Dart buys Little Cayman resort

Paradise Villas and the Hungry Iguana are popular with visitors to Little Cayman. – PHOTO: STEPHEN CLARKE

The Dart group has confirmed that it is purchasing the Paradise Villas resort and Hungry Iguana restaurant on Little Cayman.

The deal represents the Dart group’s first project on the Sister Islands. Dart immediately sought to reassure people on the island, famous for its natural beauty and lack of development, that it would not be attempting a large-scale project on the site.

“We share the widely held view that Little Cayman’s charm comes from its quaintness and unspoiled nature. We intend to help preserve that character for this and future generations,” said Mark VanDevelde, chief executive officer of Dart Realty.

He said the developer has not yet decided what it would do with the property.

The six beach-side villas are a popular accommodation spot for dive tourists exploring Little Cayman’s Bloody Bay Marine Park. The Hungry Iguana bar and restaurant is one of only a few nightspots on the island and serves as a de facto airport departure and arrival lounge.

The purchase of the two properties is the latest acquisition in a busy year so far for Dart Realty, which previously announced purchases in Grand Cayman of the Beach Suites, the old Hyatt Hotel, and the Britannia golf course, and the acquisition of the Dragon Bay lands bordering the North Sound, which it previously held on a leasehold agreement.

Mr. VanDevelde said Dart is committed to preserving the character of Little Cayman, as well as its reputation as a nature-based tourism destination with world-renowned diving and conservation research efforts.

“Although we have no immediate plans for the properties included in the purchase, we are excited about having the opportunity to explore sustainable options,” he said.

A team from Dart will meet with the management and staff of the resort, which has 12 employees, in the coming weeks before it closes in August for its annual break, he said.

“Our immediate priority is to gain a better understanding of the business operations and inspect the facilities,” Mr. VanDevelde said.

The properties, previously owned by businessman Ken Hall, are on the southern coast of Little Cayman, adjacent to the island’s runway.

Marc Pothier, who manages both businesses, said he is excited about the opportunity for the island.

“I have great expectations that this place will become even better than it has been,” he said.

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  1. The Little Cayman resort was in much need of some sprucing up, and what better person to do it than Dart, I am sure he will protect much of the natural habitat, as he is a man who loves nature.
    Next I would like to see him discuss with government about doing something about the runway. Little Cayman is a beauty but need a good airport runway. The quaint little old time building is fine, I love that, just some fresh paint and its good to go.

  2. As an American tourist who has stayed at Paradise Villas three times, we do hope that any changes will be minimal. We specifically try to avoid the “resort” experience, so we really appreciate the informality of Paradise Villas and, indeed, all of Little Cayman. The runway seems fine for the two Twin Otters and private planes; any improvements may just encourage more island visitors. That might be good for the economy, but it would come at some cost to the ambience that draws visitors to Little Cayman.

  3. As a frequent guest at Little Cayman Beach Resort, I see the intrusion of the Dart Corporation as a potential risk to the tranquility of Little Cayman. Since when do they do things on a small scale? Upgrading facilities on Little Cayman, building a resort and potentially expanding the airport can only lead to loss of what is now a small piece of paradise.

    IMO, Grand Cayman has been spoiled by development and now it’s just a matter of time until Little Cayman is as well.
    Too bad.

  4. I agree with Lorne that the development should be kept at a minimum , I think that Cayman Government should be looking at the 3 Islands in different prospective ways in developing , and not to develop all like Miami Beach development, just like what Lorne said losing apart of paradise .
    I think that Little Cayman should have its own building codes and Architectural designs of buildings . The 3 Islands are unique in their own way and should be kept that way .
    But the government only see the feature dollars so very sad .

  5. I think that Government should let the 25 citizens of Little Cayman have a voice in how they would like to see the Island be developed , and I think that the citizens of the other 2 Islands makes sure that they do have that voice and treated with respect .