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News from Cayman - December 2005
The Ritz-Carlton has finally opened. A grand opening ceremony was held on 15th December
with ceremonial ribbon cutting by the developer Michael Ryan, Vice President
and General Manager Jean Cohen, the Governor Stuart Jack, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and
Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford. On that day 40 rooms were ready for visitors,
with a further 173 rooms available a week later. On 7th January (the day of the gala opening), all
365 rooms in the resort will be available. The restaurants are open, but "Blue Tip", the
9-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman won't be ready until April 2006.
The Ritz-Carlton also announced that Sheryl Crow will front-line a gala concert on 7th January 2006.
The concert will be for invited guests only.
Rebuilding work at Ocean Club has started. The contract for the work has been awarded to
K Coast Development, who have established a site office and started gutting damaged units and
procuring materials whilst the final touches to the legal contract were completed.
It is estimated that it will take about 14 months for the 144 units to be repaired or rebuilt,
with the first block expected to be ready by mid-March 2006, with the final units
(those demolished by Hurricane Ivan) rebuilt by January 2007. The project will also
see common amenities being repaired or improved, including strengthening of the
sea wall and increased parking space.
A website has been set up at
for owners to keep track of developments on the project as a whole and to be able
to make change orders with respect to paint colours and fittings for individual units.
Two developments on the visa issue this month. The Cayman Islands government
issued an amnesty for prosecution for a number of immigration offences;
(i) illegally residing in the Cayman Islands without a work permit or other permission,
(ii) employers may cancel a work permit for an employee where they no longer have work for the employee,
(iii) employees who are employed on a valid work permit but whose employers no
longer have full–time employment for them.
Under the amnesty the employee/overstayer were able to leave Cayman without fear of
prosecution. The maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of CI$20,000 and
imprisonment of up to five years, and the penalties for work permit offences
range from fines between CI$5,000 and CI$15,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.
The Jamaica Consulate Office has announced that it will now be able to issue
multiple-entry visas to persons travelling to Jamaica with Caymanian passports.
The end of the year saw another tropical storm developing in what has been a
record-breaking year for hurricanes. Tropical Storm Zeta (the 29th of the year)
was forming in the mid-Atlantic, but didn't pose a threat to any of the Caribbean islands.
The forecasters are already predicting that 2006 will be a busy year for hurricanes.
Philip Klotzbach and William Gray from from the Department of Atmospheric
Science at Colorado State University forecast 17 named storms, nine hurricanes
and five intense hurricanes of Category 3 or higher.
Their full forecast report is available at
The scientists have also reported on this year's activity compared to their predictions.
In December 2004 they predicted 11 named storms (there were 29), six hurricanes
(there were 13), and three intense hurricanes (there were seven). Their
analysis of the 2005 season is available at
As of 1st February 2006, the Westin Casuarina Resort is introducing a no smoking policy in all of it's
buildings, including all guest rooms and public areas indoors.
The new move is part of a brand wide smoke–free policy in
Westin Hotels and Resorts in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
Racquel Miller, Executive Office Co–ordinator at the Westin Casuarina Resort said
that there will be outdoor smoking areas; those who wish to smoke will simply
have to take that extra step to get there.
The Westing isn't the first property to adopt this
policy; The Reef Resort and Comfort Suites already have no smoking policies,
and only five of the Hyatt's 53 beach guest suites are designated as smoking. The
Marriott Beach Resort has a no smoking policy indoors, with only a few guest rooms
designated as smoking.
The new Ritz-Carlton will have a no smoking policy inside it's buildings.
The Marriott Beach Resort has scooped the title
"Grand Cayman's Leading Hotel" in the World Travel Awards for 2005. This is the second
year running that the resort has won this award, voted for by travel professionals
around the world. The Hyatt Regency won the award for "Grand Cayman's Leading Golf Resort".
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has published it's annual report for the period
up to 30th June 2005. The report sates that the number of active mutual funds
regulated by the Authority grew by 21% to 6,527 funds.
In the banking sector, the total number of banking and trust licences declined by 22 to 312,
due mainly to consolidations worldwide. Total international assets booked
through banks in the Cayman Islands stood at US$1,265 billion and liabilities totalled US$1,250 billion.
It is available online at
Two cases of dengue fever have been diagnosed by the George Town Hospital.
Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the mosquitoes that carry the disease have been found
in Cayman in low numbers, but it is thought that in one case the individual
contracted the disease when visiting a county where dengue fever is endemic. The
second case is believed to have resulted when a person was bitten by a mosquito
in Cayman that had already bitten a resident or visitor who was already infected.
Symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, severe headaches, backache, joint
pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and rash. There is no vaccine to treat dengue
fever infection; patients are usually treated with pain killers.
The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has stepped up its mosquito
surveillance and control operations since, but are hampered as they still haven't
taken delivery of their spraying planes and are having to use truck spraying.
There is an unusual exhibition taking place in Cayman at the National Gallery this month.
"The Art of Stamps" shows the process of stamp design, from original art design
to final product. Some of the original art work examples were commissioned for
particular stamps by the Post Office, but others were taken from other sources, including photographs.
For details, contact the National Gallery at
Tourism statistics for November 2005 are now available at
They show that stay-over visitor numbers were up to 14,979, but this is still only about
66% of pre Hurricane Ivan figures. Cruise visitors were up to 176,587, an
increase of over 18% on the 149,456 cruise visitors in November 2004 and the highest November
figure yet recorded.
The 2005 hurricane season is over!
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the
active hurricane cycle that began in 1995-a trend likely to continue for years
to come. The season included 28 named storms (Tropical Storm Epsilon was
heading into the Atlantic), including 13 hurricanes of which
seven were major (Category 3 or higher). "This hurricane season shattered
records that have stood for decades-most named storms, most hurricanes and
most Category Five storms. Arguably, it was the most devastating hurricane
season the country has experienced in modern times," said retired Navy Vice
Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans
and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
Unfortunately, on Cayman there are still many properties
that haven't been repaired following the destruction cauSed by Hurricane Ivan last year.
Pedro St. James Castle itself won't be open for some time (the grounds are open and being used to
host corporate events, parties, etc). Like many places,
delays have been caused by a lack of agreement on insurance settlements and
difficulties in finding qualified contractors. The damage includes the roof
of the great house, and water and flood damage to the theatre and cafeteria.
Cayman Airways received a final payment cheque for US$1,050,000, to settle
claims the company made following hurricane Ivan. With
this payment the overall insurance settlement received totaled US$1.5 million.
November 2005 proved to be a wet month (over 11 inches - average for November
is under 7 inches), with
several Pirate's Week events cancelled or postponed. The continuing rain
and flooding also caused damage to some roads, or delays in repairing damage
caused by Hurricane Wilma.
A ruling placing Indies Suites in liquidation has been overturned.
Court president Justice Edward Zacca said
"We have held that where there is a claim for unliquidated damages,
there must be a judgement of the Court that turns the claim into a debt before you can petition".
Owner of Indies Suites, Ronnie Scott, said that this result should
allow for a reasonable settlement with Indies Suites club members.
Construction of a new shopping centre, Countryside Shopping Village, has
started in Savannah. Companies that have said they will move into the centre,
due to be ready late 2006, include Cayman National Bank, Foster's Food Fair
The Rotary Club's Gun amnesty has had some success, with 20 firearms and numerous rounds
of ammunition being handed in. 19 of the guns were handed in on Grand Cayman,
and one on Cayman Brac. Firearms included .22 and .32 handguns and a 12 bore shotgun.
The new Governor, Stuart Jack, has arrived in Cayman and has been
At the fifth annual tourism conference held at the Westin Hotel this month,
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford talked about some of the initiatives under
consideration. These include berthing for cruise ships to make disembarkation/embarkation
easier and to therefore allow longer time for visitors on island, and improving facilities
at Spotts for when bad weather closes access to George Town Harbour.
Another Government commitment was to disperse cruise visitors around the island.
Mr Clifford said this measure would "reduce the congestion in central George Town
and on the West Bay Road and at the same time move some of the economic
benefits from cruise tourism into the Eastern Districts of Bodden Town,
East End and North Side". He also said that tourism room stock was expected to hit
80% of pre-Ivan levels in time for Christmas, and that by March 2006 should be 93% of
The dolphin swim developers are pushing ahead with their project and are
optimistic of getting the necessary approval from the Planning Department.
Gene Thompson said, "Depending on how everything goes we hope to be
operational in the third or fourth quarter of next year. We expect next year
to be the year we get up and running".
Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. has a lease agreement with Cayman Turtle
Farm to use the site of old holding tanks for turtles damaged in 2002 by
Hurricane Michelle. The dolphinarium, although it will be run independently,
will operate as part of new tourist attraction Boatswain's Beach.
However, the Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands group lead by Billy Adam,
is campaigning against the development and has added environmental concerns to
their publicity. The group are quoting evidence from the Global Coral Reef
Alliance that raw sewage flushed out from
captive dolphin facilities, along with rotting uneaten food can cause algae
blooms that are damaging to coral reefs.
