A prohibition on Sunday dancing and live music at restaurants and bars will also apply to hotels this New Year’s Eve, Liquor Licensing Board Chairman Noel Williams confirmed on Wednesday.
The prohibition is not a liquor board decision, but a result of a 40-year-old law – the Music and Dance (Control) Law prohibits places that sell food or refreshments from having dancing or the playing of music on their premises during Good Friday, Christmas Day and Sundays.
The law provides an exemption for hotels, but only those that “are not open to the general public and with which no charge is made for admission.” In other words, hotels can have parties with live music and dancing for their guests, but are not supposed to sell tickets to the public, said Mr. Williams.
Mr. Williams did not comment further on the policy – which was confirmed by government on Tuesday, and would require a legislative amendment to change – but it has seemingly jeopardized New Year’s Eve party plans in the islands’ hotels.
The hotels, for their part, have either been tight-lipped or have expressed uncertainty about the issue.
When the Cayman Compass contacted the Westin on Seven Mile Beach, a worker at the restaurant said that the hotel had originally planned to have three different bands playing for New Year’s Eve, but may have to cancel that plan after finding out about the prohibition.
The worker said her manager, food-and-beverage director Carl Goldner, was in a meeting discussing the issue. Mr. Goldner did not respond to Compass inquiries before this issue’s press deadline.
Down the road at The Ritz-Carlton, the hotel is advertising a New Year’s Eve Ball with “jazz artists inspired by the music of the legendary Rat Pack crooners,” as well as the “sounds of a live DJ on beautiful Seven Mile Beach.” Tickets are on sale for $350.
“At the moment, I don’t have much information on that” Ritz-Carlton Marketing and Communication Manager Maria Pineda said when asked about how the prohibition might affect the New Year’s Eve Ball.
The Marriott Beach Resort is also advertising a New Year’s Eve party with “dancing under the stars,” with tickets running for $160. That hotel’s sales and marketing manager, Nicolas Franco, did not respond to phone calls or an email about the prohibition.
Likewise, the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is advertising “live entertainment” at a New Year’s Eve party for $225 per adult ticket.
“We are trying to get things together to sort out whatever we can,” said Kimpton ticket reservationist Simone Vine before saying that she would pass Compass inquiries along to Kimpton management. Kimpton management did not respond by press deadline.
Meanwhile, restaurants and bars are making contingency plans to attract customers to their establishments.
Royal Palms General Manager Don Loyd said that his establishment will not charge an entrance fee for its party this year.
Usually, Royal Palms has a VIP area, a general admission area around the beach bar and a private party by the pool – with all three spots featuring DJs and dancing. This year, live entertainment will start at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 1.
Mr. Loyd said people who have already purchased VIP tickets or rented a cabana will receive refunds. And all customers who go there will still receive a free glass of champagne, he added.
“We want to make the best of New Year’s and put a positive spin on it,” he said. “This will enable people to have a great time and start the New Year with more money in their pocket.”
The Wharf will also still have fireworks and live entertainment, but only after midnight, said head of operations Luciano De Riso. Mr. De Riso said that leading up to the holidays, his establishment had known about the prohibition but hoped government would do something to lift it. The Wharf is making adjustments now that the ban will apparently remain in effect, he said.
While many restaurateurs and other business owners are upset at the likelihood of losing business on what’s otherwise usually one of the most profitable days of the year, at least one person is in favor of the prohibition.
“This country was built on religious values,” said Calico Jack’s owner Handel Whittaker. “It is sacred and should remain that way.”
Mr. Whittaker said Calico Jack’s will have its usual live entertainment and festivities starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, and will have “background music” before then.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Liquor Licensing Board announced that it has approved a blanket extension for establishments to remain open until 4 a.m. on Tuesday and Jan. 1.