Brac hotel upgraded, renamed and ‘reimagined’

| 18/01/2016 | 5 Comments
CNS Business

Cayman Brac Beach Resort – view of the new pool from the observation deck

(CNS): Following major renovations made to the Little Cayman Beach Resort in 2009, which resulted in raising the occupancy to 85% in 2015 – an increase of about 20% since 2008 – the owners have now turned their attention to the Cayman Brac Beach Resort, formerly the Brac Reef. Phase one, a large free-form pool and two-storey bar and observation deck, has been completed, and was officially opened last Friday.

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Emily Tibbetts Allenbach, Michael Tibbetts and Jessica Tibbetts Buchanan

Siblings Emily Tibbetts Allenbach, Michael Tibbetts and Jessica Tibbetts Buchanan, whose grandfather, the late Linton Tibbetts, built the Brac Reef and whose father, the late Dan Tibbetts, built the Little Cayman Beach Resort and started the hotels’ dive operation, Reef Divers, have now bought out other family members in the ownership of the Brac hotel.

They have also purchased Cobalt Coast on the northwest shore of Grand Cayman, creating a chain of hotels, all services by Reef Divers, and a presence on all three islands, operating under the parent company, JEM Holdings.

By renaming the Brac hotel, they are emphasizing the fact that it is in the Cayman Islands, Michael Tibbetts told CNS Business, but the resort needs more than rebranding; it needs to be “reimagined”.

While the hotel was rebuilt after the devastation of Hurricane Paloma in 2008, Tibbetts noted that the grounds and layout have not been reimagined since the resort was built in 1985.

“We wanted to create a new centre piece to give a ‘wow’ factor to the property,” he said, referring to the solid concrete beach bar with an upper deck providing a look-out over the pool and beach. The idea, he said, was to recreate the feel of the old wooden pier, which people loved but was destroyed in Paloma, without the risk of it being blown down again in the next storm.

The large free-form pool, half of which is 3 feet and under for children to play and includes a ramp entry, an 8-foot section for scuba lessons and submerged bar stools on the ocean side, connects the hotel to the beach and makes it even more family-friendly, Tibbetts said.

At the Cayman Brac Beach Resort, young children play in the shallow end of the free-form pool

At the Cayman Brac Beach Resort, young children play in the shallow end of the free-form pool

However, he said the resort remains primarily for divers, who are looking for great food, excellent service and top-notch dive boats. “And that’s what we want to provide.”

Phase Two will be to renovate the 40 guest rooms. However, the Tibbetts trio have also purchased 360 feet of prime beachfront property to the west of the hotel for possible future expansion.

Ray Faulkner, President of JEM Holdings, told CNS Business that they will be evaluating the results of the investment so far to determine the occupancy and revenue, which will shape future investment.

Occupancy at the Brac hotel suffered from the highs of the 1980’s and 1990’s, first from 9/11 in 2001, then Hurricane Ivan in 2004, then Paloma, he said, but on top of that, Cayman Brac is suffering from an identity crisis, caught between Little Cayman, which is “quaint”, and Grand Cayman.

Little Cayman sells itself, Faulkner said. The renowned Bloody Bay Wall is consistently listed as one of the world’s top dive sites, whereas the Brac is often overlooked even though the diving is comparable.

“It’s important to the property to promote the fact that there is great diving here as well,” he said. However, the Brac also has more on offer, for example with its modern airport it is better situated for transportation, and could be positioned as having all the amenities of Grand Cayman without the related hassles, he said.

While vacations that encompass two or three islands are not practical for divers due to the required interval between diving and flying, with resorts on all three Cayman Islands they can try to keep people “in the family” for their next vacation, he noted.

However, the company, with its strong roots to the islands remain sensitive to its heritage. “We want responsible development, not to change the culture of the islands,” Faulkner said.

CNS Business

Cayman Brac Beach Resort view of pool and 2-storey bar and observation deck

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Category: Stay-over tourism, Tourism

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    But there is no shade!! We likes the almond and grape trees – now its just concrete

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why are there no Caymanians in senior positions at this resort ?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I loved that hotel, but wish it didnt state:

    “However, he said the resort remains primarily for divers, who are looking for great food, excellent service and top-notch dive boats. “And that’s what we want to provide.”

    It should be for everyone. I know it is, but the feel of the wording didn’t make me feel included. Families can bring in money too.

    With that said cant wait to stay there with my family on a staycation. Glad to see it back.

    Native

  4. Anonymous says:

    That “2 storie bar” looks a lot like a gazebo with a roof you can walk on.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hotels and dive centres on GC should take a long, hard look at the package deals on offer at Cayman Brac Beach Resort because that’s the way ahead. I’ve been diving for over 20 years so it takes a lot to impress me but this does. Well done to all involved!

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