Friday 30 October, 2020

Iconic Caymanian property, The Cayman Islander, sells for $18 million

The Cayman Islander Hotel

The Cayman Islander Hotel

The Cayman Islander Hotel… just the name will flood many Caymanian residents and visitors with memories of good times past.  Emerging on to the fledgeling tourism industry in the early 1970s, this property has a special place in the history of the Cayman Islands and many Caymanians' hearts.

Historic and iconic, the property thrived amongst tourists and locals alike. For decades, The Cayman Islander was a true gathering place where people from all corners of the globe found common ground to the tunes of Bob Marley, swaying coconut trees, tropical libations and a truly authentic Caribbean Vibe.

Like a skilled soca dancer, the Islander’s business plan ebbed and flowed to the beats of various economies as they changed from decade to decade. A few may still have infamous Cayman Islander “Doubloons” stuffed in their forgotten draws. At one time, these “doubloons” were the currency on property. 

To help visitors forget the reality of home far away, tourists would exchange their modern currency and be taken back to the days of pirates and traders alike using “doubloons” to purchase food, drinks and merchandise during their stay. Lost in the tropics… if only for a few days, or a week or two.

In 2004, the Cayman Islander was struck a major blow by Hurricane Ivan. For one reason or another, the property would wait patiently for its rebirth.  Years have gone by since the sounds of laughter and good times resonated through the breezeways and pool decks, but if you stand real still, the echo of dominos and dancing can be heard amongst the tradewinds.

A few years ago, Diamond Properties was honoured with the responsibility of finding the property’s next owner and caretaker. An entity worthy of the Caymanian spirit that is so alive in this property,  as a company, Diamond Properties is completely rooted in the heritage of the Cayman Islands and its people. The search for the perfect proprietor began.

Earlier this year, as it was engaged in showing the 5.67-acre landmark to prospective investors, Diamond Properties decided to move its offices to the old Caymanian Cottage that sits on the edge of the Cayman Islander property, fronting West Bay Road. The building itself is over 50 years old and sat quiet and closed for the last 15 years. Broker and Owner, Paula McCartney set out to breathe new life and revive the Cayman Cottage of yesteryear.  

As a top producer in the industry, actively selling real estate in the Cayman Islands for over 15 years and holding a number of sale records, McCartney is proud of her 100% Caymanian owned and operated real estate company and is a true Caymanian ambassador. The sale of this iconic landmark was more than just a professional ambition, it was a patriotic calling.

During the renovations, McCartney and her team took great joy in the customary passers-by who would stop in to share stories and memories, many ending with, “what a time!” as they journeyed into history. At lumberyards and home stores, they were approached by the original builders of the property who would recall days of past and the pride that owner, carpenter and labourer all held and still hold in being a part of the Cayman Islander’s story.

And almost, as if overnight, everything changed. 

"We salvaged and mounted the shipwreck backdrop that originally hung behind the front desk of The Cayman Islander Hotel and were putting the final touches on the revitalisation when we all became members of the #stayhome movement," recalls McCartney.

In late February, just as the world was becoming aware of what would become the global coronavirus pandemic, Diamond Properties was approached by interested investors.

And during this critical period in world history, when the foundations of economies both large and small were undergoing the ultimate test of their resilience, the contract was signed. 

"No small feat to be sure, but as in days of old, it was all hands on deck," McCartney explains.

The continuation and closing of the contract, at the height of COVID-19, firmly bolsters the long-time confidence investors have always had in the future of The Cayman Islands. It is a reminder that we will soon be open for business.

The team reached out for assistance to the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce President, Woody Foster as well as the Honourable Minister for Commerce Planning & Infrastructure, Joseph Hew, who together, immediately understood the importance and benefit of this transaction to Cayman and provided all of the support required to make what seemed to be impossible, possible. 

Paula McCartney, Broker and Owner of Diamond Properties

"Our tried and true pillars of strength have been further braced during this time by the immediate and swift response to this fluid, medical and economic catastrophe," remarks McCartney. "Government’s commitment and direction has been an example to the world that we continue to be the symbol of excellence for safety, stability, security of investment and world-class financial, legal and accounting services.  As a country and a people, we will not waiver, and this historical sale at this particular time in the global arena is proof that our investor confidence will also stand strong." 

So, what will be the future for this property? What song will she dance to when the economic music starts to play? That song remains to be written, however, it is certain that Caymanians will be sitting on the edge of the dance floor looking in awe at the beautiful phoenix as it emerges from the ashes once again.

"At Diamond Properties, we don’t equate luxury to a dollar figure," says McCartney of the heritage of the property and this great achievement that can bring pride to Cayman during an unsettling time. "My ethos is that luxury is how you can make someone feel; everyone deserves luxury-- that elevated quality and level of service that you can provide to anyone and everyone, no matter what their investment parameters are." 

"A blessing from God, the Cayman Islands are where I was raised," McCartney continues. "For over 40 years I have grown up, embraced the people and customs and have both adopted and been adopted by this paradise on earth.  My children were born and raised here and despite not having a branch of our family tree that goes back 400 years, our hearts truly beat Caymanian."


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