Unique designs, world class restaurants and around 250 jobs are some of the things that the Kimpton group plans to bring to the Cayman Islands when it launches its first overseas hotel in the territory, the company’s chief executive has said.
The San Francisco hotel and restaurant chain is in the midst of an expansion plan that will see it double in size. It signed a deal with Dart Realty last week to manage the developer’s new hotel on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman.
Kimpton CEO Mike Depatie told the Caymanian Compass the island was a natural fit for the trendy hotel chain, which has had success in “leisure destinations” in the US.
He made a commitment to look to hire Caymanians first where possible when the 263-room hotel opens in early 2016, predicting the hotel would need to fill as many as 250 positions.
The hotel will be part of the Kimpton brand, but will have its own name, which is yet to be decided, as well as a unique design.
Mr. Depatie expects to open early in 2016 and believes the Kimpton name will bring new tourists to Grand Cayman, drawn from its own loyal following in the US.
He said the company had confidence in the Cayman Islands as a tourist destination and was encouraged by Dart Realty’s long-term commitment to the project and the island in general.
Kimpton, which prides itself on the distinct designs of its hotels, will be heavily involved in the construction process.
“I think we push the design envelope a bit more than some of the other hotel groups do. We don’t build cookie-cutter hotels,” Mr. Depatie said. “I think you could walk into one of our hotels and immediately know it was a Kimpton hotel. It’s like a family where everyone has the same last name. Every one has a different personality and a different style, but you can tell they all belong in the same family.”
One of the main focuses will be the food, with five restaurants planned for the Cayman venue.
“We are really well known for our culinary expertise and our customer service. I think people have more of an emotional connection to our hotels.
“We always say, the people that know us, love us. Not enough people know us yet.”
Mr. Depatie said the fact that Kimpton has hotels in many of the Cayman Islands’ feeder destinations, including Miami, Dallas and New York, will be a powerful marketing tool.
He said the Cayman Islands would benefit from “induced demand”. He believes there won’t be direct competition with bigger brand name hotels like the Ritz Carlton, saying Kimpton’s hotel would be in the four to four-and-a-half star price range.
He added: “We have a very strong following. I think you will get people who might not have considered the Cayman Islands come to stay at a Kimpton hotel.”
The hotel is being built on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott on West Bay Road. Dart Realty acquired the site from developer Stan Thomas in 2011 and has already demolished the existing structure, with plans submitted to build a 10-storey building in its place.
Mr. Depatie said confidence was returning to Caribbean tourism following the financial crash in 2008.
“We are really excited to be coming to Grand Cayman and to be working with a partner like Dart Realty. We are looking forward to being part of the community,” he said.
He said the hotel would likely open in 2016 and would look to recruit locally before then.
“Our first preference will be to hire Caymanians. We have got a couple of years until we open to get familiar with who is on island,” he added.