“It’s good to be back.”
That was the message from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman resort on Wednesday, as the luxury hotel threw open its doors once more, after a $50 million renovation.
The first guests to visit since before the pandemic began were checked in as the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the rejuvenated property was taking place.
An unexpected last-minute booking, those visitors had the resort to themselves, once the celebrations died down.
The Ritz-Carlton general manager, Marc Langevin, at the resort’s reopening on 15 Dec. – Photo: Alvaro Serey
“We were not planning on having any visitors on the first night, but they booked on Tuesday and arrived the next day. They have been waiting two years to come here,” manager Marc Langevin told the Cayman Compass.
Speaking earlier, to a crowd of guests and dignitaries gathered outside the hotel, he hailed the lavishly refurbished resort as a statement that the Cayman Islands was back in business as the luxury destination of choice for the Caribbean.
He hailed the resort’s owners, Dart Real Estate, for their faith and investment in the venue at a time of uncertainty.
“They have shown confidence in The Ritz-Carlton and the Cayman Islands to come out of this period stronger than ever before,” he said.
The hotel’s lobby area and bar, public spaces and conference rooms have all undergone a refit. The guest rooms, residential suites, meeting spaces, gallery and beach bar have also been upgraded.
The reopening coincided with the 16th birthday of the hotel and Langevin said the upgrades should ensure it retained its status at the forefront of luxury Caribbean destinations.
“Today we celebrate, not only the reopening of The Ritz-Carlton but the opportunity for our rejuvenated resort to generate excitement in the community and attention for the reopening of the Cayman Islands to its visitors.”
Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan declared the event a “sweet 16” for The Ritz-Carlton and said the renovation had come at the “perfect time” for Cayman.
He added, “I applaud the Dart organisation for being bold in seizing this opportunity to further invest in the Cayman Islands by undertaking his extensive renovation at a time when the industry is emerging from the most destructive, disruptive public health crisis of our time.”
Bryan added that the reopening of the borders, the return of airlines and the investment in attractions like The Ritz-Carlton were generating hope for the future of tourism.
Justin Howe, president of real estate asset management at Dart, said more than $50 million had been spent on the resort, with the owner fast-tracking plans originally scheduled for 2025. He said 37 local contractors had worked on the renovation, with 225 people on site, getting the job done amid the challenges of the pandemic, quarantine requirements and global supply chain shortages.
He said the investment should ensure The Ritz-Carlton remained a “flagship for luxury in the Caribbean” and a generator of income and investment in the Cayman Islands in general.
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