For those whose confidence in the Cayman Islands economy could use some bolstering, here’s a double shot of fortitude from Enrique Tasende, General Manager of the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort:
“Cayman is on an upswing. Things are looking very good for the island in general. Everybody is saying the numbers are coming back to pre-recession levels.”
“Since 2011, we have been saying, ‘this is the best year in the history of the hotel.’ We have been able to say that for the past three years in a row.”
Let’s play that tape back again for emphasis: Tourism is not only on the rebound, it’s getting back to where it was before the financial crisis. Each of the past three years has been the best ever for Cayman’s Marriott.
We offer congratulations to our Marriott for being recognized as the top performer among the 45 Marriott hotels in the Caribbean and Latin American region, and we trust that the hotel will continue to build on the momentum it’s accrued in the past few years.
Not surprisingly, the recent successes of our Marriott have coincided with the October 2011 financial rescue of the hotel property by a consortium, including American investor O.J. Buigas and his Florida-based Private Equity Group, and local businessmen Gene Thompson and Harry Chandi.
After being handed the keys to the hotel, the new owners began extensive renovations to the property, enabling the Marriott managers to present a resort product of a quality befitting the brand.
The Marriott isn’t the only Cayman hotel bearing good news worthy of public kudos.
Across Grand Cayman in East End, the indefatigable David Morritt celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Morritt’s Resort and at the same time the grand opening of the newest addition to his property portfolio, the five-story Londoner apartment building, which is the beginning of a multiyear, $58 million expansion plan.
Heading back west, developers are seriously exploring at least one luxury hotel project in the Beach Bay area of Bodden Town. Back on Seven Mile Beach, the Grand Cayman Beach Suites (the erstwhile seaside section of the former Hyatt Regency hotel) is undergoing a rare vertical expansion, adding two stories onto the five existing ones.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of all of the above to Cayman, not just generally in terms of national economic impact, but specifically in terms of generating individual employment opportunities.
When Cayman’s tourism industry is doing well, there are jobs — good jobs — to be won by Caymanians.
Case in point: In Friday’s Compass, an advertisement appeared lauding Alexandria Bush, a former employee of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
We say “former” because on June 1, Ms. Bush started her new job as a manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, located in Ontario, Canada.
Ms. Bush started working for Cayman’s Ritz-Carlton in 2006, as a part-time job while she was in high school. She stuck with the Ritz-Carlton, returning to work over college breaks as she studied to earn her hotel and tourism management degree — starting from the very bottom of the ladder (scrubbing dishes, literally) and working her way up to her current managerial role in the big Northern city lights.
Ms. Bush says that while she’s excited to go to Toronto, she’s even more excited to bring back her acquired knowledge to Cayman. Maybe that’s just Ritz-quality customer relations, but wouldn’t it be something if Cayman’s premier tourism developments were run by, well, Caymanians?
So when we applaud positive news coming from Cayman’s tourism industry, we aren’t just smiling about more tourists arriving, dollars flowing in and buildings going up on our islands, but the hope and potential those things bring with them to our people.