Spotts Dock has now been approved for use as a secondary cruise ship port as it now has been
upgraded to meet the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
However, it can only deal with three cruise tenders at a time, so the number of
ships that can utilise it at any one time are limited.
Following last month's introduction of visa restrictions for Jamaican's entering
Cayman, the Jamaican government has retaliated by introducing visas for visiting Cayman nationals!
Tourism figures for October have been released and are available at
Air arrivals were up from 8,494 in September to 11,104, but cruise visitors were
down from September's 118,466 to 65,651. This low figure was atributed to over a
week of no cruise visitors because of Hurricane Wilma. The hotel occupancy rate of 50.4%
was the highest October figure since 2000. The average hotel length of stay of
stay-over visitors was 5.4 days - the highest monthly figure since March 2000.
Fortunately Hurricane Wilma missed Cayman, but it still caused disruption on
the island, with grocery supplies from the US held up because of the damage caused in
Florida. On the island heavy rain and high seas caused some flooding and damage to roads,
including Harbour Drive, West Bay Road by Courtyard Marriott and in Savannah. With the high winds and sees, cruise ships were
diverted to other ports. Power supplies on Grand Cayman were interrupted in some locations.
Wilma also caused some damage to properties on the waterfront.
For example, Divers Down on North Church Road lost their dock (rebuilt after Hurricane Ivan) and
Villas by the Sea in West Bay lost three large air conditioning units.
The continuing wet weather meant that the opening celebrations for Pirate's Week were postponed.
Cabinet decided that duty concessions on building materials, furniture,
fixtures and appliances introduced following Hurricane Ivan to aid recovery would not
be extended again beyond the 31st October deadline. The special subsidy on livestock feed
introduced after the hurricane has also ended.
Fluor Daniels and Humphreys (Cayman) Ltd.have agreed to halt their court actions.
The parties signed an order at the end of September that stipulated that neither
party would appeal the dispute further, and each party agreed to pay their own costs.
Michael Ryan, owner and developer of The Ritz–Carlton said "Basically we
agreed to walk away with zero damages and no liability to each other".
Public Beach is undergoing a facelift. The work, expected to be completed by the
end of November.
The project is being managed by the Leos Club of Grand Cayman and sponsored by
OA&D Architects for architectural and site plans, First Caribbean International
Bank for the financing of the reconstruction of ten cabanas, Caribbean
Utilities Company for the replacement and refurbishing of the playground and
the Ministry of Communications, Works and Infrastructure for the restoration
of the rest room facilities.
The next stage of development at Botswain Beach is underway with the construction
of a predator tank. Made of acrylic panels measuring 7 for by 27 feet and 4 inches thick,
and each weighing 5,279 lbs., the tank will hold sharks, eels, barracuda and other large fish.
It will be positioned next to the fresh-water Breaker's Pool and salt-water
Boatswain's Snorkel Lagoon.
Government have changed the entry requirements for residents of Costa Rica,
El Salvador and Guatemala, and Jamaica. From 1st November 2005
these countries will join some 112 other countries whose nationals are presently
subject to visa requirements. Persons travelling on documented, valid work
permits will not require visas for entry or reentry.
The press release describing the new rules is at
with further details at
Announcing the changes, Hon. George McCarthy, Chief Secretary said that
large numbers of Jamaicans arrive as visitors and then abscond, many working
illegally. There are currently some 1,500 Jamaican nationals, significantly higher than for any
other nationality, who have overstayed.
"To identify, apprehend and prosecute these individuals place a tremendous burden on our
resources". He also added "There is worrying evidence to suggest that nationals from some of these countries may be involved in
There is a new website coordinating information for those owners who lost out
when Indies Suites went into liquidation - see
New legislation has increased the penalty for any gun-related crime.
Persons found with illegal guns will have to spend no less than 10 years behind bars before
any possibility of release. It is also now an offence to own a bullet-proof vest, again with
a sentence of at least 10 years and a fine of $100,000.
Explaining why the amended law will also carry the same penalties for illegal
possession of bullet-proof vests, Attorney General Sam Bulgin said, "There is a proliferation of bullet-proof
vests in undesirable hands".
In a further move to reduce crime, the Council of Ministers of some local churches
have agreed with the police and courts to run a guns amnesty during November.
The new Commissioner of Police for Cayman, Stuart Kernohan, is bringing in a
team of police officers from Merseyside, UK who specialise
in Intelligence policing and, accustomed to working in a high-crime jurisdictions.
The National Gallery and the Department of Tourism (DoT) are producing a map
which pinpoints locations of local artists and galleries for the benefit of tourists and residents alike.
The map, 'Artists Trail', will be available at hotels, condominums, various
DoT outlets, as well as at the National Gallery. It will list art shops, galleries, and
contact numbers so that visitors can make contact, visit the artists and view and
Another map, this time produced by the National Trust in cooperation with the Department of Tourism,
features Historic and Natural Attractions.
Over 40 attractions including Trust properties, public beaches, etc are listed.
New Year's celebrations may have to be low-key this year. 31st December falls on a
Saturday, but under current legislation no music and dancing is allowed on Sundays.
The Chairman of the Liquor Licensing Board, Mitchell Welds, said that his board can
only grant extensions for selling alcohol and had no power to grant permission
for music and dancing.
The Director of Tourism, Pilar Bush, admitted that
"it could negatively impact the guest satisfaction levels of visitors who chose
to spend New Year’s Eve in the Cayman Islands and were not aware of our local laws".
However, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) is confident the
Government will be flexible in allowing Caymanians and visitors to usher in 2006 with live music and dancing.
The Caymanian Land & Sea Co–operative Society has taken a pro-active step to
be more responsible in handling stingrays at Stingray City and Sandbar.
The Co-operative has 171 members with over 30 boats offering tours to Stingray City.
Other operators including Red Sail Sports,
Dexter's Fantasea Tours, Capt Bryan's, Divetech, Moby Dick Tours, Kirk Sea Tours,
Resort Sports Beach Club and Don Foster’s Dive have also adopted the policy
that they will not take stingrays out of the water for the amusement of visitors or
The Christmas stamps are now on sale.
The issue has four stamps that form part of a souvenir sheet depicting the story of
Christ's birth. The stamps are available in the denominations of 15, 30, 40 and 60 cents.
Angels sent from the Lord shine on the 15-cent stamp while the Three
Wise Men present their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh on the 30-cent stamp.
Mary and Joseph admire their newborn on the 40-cent stamp.
The 60-cent stamp features the shepherds, tending to their sheep in the hills.
For further details contact the Philatelic Bureau at
The September tourism figures have been released and are available at
Air arrivals for the month dropped from 11,917 in August to 8,494, and cruise
visitor numbers dropped from August's figure of 122,562 to 118,466. Both of these
are above last September's figures which saw only 41,596 cruise passengers and
4,982 stay-over visit because of Hurricane Ivan. Guest room stock is running
at about 39% of pre-Ivan levels. The expectation is that by December 4,173 rooms will
be available - about 81% of pre-Ivan levels. One of the resorts to be up and running
for peak season will be the Ritz-Carlton who have announced that they will be opening
their doors on 15th December. Standard high season rates at the resort range
from US$449 for Waterway rooms to US$929 for Ocean Front rooms.
One year on from Hurricane Ivan, and there were several events on Cayman to mark
the anniversary. Several churches held thanksgiving services. A telethon
raised nearly CI$2 million for the National Recovery Fund. The fund, in conjunction
with the Government Information Service and CITN are marketing a DVD "36 Hours"
showing the buildup to the hurricane and recovery efforts. It is on sale for CI$25
through local supermarkets and shops.
However, all of
the events were shadowed by the images of the damage caused to New Orleans and
surrounding areas by Hurricane Katrina. The Cayman Island's Red Cross
raised $15,000 in six hours in tin collections outside supermarkets, and local
businesses and services contributed. Foster's Food Fair has also made a direct
donation of 10,000 bottles of water to the victims via one of its US Suppliers, and
Cayman Airways offered support in shipping relief supplies.
I couldn't help but think that
many people would now understand what Cayman went through last year. There is a good
article on the build up to Hurricane Ivan and some of the experiences of people on the Cayman Compass
website at http://www.caycompass.com/cgi-bin/CFPnews.cgi?ID=1007224
and also an article from the St Petersburg Times on recovery efforts at
The Cayman Islands Government has launched a new agency and website to
improve the National Hurricane Committee's communications efforts. The
Joint Communications Service will be staffed from personnel from the
Government Information Service, the Department of Tourism and the Portfolio of
Finance and Economics. The website is designed to help residents prepare for disasters and
resulting crises and recover quickly and act as an important communication
venue locally and overseas.
