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Cayman hotel closure causes holiday blues for visitors

| 31/10/2016 | 10 Comments
CNS Business

The Riviera, Grand Cayman, has suddenly closed

(CNS Business): Families planning on visiting the Cayman Islands over the coming weeks and months say they cannot track down the owners or managers of the now bankrupt Riviera hotel in South Sound. Two UK-based families who were expecting to stay at The Riviera over Christmas told CNS Business that they are facing the prospect of a miserable holiday after learning that they have nowhere to stay, even though one family paid thousands of dollars to the hotel upfront.

CNS Business paid a visit to the hotel last week and learned from a security guard, the only person now at the location, that the closed hotel was now in the hands of Cayman National Bank. Despite reaching out to numerous people allegedly connected with the hotel in some way, we have not heard from any of the owners about what has happened to the cash people have already paid.

Daniel Wood from London, who said that he and his family are regular visitors to Cayman, is angry that they learned the The Riviera had closed through a second family who had planned to stay there with them at Christmas. He told CNS Business that he booked and paid the hotel directly for his family’s vacation and was given no indication that there was anything wrong. The other family was booking through an online site, which notified them about the closure.

After hearing about it from his friends, he did some research online and learned the hotel may have closed, but he said that efforts to contact the owners over the past few weeks have been futile.

Wood said he spoke with Don McDougall, the Department of Tourism’s UK and European manager based in London, but he knew nothing about the existence of the hotel, never mind its closure.

When CNS contacted the tourism department about the bankrupt hotel, DoT Director Rosa Harris said the department was “disappointed to learn of visitors booking a holiday with advance payment …which has placed their travel investment at risk.”

The DoT encouraged travellers affected by the closure to seek counsel and refunds through their travel adviser, travel insurance or credit card providers, and pointed holiday makers towards the “variety of quality accommodation” available.

But Wood, who is still hoping he can get his payment refunded through his insurance or his credit card cover, said his family and the other family joining them on vacation are struggling to find affordable accommodation for what is the busiest time of the year.

Angry about the hotel’s failure to contact people who have booked and paid to stay there and tell them about the closure, Wood said that he would be reporting the situation to the police.

It is not clear what the current situation is for The Riviera after abruptly closing earlier this month, though there are suggestions the site has been acquired by the neighbouring bulk oil supplier. Ben Fisher, one of the owners of the hotel who has failed to respond to efforts to contact him, had major plans in 2010 when the first phase of the original redevelopment was completed.

With tourism booming in Cayman and affordable rooms hard to find, local business experts who said they wanted to remain anonymous, believe the failure of the hotel is due to the location rather than an indication of a decline in overnight visitor demand. One commercial real estate expert said the site was not well placed for a hotel as it is right next to the oil storage terminals and has an ironshore ocean frontage.

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Category: Stay-over tourism, Tourism

Comments (10)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    cayman… a land of scams…..
    and we have a government who has shut down airb-n-b’s……zzzzzzzzzzzz

  2. WestBayer says:

    Just check the Jamaican owner of Mepco, he’s the old owner. The bank is in the process of selling to Sol so they can add more tanks.

    Hopefully the English persons are reading this, apparently the person who runs the St Matthews Residents halls does short term rentals cheap at the old indies suites, not sure how legal it is but he does it and its cheap $100 a night , my friends stayed there for a week and close to the beaches and 2 bed units

  3. Joe Tourist says:

    There is no listing in the telephone directory for ‘Riviera Hotel’, but that doesn’t prove much seeing that the Cayman Islander is STILL listed!

    It sounds as if the DOT director didn’t know the place existed either; her advice is puerile.

    Given the fanaticism with which the DOT conducts it’s hotel inspections you would think they ought to have a good idea of what condition the places are in – the first sign of financial difficulties is unsolved maintenance problems, mildewed paint, cracked tiles etc etc.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to miss vacationing on that little stretch of paradise.The black rocks, the picturesque oil tanks, the half built facilities–Priceless!

    • Anonymous says:

      I miss Movie Night at Casa Bertmar in the mid 80’s, when movies would be projected onto the fuel tanks there, wide screen viewing with Red Stripe.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “There is a variety of massively over-priced accommodation available. And this is before we take an additional 13% in taxes.”

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good to see the DoT’s manager is on the ball

  7. Anonymous says:

    Seems the MEPCO & DECCO drama will continue!
    How many others will GG bust down?

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