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News from Cayman - 2005


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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.

November 2005

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 and Subway.

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 sworn in.

Government has published proposals for a Freedom of Information Bill. The Bill will make it easier for the public to get access to official documents, Copies of the proposed bill are available online at

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 pre-Ivan levels.

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.

October 2005

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 gang-related activities".

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 purchase works. 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 for photography.

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.

September 2005

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 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 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 (formerly 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 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).

August 2005

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 It is available from the publishers for $40 including shipping. For details see

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) see

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 emergency generators.

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 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 Kurt Tibbetts 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 residents.

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

This seems to be the month for stamps! A special CI$0.30 stamp and souvenir sheetlet of 8 stamps for CI$2.40 has been issued in memory of Pope John Paul II. The press release at shows the souvenir sheetlet. A new issue of stamps featuring Cayman Islands Orchids have been issued. The issue of six stamps and one souvenir sheet range in value from CI$0.15 to CI$2. For details (including pictures of some of the stamps) see the press release at Two new stamps to celebrate 100 years of Rotary have been released. A copy of the press release (in Adobe PDF format) showing the stamps is available at For more information contact the Philatelic Bureau at

July 2005

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.

For further details check out the website at or e-mail

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 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.

June 2005

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 FAQ. 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.

May 2005

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

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 their restaurants. 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 US$1.5 million. This has left many time share owners at Indies Suites unhappy as it is unlikely they will get any compensation. 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.

April 2005

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 beneficiaries. 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 following day.

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 to it."

The whole idea of a policy to control feeding and Stingray City has been on the cards for some time - see my news item from May 2004 at

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.

March 2005

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 authoritative explanation.

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.

February 2005

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 hasn't 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, 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%.

If you are confused by the wide range of telephone number prefixes in use in Cayman, the Cayman Islands Telecommunications Authority (CITA) has issued a useful table listing the prefix and service provider. It will also help identify numbers that are mobile/GSM or fixed/landlines. For details see

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 and Rumcakes. 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".

January 2005

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 destroyed.

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.

The full text of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report on the impact of Hurricane Ivan mentioned last month has now been made available online at

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.

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