The US government has announced that it will postpone the introduction of the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that would require travellers entering the US
to possess a passport. The new date is now 31st December 2006. After this date,
no other form of identification will be accepted for travellers entering or
returning to the US from the Caribbean. See
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html for details.
The Cayman Craft Market has finally opened. Using land donated by
the Kirkconnell family at Boilers Road and Harbour Drive in George Town,
the facility has space for about 20 stalls. Only goods that are
identified as being 100 per cent Caymanian, such as conch shells found here or
semi-finished products that are imported and completed in Cayman will be sold.
The market will be open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3pm on days that
cruise ships are in harbour. Refreshments will also be on sale, and there are
restrooms in the facility. There are also plans to make use of the space in the
evenings for music concerts.
A Cayman version of Monopoly will be available in stores in time for Christmas.
Caymanopoly will sell for CI$25 and will feature local businesses and locations.
For instance, Community Chest has been renamed Pirate's Chest. The game is being
sold to raise funds for the Junior Achievement youth development program run
by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
The clear-up and recovery after Hurricane
Ivan continues. This month saw a barge load of abandoned/damaged vehicles
being removed to the US for processing. General Manager Gerris Miller of Ocean Club
announced that plans to rebuild the complex are nearly complete and construction
could start soon. South Sound Squash Club has reopened.
The National Gallery has opened a new education centre and studio at the Baytown
complex (formally known as Merren's Plaza).
Pure Art Gallery and Gifts is up for sale. Owner Debbie Chase van der Bol wants to
sell the business and spend more time painting, and hopes that the new owners
would consider her painting to sell.
The ongoing tussle between Fluor Daniels and the Ritz-Carlton developer,
Humphreys (Cayman) Ltd, continues. In a New York court, Judge Denny Chin ruled to
grant a new trial following Fluor's motion appealing a jury verdict in Humphrey's favour.
Back in June 2005, a 10 person jury unanimously voted to award $28.8 million
plus interest to Humphreys. The jury members rejected Fluor's claim and
evidence that it's contract was wrongfully terminated. In the original trial, the
jurors listened to evidence for three weeks and took three days to reach their decision.
In granting the motion for a new trial, the judge ruled that the
verdict was "seriously erroneous and a miscarriage of justice". He did not
cite any specific points of law or procedural errors.
Fluor Corporation have decided to go for a retrial even though Judge Chin said
"My recommendation would be the parties walk away zero-zero, no appeals."
Spirit Airlines, the largest privately owned airline in the United States, has
announced that they will start a service in February 2006 between Fort Lauderdale
and Grand Cayman. They have an introductory fare of US$159 excluding taxes and charges, but
these have to be booked through their website by 9th October 2005. See
http://www.spiritair.com/welcome.aspx?pg=salesinformation&number=0 for details.
Crime on Cayman took a nasty turn in September when two armed, masked men
forced their way into a house with two women and five children in it at Patrick's Island. The men
tied up the two women and covered their faces covered with pillowcases. When the
husband of one of the women returned home, he was also overpowered and tied up.
The men stole watches and gold chains from their victims and escaped in the
family car. Police say that there is evidence to indicate that the burglary was
a failed attempt to rob a high ranking government official living nearby.
Cayman will soon have a new Chief of Police. Stuart Kernohan is currently
Assistant Chief Constable with the Merseyside force in the UK and had been
given a four year contract.
Mr. Kernohan said
"While I do not underestimate the challenges, I already know that I have the
firm support of the Governor and the Cayman Islands Government. Working in
partnership with the community, I am certain we can assure the security and
prosperity of the Cayman Islands for the future".
Acting Police Commissioner Rudi Dixon announced the setting up of a drugs and
serious crime task force. The new task force will investigate and disrupt
criminal elements involved in gang activities, drug trafficking, firearms
crimes and other serious offences.
To support the police, the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce organized a
country–wide rally against crime. Among the Chamber's desires to curb the
crime problem are the introduction of a visa system for all nationals from
countries considered high risk; a national identification system that mandates
fingerprinting for all forms of identification including passports, work
permit identification cards, driver's licences and student identification
cards; and the establishment of a permanent police station on Seven Mile Beach.
The Chamber have also called for a national DNA database to be established with
samples provided as part of the workpermit application. Their open letter to all
residents is online at
There are warning out again about forged currency. Fake CI$100, US$100 and
US$20 bills are in circulation in the Islands.
Another special issue of stamps have been released. These feature six breeds
of butterflys that regularly breed in Cayman.
The stamps feature the Queen (Danaus gilippus) (15c),
Mexican Fritillary (Euptoieta hegesia) (20c), Malachite (Siproeta stelenes) (25c),
Cayman Crescent Spot (Phyciodes phaon) (30c), Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) (40c)
and the Swallowtail (Heraclides andraemon) (90c).
In addition to the six stamps in the issue, the Cayman Islands Post Office is
also releasing three special stamp booklets in the following quantities and
denominations: 10 x 15c, 10 x 30c and 6 x 20c. These booklets reproduce
three of the six stamps and feature self-adhesive paper. A set of the six stamps
costs CI$2.20 and a first day cover costs CI$3.00. The press release at
has pictures of the stamps.
For further details contact the Philatelic Bureau at
August tourism statistics show that it was another quiet month for stay-over visitors,
down to 11,917 from July's figure of 16,610. Cruise visitors were up from July's
figure of 86,539 to 122,562 for August. Cruise bookings appear to be up - four
dates have been announced when there will be nine cruise ships in harbour. These are
Thursday 17 November (20,541 people if at full capacity);
Thursday 1 December (20,541 people if at full capacity);
Thursday 15 December (20,891 if at full capacity) and Thursday 29 December (19,122 people if at full capacity).
The National Hurricane Center has updated it's predictions for the year and are
forecasting an above-average season. We are already up to Hurricane Katrina,
but the traditionally most active part of the season is still to come. The are
expecting between nine and 11 hurricanes, of which five to seven will be classified
as major hurricanes. For the remainder of the season the prediction is for
seven to nine more hurricanes of which three to five will be major.
Their press release (with a link to a podcast) is available at
Scientist believe that last year's Hurricane Ivan generated waves of over 90 feet.
They calculated wave heights using pressure information from sensors on the sea floor.
The giant waves were recorded about 75 miles south of Gulfport, Mississippi,
and 50 miles east of the coast of Louisiana, US, but degenerated in the Gulf of Mexico
before striking land. However,
he researchers, led by Dr William Teague of the Stennis Space Centre, Mississippi, believe they missed
the largest waves, estimated to exceed 132ft in height.
Several books has been published about Hurricane Ivan. The first
"Ivan: The Full Story" has been written by
Dominic Tonner, the Deputy Editor of the Cayman Observer. The chapters of the book cover:
The preparations for the storm and a detailed account of what occurred
The damage caused by the storm and the immediate response
A collection of six stories telling the storm experiences of local residents
The international response to the disaster
The response by the private and public sectors over the medium-to-longer term
The lessons learned by the private and public sectors
How a disaster tore a country apart yet brought its people together
The second, "Paradise Interrupted" is a coffee-table book featuring photos by Courtney Platt and text
by Joanna Lawrence. With over 300 photos,
portion of the proceeds will go to the Rotary Recovery Fund in Grand Cayman
to aid in the ongoing reconstruction effort. This book costs US$40 plus shipping
(or is available on-island for CI$30. For more details (including some of the pictures)
A lightning strike to an exhaust tower at Caribbean Utilities Company on Grand Cayman
caused an island-wide power outage for about four hours.
The hit to the stack knocked out the programmable controls for three of the
company’s biggest generating units. Many companies switched over to their
Following a court case, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie put Indies Suites into official liquidation
at the start of the month. Christopher Johnson and Russell Smith have been
appointed as the Joint Official Liquidators.
177 timeshare owners have already registered an interest which represent
approximately $1.5 million in claims. However, there could be more timeshare holders
eligible to claim which may increase the total to over $3 million.
Indies Suites only have known assets of $885,000.
Two weeks later Madame Justice Priya Levers ordered a stay on the liquidation
until the Court of Appeals can hear the appeal to overturn the liquidation. She
also ordered $885,000 held by the liquidators be turned over to the court, and
ordered Brac Construction to turn over $653,000 to the court, the proceeds
from the sale of the property. This halts the process for a couple of months as
the next session of Court of Appeals is not until November.
The Mosquito Research and Control Unit's only plane skidded off the runway at Owen Roberts
airport mangling a wing and damaging the landing gear. Fortunately,
two new planes have already been ordered and are expected to be delivered soon.
Consumer Price Index information released by the Economics & Statistics Office
(ESO) show that prices rose by 9.7% over the last year. The Index is made up from
prices from various sectors, nearly all of which saw increases;
Food up 4.4%, Alcohol and Tobacco up 1.7%, Housing up 32.6%, Clothing down 5.9%,
Household Equipment up 0.6%, Transport and Communications up 2.6%, Education and
Medical up 2.8% and Personal Goods and Services down 0.8%.
