Plans for a $200 million, 10-story hotel in Bodden Town moved a step closer to reality after the Cayman Islands government approved a $25 million concessions package for the project.
A development agreement was signed Thursday morning, paving the way for the five-star hotel and condo development at St. James Point, Beach Bay, to move forward.
Promising jobs for Caymanians and spin-off benefits for the island’s economy, Premier Alden McLaughlin said the development would be one of the largest of its kind east of Seven Mile Beach.
Developer John Layton said negotiations were taking place with multiple high-end hotel brands. He said phase one of the project would include 200 hotel rooms and 75 residential units, as well as signature restaurants, retail stores and a spa.
He said designs would be unveiled in the coming months, with the hotel scheduled to open early in 2018.
Mr. Layton, managing director of Beach Bay Land Ltd., as well as New York-based Melkonian Capital Management Ltd., said the project would be one of the “iconic resorts of the Americas.”
“It will be a catalyst for development in the district of Bodden Town while offering an alternative to Seven Mile Beach. Our vision, implemented on the site with a spectacular beach with a secluded location, superior infrastructure, airlift and natural beauty, provides everything necessary to compete successfully.”
The developer estimates the project will create 750 jobs during the construction phase and another 325 permanent hospitality jobs.
The development agreement contains a general commitment to prioritize Caymanian workers and local firms. Mr. McLaughlin did not indicate whether the agreement included a specific quota of local workers, saying it simply reinforced the legal requirements that already exist around hiring Caymanians.
Mr. Layton said he is committed to hiring locals and offering internships to train Caymanian staff. He said he had reached out to contractors in the Bodden Town area to ensure they would be involved.
Mr. McLaughlin said negotiations on the development agreement had been long and intense. He blamed the previous government for creating unrealistic expectations about what types of concessions could be offered.
Citing the room tax waiver originally offered to the Dart group for the Kimpton hotel project, he said, “We couldn’t continue down that road, particularly with respect to room tax, which has the capacity to skew the market and create issues for competition.”
He said the concessions package included duty waivers on construction materials and on furniture and fixtures for the construction of the development and stamp duty for land purchased for the development.
“Government will be giving up potential income of about $25 million to help ensure that the hotel and condo project gets built; however, government will receive income for decades into the future from hotel room tax, visitor spend, duty from the sale of the condos and more,” he said. “Equally important is the added economic benefit from the jobs that will be created directly and indirectly by this project.”