Dart finally confirms Ritz acquisition

| 13/10/2017 | 64 Comments
CNS Business

Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

(CNS Business): After several months of speculation that Dart Real Estate had acquired the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman but no comment from officials at the company, the Cayman Islands’ biggest property owner has finally announced that it has bought the luxury hotel on Seven Mile Beach. The news comes just weeks after Dart confirmed its acquisition of the Royal Palms site, also on Grand Cayman’s famous beach. There have also been recent announcements that Dart will be building a new supermarket for Foster’s Food Fair at Camana Bay and that its general contractors, DECCO, will be leading a consortium of firms to take on the country’s waste management system as well.

A release posted on the conglomerate’s website stated that the purchase “expands Dart Real Estate’s portfolio of tourism assets and reinforces investor Kenneth Dart’s commitment to the Cayman Islands”.

Dart bought the hotel from Five Mile Capital Partners, LLC, which acquired the property from the original developer, Michael Ryan, when he and the network of companies involved in the hotel’s development and ownership got into financial difficulties. From that point on, it was widely speculated that it would not be long before Dart acquired the resort.

“This investment demonstrates Mr Dart’s confidence and willingness to invest in the strength and resilience of the Cayman Islands economy,” said Mark VanDevelde, CEO of Dart Enterprises, the parent company of Dart Real Estate, about his elusive boss and Cayman’s biggest single investor.

Officials said that while there has been a change in ownership, a long-term management agreement with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC remains in place.

“The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has been the standard bearer for excellence in the region for more than a decade,” said Dart Real Estate President Jackie Doak. “We look forward to working with management on the preservation of the resort’s legacy, enabling the Cayman Islands to retain its position as a preferred luxury Caribbean destination for visitors and investors alike.”

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Category: Local Business, Real Estate, Stay-over tourism, Tourism

Comments (64)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have no connection to Dart or his various business entities. For those commentators referring to the Dart dominance, be advised that the Cayman investments are a small percentage of the total portfolio. It’s called diversiving assets. Opportunities exist for all, big or small. Embrace this confidence that a global investor has in these islands and the opportunity it creates for all. Every other Caribbean country would welcome an investor like this. I agree it could affect some people, but if these billions of investment went somewhere else, there would be lots of bitching that we are being ignored to someone else’s benefit. See opportunity and benefit from it.

  2. Go job says:

    I love Dart. If I had his money, I would be doing the same. Congratulations to the Dart Team

  3. Wannabe says:

    Back in the 90s I didn’t see anyone complain about the Young family buying up land on SMB and building 3 hotels.
    During their time on the island how much did they give back to the island, oh yes, they would try to kick us off the beach, I recall signs saying no residents allowed.
    How much did they donate to charity, hardly anything, all they did is take the profits overseas and buy 40 plus hotels in the US. What was really good is at the time they were so leveraged they lost over half their hotels and even had to sell the hotels (cash cows) I Cayman.
    We also have other overseas investment companies on island, Westin, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Treasure Island.
    Wait and see if these guys put any money into our community. Wait none! I the next 5-10yrs these company’s would have made the profits they wanted and will end up selling, hopefully the Dart Corporation buys them.

    Now do I agree on 1 person owning all these properties and businesses on island, probably not, but when Mr Dart moved here in the late 80s we new all about him, we knew what he was about, not not one of our law makers went out around the world looking for another billionaire to come here and invest, in fact I didn’t see any Caymanians looking overseas to invest.
    We have had serval very weather Caymanian families invest in commercial developments and have eventually sold them for massive profits, what’s wrong in that. Not hung at all, it’s their money and have worked hard for it.

    The Dart. Corp is the largest employer of Caymanians on the island after the government, he gives more Caymanians scholarships to go to university a d get an education. I also know he gives opportunities to young Caymanians to open their own companies and subcontract them to work for him, what’s wrong in all this? Nothing

    Oh, and before I get a bunch of thumbs down, and troll marks, I don’t work for Dart and have never received and contracts or worked for him.

    Get over it, Caymanians sold land to expats and their companies and now we finally have a Caymanian buying it back.

    What we should be worrying about is when is passes, is his kids want nothing to do with Cayman and pick up and leave.

    God, I wanna be a billionaire! So friggin bad.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Article doesn’t say in what year this transaction took place? Why the “finally” confirms? For how many years have DART companies actually secretly owned it?

  5. Anonymous says:

    In one of Sherlock Holme’s adventures, “the dog that didn’t bark” is an important clue to solve the mystery of who the criminal is (i.e. the dog’s owner).