For full details see the ESO website at
Dr. Ian Davis, a visiting professor from the Cranfield Mine Action and Disaster
Management Centre at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, Swindon, England,
predicted that Cayman should be rebuilt better than pre-Ivan in five years.
"Some people look at two years as a target, but I would say Grand Cayman should
look to be totally rebuilt around five years after the event" he said.
"It is very important... vital services such as hospitals, fire, police etc
to be able to pick themselves up and hit the ground running again after a
major disaster." "It acts as a major morale booster."
"It is no use just rebuilding things as they were before. ... The roofs and
other structures need to be better and more resilient so that they withstand
any future hurricanes, earthquakes or other problems far better," Mr. Davis said.
The "Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands" campaign is claiming some successes
in changing attitudes and continues to campaign against a dolphin swim attraction in
the Cayman Islands.
New Tourism and Environment Minister Charles Clifford has said that although
an area of the Turtle Farm site has already been leased to Dolphin Discovery
(Cayman) Ltd for a swim–with–dolphin facility to be constructed there, the
Government has not made any decision on whether it will permit such a facility
to go ahead, but they are looking at it very closely. The campaign group point out that
Costa Rica have new regulations prohibiting humans from swimming with dolphins
or whales and from them being kept in captivity. Various companies have taken a more
ecological aware stance to their practices; cruise liner Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
is no longer offering dolphin encounter programmes in any of its ports of call.
The campaign group points out that the Cayman Islands Tourism Association's Water Sports division has for
many years clearly stated that after studying the captive dolphin entertainment
industry they do not support Government allowing them here. The Cayman
Humane Society has also expressed to Government their reasons against it.
A green turtle released from the Turtle Farm 17 years ago has returned to Cayman to
nest. When released in 1988 she was one year old, was about a foot long and
weighed between six and seven pounds. "Name this turtle" (there is a competition
to give her a proper name) has grown to more than three and a half feet
long and weighs more than 300 pounds. She has now been fitted with a satellite
transponder for a year or so and her progress can be followed on the SeaTurtle.org website at
Taxi fares on Cayman have gone up from 1st September. Most fares have increased
by about US$1 per person (eg from the Dock to Public Beach will now be US$5),
but taxi tours (eg 1.5 hour tour to Hell, Turtle Farm, etc) have increased
from US$15 per person to US$20 per person.
Government has tabled their Strategic Policy Statement for 2005/06 which
includes 11 outcomes. These are:
"to deal with the aftermath and lessons from Hurricane Ivan",
"to address crime and improve policing",
"to improve education and training",
"to rebuild the health services",
"to address traffic congestion",
"to embrace Cayman Brac and Little Cayman",
"to conserve the environment",
"to strengthen family and community",
"to support the economy",
"to have open, transparent, honest and efficient public administration" and
"to have sound fiscal management"
The text of the speech to the House given by the Leader of Government Business
is available in Adobe PDF format at
Can you picture this: a barge over 300 foot long and 90 foot wide full of sand?
The 'Winbuild 303' arrived in port with over 18.5 million pounds of sand, and not
one grain was destined for Seven Mile Beach. Before it was imported,
the sand has been crushed, sifted and washed with fresh water and inspected
by staff from the Agricultural Department to ensure the shipment was free of
nematodes, bacteria and e. coli. It took over 26 hours to unload and 320 truck
journeys to take the sand to the Greg Norman–designed golf course
under construction at the Ritz–Carlton.
A new trail to highlight the plight of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana has been established.
The Blue Dragon Trail is presented by the National Trust and the National Gallery
and supported by the Department of Tourism and the Dart Foundation.
It features 15 multi–coloured oversized statues of blue dragons dotted around
the island from East End to Rum Point. A map is in production and the guide and
trail will be formally launched in September. There is a new section on the
Department of Tourism website (including links to the map and showing how
each dragon has been decorated) at
The Chamber of Commerce has published the results of it's survey into views of
it's members on allowing Sunday trading. Over 75% of members supported businesses
being allowed to open on Sundays, but only 45% said that they would open on a
Sunday if they were allowed to. Around a third of respondents felt that
allowing Sunday trading would diminish the quality of life in Cayman.
The full survey results are available at
The Department of Tourism has announced that Cayman's second Annual Jazz Fest
will be held from 1st December 2005 to 3rd December 2005. International acts signed up to
appear include George Duke, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh, Chris Botti and Ravi Coltrane.
Venues have still to be finalised, but the format of this year's fest will be
one intimate evening, one large outdoor event and one afternoon event appropriate for the entire family.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (mentioned in last month's news) may not
now be implemented on 1st January 2006.
Tourism Minister Charles Clifford confirmed that the US Department of State
had written to him to indicate that it was reviewing the situation and that
it felt the Cayman Islands and the rest of the regions in the Caribbean would
be happy with the outcome of this review.
If you've stayed at Brac Reef Resort and want to return, then you may be
interested in this. They are running a photo competition to look for the
best resort image, best dive image, best resort shot or best beach shot. There
in only one prize, an all-inclusive week at the Brac Reef Resort to include 7 nights accommodation,
breakfast and dinner daily, six days of diving (2 tanks per dive) - including two trips to the Bloody Bay Wall,
complimentary use of bicycles and kayaks, tennis, airport ground transfers, hotel taxes and service charges.
All you have to do is pay your airfare! Photos have to be submitted (electronically)
by 31st December 2005. For further details see
Mother and daughter team Monique and Vanessa Polack have established a new
company located in Tarpon Springs, Breakers. Cayman Sea Salt Co. Ltd. are
producing sea salt from sea water that is then allowed to evaporate naturally.
It takes between four and six months for the salt to be extracted.
Targeting the gourmet food market, the product will be available in two sizes,
a small 2oz. gift pack in a cloth bag expected to retail for US$5 and a larger
glass gift jar which will retail for approximately US$10.
In the wake of increasing fuel prices, Cayman Airways has introduced a fuel
surcharge of US$10 on each flight for any tickets tickets purchased on,
or after, August 19.
Another new watersport attraction has opened in Cayman.
Thriller is a 55 foot catamaran racing powerboat, that has been adapted to
take 40 passengers. The boat is capable of speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
Thriller Tours are using Beefers Pier next to Atlantis Submarine and
cruise from there to the end of Seven Mile Beach and back again. The firm plan to
offer cruises from George Town to Rum Point at the weekends, mainly aimed at locals
According to figures from Department of Tourism
there are 2,149 licensed bedrooms on all three islands (including hotels,
apartments and guest houses) currently available, representing 41.5% pre–Ivan
room stock. Predictions are that this will increase to
72% in November and 81% in December. 40 of these rooms are from the Grand at Morritt's
Tortuga Club in the East End that opens on 2nd September with 100% occupancy. Plans
are to open the Tortuga Club later in the month.
The tourism arrivals statistics for July have been issued. Stay-over arrivals have increased to
16,610 (the highest this year), but this is about half of last year's figure before Hurricane Ivan.
Cruise visitors fell back from a high of 110,633 in June to 86,539
For the full details see
The experts predicted that we were in for a very active Hurricane Season and
so far they are right. Fortunately Arlene, Dennis and Emily haven't caused any
real damage and just brought lots of wind and rain, causing localised flooding.
You can see Professor Gray's updated Hurricane Season predictions at
Hyatt hotel manager Mark Bastis has said that the planned reopening of the main
Hyatt building in February 2006 is likely to be postponed. Mr Bastis wouldn't speculate
on a revised opening data and said that the delays were down to protracted negotiations
with the property's insurers over the value of repairs. Mr Bastis also announced that
he was resigning to take up a similar position at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, California.
Hon. Charles Clifford, Minister of Tourism, has ordered a review of Cayman Airways's operations.
The top to bottom review will be carried out by international consultants over
a period of about three months. The ministry is contacting a number of similar sized
airlines for consultant recommendations. Hon. Clifford added
"Government considers Cayman Airways a vehicle to ensure the continuity of the
tourism and financial industries." However, "costs must be reduced where possible
without compromising safety and service, and revenue must be increased to bridge the gap,"
Clifford has already indicated that some under utilised routes such as Houston
need to be examined. Financial figures for Cayman Airways for the period
December 2001 to June 2003. At the end of the period,
the company’s total liabilities exceeded total assets by US$32.3 million, up from
US$22.1 million at the start of the period. The airline lost US$10.1 million after a US$7.1 million subsidy.
The Minister has also written to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her
to support a change to a new regulation that will force all US visitors to
the Caribbean to carry passports by the end of the year.
Several Caribbean Countries, including Cayman, have joined forces to launch a
campaign against the US government's plans to compel tourists returning to
the US from the Caribbean to carry passports from January. They argue that as
similar restrictions on travel to/from Mexico and Canada don't come in for another year,
a large number of US tourists may decide not to visit the Caribbean because of the
need to get passports. In his letter he said
"We estimate that the Cayman Islands stands to lose 30% of our annual US visitor
air arrivals who currently travel without a passport. If that percentage of
visitors chooses another destination for which a US passport is not required
in 2006, it would represent a loss of some US$80 million in revenues for the Cayman Islands."
