Dart buys former Hyatt resort


As published by the Cayman Compass

Also acquires Beach Suites, Britannia golf course

The Dart group has bought the old Hyatt resort, the nine-hole Britannia Golf Course and the Beach Suites hotel, which will close following the sale.

The historic Hyatt hotel, once an icon of Cayman’s tourism industry, has not been redeveloped since sustaining significant damage during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Embassy Investments, the current owner of all three properties, had announced plans to transform the concrete shell of the old hotel into a new resort and conference center. Those plans have now been shelved.

Dart Realty’s Chief Executive Officer Mark VanDevelde said the acquisition follows years of on-and-off discussions between the two parties.

He could not say at this stage whether the Hyatt building will be redeveloped or demolished, or what will happen to the Beach Suites.

“We have no definitive redevelopment plans as yet,” he said.

“In the coming months, we will carefully study the site, explore the options and master plan its integration into Camana Bay,” he said.

Jan Bertelsen of Embassy Investments confirmed that Beach Suites, on Seven Mile Beach, would close in September. He said the company’s staff would be offered severance packages and would get help in finding new employment opportunities.

Staff were informed of the decision in a series of meetings Wednesday afternoon. According to Dart, they will be offered opportunities at the new Kimpton Seafire resort, depending on interest and suitability.

“I am pleased that the Grand Cayman Beach Suites staff, which includes many talented and long-serving Caymanians, will have the opportunity to be considered for employment with our group of companies,” said Juliet Du Feu, vice president of human resources at Dart, who previously worked in human resources for the Hyatt.

The Dart group is already at various stages of development on a variety of projects across its extensive land and property holdings in the Seven Mile Beach corridor.

Once the Kimpton construction project is complete, the developer will begin work on a five-star hotel on neighboring property and has announced plans for a resort district linking Seven Mile Beach to new restaurants and amenities on the North Sound.

The company is also continuing with plans for a dramatic expansion to Camana Bay. That project involves the creation of two new underpasses and the rerouting of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which will be expanded to four lanes.

While Dart has yet to reveal its plans for the newly acquired properties, the developer had previously discussed a potential partnership with Britannia to create an 18-hole golf course next to Camana Bay.

In an interview with Cayman Compass sister publication the Cayman Islands Journal in May last year, Mr. VanDevelde discussed the possibility of Dart, which also owns the North Sound Golf Club, having a hand in as many as three courses in that area.

At the time, the company was contemplating a partnership to expand the nine-hole Britannia course into an 18-hole course, largely using the neighboring “Limestone” property, which it acquired in 2006.

In its heyday, the lavish Grand Cayman Hyatt Britannia Resort was famous for its manicured grounds and exotic gardens and attracted Hollywood cameras for the shooting of the movie “The Firm.”

In 2014, Embassy Investments had submitted plans to expand the Beach Suites and revive the Hyatt, linking the two venues through a pedestrian bridge. It has now abandoned those plans, deciding instead to sell both properties.