Efforts are under way on Cayman Brac to deal with the smell from a salt water pond blamed for the closure of the Alexander Hotel.
Workers were at the pond site this week in what was described as a “de-mucking” exercise to deal with the smell.
Cleveland Dilbert, owner of the hotel, said the work might provide a temporary fix to the issue but would not solve the underlying problem. He said the move would not convince him to reopen the hotel, which closed on June 15.
“It would be crazy for me to reopen the hotel now and then be back in the same position next year,” he said. “They need to find what is causing the smell and fix that.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of District Administration confirmed that work, funded by government, was taking place to deal with the stench.
“We have commenced a de-mucking process in an effort to bring some relief to the uncomfortable and obnoxious odor emanating from the sediment at the western end of the pond. The buildup of muck and sediment and the resulting odor has been a concern for some time,” she said.
She added, “Multiple complaints have been received from neighboring property owners and other residents who have asked that something be done to address the problem.”
The work being carried out by the ministry and the Public Works Department is expected to take between three and four weeks.
Mr. Dilbert wants to excavate the pond and transform it into a marina for visiting yachts, but he has faced opposition amid concerns about the environmental impact of his plan.
He said, “What they are doing now is a temporary fix. If they had done this earlier, we might have been able to keep the hotel open a bit longer. Now we have let the staff go, we have canceled reservations. To reopen would be crazy.”
He said there had been no progress with the marina plan, which he believes is the long-term solution to the pond smell.
Government has agreed in principle to allow Mr. Dilbert to develop the marina but has insisted on an environmental impact assessment. The ongoing dispute over the planning approval process for the controversial project appears to have reached an impasse, and Mr. Dilbert is waiting to see how it plays out before making a long-term decision about the hotel.
The hotelier has said complaints from visitors about the smell from the pond had damaged the hotel’s reputation and resulted in a plummeting ranking on TripAdvisor. He said he was forced to close or risk damaging the hotel’s reputation irreparably.
He believes the smell from the pond – formerly a nature reserve and habitat for rare West Indian whistling ducks – is hurting the Brac tourism product in general.
A digger was on site, directly behind the hotel on Thursday. The government spokesman said “de-mucking” had been conducted on two separate occasions at the pond, around 15 year ago, with positive results.