In this section you'll find a range of 'hot button' topics such as Cayman's rapid infrastructural development and how it is impacting Cayman's environment to discussions on the Island's growing high end hotel offerings along the Seven Mile Beach corridor and the Marine Park expansion. At 'Cayman Resident' we do what we can to offer an unbaised view on changes in Cayman's infrastructural growth and how these changes are impacting residents and influencing the economy.
The Cayman Islands is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation. A paradigm shift that will not only be seen in its infrastructural growth—Esterley Tibbetts highway expansion, rapid development of the Seven Mile Beach (SMB) corridor, redevelopment of the Owen Roberts International Airport— but also felt in terms of dollars and cents as the Islands’ dynamic business community grows, diversifies and continues to feed the economy.
For the first time in its history, the active companies on Cayman’s Company Register exceeded 100,000 in June 2016. This steady growth of registered companies has not been an accident: Cayman’s Government, as well as the business community, have all worked hard to nurture its internationally renowned business environment. With new improvements being made to Cayman’s business laws including the modernisation of the copyright legislation, Cayman is poised to adapt to the demands of its sophisticated international and local clientele.
With the absence of a development plan, which would have assisted in the intelligent growth of our small country, Cayman has struggled to achieve a cohesive architectural vernacular. Some may argue that this lack of homogeneity lends itself to a ‘discordant’ charm, evidenced in certain parts of George Town where delightful old Cayman-style homes still remain (thankfully) marooned against sleeker new builds.
The SMB corridor is another story. A distinct, unified aesthetic is spreading along this affluent area with the continued expansion of Camana Bay and the Dart Group’s other projects such as the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, that opened in November 2016. The hotel has earned a place on Forbes’ “20 Most Anticipated Hotels of 2016” which won’t surprise industry watchers.
The Kimpton occupies some of the most valuable real estate in the Caribbean; since Dart acquired the area surrounding Cayman’s Public Beach—once accessed directly by car— the organisation has been working to harmonise this flagship project with the larger Camana Bay development. Dart plans to construct Cayman’s first vehicular underpass along with pedestrianised walkways that will connect its SMB properties to Camana Bay’s town centre. It is anticipated that the associated expansion of the Esterley Tibbetts highway to four lanes will mitigate the bottle neck that often frustrates drivers who travel between West Bay and George Town, as well as help to funnel more traffic into Camana Bay.
Also along the Seven Mile Beach corridor is the new and family-friendly Margaritaville Resort, which will be open in February 2017 and increase room stock on Grand Cayman. Read the Tourism Overview to learn more about this 285-room hotel plus the 50 million dollar upgrade to award-winning Seven Mile Beach property, Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa.
Moving south, the construction of Cayman Enterprise City’s campus in South Sound will provide a permanent home to Cayman’s growing Special Economic Zone that now comprises over 180 unique businesses— from tech development to commodities trading. It is likely that the establishment of this campus will further stimulate the already growing residential development of South Sound. And with Cayman’s population rising by 3.7% in 2015 to 60,413, developers will no doubt see this growth as another signal to press on with more projects.
But in the midst of all this infrastructural development, will Cayman’s unique and fragile environment cope? History has proven that a balance between environmental protection and development has not always been achieved on small islands. After considerable public consultation, Cayman is seeking to expand its existing Marine Parks. Many believe this is long overdue as the Parks were established in 1986, when the population in Cayman was only at 25,000. Now with the documented decline of fish populations and reef degradation due to overfishing, rapid development, population growth and global environmental stressors such as climate change, Cayman must manage its natural resources carefully— particularly with the marine environment being such a draw for tourists visiting the Islands.
But there is good news: there has been a slow-burning green movement sweeping the Islands. Being green isn’t just buzz— there are more home owners using solar energy to live off the grid in Cayman than ever before. In 2016, a $1.4 million 22-acre solar farm broke ground in Bodden Town, which will feed green energy into the national grid. Reportedly there are more solar farms in the pipeline for 2017 and beyond as Cayman begins to “green-up” their act.
The expansion of the Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) is slated for completion in 2018. This massive capital project will result in the country’s most important port of call being fully modernised, with new terminals and an expanded arrival and departure lounge to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors to the Islands.
But Cayman’s impending transformation does not owe all its credit to infrastructural development and business growth alone. For the first time in history, Caymanians will vote under a single-member constituency in the May 2017 election. This new system will redefine the electoral process in Cayman; and it is expected that with the establishment of 19 voting districts, there will be even more candidates entering the elections race. We wait to see if this increase in choice will result in better overall options for voters.
There are major capital developments and big changes in Cayman’s infrastructure to look forward to in 2017.
Both the stay over and cruise tourism sectors are holding steady and with the new room stock in Grand Cayman, plus a new international airport in 2018, we expect to see continued growth beyond 2017.