An ‘aviation and intelligence’ firm is seeking planning permission for an airfield in Cayman Brac.
Daggaro Cayman has submitted a planning application to develop new facilities on Cayaman Brac adjacent to Brac’s commercial airport Charles Kirkconnell International Airport.
The plans, which can be reviewed at the Government Administration Building in Grand Cayman, include a 15,000-square-foot helicopter hangar, a 25,000-square-foot aircraft parking area, an office building, concrete apron and taxiway.
An extract from Daggaro’s website
“Daggaro is an aviation and aerospace services company. Pioneering emerging technologies through the exploitation and development of manned and unmanned aircraft. Daggaro has three principal areas.
1. A rotary- and fixed-wing operation; 2. Contract Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR); 3. Training for Operators engaged in multiple domain environments
Based in the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac), our services include disaster management, medical evacuation, training, law enforcement support (maritime patrol, search & rescue), contract ISR, air cargo and aircraft maintenance.”
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to constrain free movement across the globe, high-net-worth individuals who are normally globally mobile are looking at low-density jurisdictions as residency safe havens. Destinations featuring high-quality healthcare, modern infrastructure and a strong, proactive response to the pandemic demonstrate added value to those in search of privacy and safety.
With their search for places in which to seek refuge has come a review of residency-by-investment programmes by high-net-worth individuals, as it is anticipated countries will open their borders first to citizens and legal residents before welcoming back visitors.
Some of those high-net-worth individuals are looking to the Caribbean, particularly the Cayman Islands. The cosmopolitan jurisdiction is both an easily accessible tropical island and a thriving financial centre, and thus appeals to individuals considering relocation to the Cayman Islands for residency purposes.
The tax-neutral British Overseas Territory – with one of the lowest-population densities in the world – may well provide the answer for those seeking a new domicile. Whilst not the only country to offer residency through investment to high-net-worth individuals, Daniel Altneu, a senior associate at law firm Bedell Cristin, notes that the Cayman Islands offers some distinct advantages.
“In addition to its pre-eminence as a luxury vacation destination and an international financial centre, the territory boasts one of the highest GDPs and standards of living in the world,” says Altneu. “Its traditional values of community and privacy and the fact that it is a safe and secure place with one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean make it the address of choice to many high-net-worth individuals who are attracted by its natural beauty, well-developed infrastructure, stable government, elite health services and education systems.”
The public and private sectors in the Cayman Islands provide timely and efficient service in normal times and, in response to the current global pandemic, have demonstrated agility in moving to remote work environments with negligible impact on business continuity. This is an important factor when considering a jurisdiction for residency, says Chris Willis, managing director – government advisory and programme delivery with Latitude Consultancy Limited.
“The most important features of Cayman’s residency programme are ease of application, reasonable physical residence requirements per year and efficient, predictable processing,” Willis explains. “The amount of the investment must be reasonable and in a sensible vehicle such as real estate.”
In addition to timely processing of applications, the Cayman Islands offers two residency certificates through investment in real estate; a 25-year residency certificate requiring a minimum investment of US$1.2 million and 30 days’ annual residency, and a certificate of permanent residence requiring a minimum investment of US$2.4 million and one-day annual residency. Those who achieve permanent residency by independent means may apply to become a naturalised British Overseas Territory resident in five years.
Those individuals seeking to purchase a property to meet the real estate investment requirements will find an extensive selection of luxury properties available with a straightforward acquisition process as there are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property, no alien landholding license requirements and certainty of title.
Jackie Doak, president of business development at Dart and broker of Provenance Properties, the official Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands, notes that Cayman’s modern infrastructure, high-quality building standards, sophisticated business environment and vibrant community make the transition to island living an easy one. “Our sales specialists often see residency applicants who plan to spend only part of their time in Cayman, but it’s not long before they are asking us to help them plan a permanent move for their families – and often their business.”
Comprehensive relocation guides describing how to buy real estate and how to establish a business presence in the Cayman Islands can be reviewed here.
According to a Virtuoso survey which was published in the CNBC’s Personal Finance section last week, Grand Cayman is among the top 10 destinations that wealthy travellers are now booking for their holidays.
Other cities/ countries that made the list include Jamaica, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), St Martin, Tanzania, Los Angeles, Maui (Hawaii), Kenya; Cape Town (South Africa); and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).
