Owners of the Grand Cayman Beach Suites will pay $4 million to build two additional stories and a new rooftop on the West Bay Road hotel, creating 14 regular rooms and four deluxe suites.
When completed, the project will add 30 feet to the structure, boosting it from 63 feet, 2 inches to 93 feet, 5 inches, and from 53 rooms to 71 rooms. New parking spaces will be set aside in two locations across the street, adjacent to Cambridge Realty and to the miniature golf course at Deckers Restaurant.
The Central Planning Authority approved the project at its Nov. 13 meeting after months of delays, adjournments, analyses and objections. Head of the authority A.L. Thompson said the panel left it to the developers to overcome problems of parking spots and limits on room numbers within hotel/tourism zones.
“They had to do a deal,” he said, “between the owners of the parking lot and the owners of the company.”
He also said that public objections to the plan had been overcome simply because the lone dissenter, John Dyke of Island Club, had twice failed to appear at authority hearings on the proposal.
“I believe that the planning application should be rejected,” Mr. Dykes wrote to the authority. “The current height of Grand Cayman Beach Suites helps to bridge the gap between the three-storey Colonial Club on the one side and the nine-storey WaterColours on the other. I do not believe it is in the best interests of the Cayman Islands for the entire length of Seven Mile Beach to be turned into a monolithic concrete slab and that it is desirable to keep some parts as a lower, more attractive level.”
Despite invitations to appear before the authority, Mr.Thompson said, “the objector didn’t show up. He was asked twice to come before the board. When two parties are before the board and someone does not show up, then it’s not heard.”
Mr. Dyke failed to appear on Oct. 30 and Nov. 13.
“We always give a second chance,” Mr. Thompson said, “but if they don’t show up” the authority overrules the objection.
Beach Suites general manager Bill Powers said he is not normally involved in renovations and was unable to say when work on the expansion might start. He acknowledged “the design aspects are completed,” but “they have to go through the processes,” and had not gone to the Planning Department for approval.
Embassy Investments, the property owner, wants to expand the 12,934 square feet “east wing” facing West Bay Road, of the five-floor hotel, leaving the “south wing” untouched.
The fifth story rises to 82 feet, topped by a roof terrace, which architects at DDL studios propose to enclose, converting the 5,449 square feet to seven standard guest rooms and two suites.
A new “pressurized” staircase would rise from the fifth floor through the rebuilt sixth story, reaching the prospective 7,485-square-foot seventh floor, which, like the floor below, would also house seven regular rooms and two suites.
Embassy Investments, meanwhile, declined to comment on either the construction schedule or whether the additions represent an effort to move on from the years-long series of lawsuits and insurance disputes that have stymied redevelopment of the other section of the hotel – formerly known as the Hyatt – across West Bay Road, adjacent to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
Both Beach Suites and its now derelict counterpart operated from 2003 under the Hyatt brand. The 236-room inland portion of the hotel was largely destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
The 53-room Beach Suites was hived off as a separate operation, reopening shortly after the hurricane, while Embassy and its chief Asif Bahtia have remained locked in a multimillion-dollar tussle with Texas insurer Houston Casualty Company.
Lettitia Herviou, a director of Basel CDS Ltd., a corporate director of Embassy Investments, declined to comment Friday from her Jersey home.
“I am not the person to speak to,” Ms Herviou told the Caymanian Compass. She was named in a 2012 Cayman Islands Court of Appeal hearing on insurance and defamation issues.