By Anna Wootton
While the world is still reeling from a global pandemic and associated economic downturn, the Cayman Islands has proven its resiliency with a strong response to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
While the tourism sector has been hit hard by the continued border closures, the financial services industry has seen growth, and the domestic economy has been able to sustain itself thanks to the relatively speedy local reopening that was permitted after a three-month lockdown proved effective in eliminating community spread of the virus (source).
In spite of the challenges of 2020, many of which continue into 2021, in Dart’s flagship development of Camana Bay, tenants across a number of industries saw a need to increase their location’s footprint, exploring expansion opportunities that indicate that some tenants have been able not just to survive under challenging circumstances, but indeed to thrive. As stated by Dart’s President Asset Management Justin Howe, the success of Dart’s 200+ commercial tenants is “a shared success for everyone – tenants, customers and ourselves as landlords.”
With Camana Bay at 97% occupancy, the new commercial building 60 Nexus Way and the ground-floor retail space in the new for-lease residential building, Kapok, will allow for Dart to continue to facilitate future expansions from current and future tenants.
Food and beverage
The food and beverage industry has been undoubtedly impacted by the continued closure of the Cayman Islands borders, relying solely on residents to keep their doors open. While Italian-Peruvian restaurant Agua, located on the waterfront in Camana Bay, has been – and continues to be – affected by the pandemic, owners Cristiano Vincentini and Walter Fajette are taking this moment to adapt their business model. They recently made plans to take on additional space in Camana Bay, located next door to their existing restaurant, which they will transform into a speakeasy-style cocktail bar with an outdoor lounge.
“We see the new bar being a great attraction for locals and for people working in Camana Bay,” Fajette explained, “and, of course, we believe the bar could also be a great addition for Agua.”
Agua originally opened on Grand Cayman in November 2009, relocating to Camana Bay in June 2018. The restaurant has grown from strength to strength, which Fajette attributes to a “combination of different reasons, including knowledge, skills, luck and lots of courage.” Fajette believes taking calculated risks is part of being an entrepreneur.
“We have been very happy since relocating to Camana Bay and think there is a demand for a classic cocktail bar,” Fajette added. “For our industry the past year has been a disaster, even though in our personal lives we are in a fantastic situation compared to the rest of the world. It is important to see the positive.”
Fajette estimates that the bar will be ready to open by May.
TRIO Architecture, an architecture, engineering and interior design firm that has been in operation in the Cayman Islands and South Florida for 15 years, relocated within Camana Bay to a larger office space as a result of recently expanding its services to include interior design and decor. Thanks to this addition to their roster of services as well as the firm’s commitment to excellent client service and its team’s experience and design skills, TRIO Architecture’s Founder and Senior Architect Mike Stroh said that they have experienced sufficient growth to warrant a move that more than tripled their office space. “This expansion allows us to provide a much better experience for our clients, increase the number of design professionals within our team, as well as improve efficiency throughout our design process.”
Stroh explained that while 2020’s tumultuous events did “have a negative impact [on our business] in the beginning, when people were panicking,” the tide soon turned “once people realised the important role a well-designed home plays in everyone’s lives, especially during a pandemic when everyone’s home was transformed into their offices, restaurants, gyms…” Now the firm is busier than ever, with its team of nine experts assisting their wide roster of clients with their design and engineering needs.
Cayman MAC Store, the only dedicated Apple store in the Cayman Islands, moved out of its space on the Paseo in October 2020, opening its new, larger shop just a few steps away in One Nexus Way a month later. The move allowed the company to consolidate its Alphasoft shop with Cayman MAC Store, allowing for one central, multipurpose location. “We have been wanting to do this for a few years, as it improves logistics and staff complement,” explained Managing Director and Owner Carlyle McLaughlin.
The impact of the events of the past year have made their mark on Cayman MAC Store and the technology retail industry as a whole, McLaughlin noted. “World events are impacting the availability of products and customers’ ability to purchase,” he explained, “however, we saw a surge in demand of technology products during lockdown as customers quickly adapted to working from home and relied on technology more than ever to stay in touch with loved ones.”
Beyond this, however, McLaughlin attributes the shop’s resilient and long-standing success – it has been open for 12 years – to “strong customer service and assistance on warranty claims of all products sold.”
EY was one of the first commercial tenants in Camana Bay, opening its offices as anchor tenant of 62 Forum Lane in 2007. Now they have secured additional space in One Nexus Way to allow for the expansion they are experiencing as a result of increased demand for its services.
“As the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands continues to thrive, so does our business,” said EY Regional Managing Partner Dan Scott. “Demand for our services has been growing across our offerings – consulting, tax, strategy, transactions and assurance. There is more demand for our expertise, especially in the digital arena as businesses and governments look to us to help them navigate this transformative age. As the digital innovation aspect is very important to us and our clients, our office space needs to reflect that as well.”
It is for this reason that the team at EY were happy to procure space in One Nexus Way, Camana Bay’s newest building, for a second location. One Nexus Way features sustainable and innovative design, which is in alignment with EY’s global sustainability goal. “The building’s design aligns with EY’s purpose of building a better working world, which includes the role of innovation as well as sustainability efforts,” Scott said. “Recently, the global EY firm announced a new goal to be carbon negative in 2021 and net zero in 2025; the energy-efficient design and reduction of non-renewable energy consumption of our Camana Bay office buildings supports that goal.”
About the author
Anna Wootton is the digital marketing and PR manager for Dart’s business development and real estate companies and assets, including Dart Real Estate, Provenance Properties, Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS), Camana Bay and The Residences at Seafire. Born in the Cayman Islands, with British heritage and a Canadian passport, Anna is multinational with a Caymankind heart. Anna has a background in journalism and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from University of British Columbia.