Marriott Beach Resort closes for refit
Restaurants and tourism businesses are putting up the shutters ready for the late summer slow season to kick in.
It may have been a year of record-breaking arrival figures so far, but that hasn’t changed the trend of businesses closing up shop in September.
The annual dip in visitor numbers is expected to arrive on schedule with numerous restaurants and even some hotels shutting their doors for up to two months.
Some, like the Marriott Beach Resort, are taking advantage of the slowdown to get renovations done. The hotel shut its doors Monday and will remain closed until Oct. 6 as it undergoes a major overhaul that will see a complete redesign of the lobby area, restaurants, meeting rooms and fitness center.
The lobby area will remain off limits until Nov. 5 as the hotel undergoes the second phase of a major upgrade that has already included new furniture and decorating in the guest rooms.
Meanwhile, several restaurants – including the Wharf for the first time – will be closing for several weeks or longer.
Visitor arrivals have followed a fairly set pattern in Cayman for several years. July is typically one of the best months of the year, but the numbers begin to dwindle in August and then take a dive in September.
Last year there were 34,000 visitors in July, 25,000 in August and 11,000 in September.
Deckers on West Bay Road, the George Town Yacht Club, Osetra Bay and Cracked Conch in West Bay, Blue and Periwinkle at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, and Grand Old House in South Sound were among the restaurants to confirm seasonal closures ranging from a few weeks to several months. Many said they would take advantage of the break to upgrade facilities and revamp menus.
Markus Mueri, of NM Ventures group, said Karoo and Abacus would remain open, but Deckers, which has more of a tourist-based clientele, would close for September.
“August was actually a very good month, but first week of September it usually completely collapses. It happens every year,” he said. “This year it seems like more people are closing than ever.”
He said fears over hurricane season and the end of summer’s long school vacation had the biggest impact on tourism.
“On the plus side, you get all the residents coming back after the summer. But they have credit card bills to pay off after their own vacation and school fees to think about, so they are not eating out so much.”
Megan Licata, communications manager at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, said Blue would be closed from Aug. 30 to Nov. 20. The resort’s Periwinkle restaurant has been closed since last Wednesday and will reopen Nov. 5. The hotel’s other restaurants remain open.
“Periwinkle will be getting a bit of a refresh, so it will look a little different when people come back in November,” she said.
The Wharf in George Town has not typically closed in September but will do so this year for three weeks.
“Even in the good old days, September was always a slow month,” said manager Reno Mancini. He said the restaurant would take advantage of the break to do some small-scale renovations.
Grand Old House will also close Aug. 30 to Oct. 5. Manager Livia Kwong said they close annually to allow for maintenance work on the old building. She said September is the best month for that because it is the slowest and the wettest.
Cracked Conch restaurant supervisor Dana Bergmane said the West Bay business has closed in September for the past five years. The restaurant will close on Aug. 31 and reopen Oct. 10.
“We always close because it’s hurricane season and we are right on the waterfront, and it gives everyone a chance to have a vacation,” Ms. Bergmane said.
“It also means we don’t have to clear out the bar every few days because of storms or the weather.”
West Bay’s Osetra Bay closed at the start of August and will reopen at the end of October. General manager James Sedgley said the restaurant closes annually to allow for renovations and because of unpredictable weather at this time of year.
“We do renovations to the restaurant every year, and because we are mostly outdoors, we close because of the weather. A shower can really ruin someone’s dining experience,” Mr. Sedgley said.
“All of our staff are European too, so it gives them the opportunity to fly home and visit their family during the longer break.”
Cayman Compass reporter Laura Buttigieg contributed to this article.