Dart hotels adjust to extended global impact of COVID-19

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to spread across every sector globally and has confronted the hospitality industry worldwide with an unprecedented challenge. As the virus is widespread internationally, the Cayman Islands Government continues to prioritise the safety of the local community with a phased reopening of borders beginning 1 October that includes a 14-day quarantine period for all airport arrivals.

The conditions outlined for the soft-reopening of the borders are aimed at returning residents and long-stay visitors but are not feasible for short-stay visitors. It is clear the local economy cannot sustain the hotel business model as occupancy has fallen to 10-15% since the closure of the borders. As a result, tourism business owners have difficult decisions to make as it is currently unknown when short-term international visitors will be allowed to return.  

For the past six months, Dart provided financial support to employees at both hotels in order to bridge the gap until tourism travel resumes. As traditional tourism travel patterns are unlikely for the remainder of 2020, a more sustainable model is needed.  

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa will remain open for local guests but will need to change the operational model through high season due to the lack of international business. Operations and staffing needs are being assessed for the staff currently on island, and plans will be communicated to employees over the next few weeks. Any impacted staff will receive severance packages, including repatriation flights for international staff.

As we move forward, renovations at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman will go ahead as planned next year. The hotel will remain open for the first half of the year, and close for a few months from July to reopen later in the year. The former Comfort Suites Grand Cayman is currently closed while it is undergoing renovations.

Our focus remains on being ready and well-positioned to welcome guests when the borders fully re-open and commercial travel resumes. Dart remains committed to the long-term success of the Cayman Islands as a sought-after luxury destination and we are grateful to our hotel partners for their dedication and creativity in keeping operations going as seamlessly as possible during extenuating circumstances.