According to Virtuoso, the ranking was made by looking at airline sales data for the upcoming 2020 holiday season. “Temperate and tropical climes close to the mainland U.S. such as Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean are ‘pacing well,’ it found, as are farther-flung spots in Africa and the Middle East.” Virtuoso predicts that wealthy travellers will begin travelling during the year-end holiday season.
CNBC believes that the tourism industry will boom once shelter in place orders are removed, quoting that, “After sheltering in place for weeks and months, people who have been dreaming about travel are ready to grab their passport and go.”
Virtuoso is a global network of 1,100 travel agencies and more than 22,000 travel advisors that specialize in luxury and experiential travel.
Whether, how and where Americans start traveling again after the Covid-19 pandemic remains literally up in the air.
However, some industry experts are seeing signs that at least some travelers — in particular, wealthier ones — expect to start going on vacation again during the year-end holiday season. And the well-off who will be willing to fly are headed, largely, to warm-weather spots overseas, it seems.
“While summer travel possibilities are still too early to call, attention is now turning to the holidays,” said Misty Belles, managing director at Virtuoso, a global network of 1,100 travel agencies and more than 22,000 travel advisors specializing in luxury and experiential travel.
“For many, spending the festive season with friends and family somewhere other than home is a tradition they intend to keep, especially this year,” she said.
Recent data from Guesty, Israeli-founded property management software, backs up Virtuoso’s assertion. Current reservations for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s stays are up 38%, 40% and 23%, respectively, compared to this time in 2019, according to Omer Rabin, Guesty’s managing director, Americas.
That could be due to pent-up demand after stay-at-home orders and canceled summer plans.
“After sheltering in place for weeks and months, people who have been dreaming about travel are ready to grab their passport and go,” Belles said.
Virtuoso looked at airline sales data for the upcoming 2020 holiday season to compile its list of the top 10 destinations now being booked. Temperate and tropical climes close to the mainland U.S. such as Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean are “pacing well,” it found, as are farther-flung spots in Africa and the Middle East.
Here’s Virtuoso’s list:
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Saint Martin, French West Indies
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Cape Town, South Africa
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Saint Martin and Los Angeles likely made the list as flight transfer locations, a Virtuoso spokesperson said. The flight portion of travel to tiny high-end Caribbean getaway St. Barth’s, for example, often ends in Saint Martin.
Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa could be appearing because they are destinations for costly safari vacations that require a lot of time, planning and expense. Thus, existing reservations might not have been canceled and new ones may be going on the books now.
“Safaris, especially during popular times of the year, require a year or more in advance of booking,” explained Erika Richter, senior director of communications at the American Society of Travel Advisors. “So those are the types of planning discussions that travel advisors are having with some of their clients.”
The Virtuoso findings stand in contrast to other research that suggests initial post-pandemic travel by the average American will likely be road trips within home or nearby states. (Granted, Virtuoso only analyzed air bookings data.)
For her part, Jessica Griscavage, director of marketing at McCabe World Travel, a Virtuoso-affiliated agency in McLean, Virginia, recently said she’s not yet seen an uptick in holiday bookings.
“I’m personally not seeing a surge in [holiday] travel bookings just yet though I think that can change very quickly as states are starting to open up,” she told CNBC prior to the release of the Virtuoso findings.
With construction activity continuing unabated, several new projects that will extend the development boom into 2020 and beyond have either been floated, approved or already launched.
At the start of 2019, Dart suggested the idea of an “iconic tower”, a five-star skyscraper resort with residences that would become instantly recognisable all over the world.
When Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the proposal at the Cayman Economic Outlook conference in February, he stated that Dart would invest about $1.5 billion in the building and related infrastructure.
In June, Justin Howe, executive vice president of Real Estate Development and Operations for Decco, said Dart’s development company was in the process of turning the idea into a plan, by considering scale, location, mixed-use components, market demand, infrastructure, setbacks – the distance from a lot boundary to a development – and the legal requirements.
However, despite the promise of its economic contribution, the idea of an iconic tower was not universally welcomed. Chamber of Commerce President Chris Kirkconnell said the overwhelming consensus of the business group was that Cayman did not need to become a “high-rise jungle” and that the proposal was “neither needed nor wanted” by the wider community.
Much of the desire to build taller buildings stems from the scarcity and high cost of available land in the most desirable areas, particularly Seven Mile Beach.
Current planning regulations restrict building heights in Cayman to a maximum of 10 storeys.
