Iconic Rum Point shuts down — for now

Cayman is losing a popular tourist hot spot and weekend hangout for local boaters and residents, at least for now.

The famous Rum Point beach property in North Side saw its last day of operation on Sunday 3 Oct. The bar and restaurant had opened only on weekends since the end of the lockdown in July 2020.

Bill Edwards, controller at Red Sail Sports, said, “We stayed open primarily on weekends and public holidays, just to try and provide something for the people on the north side of the island to do.

“But it’s just gotten to the point where it’s just not worth it. It’s just negative numbers every month, so we can no longer do it.”

Like many other tourism-dependent businesses, the operators had been holding out for 14 Oct., when the next phase of the border reopening plan would have come into effect, including eliminating the need to quarantine for vaccinated travellers.

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A recent spate of COVID cases in the community led government to delay the beginning of this phase until next year.

For Rum Point, which typically sees tourists during the week and stayover tourists and locals on the weekend, remaining open two out of every seven days never made economic sense.

In addition, the dock at Rum Point was damaged during Tropical Storm Grace, impeding weekend boat tours from the west side of Grand Cayman, which had supplemented the business’ income, owner Adrien Briggs said.

Rum Point had about 50 staff during tourism peak seasons, but had to reduce that to a skeleton crew of 10 part-time workers since the end of the lockdown in July 2020. About half are Caymanian.

The Red Sail Sports operation at Rum Point, which is entirely tourist-dependent, closed at the beginning of the pandemic. The Red Sail retail store, which remained open on weekends, will now close, too.

Rum Point will reopen when tourists return

But Rum Point has not shut down for good, Edwards said.

“Whenever we start to see the planes coming in with tourists, who don’t have to quarantine, and then life returns to whatever normal is going to be, we’ll be right back in the thick of it.”

It would take two to three months to rehire employees, spruce up the property and get it going again, he added.

However, Briggs does not think that when the borders reopen, the island is going to hit the accelerators very hard.

“I think most businesses are probably going to open very slowly, sort of baby steps,” he said. “The last thing you need is another spike in COVID. Then you have to shut the businesses down and you’re stuck with staff that is not being utilised.”

Industry veteran Briggs, who has seen some challenges in the tourism business in his time, said in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, for instance, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

After all the repairs were done, the island opened up for business again.

“In my opinion, this is the worst crisis I’ve ever seen the island in.”

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  1. This is a made-in-Cayman phenomenon. The rest of the World is now open and functioning. We all seem to understand that we are too small and inelastic to stay closed and function as a Country. Without freedom of movement for residents and visitors our economy will shrink for several years and we will do irreperable harm to our former way of life. Everyone knows what we are doing is wrong yet somehow our government are incapable changing course or of setting a path and taking action. The cycle of closures and departures of people will accelerate as the year draws to a close.

  2. Cayman isn’t an island it’s another planet.

    2 deaths (1 was transported from a cruse ship 19 months ago)

    770 people have tested positive and all of them have recovered/survived.

    Apparently NONE are in hospital.

    Out of a supposed population of 71,000 and a fully vaccinated rate of 73% one of the highest on the planet.

    At this rate this will only end when their term is up.

  3. And another one bites the dust. Congratulations, Premier Panton. You and your cabinet are slowly strangulating the tourism industry in the interest of ” keeping the island safe” no matter what your medical and business communities say.
    Here’s a question for everyone, especially the Cayman Compass. We constantly hear from CITA and many readers about urging the government to stick to the re-opening plan. However, we have yet to hear from the biggest, richest and most powerful organization that is intimately involved with the development of Cayman and its tourism – Dart Industries. One can’t help but wonder why they have not made any public statements about the need to stick with the original plan. Surely they have a definite financial interest in resuming tourism as quickly as possible. I would imagine they have considerably more influence in the government than the ordinary citizens, yet they seem to remain strangely silent. I would love to see the Compass look into this and elicit some form of public statement from Dart about how THEY feel about the recent pause in the re-opening plan.

  4. Good question Plucca22L.

    I wonder, though if Dart has less influence with PACT than with PPM? I also wonder if Dart likes the idea of more businesses going under which will allow for the purchase of even more property.