Seafire: More than a hotel

What makes a resort a success? For Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, success is a combination of high design in a natural environment, intuitive service from staff and an ethos that elevates the guest to connect with the Cayman Islands' culture and heritage. The management at the resort prides itself on incorporating sustainable practices focussing on the business, the environment and the people, be it staff or guests. For Dart as the developer, success is defined by practices, results and recognition. The stories below demonstrate how Seafire has become more than a hotel.

Seafire: More than a hotel

Economic impact

Site preparations for the resort began during the aftermath of a global financial recession that reached the Cayman Islands’ shores. The project was born out of an agreement between Dart and the Cayman Islands Government, part of an economic stimulus package that included infrastructure and community programmes. When it opened in November 2016, Seafire became the first major hospitality property to open on Grand Cayman in more than a decade. A year later, The Residences at Seafire opened next door, offering luxury residences with access to all the resort's amenities. Located on the acclaimed Seven Mile Beach, the design-forward resort has made waves on both the local and international landscape. 

Work on Seafire began in late 2012, when the country was recovering from the global recession that had reached its shores four years earlier. A 2015 Deloitte Economic Impact Assessment estimated the impact during construction would be in excess of US$285 million. The project construction resulted in more than 4.1 million hours of work, which equated to 400 jobs.

Growing local talent is integral to the ethos at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. Seafire now employs approximately 450 staff members, about third of whom are Caymanian or permanent residents. There is also what Seafire management calls a "Wonder Woman" division - female leaders who are taking their place at the company.

Since opening its doors three years ago, the resort has gone on to win accolade after accolade. In 2017, it was awarded the AAA Five Diamond Rating — the highest possible designation from the travel authority. In 2019, the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards named Seafire the third-best resort in the Caribbean and number 36 in the world. As well in 2018, American Spa’s Global Spa & Wellness Awards named Seafire the Best Spa in the Caribbean. Seafire has also been named one of the top five new properties in the prestigious Virtuoso “Best of the Best” Awards 2018 and invited into American Express’s exclusive Fine Hotels and Resorts programme.

Environmental impact

With the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, Kimpton and Dart take sustainability to a new level. The resort and the adjacent Residences at Seafire are on track to join the ranks of less than 200 resort-residential properties worldwide to achieve LEED® Silver certification, a globally recognised building designation that recognises best-in-class sustainable design, building practices and operations. Dart's landscape experts have ensured local species of flora are used on the property, propagated at the Dart Nursery. Seafire's Guardians have teamed up with Dart staff to actively monitor the Seven Mile Beach stretch during turtle nesting season.

Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa integrates a number of sustainable features into its design and fit-out, including the use of recycled materials in construction, a ground-source geothermal air conditioning system, one of the largest solar panel arrays in the Cayman Islands and the use of LED light bulbs throughout the resort.

Seafire team members work closely with the Department of Environment as  “Guardians” on initiatives like turtle nest monitoring and reef restoration. All outdoor lighting near the beach at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, including lighting at the beach bar Coccoloba, is turtle-friendly, meaning that the light is angled downwards to prevent it from shining on the beach as nesting turtles and hatchlings confuse artificial light with the moonlight that directs them towards the sea.

Resort and residential buildings are set far back beyond the high water mark. With a generous 12-acre site, the design team was able to locate the structures east of the natural vegetation line. This allows for the beach’s natural dynamic movement, preventing beach erosion. The landscaping design at Kimpton Seafire also makes extensive use of native plants that on average require less water than their exotic counterparts. Several large cisterns exist solely to collect rainwater which is then used to water the lush landscape of the resort grounds.

Social impact

In all aspects of its building design and resort operations, it's clear that Seafire is dedicated itself to being "of the place." Whether its the ethos of the staff where they are encouraged to "Be yourself," the 400 plus cultural nods you can find throughout the resort or the pets who are lovingly welcomed because they are quite simply family, there is no doubt that Seafire has woven itself into the fabric of the Cayman Islands. 

The vision for the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is to evoke Grand Cayman’s past, present and future. With classic British colonial touches, rustic thatch rope and contemporary local artwork the design of the resort is imbued with Caymanian culture. One of the most potent symbols of Cayman’s culture and rich maritime heritage is the Cayman catboat. The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is helping to keep the tradition of catboat building alive with the addition of its own Cayman catboat, Miss Ola, as the design focal point in the library of the resort lobby.

While the accolades raise the profile of both Seafire and the Cayman Islands as a premier Caribbean destination, the resort pushes the boundaries to ensure the experience of anyone who walks through its doors is curated and fun. The people and culture of those who work at the resort embody the slogan “Be yourself.”

At Seafire, pets are welcomed like family members. One recent guest at the resort says having her rescue dog stay with them made their Staycation even better.