Dart hotel plan hinges on rock removal

Developer wants to create resort district

The proposed location of the new Dart hotel. Tiki Beach restaurant can be seen on the right.

Developer Dart Realty is seeking permission to remove “beach rocks” from shallow coastal waters off a Seven Mile Beach property where it is proposing to build a five-star hotel.

Dart has switched the site of the long-planned hotel to a beachfront property close to the Tiki Beach restaurant. The hotel, which is expected to be a Four Seasons, was originally slated for the opposite end of the beach, next to Royal Palms.

Dart says it hopes to incorporate the new hotel and the neighboring Kimpton hotel in a luxury “sea to sea resort district” stretching from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club on the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.

The long-term master plan for the area could also include canal-entry from the North Sound, under the highway, allowing visitors to both hotels to be taxied from the airport by boat. New restaurants and other amenities, including a kids resort, conference center and sports club, are also being discussed for the site.

The five-star hotel has a tentative opening date of 2020. But the development hinges on a coastal works application, filed by Dart on Thursday, seeking approval to begin removing beach rocks from the shallow waters off Seven Mile Beach.

Jackie Doak, chief operating officer at Dart, said the rocks need to be moved to create safer and easier access for swimmers. She said a deal with the hotel operator, which Dart has not named but several politicians, most recently tourism councillor Joey Hew, have indicated will be Four Seasons, is contingent on the rocks’ removal.

Environmental consultants hired by Dart have reviewed the site and suggested the rocks can be excavated with little impact on the environment.

The initial coastal works application is for a trial investigation to remove rock samples and test methodology for a full excavation of the partially submerged rocks. The developer will also investigate the possibility of crushing the rocks to be returned to the beach as sand.

Ms. Doak acknowledged there are small patches of coral in the area, but she said they are not significant. She said Dart has worked with consultants with in-depth knowledge of Cayman’s coastal environment, including geologist Brian Jones, and Richard Seymour, who worked on an earlier study of Seven Mile Beach.

She said both men had recommended that the rocks could be removed without impacting the dynamics of the beach and its ecosystem.

“Given our land holdings in the area, we are as sensitive as anyone to anything that could impact the environment or the dynamics of Seven Mile Beach,” Ms. Doak added.

She said the rocks made it difficult to swim or snorkel in the area, and improving access is important to the success of the project.

“It is not the experience you get in other parts of Seven Mile Beach,” she said.

The coastal works application is the first step in bringing Dart’s long-held plans for a five-star hotel to the Cayman Islands. Ms. Doak said the site was switched after discussions with the five-star operator that will manage the hotel.

She said the new location provides an opportunity for Dart to create a resort district.

“We did originally have the hotel at Camana Bay, but because of the multiplicity of options that this site gives us, we decided, with the operator, to go for this site.

“The really unique proposition that this provides to us as a developer is it gives us the opportunity to create an amazing resort district with much more amenities in addition to the two distinct hotel sites.”

The five-star property, which is in the conceptual phase, is estimated to have 175 rooms and 80 residences. Like the Kimpton hotel, it will be set well back from the beach and could include residences on both sides of the highway.

Subject to the Department of Environment’s review of all technical documentation and Cabinet’s approval, the beach-rock removal trial would be conducted in late April and the project would begin in November, to avoid turtle nesting season.


  1. The Dart Foundation/Reality has been doing great things to improve the look of the Cayman Islands. I support a continued good working relationship between all parties concerned in assisting with the New proposed hotel.
    Shallow rocks on the seaside can pose problems walking along the waters edge, and I see nothing wrong with having them removed; however I would like to hear that they have been ground up to sand grain and put back in the area. Saving the sand too, would give us more beach for turtle nesting in the area.

  2. Generally I support the developments Dart has brought to the islands. However I think this one may go a little to far for me. I swim over and behind those rocks quite often. The rocks and coral in that area support many lives. For example there is at least 2 octopus that live among the rocks, and there are many porcupine fish that are always there hiding underneath and within the rocks. Of course there are tons of other fish that are attracted to the cover the rocks provide, and nourishment that the coral provides. So I am not convinced with the statement that the rocks and coral can be removed with minimal impact. Lastly this statement is disturbing; “Ms. Doak acknowledged there are small patches of coral in the area, but she said they are not significant.” Small patches of coral can grow into large patches of coral and can then support even more marine life. It’s the equivalent of calling a child is “insignificant” because it is small. When there are no turtles and no fish will we still be able to fill all the 5-star hotel rooms…will people still want to visit Grand Cayman? I don’t know.

  3. Note how the beach in the vicinity of the rock that Dart wants to remove is larger than the beach in front of
    Tiki beach.

    Let’s not make the same mistake that has been made at the Mariott, The Ritz, Royal Palms, Tiki Beach, and several other locations along SMB by allowing construction so close to the shoreline that it results in beach erosion.

  4. OMG. Yes, Dart has done many good projects for Cayman. However, removal of rocks in front of the property is not something that should be allowed. Where does it stop? Do you think just a few rocks stand in the way of hotel guests being able to swim and snorkel? If that were true, then they could swim around them. Let me tell you something, the rocks and coral are there because Mother Nature wanted them there. Messing with Mother Nature is never a good idea.

    Also, this statement, “Given our land holdings in the area, we are as sensitive as anyone to anything that could impact the environment or the dynamics of Seven Mile Beach,” Ms. Doak added,” made me laugh. Really? Are you as sensitive as anyone? Then you will know that Cayman does not need another ginormous hotel development perched on the edge of SMB. Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg. SMH. Someone must put a stop to this megalomaniac.

  5. I think that if Government and Mr Dart continue with the removal of the rock formations that’s in question would be the biggest mistake both would make.

    I know that the rock / coral formation has been there for over 60 years , and I think that nature has put it there for a very good reason .
    If we look at where these rock / corals formations are positioned along the 7 mile beach , we would understand why nature put them there . When there’s a southeast wind that area in question is vonerable for erosion , if that formation were not there would be no beach.

    I think that we need to be very careful about correcting what nature did. I think that Government should be watching more careful with how the Islands are been developed .

    I know that it’s too late to talk about all the canal that are cut into the Island . I know that is very good for the developer and revenue for the Islands, but we must not forget that we have hurricanes, with all the canals that are cut into the Island that would enable the water to enter much easier, and we know what devastation a hurricane can cause .

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