The grand reopening of the Cayman Brac Beach Resort deserves three cheers — one for each generation of the Tibbetts family, starting with patriarch Linton Tibbetts and going on down to his grown-up grandchildren, who are continuing the family’s legacy of investing in their beloved Sister Islands.
Linton Tibbetts was, of course, the most successful self-made entrepreneur, not just from the Brac, but very likely in the history of the Cayman Islands. “Mr. T,” as he was popularly known, built a business empire in Cayman and Florida, including construction materials suppliers Cox Lumber and Tibbetts Lumber, before his death in 2011 at the venerable age of 88.
His wife of 63 years, Pauline “Polly” Tibbetts, passed away on Jan. 4 of this year. She was 89. We at the Compass, together with many others in the communities in which she lived and traveled, feel keenly the loss of Mrs. Tibbetts, who was the very embodiment of benevolence and warmth.
Last Friday’s event must have been, then, both bitter and sweet for the younger members of the Tibbetts family, who cut the white ribbon on a re-imagined and re-designed version of the resort their grandfather established in 1985.
During the opening ceremony, Michael Tibbetts encapsulated in a few sentences the family’s approach to building in the Brac, which for them is inseparable from “building up” the Brac.
“It is not just about driving new visitors, but also raising the quality of the resort for our guests,” he said. “I think this elevates the tourism product for the Brac. It gives guests picturesque views and differentiates us from other properties in the Cayman Islands.”
Rechristened from the Brac Reef Resort, the new Cayman Brac Beach Resort dovetails with the family’s other diving-oriented hotels, the Little Cayman Beach Resort and Cobalt Coast Resort, giving them a presence on each of the three islands. (Along with Michael Tibbetts, the joint directors of the family company are his sisters Emily Tibbetts-Allenbach and Jessica Tibbetts-Buchanan.)
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, himself a proud Bracker who represents the Sister Islands in the Legislative Assembly, also honed in on the continuing contributions from the Tibbetts family.
“I am very pleased that the legacy established by Linton Tibbetts has not only thrived, but has passed on to the next generation, and continues to grow from strength to strength,” he said.
With sterling roads, ubiquitous airlift, and nearly all of Brac residents on the government payroll, the public sector has done far more than its fair share for the future of the Brac — well past the point of diminishing returns and, arguably, even to the extent that it is harmful.
That level of government intervention has not, and will never, give rise to financial prosperity in that island (or in fact, anywhere).
Generally speaking, if the goal is to help the Brac to flourish economically, the example of the Tibbetts family and their ongoing “reinvestment” should be an inspiration to the many successful Brackers for whom the craggy isle will always be home, even if they have long since relocated to Grand Cayman or beyond.