Clifford also reminded Ms Rice of Cayman's close connections with the US including the
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in 1990, which has seen the governments working
together on over 230 cases and sharing in excess of US$10 million in fines.
For full details of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Regulations, visit
the US State Department website at
The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau (CIIB) has launched two free services to assist small businesses and new ventures.
The CIIB's Business Opportunity Listing Service links local businesses with
potential financiers interested in investing in the local economy.
The listing service provides a means of uniting 'angel investors' with local
start–up companies. This service will also present potential business
opportunities for wealthy retirees seeking to reside in the Cayman Islands.
The second service is to provide customized notification of potential
opportunities to registered investors, free of charge.
Following on the debacle of the granting of status last year,
the Immigration (Amendment) Law 2005 has been passed to restrain Cabinet
from making a grant except by recommendation by the Immigration Board and
validated by the Legislative Assembly. The legislation also sets a limit of
four grants per year. Other parts of the legislation
requires visitors looking for employment to be away from the Islands between
the period of submission of an application for a work permit and the announcing of the decision.
The new law also enables a temporary work permit holder who applies for a one
year work permit on the same terms and conditions to continue to work for the
same employer after the expiration of the temporary permit while awaiting the
outcome of the application.
David Foster, founder of the Foster Food Fair Group, died at the start of the
month after a long illness.
The Cayman Islands won seven gold, six silver and five bronze medals at the
international Island Games held in Shetland, off the coast of Scotland. Full details of the results
can be found at http://shetlandresults2005.com/Medal.aspx?IslandID=4
The Inter Island Tennis & Basketball Tournament was held in Gibraltar and the
Cayman Islands National Women Basketball team won gold.
Police Constable Gabe Rabess won a squash gold medal at the Police and
Fire World Games in Quebec, Canada. At the same competition,
At the same competition, Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Haines won bronze in the 10 kilometre race.
Sprinter Cydonie Mothersill won gold in the 200m at the
CAC Track and Field Championships in the Bahamas.
Fine Dine-In, the restaurant home delivery service, has increased the number
of establishments in it's list to thirty. New in this year's book are
Pappagallo, Hemmingway's, Full of Beans, Aquabeach, Bacchus, Breezes by the Bay,
Triple Crown, McCoy's, Davie Jones Locker, Castaway's Grille, Dragon Garden and Taste of China.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced the appointment of
Mr Stuart Duncan Macdonald Jack, CVO, as Governor of the Cayman Islands,
succeeding HE the Governor Bruce Dinwiddy, CMG when he retires. Mr. Jack will take up his
appointment in November 2005. Mr Jack's previous postings include Moscow, St Petersburgh
and three stints to Tokyo.
According to Department of Tourism figures, the number of rooms available for
tourism stands at 2,225 rooms or just under 43% of the count pre Hurricane Ivan.
This is made up of
1219 hotel rooms (nearly 49% of the pre–Ivan figure),
744 apartment rooms (just over 33% of the pre–Ivan count), and
262 guesthouse rooms (nearly 60% of the pre-Ivan stock).
The Ritz-Carlton has announced that it will open on Thanksgiving Day, 24th November.
The resort is now taking bookings, and it is certainly aiming up market, with the
cheapest room at $550 per night rising to $1,800 for an ordinary suite or $10,000
per night for a presidential suite (includes three bedrooms)
in high season. Condos are on sale for between $3 million and $40 million, but should
you choose to go for the top condo you will get a Rolls Royce thrown in for free -
and you get to choose your own accessories for it! Should you choose to buy one,
please mention my newsletter - perhaps I'll get commission!
Although they opened the door to guests at the start of June, The Marriott Beach
Resort official opening is set for 1st November.
The proposed West Bay cruise facility will not be going ahead. So far
$1.1 million had been spent on the project, including $650,000 paid for the property.
Instead priority will be given to the lengthening of the finger pier at the
Royal Watler Cruise Terminal and the upgrading of the North Terminal to create more capacity.
The Port Authority will also enhance port facilities at Spotts.
Arlene wasn't a hurricane, but the first tropical storm of the season,
dropping over 8 inches of rain in 48 hours. The stormy conditions meant that cruise
ships had to be turned away.
As I write this, the islands are again under Hurricane Watch, this time for Hurricane Dennis
- see the weather resources in my
On another weather-related topic, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) have concluded
that wind power isn't currently a viable option for Grand Cayman. In a study over
a year, the company recorded wind speeds on two specially constructed
170 foot wind–monitoring towers in East End and North Side. The data was then sent
to PanAero Corporation, a company specialising in uses of wind power, for
analysis. Their conclusions were that as the average wind speed was only 13mph,
this was at the bottom end of being viable. When CUC took into account the
cost of the turbines, etc, their conclusion was
"the proposed wind–energy investment is uneconomical to the company
and its customers at the present time". They went on to say
"All engineers would like to be able to produce a product with lesser
impact to the environment and from that respect it was a bit of a disappointment".
Two sets of special stamps have been release this month.
A set to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Stamps are available in denominations of 15 cents, 20 cents, 25 cents, 60 cents, $1 and $2.
The 15 cent stamp features a painting by Francis Smitheman of HMS Victory
leading Lord Nelson’s column of ships into the battle.
On the stamp, the hull, mast and spars have been overprinted by a
thermographic process using real wood from the HMS Victory. The wood is finely
ground and applied to the stamps in powder form, which is then heated, creating
a stamp with real "Victory wood" as part of its composition. The issue also
includes two souvenir sheets.
At the end of the month, 15 cent and 20 cent stamps were issues to commemorate
100 years of Rotary International.
For more information contact the Philatelic Bureau at
The Ritz-Carlton is gearing up for with the opening of a new Employment Centre
and launch of a new recruitment website at
The Ritz-Carlton are looking to recruit to fill nearly 1,000 posts, with
the intention of jobs starting in the late Autumn.
The Mandarin Oriental group have confirmed their plans for a 114 rooms/suite resort
on the Queen's Highway east of Anchor Point. The complex will be on a 10-acre site
that features a 950-foot stretch of pristine white sand, known as Barefoot Beach.
All of the resort's rooms will have ocean view terraces or balconies. Included
in the development will be 37 private residences designed as luxurious
condominiums. When the owners are not in residence, the condominiums will be
converted into additional hotel accommodations, which is included in the total 114 room count.
The resort will have six restaurants and bars and the 18,000 square foot
spa will feature 11 treatment rooms.
The resort is being developed by Barefoot Resorts, Ltd., a private investment
company formed by the experienced development team of G. Stuart Wood and
Jeffrey J. Cotter, based in Naples, Florida, and Naul Bodden of Grand Cayman.
The internationally established firm of Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart
& Associates of Atlanta, Georgia has been commissioned for the resort design,
and Duncan & Miller of Dallas, Texas is developing the hotel’s interior design.
The resort is expected to open in 2007.
Jimmy Buffet's entertainment themed restaurant Margaritaville will open in the Anchorage Centre
in May 2006. The establishment will feature a water slide into an upstairs
swimming pool, a swim–up pool bar and spas. Their menu will include 52 tropical
flavours of margaritas.
The Cayman Islands Government Representative in the United Kingdom, Jennifer Dilbert,
has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the
Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Mrs Dilbert was appointed Cayman Islands Government Representative in the UK
in 2000 and in this time has been charged with representing, advocating and
defending the interests of the Cayman Islands in the UK and European Union.
Also honoured were Huw Moses, Managing Partner of Appleby Spurling & Hunter who receives
the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), and
Michael Thomas Adam, Chief Executive of Cayman Airways (MBE).
The Immigration Department and Cabinet have announced some minor changes to the
work permit process. The first change will allow employees on temporary six-month
permits to stay in the country while awaiting the grant of the annual permit.
Previously the employee was forbidden from working between the end of the temporary
permit and the granting of the annual permit. The Immigration Department are also
implementing as an interim measure, the issue of short-term (two or three month)
temporary permits to employers so that they can keep hold of employees.
Explaining the new rules, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said that there
would also be a clamp down on people coming to the islands specifically to look
for employment, or applications to change their immigration status.
"Another main point of the new measures is one to ensure that we stem the flow
into the Immigration Department by stopping people from hanging around the
Islands with nothing to do. That is, persons who are here in the capacity of
visitors will not be able to simply change their immigration status without
express permission of the Chief Immigration Officer."
Chris Johnson of Chris Johnson Associates has been appointed the provisional
liquidator of the Indies Suites. His remit will be "to maximise the recovery
for both creditor and investors", and he has started his investigation into
the affairs of the company. Over 400 club members invested between $6,000 and
$10,000 in Indies Suites have lost their money with little chance of compensation.
