Dart's 2020 year in review

For all of us, 2020 will be an unforgettable year. The world over, we've either witnessed or experienced the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic on human life, of natural and environmental disasters, of economic turmoil and of social unrest.

However, in the midst of deep uncertainty and unprecedented changes, there has been reason to be hopeful and optimistic about a better future.  

Dart remains committed to the Cayman Islands, and where possible, has moved forward with projects and investments expected to benefit and bolster the economy. Throughout the year, the company worked with the Cayman Islands Government, the private sector and non-profit organisations to provide help and resources where needed.

Here are a few highlights of the year that Dart is proud to look back on.

Supporting the community

Our people

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global tourism industry. After the Cayman Islands closed its borders in March, Dart provided financial support to employees of Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman for the first six months. With the uncertainty of how and when borders would reopen, hotels had to adjust their operations and staffing needs in the fall and those impacted received severance packages as well as repatriation flights for international staff.

Transporting COVID-19 test kits

Relying on local connections and international relationships, the Cayman Islands secured COVID-19 test kits in April 2020. Dart is proud to have arranged and funded the aircraft used to fly 165,000 test kits from South Korea to the Cayman Islands, allowing ongoing testing of residents.

R3 Cayman Foundation

A private-sector-led fund, managed by the newly formed R3 Cayman Foundation, was created with an initial grant of CI$1 million from Ken Dart to support the areas of relief, recovery and readiness in the Cayman Islands. Mr Dart has pledged to match additional donations from individuals and corporate donors up to an additional CI$4 million. Since launching, the foundation had distributed CI$1.3 million to local non-profit organisations to support in the three identified areas.

Feeding communities

Dart joined community efforts in supporting families impacted by the lockdown and the economic fallout by donating funds to food charities including Feed Our Future and the Cayman Food Bank.

Dart-owned hotels' culinary teams also took the opportunity to utilise their resources by providing daily meals for colleagues and their families.

Supporting the economy

Real estate development

When the domestic economy gradually reopened in May, the construction industry was one of the first back to work. Dart resumed construction at multiple sites including the Cayman International School expansion, the new commercial office and 10-storey residential buildings at Camana Bay, and the OLEA residential development in partnership with NCB.

Improving infrastructure

Work on the Airport Connector Road, a project being managed by Dart after a government tender process, began in September to alleviate heavy traffic in the area. Phase one will connect the Camana Bay South Roundabout to Sparky Drive, and phase two is expected to complete the connection directly to the airport.

As part of the IDL Projects Joint Venture with Island Paving and Canadian-based firm IDL Projects, Dart project managed the airfield upgrades at Owen Roberts International Airport. The project included milling and repaving of the existing runway surface, extending the runway, filling the ponds within the airfield perimeter, and expanding the aircraft parking ramp.

New and ongoing hotel projects

Dart and InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts (IHG) announced plans for the Caribbean's first Hotel Indigo near Seven Mile Beach in December. Subject to planning approval, the 282-room hotel with multiple restaurants and a rooftop bar is slated for completion in 2024.

The former Comfort Suites hotel closed in June for renovations of the guest rooms, pool area and restaurant. The property will reopen in 2021 under a new brand.

Supporting the environment

Integrated Solid Waste Management Project

As the preferred bidder to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the new integrated solid waste management system for the Cayman Islands, the Dart-led consortium began works to remediate the George Town Landfill following a major fire on-site in March. Having laid an initial layer of fill to mitigate the risk of future fires, Dart and the Cayman Islands Government signed an early works agreement to allow the consortium to continue the remediation and capping of the landfill ahead of the full contract signing for the ISWMS, expected early in 2021.

Dart Family Park

The Dart Family Park, one of the largest public parks in Grand Cayman and the home of the Cayman Islands National Trust, underwent renovations to improve accessibility and visitor experience at the park.

2020 Tree Give

For the organisation's 2019 Christmas Give initiative, Dart pledged to donate 366 trees - one tree a day in 2020 - sourced from Dart's Nursery to publicly accessible spaces in the Cayman Islands. Though the island-wide lockdown put this initiative on hold for the first part of the year, Dart resumed the project by working with local environment group Protect Our Future to plant trees at local preschools, primary and high schools. This initiative also supported the Caribbean's regional goal of planting 1 million trees in 2020.

Supporting youth and education

Dart Scholar

Three new Dart Scholars were announced in 2020: Johnathon Bedasse received the William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship, and Erin Shaughness and Jaiden Gilbert received the Dart Scholar High School Scholarship. All three students were selected based on their exceptional academic achievements and performance in school and have joined the growing list of Dart Scholar students and alumni.

Minds Inspired

Minds Inspired hosted its 2020 Minds Inspired Robotics' FIRST Technical Challenge "SKYSTONE" which had nine participating teams from seven local high schools. The event is also sponsored by Aureum Re, Caribbean Utilities Co., Digicel and Health City Cayman Islands, together representing the areas of STEM in the local business community.

Following the relaxation of local restrictions, Minds Inspired was able to facilitate its annual Work-X programme with 15 students, two of whom completed their internships entirely from remote locations overseas. With a decline in available work experience and internship opportunities in 2020, Dart recognised the importance of facilitating these opportunities for students which also served as a great lesson for them in adaptability.

Despite not being able to host its annual career fair, Minds Inspired, through innovation and technology, launched MI Careers - a digital career fair featuring Dart employees who provide information and guidance on STEM careers. The Minds Inspired Digital Career Fair connects classrooms to careers using digital tools and serves as an additional resource for teachers and counsellors to help students navigate their career options.

Dart Annual Christmas Give

Dart continued its annual Christmas Give tradition by giving all 30 primary schools in the Cayman Islands the opportunity to select a gift from a "wish list" spanning literacy, STEM, sports, or school and art supplies. Building on its long-standing commitment to education and youth development, Dart saw an opportunity to give back to these students who have shown such adaptability and perseverance, and to the educators who have provided their unwavering support.

Looking ahead

Although 2020 presented the world with a significant number of challenges, it also brought about a renewed sense of togetherness in support of each other and allowed us to rethink methods and systems to work towards innovative and new solutions. There is no doubt that 2021 will bring its own set of challenges, however, with the opportunity to reflect on what our communities have overcome and the resilient efforts to recover and reset, Dart is focused on the future.

We remain confident in our development projects and community initiatives that we believe will help create opportunities for shared prosperity and continued growth in people, products, services and amenities that position the Cayman Islands as a sought-after destination and a great place to live.