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News from Cayman 1998/1999

September/October 1999

Another visit to the island to visit family and friends and check-out the latest changes. Construction continues everywhere you look. The old Island Taste building has been knocked down to build a new Hard Rock Café, land has been cleared for the new Carlton Ritz Resort (condos and hotel) on either side of West Bay Road at the old Holiday Inn site and plans are in to build a new Holiday Inn in front of Indies Suites. Foster's have renovated their Airport store; it includes more floor space, new fresh food counters, ScotiaBank, Big Daddy's Liquors and Island Photo.

Some of the properties at the south end of Seven Mile Beach were left without sand following the heavy winds and rains caused by Tropical Storm Irene (before it developed into a hurricane), once again proving that the tail end of the hurricane season tends to produce winds and rains that cause most danger and damage to the islands.

June/July 1999

The Stingray Bowling Alley situated in The Greenery (the old Foster's supermarket) has opened. It has six lanes and costs are CI$4.00 per frame. Friday and Saturday evening feature a Glo-Ball; all the lights are switch off and the balls are lit by neon and disco lights.

There are now three Internet Cafés on the island; West Bay Polo Club, Chelsea's and PD's.

There is a new restaurant at the Kaibo Yacht Club. A free ferry service is available from Safe Haven.

April 1999

A ground-braking ceremony took place over Easter for the new National Gallery that will be situated on the new Harquil Bypass. Local artists and visiting artists will be able to showcase their work in a professional atmosphere.

March 1999

Cruise Ship Ban on Sundays! After April 30th 1999, no cruise ships will be allowed to call on Grand Cayman on a Sunday or any other religious holidays. This ban which was to have taken effect on January 1st 1999 was amended to allow those ships booked through the end of April 1999 to land. This amounted to 50 cruise ships which had been booked from the previous year. The announcement of the ban was made after a two year study was conducted by Government felt the time had come for implementation. The government want to ensure that Sundays still remain as a day of worship. "Restoring the sanctity and observing Sundays, Christmas and Good Friday sends a strong message about the importance of Christian values in this country" said one Government official. Needless to say, a committee of concerned business people are now seeking a meeting with Government officials to discuss a compromise or alternative to this ban.

Hurley's Supermarket, the anchor store for the new Cayman Grand Harbour Shopping Mall, will open in late March. Located in Red Bay, just east of the South Sound Road intersection, this 194-acre development will house 30 retail stores, a theatre, restaurants, and other amenities. The complex was designed in a colourful pastel West Indian architectural style. Plans over the next three years call for development of a marina, hotel and conference centre. The supermarket is more than 30,000 square feet and will contain a bakery, delicatessen, prepared food sections, sandwich bar, salad bar and café. The café will from time to time host local art and live music shows. Store hours are 7am - 9pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and 7am - 11pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Foster's Food Fare opened a new store in George Town on 19th March. Called Red Street Market, it's main line is serving cold and hot food and sandwich bar (all sold at $3.79 per pound) for all of the office workers and tourists off the cruise ships. It also has a small supermarket selling essential items, magazines and drinks. It is open Monday to Friday 7am to 7pm. It is the first food store to open in the centre of down since Comart's was closed over a year ago. It has been so successful that they are now considering opening on Saturdays.

February 1999

Morritt's Tortuga Club developers have submitted plans to government for a CI$500 million hotel in East End that would be built south of the existing Morritt's Tortuga Club. It will be named Morritt's Grand Hotel and would encompass 219 all suite one and two bedrooms along with several executive suites. The five story hotel would be done in a Caribbean style architecture with underground parking and will also include a restaurant, bar and several retail stores. Most units will have a ocean view and some will face an interior courtyard. The application for the new hotel comes as Morritt's Tortuga Club is in the midst of constructing another phase of its time share units.

January 1999

The Beachfront suites at the Hyatt Regency has now opened. The five-floor complex includes over 50 suites, new pools, a fitness centre, shops, etc. Red Sail Sports are now operating at the Royal Palms as well.

Construction work has started on a new Comfort Suites resort next to the Marriott, due for completion in December 1999. Foster's Food Fare (aka Foster's Social Club) has taken over the Republix supermarket in West Bay. Hurley's have opened their new store and complex including a café, theatre and restaurants.

The bus service has now been formalised. There is a new depot in George Town, next to the library. There are eight routes in operation each with a distinctive colour. The routes are: 1 & 2 go to West Bay, 3 goes to Bodden Town, 4 goes to East End, 5 goes to East End and NorthSide, 6 goes from North Side to West Bay, 7 operates in the George Town area and 8 runs to Hutland in North Side. Maximum fare is about $2.

December 1998

I returned to the islands for a holiday. Once again I managed to go diving with Red Sail Sports, my favourite watersports company on the island who now operate out of the Hyatt Regency, the Westin Casuarina, the Marriott and Rum Point.

There have been many changes since our last visit in September 1997. We were delighted to find that the Outback Steakhouse has opened on the island. We came across this Aussie-styled steak house when driving through Florida and were impressed by the quality and value of their meals. Of course, on Cayman the prices are somewhat higher!

Construction continues everywhere! The Holiday Inn, the first hotel on the island, has been knocked down to be replaced at some stage by a Ritz/Carlton hotel. The Hyatt have demolished the little cottage-style boutiques beside the road and built another block of rooms, shops, swimming pools and dive shop, with a foot bridge across West Bay Road. What used to be Santiago's has been knocked down and another office block and shops constructed (Buckingham Square).

West Bay Road is now three lanes, with the middle lane for turning and pedestrian islands. A new road has been built between the cinema on West Bay Road and Tortuga Rum on the Airport Estate to take some of the traffic congestion away from George Town. All the houses now have numbers - apparently to assist the emergency services - my wife remembers when there weren't even any road names so this is quite a revolution! In the centre of town opposite the Post Office the Comart supermarket has been knocked down to be replaced by another office block. On Crewe Road, near the junction with South Sound Road a new church/school has been built, and Hurley's are constructing a new supermarket complex near by. Cruise ships now dock every day of the week, but there is now a suggestion that they shouldn't be allowed to visit on Sundays.

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