The idea of the proposed West Bay Cruise Facility may be under review following
concerns raised by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). One of their
issues is that when bad weather hits the west of the island, they will still be
forced to bypass Cayman. The proposed facility was proposed by the previous
United Democratic Party (UDP) lead Government and was controversial because of
the likely environmental impact as well as the high price paid for the land.
Fluor Daniels, the contractor working on the Ritz-Carlton project who had
their contract terminated last year, lost a court battle with Humphreys (the
Ritz-Carlton developer). Costs of US$28.8 million plus interest were awarded to
Humphreys. Michael Ryan, owner and developer of The Ritz-Carlton said
"While this is certainly the outcome we expected, we are nonetheless gratified
that the jury recognised that we had acted correctly in terminating Fluor for
its failure to perform". Fluor Daniels have said that they will appeal the decision.
are offering a free DVD '"A Call for Help" Hurricane Ivan-Cayman' to support recovery efforts and
encourage hurricane preparedness.
The EU Savings Tax Directive comes into effect on 1st July 2005. Under the directive,
any member of one of the EU nations that earns interest on an account held in
the Cayman Islands, will have their details and earnings submitted back to the
appropriate tax authorities.
Local businessmen Bobby and Naul Bodden have been given approval to bring
discount retailer Cost-U-Less to the islands. Cost-U-Less is a warehouse club
selling clothing, toys, homewares, office goods and a limited range of groceries.
Foster’s Food Fair, Hurley’s and Kirk’s Supermarket have all expressed concern that
a Trade and Business License has been granted. Concern has also been expressed that
the majority shareholding will be US shareholders and not Caymanians.
The MC Restoration clean-up has hit a new controversy. At the heart of a dispute
over $5 million payments, Government has discovered
that 20,000 cubic yards of ash containing toxic elements (including arsenic)
still need to be disposed of. MC Restoration argue that some of the ash
comes from pre-Ivan burning sites and so that they cannot be blamed for it.
Cayman Airways are having a seat sale on their new route to Chicago, $299 plus tax and surcharges
to/from Grand Cayman and an extra $50 for Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Cayman
Airways have also announced that they will be adding extra flights to/from
Jamaica over summer. For further info on both of these see their website at
Other new snippets:
Seven Mile Beach Post Office reopened on 15th June. Island Air has announced
that it will cease their scheduled commercial flights but will stay in business
as a charter company.
April's tourism figures are now available at
They show that there were only 15,423 stay-over visitors in the month, down from
nearly 1,000 in March and 34,000 in April 2004. Cruise visitors were also down at
166,289, from over 252,000 in March and from over 190,000 in April 2004.
Cable & Wireless have announced the launch of their voice over IP (VoIP) product
called NetSpeak. This allows specially adapted telephones to be plugged into broadband internet links
offering low–cost dialling both for long distance and local calls.
Cable & Wireless is rebranding and reselling Net2Phone’s managed and hosted IP platform.
In 2000 Cable & Wireless won a court case when they blocked access to Net2Phone's servers for
residents in Cayman who were trying to make cheap phone calls and therefore bypass C&W's
exclusive contract to provide telecomms services.
The outcry over this lead to the liberalisation of the telecomms sector in Cayman.
The elections (postponed from last year because of the hurricane) are over.
Election Day is a public holiday in Cayman, with most businesses shut and
a ban on alcohol sales during the period that polling stations are open (7am to 6pm).
I won't go into too much detail of the results themselves, but will share with
you some related news items.
It was revealed that in February 2002 government came close to selling off Cayman Airways.
Charles Clifford, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism at the time revealed that members and
ministers of the United Democratic Party (UDP) were in favour of the sell-off.
According to Mr Clifford, the Leader of Government Business and Minister of Tourism, the Hon McKeeva Bush,
has a very close relationship with the Chairman of Air Jamaica Gordon “Butch” Stewart, who was the Chairman and a major shareholder in
Air Jamaica at the time and who is still the major shareholder in Air Jamaica Express.
Mr Clifford said
"It was McKeeva Bush who was flirting with the idea of selling Cayman Airways to Air Jamaica in 2001."
Mr Clifford said that he was called to a meeting at the Grand Pavilion where the UDP were
discussing the budget. The meeting was in favour of closing Cayman Airways, but Mr Clifford
"advised in the strongest terms possible against such an ill-conceived idea."
The following day, Mr Clifford continued, "McKeeva Bush informed me that they had decided to keep Cayman Airways and he wanted me
to organize a Strategic Planning Session to decide on the best way forward for the National Flag Carrier."
Despite widespread rumours of vote buying and bribery, the police received no
official complaints about fraudulent activity connected to the elections.
Results? The People's Progressive Movement (PPM) won nine of the 15 seats, ousting the UDP
from power. McKeeva Bush’s UDP managed to hold onto four seats in West Bay.
The new Leader of Government Business will be Kurt Tibbetts.
The full results are on the election office website at
There are still questions about the awarding of the contract for the
hurricane clean-up to MC Restoration. The latest concern is over how
the firm estimates (and is therefore paid) on the amount of debris is cleared.
According to reports, the firm estimates 30 tons per lorry load, but the lorries a
are only capable of shifting 22 tons!
Another Government tendering process, this time for the Port redevelopment, has come under fire.
The contract was awarded to Misener Marine, but local contractors McAlpine and Arch & Godfrey
say that their bid was $3 million lower than Misener's, and they have had no communications on why their bid failed.
The Department of Agriculture has granted a license to import eight dolphins
to Dolphin Discovery Cayman Ltd. The firm hope that, subject to planning approval,
construction of their facility can begin in the next few months. Their aim is to
open to the public in sumer 2006, at which stage the dolphins will be brought over
form their current home in the Dolphin Discovery facility in Mexico.
The Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands group are continuing their campaign
against dolphin entertainment facilities.
Following last month's incident where a young visitor was injured when visiting
Cayman, this month a snorkeler lost his arm. A wakeboarding event was being
held over the weekend in the area of George Town harbour
(wakeboarding is a variation of waterskiing, the main difference being that you
only a single ski is used and the jumps and tricks make use of the wake created
by the towing speedboat). Unfortunately a speedboat towing a wakeboarder
passed over Mr Haberlen as he snorkeled off Coral Sands and the propeller
chopped through Mr Haberlen's left arm. Mr Haberlen was rushed to George Town hospital
where his arm was so badly mangled that the staff had no option but to amputate.
Mr Haberlen was later evacuated back to Pensylvania.
A spokesman for the organisers of the event said "It’s a terrible
tragedy and it’s a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We had permission from the Port Authority and the DoE (Department of Environment) were policing the event."
The Port Authority have responded that although they had given
permission for the event to be held between Rackhams's Pub
and Seven Mile Beach, they did so in the belief that the usual rule that the boats would be
at least 600 feet off-shore would be followed.
Some of the rules in the area include that "No vessel shall travel parallel to
the shore line unless they are 50 yards therefrom" and "No vessel should exceed
a speed of five knots or go within 50 yards of any vessel at anchor".
The Royal Cayman Islands Police have apparently arrested a New Zealander who
allegedly was in charge of the speedboat in question.
The Cayman Islands Government has an extra US$1.7 million in the bank as the
result of money recovered from a case of a Florida couple who swindled people
out of US$36 million by offering bogus real estate deals. The couple, who
transferred US$4.8 million in fraudulently acquired funds to Cayman Islands banks,
were convicted in 1998 of 151 counts of fraud, money laundering, etc and are
each serving 24-year prison sentences. The money is to be spent on drug
rehabilitation programs and law enforcement.
since signing the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in 1990, the US and the
Cayman Islands have cooperated in more than 230 financial crime cases,
sharing more than US$10 million in proceeds.
Appleby Spurling Hunter, the law firm created when
Appleby Spurling & Kempe in Bermuda, and Hunter & Hunter in the Cayman Islands
merged last year, won the top award of "Offshore Law Firm of the Year" from
Chambers Global, a London-based legal publishing company.
Tourism statistics have finally been published for the end of 2004 and the start
of 2005 and show the effect that Hurricane Ivan has had on the sector.
Air arrivals were down to nearly 260,000 in 2004 (from above 293,000 in 2003), and
cruise numbers totaled just over 1,693,000 in 2004, down from nearly 1,819,000 in 2003).
For the first three months of this year, there have been nearly 42,000 overight visitors, compared
with over 86,000 in 2003 and nearly 95,000 in 2004.
January 2005 saw nearly 171,000 cruise arrivals, down from over 207,000 in 2004.
February 2005 saw nearly 202,000 cruise visitors, up from nearly 193,000 in 2004.
March 2005 saw over 252,000 cruise passengers arrive, up from just under 231,000 in 2004.
This figure for March 2005 was the highest number of cruise visitors ever recorded.
For details see http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics.