    I find it interesting that there are a lot of “dog’s that aren’t barking” in Cayman (politicians, the popular newspaper, the popular radio show, the popular TV channel, etc.). The silence is deafening and points to who their master is.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Let’s all admit it, the Kimpton is an eyesore and a blot on the landscape. I wonder what the occupancy rates are?

    • Anonymous says:

      And some of the rooms don’t have baths.

      • Anonymous says:

        What’s your point? I recently bought a brand new upmarket condo & it doesn’t have a bath!!
        Who wants to sit in dirty water when they can shower under a magnificent rain head to get clean – which is the purpose isnt it???

  7. Caymanian says:

    Posters seem to be hung up on the fact that Mr. Dart is a Caymanian but perhaps they should read about his history in Greece, Argentina and Belize. He is Belizean as well but is he there supporting that infrastructure?

    The point is Mr. Dart swoops into those countries/islands, portrays himself to be the “savior”, obtains citizenship and then when it no longer suits his purpose he is gone.
    Ozzie said it from long ago, Dart’s intention is to make this “Dart islands” not the Cayman Islands.

    So all you people who are praising him for buying up all the real estate, take a step back and ask “why and at what cost to the people of these islands”
    If he was a Caymanian who truly had his roots here and really had the growth of the country at heart, I would be praising him too but Dart only sees dollar signs.

    I am aware he has status which makes him Caymanian from an immigration perspective, my point is that him applying for Caymanian status was a means to an end that benefits only him, not because he truly cares about the Cayman Islands or its people.

    • Anonymous says:

      He did not apply for Caymanian status. McKeeva gave it to him & hundreds of others when government had to do something after not granting status applications for years (but they took the applications & fees). Sadly instead of reviewing the applications & granting to bona fide applications they gave status to every friend, friend of friend, back scratching crony.

      Dart does not swoop into other countries. He is an investor & invests in other countries distressed debt. Buys it Very, very cheap & then holds out for restructuring (Greece/Argentina/Brazil etc). Trust me he wouldn’t dare step foot in those countries let along try & get citizenship!!!

  8. West bay Premier says:

    I think that the Cayman Islands are going to have a big surprise some day near . Do we see what this man only has in his agenda, money , greed , luxury , and more money .
    Do those things work for everyone ? Are those components the best choice for the Islands economy, especially when one man is in control of it . With all the new luxury hotels are now existing in Cayman , can a medium income family come and spend a week vacation in these luxury hotels ? No . So we should not be missing out on anyone’s money . That could be looked at as being predidcious .
    Cayman Islands need to cater to all economic classes , not just for the rich .

  9. Anonymous says:

    Another report on this quotes a Dart representative as believing that there is significant potential for further growth in the luxury travel sector. According to recent reports that seems to be true but those same reports did not identify the typical Cayman Islands beach holiday experience as one of the growth areas. In fact quite the opposite was the case. A report I’ve just read indicates that people who can afford to spend a lot of money on vacations are moving away from it in favour of exotic and adventurous travel options.

    Right now the cost of taking a holiday in the Cayman Islands has pretty much killed off UK/European tourism and it’s also having an impact on Canada, which has always been major source of tourist income in the past. With no significant new markets opening up this leaves us dependant on the USA for tourists and, as a number of other destinations have discovered to their cost, that’s a fickle market.

    The big earner in tourism at the moment, particularly for travellers from the UK and Europe, is the sensibly-priced all-inclusive option, which the Cayman Islands has turned it’s back on. If Dart are now hanging their hopes on creating a tourist boom from a luxury market that many experts say simply doesn’t exist someone there clearly hasn’t been doing their homework.

    The key element that everyone seems to miss is that there’s a huge difference between luxury or high-end tourism and a tourism product that is simply over-priced. You can build yourself the biggest, fanciest hotel on the planet but if it’s in the wrong setting it will not attract guests and right now SMB is a heck of a long way from being the most attractive place in the Caribbean.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree with much of what you have said, but these arent really considered “large” hotels on the world stage, so there isnt huge inventory to sell. Also, Cayman has a high level of business travelers, many of whom want to stay in a place a bit better than the Westin or Marriott.

      Also, if the market isnt clearing at a higher price, then they can simply lower rates.

    • West bay Premier says:

      Which one should be kicked off the Islands. The one that gave Cayman Islands STATUS or the one that has it ?