The new economics were laid bare in January when owners at Lacovia, one of Seven Mile Beach’s oldest condominium developments, voted to demolish their homes and replace them with three new, 10-storey buildings.
Each of Lacovia’s 55 owners has been guaranteed an apartment in the new complex, which will feature a mix of multi-million dollar homes, including $20 million top-floor penthouse suites.
The developer, Bronte Development, expects to make sufficient money from the sale of the 33 remaining apartments in the 88-apartment complex to fund the construction costs, as well as its developer’s fee.
Bronte believes the partnership with the executive committee of the strata corporation, a first for Cayman, could be the formula for the future development of Seven Mile Beach.
With vacant beachfront land in short supply, developers could work with stratas to redevelop older properties rather than seeking to buy them out or break new ground at less optimal sites.
The trend towards high-rise buildings is also visible in the latest Seven Mile Beach hotel projects.
Construction has begun on both the 10-storey, 351-room Grand Hyatt Hotel and Residences located at Pageant Beach between The Wharf Restaurant and Poinsettia condos, as well as Kailani Grand Cayman. The latter is a seven-storey hotel, 80-room hotel located at the site of the old Treehouse Restaurant, opposite Kirk Market.
The first Curio Collection by Hilton property in Cayman is slated to open in late 2021.
Tall hotel buildings will not be confined to the Seven Mile Beach area, after plans for the Mandarin Oriental resort in the Beach Bay area of Bodden Town were approved in November.
Work on the two, nine-storey buildings of the Mandarin Oriental, which will comprise the resort and residences, is scheduled to begin next year, with a 2022 opening date set for the hotel.
Meanwhile, a totally different hotel concept is set for Barefoot Beach in East End, where NCB Group is planning to build 83 single-storey units as part of a low-impact eco resort over 10 acres of land off the Queen’s Highway. The developers are leasing the land from Dart for a maximum of 10 years.
To accommodate the tourism growth anticipated by the hotel developments, infrastructure investments are also taking shape.
In March, the redeveloped Owen Roberts International Airport was officially opened by Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla. The air terminal has undergone a massive redevelopment over the past three years to be able to handle 2.7 million passengers per year.
Not long after opening, the management of the airport said a further expansion with a new terminal would be needed in the next five to ten years, at a likely cost of $100 million.
Expansion is not only needed for the terminal building, but also the runway and taxiing
In October, a $30 million upgrade of the airfield was approved. The project aims to add 870 feet to the west end of the existing runway and construct an apron north of the end of the runway to enlarge the turn-around area for aircraft.
It would also allow for one plane to be waiting while another is taking off or landing, which cuts the average time between taking off and landing in half.
The Cayman Islands tourism industry recently reached a major milestone in the accommodations sector through the significant growth of over 7,000 rooms licensed and available to visitors.
This includes over 1,000 new rooms added within the past three years alone, with the condominiums and villas categories accounting for 73% of this increase.
Now standing at 7,027 rooms available across the three-island nation – Grand Cayman has 6,646 rooms, followed by 220 in Cayman Brac and 161 in Little Cayman – the condos and villas category represents the majority share of accommodation types now available, with 4,310 rooms versus 2,717 rooms in the hotel category.
“We have seen continued interest from the community to embrace entrepreneurship opportunities in tourism through homesharing, which accounts for 32.2% of the total rooms now available,” stated Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Moses Kirkconnell.
“Through the Ministry and Department of Tourism’s commitment to facilitating annual training and educational forums led by international partners such as Airbnb, as well as meeting regularly with potential developers to provide business solutions.”
As of October 2019, overall there are currently 799 licensed properties representing 9,958 beds.
Ongoing aviation strategies led by the Ministry and Department will continue to provide travellers even greater access to the destination through new key hubs in North America and beyond with their preferred airlines. Maintaining and growing air access remains a top priority to ensure that the accommodations sector will continue to benefit from tourism, a key pillar of the economy.
Looking forward, the Minister of Tourism added: “As the Cayman Islands gears up for what is anticipated to be another active winter season around the globe, we encourage our tourism partners – whether new to the industry or long-established – to continue providing our world-renowned warmth through our Caymankind hospitality and our rich cultural experiences.
“The efforts we make today will secure friends of Cayman for a lifetime and allow others to share in the essence of ‘Dreaming in Cayman’. We congratulate all tourism partners as we continue to work together to maximize our destination achievements.”