The Marriott Beach Resort reopened at the start of June. The Ritz-Carlton, still
on schedule to open at the end of the year, have announced details of two of
Blue, by Eric Ripert (chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, the top rated
restaurant in New York), will be a fine dining seafood restaurant while Periwinkle,
also by Eric Ripert, will offer an al fresco Mediterranean experience overlooking
the resort's waterways. Richard Brower, currently Sous Chef at Le Bernardin, will
be Chef de Cuisine for both restaurants.
The Indies Suites will
not be reopening. St. Matthew's University School of Medicine has bought the property
for US$1.3 million and will be using it for dormitory accommodation for
approximately 87 students. The University has also bought an adjacent plot of land for
This has left many time share owners at Indies Suites unhappy as it is unlikely they will get
Owner Ronnie Foster explained that alhough he had the property insured for
$2.5, his insurance company had told him that he was 50% underinsured.
"I was insured for what the bank required me to be insured for to get the mortgage.
I didn’t know anything about underinsurance."
Mr. Foster said he’s been told Indies Suites was 50 per cent uninsured.
He said that the $200,000 interim insurance settlement payment received three months after the storm, wasn't enough to
make repairs. As the roof was blown off, the property suffered furhter damage as he wasn't
able to make repairs. He explained
"The bank was taking a $30,000 mortgage out every month and the Labour Board came down on me and made me pay the employees one week salary for every year they were there, which was another $54,000."
Mr Foster said that the money raised by the sale was used to pay off the mortgage.
Just a reminder that the hurricane season has started; the names to look out for this year
are: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, Jose,
Katrina, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma.
A ban on matches and lighters on Cayman Airways flights came into effect on Thursday 14th April.
This follows the introduction of a ban by the US authorities on lighters being
carried on flights in either carry-on luggage or checked-in luggage as they are
considered a fire hazard. The US ban follows in the wake of the convicted
shoe-bomber who tried to light explosives on a Paris-Miami flight back in December 2001. The
Cayman Islands Airport Authority have gone further than the US authorities in
also banning matches from carry on luggage.
In my trip report last month I commented on the lack of greenery and how much of the
island was covered by dead vegetation. Fortunately I'm not the only one
to have commented on it and a National Tree Planting and Preservation Committee (NTPPC) has been formed.
With representatives from a range of government departments, the Cayman Islands National Trust, the Cayman
Beautification Committee, nursery and landscaping businesses, and others, the 16-strong
committee will be assessing the tree planting requirements of the islands. The
NTPPC will also be supporting the efforts of the National Trust’s tree planting drive on Earth Day, Friday 22 April.
It looks like the Treasure Islands resort will soon have a new owner. Negotiations are
being finalised for local businessman Harry Lalli and his brother Amrit Gill to buy the property. According to
Jeff Coyne, the receiver appointed by Scotia Bank in September 2003 , the sale amount is less than the total
owed to creditors estimated at $17 million. Secured creditors (including Scotia Bank that holds the mortgage) will be the
Lalli and Gill intend to refurbish the property for long term rentals. Mr Lalli owns the Jolly Roger, Cuba Vacations, Matrix and
the Next Level. Mr Gill specialises in refurbishing old properties and is a developer in St Louis.
A young visitor suffered serious injuries when visiting Stingray City sandbar when he was attacked by a moray eel. It
is though that the eel mistook the boy's hand for squid, which is often used to feed the rays and other fish
at the attraction. The boy was rushed to George Town hospital for surgery, and was airlifted to the US the
There have been a number of incidents where this eel has bitten visitors and divers, but this attack was
the most serious incident. The Department of the Environment has advised against feeding, but a clear policy
has yet to be agreed and implemented with the watersports operators. The DOE has also been asked to assist in
relocating the eel. However, in time there is a chance that another eel may move into the vicinity.
Red Sail Sports' Rod McDowell who was the past president of the Watersports section of the
Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) explained "There has been this controversy on feeding, and
we have been going back and forward on that."
"I know that staff on the boat are the ones who should do the feeding, not the customers. This last incident was
not related to the feeding of the animal. I know that the eels get a little aggressive but there is nothing more
dms Broadcasting Ltd have launched three new radio stations.
HOT 104.1 FM plays a mix of R&B, reggae, soca and calypso music.
KISS 106.1 FM plays gold tracks from the 1970s to today.
X 107.1 FM plays contemporary and alternative hit music.
The Performance Freediving Team were in Cayman for their "2005 Diver Down" event.
Freediving or breath-hold diving is a type of advanced snorkeling where divers go
to incredible depths on just one lungful of air. As in all sports, there are a
variety of disciplines combining time, depth and distance.
Two new Constant No-Fins World Records
(the diver swims down to and back from depth without fins) were set by team members Martin Stepanek
with a dive to 80m and Mandy-Rae Cruickshank with a dive to 50m. Mandy also
set Free Immersion (where a diver pulls on a safety line to and back from depth
without fins) to 74m and Martin made a dive to 136m in Variable Ballast
(a weighted sled takes the diver down to their required depth and they then swim
back to the surface). Dr. George Lopez set a new US national record in Variable Ballast with a dive to 61m.
I think I'll stick to regular scuba diving, but have to admire these folks
for their stamina and guts, even though I think they must be slightly mad!
The groudbreaking ceremony of Dart Realty's Camana Bay development took
place this month. The development will stretch from Seven Mile Beach to
North Sound, covering 300 acres. The development includes residential neighborhoods, parks
a new international school and a Town Centre with shopping, dining, business and entertainment.
The first phase, the town centre, is due to open next year, but the whole project will take up to 30 years to develop.
Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park reopened to visitors at the end of the month.
The Cayman Islands have won six prestigious awards from
Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine in their readers' poll. Cayman won in the categories
Friendliest People, Best Diving, Best Snorkeling, Best Beach (Seven Mile Beach) and Best
All–round Destination. Cayman's Hyatt Regency Hotel also won Best Large Hotel.
The islands continue to recover from Hurricane Ivan.
It was announced by Government that Phase 1 of the Cayman Islands Recovery Operations (CIRO)
for the collection and removal of 300,000 cubic yards of debris was over.
Orrett Connor, chairman of CIRO confirmed said that collection covered by the
$10.7 million contract was over. MC Restoration will not be making any more collections,
but will continue to process the debris already collected. It will now be up to
residents and businesses to make arrangements for disposal of any remaining debris.
No plans have yet been made for the removal of vast amounts of dead vegetation that
still lies around the island, and this has lead to fears of potential fires.
Phase 2 of the recovery operations focuses on the creations of a
National Disaster Plan. Government are calling on external consultants
James L. Witt and Associates and the United Nations Development Programme to help.
With only a few months to go to the next hurricane season, many Caymanians are not
taking the risk of staying on the island through the worst of the hurricane season.
According to reports, all Cayman Airways flights form the islands are fully booked
through July, August and September. This has happened before the first forecast
of the severity of the 2005 hurricane season had been made. Eminent forecaster
William Gray, Professor of Atmospheric Science, and his team from Department of Atmospheric Science at the
Colorado State University believe that there will be seven named hurricanes,
13 named storms, with an above-average risk of hurricane landfall in the Caribbean.
The full report can be seen at
Maybe surprisingly, many businesses are reporting a boom, from sales of
souvenir at the Hard Rock Café to car rentals. Some of this can be
attributed to people replacing and refurbishing properties. Some
restaurants are booming despite the low-level of stay-over tourists.
Foster's at the Strand has re-opened. The new store has more checkouts
and a larger hot food counter.
A 30-foot long sea vent near Rum Point is spewing out hot water at a fast rate.
Surrounding corals are reported as being red and hot, and they are being killed off
by the sulphurs and irons. The Department of Environment have installed a
temperature sensor to monitor the crack, but so far there has not been an
Cabinet has given approval for "The Lost City or Atlantis" to be constructed
underwater off Cayman Barc - see the news item from
last December's newsletter
Unfortunately at the end of the month there were three gun-related incidents, leaving
one person dead. It is though that these were related to gang wars over drugs.
On Monday 28th a shooting incident outside Pirate’s Cove pub in the East End left Sheldon Brown injured; he was
taken to the George Town hospital. A house in Bodden Town was shot at on Tuesday
evening, but no one was hurt. On Wednesday afternoon a 28–year–old man was shot and killed at the
George Town Hospital in an incident police described as retaliation for the attack on Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown was subsequently released from hospital so no more incidents are expected there.
Wednesday also saw an 18 year old man shot at in West Bay; this hasn't been linked to
the other incidents. Security at the hospital has been tightened and the number of
visitors is being controlled.
The annual Batabano festival has been scheduled to run from Wednesday 4th May
to Sunday 8th May. The theme of this year's festival is "Celebrating all cultures as one".
Events include an International Song Competition on the Wednesday,
and the Masquerade Ball on Thursday - a dinner/dance under the stars at St. Pedro's
Castle. A new event for the Friday is the Friday Fete featuring a concert by a guest star.
Saturday features the traditional parade and street festival. The events are
rounded off by the Sunday Beach Fete and Poker Run.