    • The key luxury market Cayman is completely missing is Germany. German tourists with significant money to spend are all over Jamaica, St. Lucia & Barbados. They do not require all inclusive but they insist on direct flights to Caribbean destinations from Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. Unfortunately, because our airport landing strip is too short, and there are no plans for lengthening the runway we will miss this affluent market completely for many years to come.

      • Anonymous says:

        Garfield, I wrote the original comment here and, having friends in Germany, I can assure you that the Germans would require far more than just direct flights to make Grand Cayman an attractive destination. The reason they choose the other destinations is because they are simply ‘besser’. And you’re also wrong about the AI option – they love it.

        10:40 It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a 300-room hotel or a 1200-room hotel – empty rooms are still empty and if you start filling them by slashing the room rates you’ll go bankrupt. On the Red Sea I saw a brand new hotel open on the expectation of making $150-a-night room rate, which for the resort in question was pretty expensive. After six months they were selling rooms to tour operators for $35-a-night. By the end of the year the loan that had funded the project was in default and about four months later the owner had been evicted.

        My parther and I have been around the hospitality industry for a long while and to us none of this makes any sense.

      • Anonymous says:

        People with a lot of money do not vacation at the Kimpton and the ritz. They stay in villas with chefs, gardeners, drivers, housekeepers etc.

  10. Anonymous says:

    So what’s with all the Dart bashing? Who complained in the 1990s when a single NON-Caymanian family owned 3 hotels (Marriott, Westin, Courtyard Marriott)? At that time, they would have owned more of the hotel stock (proportionally) than Dart does now. And what did THAT family do for Cayman? And why no outcry about the NON-Caymanian that just bought the Grand Caymanian/Holiday Inn? Haters gonna hate….

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart want luxury tourism. When Bermuda wanted that they increased all their prices and I’ve never been back. I used to go to Bermuda 2-3x a year- now I go to Cayman 2-3 x a year. There’s lots of beaches in the world and I have to justify what I spend my money on holiday for. I don’t need luxury, Mr. Dart- I need clean, safe, nice beach and people, warm weather and a nice beach.

    • West bay Premier says:

      3:57pm , you will change your opinion on everything in a couple of years . You think that the Cayman Islands are expensive today , you wait till that one you love so much owns everything and control everything and everyone . Not long from now .

  11. Anonymous says:

    I sometimes wonder if the uk government aren’t concerned about this country being slowly acquired by one man. Perhaps the governor would care to comment? (ha ha).

  12. The Wizard of Dartland says:

    Where is the source of all this wealth coming from. These are projects that need huge amounts of capital outlay. Who is truly behind or involved in this Dart consortium? We really need to be asking more questions. Government and the sellouts need to catch a wake up or this island will be overpriced and many living here will be at the poverty line.
    And the monopoly Dart is creating is not good for the small man business. They cannot compete. Liquor stores restaurants distributors hotels jewelry stores….all roads lead to Dartland.

    • Anonymous says:

      Book stores, movie theaters, real estate companies, construction, and more to come. You cannot make this shit up.

      • Anonymous says:

        At least the bookstores are closed on Sundays. The baby Jesus does not like people expanding their knowledge on Sundays.

    • Anonymous says:

      It all reminds a bit of Alan Stanford spending money like water on projects with no possible profit in them – look what happened there.

      • Anonymous says:

        He made about $700m from the Argentina deal, that’s only one we know about that is in the public domain if you care to look…. rest assured, he won’t make a penny profit from Cayman in his lifetime, especially given the wasted money that his crack team rack up every year.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Dart family’s wealth source is well known…I don’t know why you would write such drivel when it would take you about 3 seconds to google it. Maybe 10 seconds in your case.

  13. Investor says:

    So we are complaining a Caymanian is buying up all the properties on 7 mile, the same properties that Caymanians sold to expats years ago.
    Why aren’t you guys complaining about the sale of the Holiday Inn that took place last week to a New York Fund organisation. These are the people who will take full advantage of making profits, and taking all the profits overseas,as well as no putting anything back into our community.
    The Dart organisation at least gives back being a major sponsor of most charities, building parks and other public areas for us to use.
    If you want to really complain when Dart moved to Cayman in the late 80s, our politicians could have looked for other Billionaires to move here and invest as well.
    Get over it everyone he’s a Caymanian, as well as probably the largest employer of Caymanians on the island after Government.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Enough Dart bashing, why aren’t Caymanians asking what the Kirkconnell’s are doing with their big fat check from the sale of Royal Palms, are they investing back into Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s none of your business.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly my point, a willing buyer and willing seller closed a deal for a property, why all the commentary.

