymanians who might not have the knowledge or experience in the hospitality industry, but who have an understanding and personality it takes to work in the industry and who think of hospitality as a career, 
not just a job. 

These recruits will be sent overseas to work in the hotel operator’s properties where they will be fully immersed in the brand’s culture. When the hotel opens in 2015, these recruits would be able to fill significant roles on the staff, which is expected to require between 700 and 900 employees. 

 

Moving ahead  

The first of two phases of complete demolition started this week with the stripping of the old building’s facade. 

The contract for the first phase was awarded to Island Builders Co. Ltd. after being put out to bid. 

“There are 50 Caymanians working on site, all of whom last week went through our construction safety training,” Mrs. Doak said. “This project will put about $1.5 million into the economy almost immediately.” 

Once the facade is completely stripped, the demolition of the rest of the building will occur. That project is already out to tender and will be awarded next week. Although some bidders have suggested implosion as a demolition method, Mrs. Doak said Dart Realty had some concerns about using a new technique here, so it would proceed with the traditional demolition method. 

“We factored that into the construction schedule and doesn’t impact it significantly,” she said.  

While the demolition is taking place, design will begin for the new 10-storey, 200-245 room hotel – which will include conference/wedding facilities, meeting spaces, a spa, and an area for children. The hotel rooms themselves will be larger and include some suites. 

“While the number of rooms may be similar [to the renovation plans], the product will be extremely different,” Mrs. Doak said. 

Melissa Ladley, senior manager public relations officer for Dart Realty, said the goal is to submit the design schematics to the Central Planning Authority in July.  

“This aggressive [timeline is] based on appointing the design architect in March,” she said, adding that the goal, depending on permitting, is to commence construction of the new hotel by the fall of this year. 

The concept is still to create a four-to-four-and-a-half star hotel. 

“In the region, that’s where the market is growing,” Mrs. Ladley said. “There’s a little saturation at the luxury end.” 

The whole hotel project, including the demolition, is estimated to cost more than CI$140 million, she said.  

The original Courtyard Marriott structure was completed in 2000 and opened as a Holiday Inn. In 2004, the hotel was sold and rebranded as a Courtyard Marriott. In November 2008, it closed after being damaged by Hurricane Paloma and never reopened.  

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11 COMMENTS

  1. What a shame and what a great waste of money to destroy the Old Courtyard Marriott! It will also be much worse for the environment to build a ten-storey hotel but guess this is what’s called progress. I think the Cayman Islands’ name should be changed to the Dart Islands as they own most of it and are destroying the beautiful environment by building concrete jungles!

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  2. Dart had a vision, did the planning, got the required approvals and now are getting the job done. Wish we could say the same for the cruise ship dock. And we know the calibre of their work. Yet the government doesn’t want to let them proceed with the cruise ship dock — I just don’t get it.

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  3. I can see it now – Protest organized by Opposition to stop the Hotel from happening. I can hear the FCO whispering to each other about the rules. All this… whilst Caymanians are out of jobs and the economy is at its lowest.

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  4. Good grief people, give it a rest. There’s nothing to this point that Dart had built that has not enhanced the Cayman Island product. That building sat there for years and no one did anything about it and now that Dart is doing something on that site people want to complain. Yean he is the biggest developer on the Island and owns most of the property but that’s only because that land was for sale he didn’t take anything. Show me someone else that’s putting so many people to work and investing so much in into Cayman. I am sure he has no plans to change the name to Dart Island nor could he but the future of Cayman seems better off in his hands than in the hands of the people that have been in charge and can’t seem to get anything done because of all the infighting and bickering. Tell me what smart person would build a supper expensive Administration building while unprocessed Garbage piled up in the middle of the Capitol to a point that it’s that first thing people see upon arrival by Air or Sea and residents in the area have to deal with the stench carried by the wind.
    If he had the chance to work on the dock it would have been done already and by local construction companies where tons of local people would have earned great salaries in the process. When people fight against progress all they are doing is taking money out of their neighbors pockets due to lost opportunities.
    There are plenty of islands in the Caribbean where there’s not much infrastructure and no large buildings but the residents of these place pay hefty taxes on their property and Income so the Island can stay the same and does not have to build up so much to support itself. Cayman on the other hand has to build itself up in order to survive. And don’t tell me that the taxes you pay on food at Forsters should be enough.

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  5. NJ2Cay has hit the nail on the head – The Cayman product! Poor planning over the decades, indecision about what market Cayman should target – Cruise vs Stayover etc has made a mess of this country. DART has a vision and a long term plan, something which every government has lacked. DART parks are beautiful – government parks are, well, lame to be kind. DART considers every aspect when developing – they do their job right. Our government could learn from DARTs team, instead they shun DART as pride blinds them.

    When I drive by Camana Bay it makes me feel good – the landscaping is done so well, its clean, makes me smile. Drive down the bypass and all you want to do is get to the other end without looking or smelling the dump. Right there is your comparison between how DART works and how government works.

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  6. Without exception there is no more qualified and environmentally concerned company on this island than Dart.

    One only has to look closely at the projects Dart has developed to see the genuine devotion and passion for sustainable development.

    Dart does not live by the standard, it’s obvious they set a whole new higher standard in corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship.

    Well done again, can’t wait to see the finished product and the inevitable jobs and boost to the local economy!

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  7. Will the new building be on the same footprint or will it be moved closer to the sea? This move should come as no surprise to anyone.
    This walking and bike path that they have promised us, is that going to be a registered right of way or just a promise? I think it should be a registered one that way the people can rest assured that as dart controls more and more of the island they can not decide they don’t want the local commoners to mingle with their all inclusive guest.
    There is a reason that most countries have antitrust laws. Unfortunately we do not have them and Dart is taking advantage of that. We will live to regret it.

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  8. If you read the article carefully you will see where the plans for the building to be farther away from the Sea not closer. As for the bike and walking paths the only thing I can say are there any paths in Camana Bay that people restricted from walking or restaurant and public facilities that anyone cannot use. Also why are people trying to give the impression that this is going to be some kind of all-inclusive gated resort when there’s been no mention of it. People can try to demonize Dart all they want but the fact is that he is doing right by Cayman. It is in his best interest that the Cayman Island Product and Cayman itself succeeds or he will have lost a lot more than anyone else. The people that do not take advantage of the opportunities he is creating are the ones that will live to regret it

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  9. So does this postpone the closure of West Bay Road?

    Whatever happened to the planning edict to keep things low rise – No higher than the tallest palm tree?

    10 storeys – beach will be in shadow all morning – can’t he do a bigger footprint with less storeys – keep the island feel of Seven mile beach. Turn Cayman into Miami and people will just save money and goto Miami instead.

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