New lift and accommodation options in the horizon
Now that the Cayman Islands has been reopened for tourism for a year, the destination is seeing strong recovery numbers.
“So far for the first eight months of the year, we welcomed approximately 308,000 stay-over visitors to the destination,” Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism for the Cayman Islands, shared during a press briefing at the State of the Industry Conference in Turks and Caicos. “We are having a very strong year.”
Although the majority of travellers to the destination stem from the US, Canada is No. 2 representing 6.4% of air arrivals.
For travel agents searching for upcoming openings, there are many new hotel projects in the pipeline for clients to get excited about.
“Accommodations in the Cayman Islands has actually seen an increase. Right before the lockdown we were just under 6,700 rooms and today we boast 7,500 rooms,” she added. “We have approximately 1,200 rooms that are in the pipeline the next three years.”
The first upcoming opening is VIDA Ocean Adventure Lodge, “quite a unique lower-density footprint property” set to debut in Q4 of this year. The property will feature 18 bungalows in West Bay. “What’s wonderful about VIDA is that they’re looking at being a low density sustainable property. It’s very much an adventure wellness property.”
Next up is a larger development next to the Kimpton on Seven Mile Beach, Hotel Indigo Grand Cayman, set to debut in Q2 of 2024. The 282-room property “competitively fits into a bracket of our accommodations that allows us a lot more agility in terms of volume and also competitive rates. Whilst we cherish that luxury positioning, it’s important for us to compete year round and we believe this property will help us do that.”
Set to open in Q1 of 2025 is OneGT, which will be located in downtown Georgetown, the capital city. The hotel is set to feature 177 rooms. “The business community is very happy about this.”
Kailani, a Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel, “a wellness hotel,” that will open with 80 rooms across 1, 2 and 3 bedroom configurations is also set for 2025.
Finally, the Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences, slated for a 2026 opening, will feature 190 hotel rooms and 167 condo residences.
In terms of lift, currently there are 727,290 seats into the destination across 4,184 flights but Harris points out that it’s not yet back to 2019 levels.
Notably, Cayman Airways is now participating in TSA PreCheck, re-launched a route to Panama in June, just launched direct service to Bridgetown, Barbados for the first time on Oct. 18 and is adding a second flight to Los Angeles in November to increase to twice weekly service (Wednesdays and Saturdays).
On the activities side, for clients who enjoy pickleball, Pickleball Cayman is now open, with 12 courts.
With cruises bringing in 876,686 passengers from January to August, she added that “cruise is a very bright spot in our tourism sector.”