      • Anonymous says:

        Counting other peoples money and knowing how to spend it better than its owner is a Cayman National Pastime. There should be a question on that in the immigration test.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As the Ritz is the jewel of Seven Mile Beach Dart realizes that it needs to be kept up and operated at a high level now and into the future. We don’t want another Hyatt.

    • Game of Monopoly or Risk says:

      Dart Cronies have control of most land and buildings between Marquee Plaza and Batabano Plaza in West Bay.

      He has control of beach access at Royal Palms, his two properties next door to that, Beach Suites/Hyatt, Ritz, Public Beach at West Bay, Kimpton, old Tiki Beach on top of water frontage property at West Bay Yacht Club, Ritz golf course, brittania golf course, old Hyatt, Camana bay, dump land, and a lot of the properties in between. And that’s just the SMB area. Lets not forget Smith’s Cove/Barcadere beach area, starfish point…..mark all that land ownership on a map.

      Just like a game of Monopoly. Locals are going to get priced out or blocked out at some stage, unable to move without making a payment to Dart.

      • Anonymous says:

        You forgot that Dart companies already own 280 acres of former “Safehaven” land, including all of North Sound Golf Club, and Regatta Office Park, and large tracts of undeveloped land south of Camana Bay to the airport and on both sides of the ETH. Are Villas of the Galleon/Westin and Lime Tree Bay far behind?

      • Anonymous says:

        Locals care about selling, not buying.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So, a Caymanian, buy the Ritz property and you’re all sad about it. What exactly do you want? Aren’t you happy a Caymanian is investing locally? Would you rather the Caymanian invest in strategic competing jurisdictions?

    Please get your ideals right. I would rather a Caymanian purchase all that are forsale in these Islands than persons with no significant ties as then there would be no commitment to locals except the select few Condo Property Managers to look over their absentee investment homes or other investment assets.

    CNS: In terms of reporting, why have you not stated that the property is now owned by a Caymanian — back in local hands? Would that not be a factual story? Not to say what you wrote is factually incorrect but why not celebrate a victory for Cayman in respect to recovering lands we had lost to a foreign entity, Five Mile Capital Partners, LLC.


  17. Belonger longing to belong says:

    I don’t understand why no one is seeing what is actually happening to our island.
    Soon Dart will own the entire Seven Mile Beach and he will slowly but surely push the natives out.

    Dart is not doing any of this because he just wants to invest in Cayman. He is a business man. Nothing good will come of this for the people of the Cayman Islands.

    Any Caymanian making an average salary can shop in Camana Bay?
    $250 for a sundress?
    Yet Chamber of Commerce encouraging people to buy local and wonder why people fly off to Miami to shop!
    Movies is nothing less than $100 for a family of four!

    Now they planning to move Foster’s.
    I don’t know why Woody would agree to this.
    The Strand is a perfect location for condo owners and renters along Seven Mile stretch.
    Why didn’t he put a scaled back version in Camana Bay because the main patrons there are those who live in the Residences at Camana Bay.
    I say bycott the Foster’s in Camana Bay and shop Kirk’s or Hurley’s.

    Before long Caymanians will be like the Aborigines.
    Remember my words!

    • Anonymous says:

      Bro? The Ritz was for sale. Why didn’t you buy it?

      • Anonymous says:

        Uuuh, cos I do not have the money and even if I did it seems clear the government would not give me the same beneficial treatment that seems to be available to this purchaser, making any attempt to compete uncommercial.

    • Stop The Crime says:

      DART is the only thing going right on this island. Everything else from crime to the educational system to political corruption is broken and rampant. I say sell the whole island to DART and make this the first sovereign country to go completely private. They are already taking on public infrastructure (widening roads, the dump) and will do it quicker and cheaper than any government could.

      • Keen Observer says:

        So when Dart purchases the whole island and there is no competition and he can charge whatever he wants for anything, effectively widening the segregation of the “haves” and the “have nots” is that what you are suggesting?
        I think you fall in one of the following categories:
        1. You are not Caymanian and have no stake in this so don’t give a damn about this island or who owns it.
        2. You are a part of the Dart family (highly doubtful)
        3. You are a wealthy Caymanian who thinks that you will somehow be included in their inner circle (doubtful)
        4. You are an average Caymanian who doesn’t understand what “thriving economy”, “capitalism”, “free market”, “monopoly” means and therefore can’t truly understand the implications of your idiotic suggestion (ding, ding, ding, we have a winner)

        • Stop The Crime says:

          Ah, so you don’t have a problem with the island going private… you just want more than 1 owner of the country to spark competition. I’m fine with that too! Whatever it takes to finally address the rampant crime, horrible education and inefficient government.

