December 2015 Market Update


Hotels help to broaden real estate investment opportunities

The recent announcement that the Treasure Island Resort will be converted into The Margaritaville Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach over the course of the next year is exciting news for both Cayman’s tourism industry and its real estate industry; two sectors of Cayman’s economy which I believe have always been inextricably linked.

Cayman has needed to broaden its market appeal for some time now. Having a Margaritaville hotel in Cayman allows us to far better cater to a new sector of the tourism market, which has, up until this point, had limited accommodation choices, with just a small handful of budget-conscious hotels such as Sunshine Suites providing well-priced accommodation for visitors. I believe, as a vacation destination, Cayman has often overlooked the fact that it costs a great deal for most people to fly to Cayman and rooms costs have often been out of reach for most people. Now, with an affordable option broadening our accommodation offering, people who had perhaps always wanted to visit Cayman but were prohibited from doing so because of the high cost will now make our islands their vacation choice.

At the same time, the fact that Margaritaville is now initially offering 110 condominium suites for sale, starting at just US$195,000, means an excellent opportunity for real estate investment for those who have always wanted to own real estate on the highly-prized Seven Mile Beach strip but have subsequently found such properties outside their price point. Such an opportunity does not happen frequently and, with inventory along Seven Mile Beach dwindling, it is inevitable that this early price point will increase over time.

Another brilliant brand that is speeding ahead with development, ready for opening next year is the Kimpton resort, now named as Seafire Resort and Spa, Seven Mile Beach. Having recently been acquired by InterContinental Hotels (IHG) Group, the Kimpton brand is now on the radar of the IHG Group’s more than 90 million loyalty members who are part of the IHG Rewards Club (the largest of any hotel brand), which means incredible exposure for the new Seafire Resort. IHG is parent to the likes of the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotel chains and is head-quartered in the UK. Analysts expect the new ownership to expand the Kimpton brand further than its current US-based market, bringing the unique, boutique Kimpton brand to a far wider audience.

I think the spin-off for Cayman’s economy once these two new brands are introduced will be immense. Once these brands become established over the coming years I anticipate that the real estate industry will see exceptional strengthening by foreign investors who will recognise the broadening of our offering backed by our unique selling points which I have spoken about so many times before, such as our relatively low crime rate, robust infrastructure, British Overseas Territory status and, of course, our warm and friendly environment.

It is very important that the Cayman Islands real estate industry possesses a good spread of inventory to appeal to a wide and varied customer-base, whether this is through branded hotels, residential and condo living or investment suites ownership. In this way, we can cater to new and more diverse clientele which means more money invested in this jurisdiction which will funnel down to the benefit of everyone who lives here.