Kimpton ramping up for 2016 opening


As published by the Cayman Compass

Kimpton boss Mike DeFrino, left, and Dart leaders Jackie Doak and Mark VanDevelde announce the name of the new hotel, the Seafire Resort and Spa, Seven Mile Beach. – PHOTOS: JAMES WHITTAKER

Kimpton Hotels has begun the recruitment process for the newly named Seafire Resort and Spa on Seven Mile Beach, ultimately seeking to hire 300 staff ahead of its opening in November 2016.

The name was officially announced Wednesday night to around 200 invited guests, including Cayman’s political and business leaders, at a launch event in the lobby of the unfinished hotel.

Still a year away from completion, the construction site was temporarily transformed into a glitzy auditorium, with walls of large-screen televisions flickering with images of the multimillion-dollar construction project.

The hotel group’s chief executive officer, Mike DeFrino, told guests he had high hopes the resort would bring jobs and prosperity to the Cayman Islands.

He believes the resort and its five restaurants will become an important part of the community, attracting locals as well as new visitors.

Kimpton executives, in a separate presentation for the general public Thursday evening at Regal Camana Bay cinemas, planned to outline some of the coming employment opportunities at the hotel.

Mr. DeFrino told the Cayman Compass that the hotelier and its partner the Dart group are now moving into the pre-opening phase, and will be hiring its core senior management team in the next few months.

He said the company would look to draw the bulk of its workforce from the Cayman Islands, but would also bring in “top level” people from the U.S. and other Caribbean islands. Kimpton has already hired two Caymanian trainees to work in its Miami hotel who will return as part of the management team of the Seafire resort.

“We exported them and are now bringing them back to help open this hotel,” he said.

The management positions are expected to be filled over the next six months, while servers, housekeepers, bar and water sports staff are likely to be recruited closer to the opening next November. The hotel plans to host on-site training for all its staff prior to the first guests coming through the doors.

Mr. DeFrino said the project, Kimpton’s first outside North America, is extremely important to the hotel group, which operates more than 60 properties in the U.S.

“We are working on lots of new properties in lots of interesting places and Cayman will be the crown jewel resort in our collection. We are very focused on this hotel,” he said.

He believes the hotel will fill a niche in the market, and bring new tourists to the island.

“We have taken conscious steps to make sure it is not a stuffy hotel,” he said. “It is not uber luxury, it is very upscale and contemporary.”

Jackie Doak, chief operating officer of Dart Realty, said the buildings have been designed to make the most of the location and offer spectacular sea views from every room. She said bike and walking paths will connect the hotel to the Yacht Club on the North Sound and help provide a different kind of experience than is currently available in Cayman.

She said the introduction of new hotel rooms alone will bolster Cayman’s tourism industry.

“One of the benefits of Kimpton is they have a presence in most of the gateways that serve Cayman with direct flights. We believe this will bring Kimpton customers who are not yet looking at Cayman as a place to come and stay. We think it will increase the tourism rather than take from other hotels.”