The festival's web site at
been updated since last year, but may be worth keeping an eye on for when they do!
Fancy a new car called the Cayman S? German car manufacturer Porsche have announced a new
two-seater coupé which will be based on the Boxster series of cars. Their
publicity says their inspiration is the Cayman crocodile (rather than the islands)
as in the crocodile world the Cayman is a relatively small but very nimble athlete.
The Cayman is acknowledged as a highly specialised hunter with strength and
agility, quick reflexes and clear target orientation. For a promotional video visit
According to government figures published after the autumn 2004 Labour Force Survey,
taken between 20th November and 27th November 2004, the population of the
Cayman Islands has dropped by nearly 10,000 from 42,397 to 33,853.
The unemployment rate was 4.4% (about the same as April 2004).
This has impacted on the number of work permits issued: at the end of January
there were 7,289 temporary work permit holders, up from 3,415 before
Hurricane Ivan. Over the same period, annual permit holders have dropped from 15,287 to 12,852.
Recognising that there has been a "brain-drain" of professionals from the islands,
the Government announced that the Business Staffing Plan Board has approved
applications for key employees to be exempted from the seven year limit on work permit renewals.
Under the Immigration Law passed in December 2003 but that came into effect in May 2004,
the seven year limit was introduced but allowed for employees to be exempted.
Employees could be exempted if it could be shown that the permit holder held skills
that were not common in Cayman, or that the loss of the person would have a damaging effect on the business concerned.
If an employee was exempted, it would allow them to stay in Cayman for nine years,
but after eight years they are able to apply for permanent residency
(although with no guarantees that their application would be successful).
The hope is that by approving exemptions, businesses it will find it easier to
retain returning and aid recruiting top-level professionals post Hurricane Ivan.
The Labour Force Survey also
found that about 20% of the population were no longer living in the same accommodation
that they occupied before Hurricane Ivan. Further details are available from the
Economics & Statistics Office (ESO) website at
http://www.eso.ky/, and the full report is
available as a Word document at
The ESO have also published the December 2004 Consumer Prices Index at
which shows that inflation is running at 4.4%. However, when this overall figure
is broken down, it shows that prices for Housing increased by over 30%, but this
increase is attributable to higher rental prices and home insurance premiums.
The clothing sector saw prices drop by over 4%.
Believe it or not, the Cayman Islands has an ice hockey team!
The team, Cayman Breakaway, went to Canada to take part in the 2005 World Pond
Hockey Championships. Unfortunately the team didn't make it through to the final, but
did win two of their five qualifying matches.
The overall winners, the Boston Danglers, celebrated their win with Tortuga Rum
A cricket team from Cayman was in Malaysia takinq part in the ICC World Cup Qualifying
Series. Unfortunately the team didn't advance to the next round, but did win
matches against Zambia, Italy and Kuwait.
Three of the big hotels have revised their planned re-opening dates post Hurricane Ivan.
278-room Treasure Islands have said that they won't reopen in March/April but can't
yet give a new date. The delay is being put down to issues with contractors and insurance.
Similar problems with contractors and insurance has delayed re-opening at
the 309-room Marriott Resort. Their new timeline is for a partial opening in June 2005,
and a full opening in August 2005.
There has been no official word from the Hyatt, where their 53-room beach suites have
been open since December 2004. However, according to reports in the press,
the main part of the resort with 239 rooms will not reopen until February 2006.
While the clean-up of the island by MC Restoration continues, there is more controversy
about how the contract was awarded. A private investigation firm in Miami,
Intelligence & Security Consultants, has filed a report with the US
Department of Justice, alleging possible breaches of US law. Before the tender was
awarded to MC Restoration, a bid from MC of Fla was rejected by the National
Recovery Committee, shortly after which the Committee was disbanded and
replaced by the Cayman Islands Recovery Operation (CIRO).
According to the report "MC of Fla, Inc. and/or its principals offered a
financial inducement in writing in order to secure the original contract for
which they tendered, in apparent contravention of the FCPA."
FCPA refers to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which "prohibits corrupt
payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business".
In this instance, it is alleged that the original bid by MC of Fla included
an inducement that in their bid letter that they would make a
contribution "at the end of the contract … to the recently established Cayman Recovery Fund."
As the same principals are involved in both companies, the attorney acting for
MC Restoration, has said that the allegations "are completely unfounded and
there is no evidence to support the claims".
One of the principals of MC Restoration, Tom Moffitt, said that everything they
had done to get the contract was legal and above board and that any offers
made to donate to the hurricane fund were genuine offers and not an inducement.
According to Cayman Islands Recovery Operation operations manager Mark Scotland,
removal of cars damaged by Hurricane Ivan to the United States for disposal is about to start.
MC Restoration have so far identified just over 1,500 vehicles for disposal, much
lower that the figure of 10,000 destroyed estimated by Cayman's insurance companies.
One spokesman for an insurance company wasn't surprised at the discrepancy in the numbers,
and explained that many cars damaged by the hurricane were repairable, even if
they had suffered storm surge damage. Also, some damaged cars had already been
shipped to Honduras and Jamaica. As MC Restoration were contracted to
dispose of 8,000 vehicles, Mr Scotland said that he would try to
"encourage the Government to take advantage of the opportunity by
removing some of the cars at the landfill".
Cayman has another radio station. Spin 94.9 FM is Cayman's first dance music station.
Their web site is under development, but they are already streaming their broadcasts
on the Internet - see the link on their website at
There is still controversy on the contract for clearing up after Hurricane Ivan
awarded to MC Restoration. The company has admitted that they have no Caymanian
shareholders, but are employing over 200 Caymanians and have about 20 local
sub-contractors. The company has been forced to send some heavy clearing
equipment back to the US as their use contravene the Local Companies Control License (LCCL).
McKeeva Bush, Leader of Government Business, has issued a writ against Cayman
Net News and its publisher Mr Desmond Seales, alleging that Mr Bush’s reputation
has been damaged by the publication of a contribution to the newspaper’s online forum.
The writ alleges that the posting suggested that there were strong grounds to
suspect that Mr Bush was secretly involved in MC Restoration, the company granted
the 10 million dollar debris removal contract by the Cayman Islands Government,
and that he was accordingly involved in gravely serious corruption for his own financial gain.
The first batch of trailers homes, to be used at temporary accommodation, have
been delivered and allocated. There have been over 50 applications that have
been prioritised according to need by the Cayman Islands Recovery Operations
(CIRO) subcommittee on Temporary Housing.
Each trailer can accommodate up to six people. Eleven trailers will go to
families in West Bay, seven to George Town, five to Bodden Town and three to East End.
Most of the temporary homes will be sited on the tenant's own properties.
The Kirkconnell family have leased a plot of land on the corner of Boilers
Road and South Church Street in George Town to the Tourism Attractions Board (TAB),
for the Cayman Craft Market. The lease has been granted for three years at
the nominal sum of CI$1 per year.
A report given by two Department of Environment representatives at the 25th
Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation in Savannah, Georgia, highlighted
the hurricane damage to turtle nests in Cayman.
In Grand Cayman, 54% of nests with eggs in them at the time of the hurricane
were either buried in sand or washed away. In Little Cayman 60% of nests were
destroyed and in Cayman Brac the figure was 75%. In total 37 nests with eggs were
Other post Hurricane Ivan news:
Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) have announced that they have managed to restore
power to all districts on Grand Cayman. Of CUC's 21,600 off customers before the
storm, about 18,000 have been reconnected. CUC's Chief Executive Officer Richard
Hew said "Our initial target was to restore power within 90 days. We beat that target by two weeks".
CUC chartered four ships and six planes to bring in supplies including six
concrete poles, 500 wooden poles, 152 miles of cable and 700 transformers.
Some work is still outstanding.
A portion of the submarine cable used to supply the North Side area was damaged
when a boat sunk on the cable and damaged the insulation. A specialist firm,
ABB Sweden, will start work on repairing the cable in February. They will have
to float the cable, cut out the damage section and splice in a replacement section.
Work is still to be done along the Harquail bypass, and plans are in place to raise
all generating equipment a foot or two and replace all wooden poles with concrete poles.
Ms Pilar Bush, who previously held the positions of acting director and deputy
director with the Department of Tourism, has been appointed as the new Director
of Tourism for the Cayman Islands. The Governor, Mr. Bruce Dinwiddy, has
approved the promotion from 1st January 2005.
To comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code that is
required for cruise port facilities, improvements are being made at Spotts Dock.
These will allow Spotts to be used as a secondary cruise ship landing when George Town dock
is inaccessible because of bad weather.
One of the first requirements is to improve security at the site; a fence that
goes from the water to the road has been constructed. An advisor from the UK was
due to visit at the end of the month to help decide when the Spots facilities can
become operational again. Spotts can only handle a maximum of two cruise ships.
So far this season, cruise ships have had to bypass Cayman six times because of bad
weather - twice in December and four times in January.