Dart buys former Hyatt resort

Also acquires Beach Suites, Britannia golf course

The old Hyatt building has been empty since it was damaged in Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The Dart group has bought the old Hyatt resort, the nine-hole Britannia Golf Course and the Beach Suites hotel, which will close following the sale.

The historic Hyatt hotel, once an icon of Cayman’s tourism industry, has not been redeveloped since sustaining significant damage during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Embassy Investments, the current owner of all three properties, had announced plans to transform the concrete shell of the old hotel into a new resort and conference center. Those plans have now been shelved.

Dart Realty’s Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde said the acquisition follows years of on-and-off discussions between the two parties.

He could not say at this stage whether the Hyatt building will be redeveloped or demolished, or what will happen to the Beach Suites.

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“We have no definitive redevelopment plans as yet,” he said.

“In the coming months, we will carefully study the site, explore the options and master plan its integration into Camana Bay,” he said.

Jan Bertelsen of Embassy Investments confirmed that Beach Suites, on Seven Mile Beach, would close in September. He said the company’s staff would be offered severance packages and would get help in finding new employment opportunities.

The Beach Suites on Seven Mile Beach will close in September. - PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY
The Beach Suites on Seven Mile Beach will close in September. – PHOTOS: TANEOS RAMSAY

Staff were informed of the decision in a series of meetings Wednesday afternoon. According to Dart, they will be offered opportunities at the new Kimpton Seafire resort, depending on interest and suitability.

“I am pleased that the Grand Cayman Beach Suites staff, which includes many talented and long-serving Caymanians, will have the opportunity to be considered for employment with our group of companies,” said Juliet Du Feu, vice president of human resources at Dart, who previously worked in human resources for the Hyatt.

The Dart group is already at various stages of development on a variety of projects across its extensive land and property holdings in the Seven Mile Beach corridor.

Once the Kimpton construction project is complete, the developer will begin work on a five-star hotel on neighboring property and has announced plans for a resort district linking Seven Mile Beach to new restaurants and amenities on the North Sound.

The company is also continuing with plans for a dramatic expansion to Camana Bay. That project involves the creation of two new underpasses and the rerouting of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which will be expanded to four lanes.

While Dart has yet to reveal its plans for the newly acquired properties, the developer had previously discussed a potential partnership with Britannia to create an 18-hole golf course next to Camana Bay.

In an interview with Cayman Compass sister publication the Cayman Islands Journal in May last year, Mr. VanDevelde discussed the possibility of Dart, which also owns the North Sound Golf Club, having a hand in as many as three courses in that area.

At the time, the company was contemplating a partnership to expand the nine-hole Britannia course into an 18-hole course, largely using the neighboring “Limestone” property, which it acquired in 2006.

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

In 2014, Embassy Investments had submitted plans to expand the Beach Suites and revive the Hyatt, linking the two venues through a pedestrian bridge. It has now abandoned those plans, deciding instead to sell both properties.

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  1. It’s great to see this sore-eye finally gone. Thanks to Mr. Dart (if there is such a person behind the corporate veil ??? or whatever branch of quasi government or powerful interest group behind these very long dollars spent) for acquiring. It really is a God sent given the true state of the Caymanian economy. I’m not one of those Caymanians- mostly local businessmen (with a competing local interest) constantly bashing and have a bone to pick with “Dart” for spending so much money in Cayman and thinking that “he” will crown himself Emperor of Cayman and take over the Cayman Islands given the scale of his vested interest in real estate and other ventures in Cayman. Come on folks- how can he do this given Cayman’s status as a British Overseas Territory and the backing of the USA and Royal fleet to defend? Yet fears abound and folks just lose their mind when they see “another Dart deal in the papers”. Put down the pitchforks my fellow Caymanians and embrace change and the real dollars being put to use in the struggling economy whose 2 main pillars are under GREAT STRESS!! Yepp we need NEW streams of revenue into the fragile Caymanian economy and the new leaders greasing up their campaigns for next year better include this in their plan for Cayman over the next 4 years if they want to get into office. Let’s hope the world is not in a major recession or depression come next year. The stars are lining up for a major event and hope we are all covering our hmmm bases. Much love and respect to all.

  2. The Hyatt was once the Jewel of West Bay road, always admired by everyone, had good managers, who made sure every Caymanian who qualified for a job was given one there.
    I am happy that the Dart Realty has bought it, because I am sure it will be turned into something even more beautiful.. I know there are persons who would say well “Dart he is buying up everything” well it has been there needing a face lift for over sixteen years, and “Of Course” we have others who could have bought it and make it shine again. Dart did, so let us be happy and enjoy the beauty of it again. I loved the original artistic style and hope some of that will be kept.

  3. I am from England and have visited the Cayman Islands for the past 25 years.
    I had a very enjoyable stay at the Beach Suites last month and hope that the friendly staff will be properly looked after. I have also stayed at the Hyatt in the past and trust that it will be restored to its former glory. I understand the need for constant redevelopment but I hope that the plans by Dart are not too ambitious and have the effect of spoiling the current delightful ambiance of Grand Cayman.