Boutique hotels the focus for eastern expansion

More tourist beds needed for future growth

Smaller boutique hotels could be the new focus for tourism development in Cayman beyond the busy Seven Mile Beach corridor. 

Rosa Harris, director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands, believes the construction of the Kimpton hotel on the Seven Mile Beach will provide a welcome addition to the number of hotel beds on the island. 

But as arrival numbers climb, and with further increases targeted, the department is keen to add to the “room stock.” 

Ms. Harris said the area around Seven Mile Beach is now heavily developed and the department is keen to add beds elsewhere on island by providing incentives to smaller hotels in the east and encouraging condo owners to move from long-term rentals to tourist rentals. 

“On Seven Mile Beach there is limited space for any more development. We believe the eastern districts is next, and we believe boutique style hotels, that is with 100 rooms or below, or ideally 50 rooms or below, is the best fit.” 

There are currently 5,242 rooms available for tourists on the island. That includes 2,474 condos, 2,143 hotel rooms and 615 villas. 

The Cayman Compass reported earlier this month that occupancy rates at Cayman’s major hotels had dipped slightly in the first half of 2014 despite a surge in tourism that saw visitor arrivals hit record levels.  

The figures, from an industry report, did not include smaller hotels and condos, which are believed to be doing well.  

The Department of Tourism tries to collect more comprehensive statistics on occupancy rates, but reporting from the property owners has not been consistent enough in recent times for the data to be meaningful. Ms. Harris says she is urging businesses to report data on a more timely basis so the department can have meaningful occupancy statistics to work from. 

The key statistic, though, is the booming air arrivals. She believes the success will continue and that alongside the redevelopment of the airport and the cruise terminal, the provision of sufficient hotel beds is imperative. 

She said, “The Department of Tourism is supportive of condo owners who would like to enter the short-term rental pool. We are very keen on the development of boutique hotels.  

She said tourism officials would work with the Department of Commerce and Investment to help advise potential developers. 

There are currently around 400 licensed tourism accommodations, from hotels with several hundred rooms to one-bed apartments that are rented to visitors. 

As tourism numbers lift, hotels are also attempting to bring up rates – something that Ms. Harris says could help explain the disconnect between rising arrival figures and slightly declining occupancy.  

“Over the last eight years we went through a recession and the private sector had to reduce their rates to win business and exist in a hard economic time. Room rates really plummeted in 2008 and the private sector has been in the process of increasing rates back towards what they were.” 

Tourism councilor Joey Hew has previously spoken of the need for additional hotel beds in Cayman. 

“We have to look at ways of how to spread the development over the next few decades if we can. We know that we are short on hotel rooms. We know we need the Kimpton, and the Hyatt rebuilt. “Other than that, we need to be strategic about how we approve hotels going forward. We need to plan,” he said in a television interview earlier this year. 

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  1. SAME OLD SAME OLD. of course I am inclined to think Ms. Rosa Harris means well, but speaking as a Watchful Eastern eye I have heard these stories for the past 30 years. providing incentives to smaller hotels in the east Every government spread this information, and still for all these years we have seen nothing come to fruition.
    Who doesn’t know that the West Bay area is packed to capacity with hotels, condos and room space. but that does not stop those who can make changes make some good decisions. Arrival numbers climb and the department is prepared to add to the room stock. Fair enough,but where? Only on West Bay road. Tourism Councilor Joey has spoken of the need for additional hotel beds in Cayman, sure, but are we going to still be cramming every room on the West Bay road.
    Speaking of spreading the development over the next few decades; I have heard that conversation spoken for thirty years. Trust me when I say I love, enjoy driving along the West Bay Road and see the beautiful well kept condominiums and hotels, but I always ask myself does anyone ever give thoughts to other parts of the Island and are aware that people still live up this way.
    When last has anyone took a drive through Bodden Town, which used to be the Capital of the Island. It is a Tourism Disgrace. Remnants of Hurricane Ivan ravished buildings, unkept road sides and no activities for the young or old. We need to stop making campaign promises to people of the Eastern Districts and show them that money can be put where your mouth is. Too much promises year after year. It is time something is done in the Eastern district accept building cemeteries.

  2. I hear you Twyla and actually agree, but do you think the fact the almost every development in the eastern districts is faced with tremendous opposition has something to do with why not many developers are drawn to that part of the island. I think a lot of potential investors shy away because they don’t want to deal with protests and people saying they are destroying the swamp. I even had people oppose my planning application saying filling the land to build a house would damage the wetlands (Swamp). One lady said that when I fill my land it would cause water to settle on her’s because it was below sea level. She fought tooth and nail to stop it.

  3. Michael I would not dispute that you have gotten oppositions, however have you checked out to know who was opposing.
    It is very true why there has not been that much development up this way is because of some opposers, who have no good reasons other than just want to be selfish.
    Development in Bodden Town has always been opposed by a group of the same business people for no good reasons.
    Anyway I will be watching and following the plans promised for the GO EAST imitative and Tourism promises, from now straight until the Eve of next election.

  4. Shouldn’t someone develop the landfill and find a better solution to that problem first? There are options that a solution for that problem can generate revenue and opportunity and in many ways (both short and long term) much more so than adding additional hotels.

  5. We visit the island 3 – 4 times a year and the dump always seems to be an understandable point of concern when we talk to those who call Grand Cayman home. If we did and I had a voting voice in the matter I certainly would gladly devote my energy and resources to solving this before expanding tourism more on the East End.
    It would seem that minds brilliant enough to develop additional infrastructure to support additional hotels and possibly fuel docks on the east end (hopefully not) then someone could surely find a solution to the landfill and how to process and encourage a viable recycling plan on the island.