West Bay’s Spanish Bay Reef site cleared

No development plans yet

Demolition crews have been cleaning up the Spanish Bay Reef Resort site in West Bay. – Photo: Hamish Hamilton

Demolition crews have been working at the Spanish Bay Reef Resort site in West Bay, clearing buildings that have sat vacant for almost nine years.

The 67-room resort hotel was originally built in 1972 on 1,900 feet of oceanfront property in the Barkers area of West Bay.

There are no redevelopment plans for the site yet, one of the owners said, but there has been some interest in the oceanfront property along Conch Point Road.

“The buildings were in a bad state,” said Andreas Ugland, one of the owners who has been hoping to redevelop the property in recent years. “In order to get something started, we need it to look the part.”

James Andrews with Integra Realty Resources, a commercial real estate consultant, agrees with Mr. Ugland. “It’s a tear-down,” he said, but added that the unique site could prove to be a good spot for a new hotel or dive resort.

“There’s really nothing much up there other than Cobalt Coast,” he said, referring to the nearby resort that caters to divers.

The owners of the Brac Beach resort recently bought Cobalt Coast.

The buildings being demolished have sat vacant for almost nine years. – Photo: Hamish Hamilton
The buildings being demolished have sat vacant for almost nine years. – Photo: Hamish Hamilton

“Spanish Bay is a unique little site,” he said.

The site has a breakwater jutting out into the ocean from the days before coastal works licenses were required.

“It’s a nice protected bay to get in and swim and teach diving,” Mr. Andrews said, adding to the attractiveness for potential developers and investors.

The breakwater juts out from the coast and protects an inlet carved into the ironshore where boats can dock. The site fronts both ironshore and sandy beach, divided at the breakwater.

The hotel closed in 2007 and went up for sale. Mr. Ugland, with Bay Reef Holdings Ltd., bought the property that year. “But then 2008 came and the whole thing got put on hold,” Mr. Andrews said, referring to the recession that hit financial markets around the world.

Mr. Ugland has been making plans for the property for years. In 2010, he told the Cayman Compass about plans to rebuild the 50-room hotel and add another 50 rooms.

According to Mr. Ugland at the time, the plans were to develop a private, quiet resort spread out over the large property to cater to scuba divers.

Since 2008, hotel construction projects have started coming back online. Dart’s Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa on Seven Mile Beach is on track for a November opening.

Treasure Island, on the other end of Seven Mile Beach, has new owners and will soon have the Margaritaville brand as a Miami-based developer works on renovating the resort.

There has also been movement recently on a five-star hotel in Bodden Town at Beach Bay, and at the Ironwood development in Frank Sound.

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  1. As we go through life, every day is a new day. When I look at the Spanish Bay Reef being torn down today I reflect, back then in the 70″s seeing the Spanish Bay Reef being built was like one of the biggest and best things to happen that would always be there just watching the reefs; every body wanted to take a Sunday drive by just to look. Today forty four years later it has gone, faded like a flower, just like old computer, laptops play stations and cellphones; but life must go on, we must continue to enjoy the best of the best as we journey.
    Many Caymanians will have a story to tell about Spanish Bay Reef, as they came from all over the Island to enjoy working there and taking the long ride back home every day.
    Hate to see it go, but hopeful something nice will replace it.
    One thing we may not have thought about, but each day a new hotel is built, they seem to be getting higher and higher, wider and wider, and like one commenter said we are beginning to look like Miami Beach from afar.
    It would seem like there are no final decisions as yet what to rebuild on the spot.
    I would like to see a Stay – Kation with a “K” resort built.
    Now a-days you will hear many locals saying I am going on a Stay -K for Christmas, Easter or for the week end. They will either fly off to little Cayman, Cayman Brac or go East End, North Side or West Bay, enjoying themselves right here. That is so great; and people are not going overseas to shop any more, that too is a thing of the past.
    So lets us consider when building again to keep in mind that there are people who want to week end and Holiday right at home. Give them some good family packages, some good discounts, and see if every weekend you are not booked to capacity.

  2. I’m not sure about redeveloping this location as a dive resort because I never found Spanish Bay to be a particularly good shore diving site. I also understood (although I never actually tried it) it wasn’t a very good location for boat diving.

    As for TI? I wonder how long it will be before the developers realise just how bad a state the property is in. There seems to be an idea going round that after a lick of paint and a few repairs it will be resurrected as a new resort. I spoke to someone last week who is very familiar with the conditions inside the property and their opinion was it’s going to take a heck of a lot more than that to do the job properly.