      • Anonymous says:

        DART companies actively leverage their position to rake in as much as possible as cheaply as they can get away with. Their agreements with CIG (even through many revisions – supposedly read by CIG legal) are filled with negative response language which enures for their account alone. Their half-baked promises are almost always conditional on the CIG doing something within a specific time frame they know the CIG will fail to meet – forfeiting their obligation – and opening the door to an ever-expanding list of concessions. DART is not a philanthropic cult.

    • Anonymous says:

      Movies $100?! Tickets are $10.50 last time I checked, so you must be spending almost $60 on popcorn!!

      • Keen Observer says:

        At $14pp for 3D movies and water that cost $4.25, or drinks over $3, I believe the poster.
        You are also assuming that a family of four just purchases popcorn!
        Do the math, over $4 for a hotdog, nachos etc. Before you blink, you have shelled out $100 and probably have $5 as change

    • Anonymous says:

      Doesn’t Dart own Kirk market and Hurleys too?

  18. Robert says:

    Next up: Dart buys every home in Snug Harbour, Canal Point, and Governor’s Harbour – renovates each, and adds them to his rentals portfolio.

    Appeal for these new Dart units causes demand for South Sound units drop drastically. Prices there become within reach for the average Caymanian causing them to move in, thus fueling the exudos of the wealthy Caymanians and Foreigners to Dart’s new residential oasis.

    The local collective mindset shifts: if you’re not Dart’s tenant, you’re not saying a damn thing.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Could Government please explain how this is good for Cayman?

    • Anonymous says:

      They cannot. Capitalism is great only if you have a free market economy. There has to be competition for the market to be healthy and to thrive. Competing businesses have to be able to play and be bound by the same rules. Dart has seen and taken advantage of opportunity. Kudos to them. Any concept of there being a free market economy for others to seek to compete in in certain sectors now appears to be an illusion. Idiots.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is true that the Cayman Islands does not have many pragmatic business restrictions found elsewhere, including anti-trust competition rules, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a good idea. DART companies now control pricing for the luxury tourism market for the Cayman Islands as well as most (if not all) of the available high-end development parcels on at least two of the three islands. They don’t have to contribute a nickel to mismanaged CIG general revenue until at least 2046, and likely, much longer. We are the idiots that made this possible.

      • Anonymous says:

        Time long overdue for a Fair Competition Act that was mooted over a decade ago!!

  20. rollin says:

    Fantastic News . Hopefully now they can tackle the injustices occurring within their rank of staff.

    • Anonymous says:

      It will still be run by the Ritz group using their business/staffing plans with their HR ethos.
      Dart just bought the building – same as they built & own the Kimpton building. The hotel buildings are leased out to these hotel brands. The hotels are run by the brand directors/managers.

  21. West bay Premier says:

    Look out Governor House property you’re next head line .

    • Great idea West Bay Premier, the Governor’s House needs a good refreshening both inside and out. Place is very tired these days. The official china has not been replaced for 50 years. Let Dart buy the place, bringing it up to a standard for a Governor, then rename it Dart House.

      If Brexit goes through, this is the only way an upgrade will be possible with British taxpayer funding in the years ahead. The Overseas Territories will be the lowest priority for funding from London.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Wait til they annouce Barkers…..

    • Anonymous says:

      They bought Barkers land in the 90’s (same time as the West Indies club and land where Camana Bay is now etc etc etc ).
      Not a secret.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maps of these holdings and others (circa 2012) were in the NRA Agreement

  23. Anonymous says:

    Just imagine if Mac’s deal of 50% off accomodation tax had been allowed to come into force. How much revenue would our country have lost? Mac should never be elected again. He cannot even be in control of his own car.

  24. Anonymous says:

    in dart i trust!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sounds good to me. The Kimpton, Ritz, Camana Bay, The Landfill. I like to see them take on the big projects.

    What I do not like to see is the rapid assimilation of small traditionally Caymanian operated companies. Watersports, taxi’s and buses, liquor stores, restaurants, clothing, jewelry and specialty stores… Why?

    Why compete with your tenants, your customers, your plebeians.

  26. Caymanian owned says:

    I’m sure there is going to be alot of negative posts about this.
    Maybe the article head line should read
    “Caymanian Buys The Ritz-Carlton”

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