New plan to revive iconic hotel

Former Hyatt hotel to undergo renovation

hyatt hotel cayman

The old Hyatt hotel, once an iconic landmark of Cayman’s tourism industry, is being revived. 

Plans have been submitted to restore the concrete shell of the old hotel to create a new 224-room resort and conference center, provisionally named the Britannia Hotel. 

A pedestrian overpass across the Esterley Tibbetts Highway is also planned to provide a link to the Beach Suites resort on Seven Mile Beach, owned by the same developer – Embassy Investments. 

Separate plans have been submitted to add two new stories and additional penthouse suites, taking the number of rooms in that resort from 53 to 80. 

In its heyday, the lavish Grand Cayman Hyatt Britannia Resort was famous for its opulence, its manicured grounds and exotic gardens that attracted Hollywood cameras for the shooting of the movie “The Firm.” 

Devastated by Hurricane Ivan and subsequently beset by legal issues, the skeleton of the once grand building has remained empty and unused for more than a decade. 

That could be about to change. Derek Serpell of Kariba architectural and design firm submitted designs to the Central Planning Authority in September that, if approved, could see a new resort opening by early 2017. 

Mr. Serpell said the aim is to renovate the existing buildings to create a modern hotel that rivals the splendor of the original. 

He said the new design aims to use plants and water features to re-create the “exotic feel” of the old resort.  

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “It is an iconic building in Cayman, and we were very keen to be involved in this project from the kickoff. 

“Part of the brief was to try to re-create that amazing courtyard. There is lots of water in the middle, a large swimming pool, a high-end spa.” The old building has already been stripped bare. The exterior layout is likely to be largely the same as the old resort, though a large conference and banquet center will be added. 

Mr. Serpell said work in the interior of the hotel would relocate staircases and create a more modern design.  

A key feature of the plans is an extension to the bridge, which currently links the Beach Suites resort to Decker’s restaurant and other eateries across West Bay Road. Plans have been submitted to extend the overpass across the new highway to allow guests safe and easy access to Seven Mile Beach. 

Mr. Serpell said a link between the two resorts is envisaged. Pedro Theye of DDL Studio architectural firm simultaneously submitted new plans for an extension to the Beach Suites resort. 

The plans, which add two floors to the hotel, update an already approved expansion to the resort, with five additional units. 

Property owners Embassy Investments are in negotiations with hotel companies, and no final decision has been announced on which brand will run the new resort on the site of the old Hyatt hotel. The Hilton was mooted as a potential operator for the site by former Premier McKeeva Bush. 

hyatt cayman hotel

An architect’s image shows how the new hotel could look.

5 COMMENTS

  1. That is so nice to hear. Having so many wonderful memories of the former Hyatt, including my daughter’s marriage, since she grew up going to Cayman islands, almost her whole life, this news tugs at my heart…….

  2. Why they didn’t knock down the shell is anyone’s guess. I wouldn’t at this juncture, trust the stability or integrity of the remaining cement or steel. Designs and building materials have changed since the original hotel was built.

  3. Hopefully it would be recovered and become a source of revenue and joy. The structure looks solid, but will deteriorate if they don’t do something with it, as exposure matters and is a continuous factor since the time they decided to clean the interiors.

    Sad to say, I never saw it in its old splendor, as it was already gone when I arrived to the island. A wonderful place for urban exploration, no doubt, and unfortunately also a magnet for graffiti and other vandalism types.

    I thoroughly explored it with my little brother (of the BBBS program) back in 2012. If anybody is interested in peeking how it looked and never dared to get inside, feel free to explore this gallery.

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152126608275717.914424.501595716type=1l=1e5c1600ec

  4. How many more years residents of Snug Harbour area would have to walk on a highway along concrete wall to Camana Bay? How many more years residents of Britannia would have to do the same kind of walk to the beach? That nice passage connecting Snug Harbour / Britannia with so called but not real pedestrian crossing was enclosed by fence. Vegetation grew so much that you couldn’t walk there even if there was no fence. Local bum build a nest spreading garbage around. This is all happened to something which was a nice morning walk just a few years ago.

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