As Published in the Cayman Compass – OCTOBER 24, 2014
by James Whittaker
Dart’s planned new hotel will be its second on Seven Mile Beach. The Kimpton hotel, above, is under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2016. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
The Dart group has confirmed that it in the “early planning stages” for another hotel on Seven Mile Beach.
Jackie Doak, chief operating officer for Dart, said the hotel would be a five-star brand with the “full spectrum of luxury operators” under consideration.
The developer is currently making progress on building the four-star, 263-room Kimpton Hotel close to Public Beach, with an opening date of November 2016 scheduled.
The announcement means there are now four large-scale hotel projects at various stages in the planning process. The revival of the old Hyatt hotel and a planned five-star development in the Bodden Town district are also in the works for Grand Cayman.
The second Dart hotel would be just a few miles up the coast form the Kimpton site, between the Royal Palms bar and the West Indian Club.
Outline plans for a hotel were included as part of a planned area development application, requesting zoning changes in the vicinity of Camana Bay.
A “master-plan” for the full Camana Bay project suggests it will eventually encompass homes, roads and a “resort village” sprawling over 500 acres from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.
Ms. Doak said the hotel would be part of a resort connecting the Camana Bay beach with the Town Center.
She added, “Dart has not selected a brand and is considering the full spectrum of luxury operators best suited to grow Cayman’s tourism product and help achieve the long-term vision for Camana Bay as the most livable community in the Caribbean.”
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the steady increase in visitor arrivals and the projections of future growth were good indications that three separate hotel projects within a few miles of each other on Seven Mile Beach, as well as a fourth in the Bodden Town district, could succeed. He said the projects are a good mix of four- and five-star brands that would attract a different mix of visitors.
The wider planned area development application for the entire Camana Bay “master-plan” was reviewed by the Central Planning Authority during its Oct. 1 meeting.
According to minutes from that meeting, the authority has received eight letters of objection from residents in the area. The Department of Environment has also requested that the developer alter its plans to ensure the buildings are set back farther from the shoreline. An environmental impact assessment is also recommended for the project.
The bulk of the residents’ letters express concern over a perceived lack of detail in the application, as well as fears that higher density development will diminish property values and ruin the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.
The planning application seeks to change the overall zoning for the area to allow the large-scale tourism type development envisaged in the Camana Bay master plan. Separate planning applications would need to be submitted and approved for each part of the project.
The planning authority agreed to adjourn discussion of the application to seek further information from the applicant. Meantime, Dart and the government continue to negotiate potential amendments to the National Roads Authority agreement that facilitated the closure of part of West Bay Road and the construction of the Kimpton hotel.