Cayman Brackers and the rest of us received welcome news last week with the announcement that the Dart organization is in the final stages of completing the purchase of the luxury Le Soleil D’Or on the Sister Island.
The move by Cayman’s most successful and ambitious developer should signal to other private investors the time may be right to tap that island’s long-too-latent potential.
Despite a dearth of accommodations (exacerbated by the 2014 closing of the 31-room Alexander Hotel and Soleil’s retrenchment in recent years), Brac tourism has been increasing.
At last Thursday’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Dart Real Estate Business Development President Jackie Doak said that only one of the property’s nine villas have been open in recent years. It is Dart’s intention to bring the resort (which includes a spa, fitness center, organic farm and restaurant) back to full operations.
The Brac’s conundrum, of course, has long been that many stayover visitors want a variety of things to do – a healthy mix of restaurants, excursions, activities and opportunities from which to choose – but business-minded investors have a difficult time justifying significant outlays unless they can be realize a realistic rate of return.
Problematically, the Brac economy has meandered along, seemingly without any sense of urgency, in want of a business model that would stimulate the private sector and help reduce the island’s reliance on government largesse.
Enter Dart – an enterprise as well-resourced as it is well respected. Adding Soleil D’Or to the Dart portfolio of hospitality hostings presents unique opportunities for synergies with other Dart hospitality ventures. Further, a refreshed and revitalized luxury resort on the Brac could be a worthy anchor for dozens of smaller investors providing a variety of amenities, attractions and services for a growing visitor presence.
After all, the Brac remains one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, possessing many of the charms revered by Grand Cayman’s many visitors: White sands, azure seas, first-world infrastructure and safety and security.
As more people become acquainted with Cayman Brac, we would expect the good word will to spread and demand will follow.
The time is right, with government having made significant investments in infrastructure on the island and with hundreds more day visitors expected as the 450-passenger luxury cruise ship Seabourn Sojourn joins the MS Star Flyer in calling on the Brac. There are currently serious explorations of a possible cruise dock which would boost tourism and stimulate the economy.
That modest but significant uptick in cruise ship passengers will familiarize discerning travelers with the Brac’s natural beauty and unique island charm.
As mentioned, for an island of the small size and minuscule population as the Brac, it already has in place a first-class airport, reliable electricity, potable water, telecom and internet communications, and a warm inviting people.
Importantly, it also has a quintessential ambassador by the name of the Moses Kirkconnell, who also holds these titles: Member of the Legislative Assembly, Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism. On the private sector side, Mr. Kirkconnell is also the island’s premier developer, investor, as well as an all-around cheerleader for “all things Cayman Brac.”
Indeed, things may finally be beginning to look bullish on Cayman Brac …