“Cayman Gone”: Closed-Door Decisions and Foreign Investors Drive an Island Identity Crisis

Few places in Grand Cayman offer the expansive, open views of the Caribbean Sea like those seen from the top floor of The WaterColours condominiums.  

To start, most places lack this elevation. On an island with an average altitude of six feet, it’s a luxury to take in the turquoise waters and white sand beaches from a 10th-story perspective. 

Until recently, only this complex, a 2014 creation of luxury developer Fraser Wellon, and Kimpton Seafire Resort by the Dart group, the islands’ largest private landowner, had achieved such heights. That’s soon to change, but for now, this particular sea view, from the top-floor penthouse of the late Jamaican tourism mogul Ernest “Ernie” Smatt, remains one of Grand Cayman’s most elite. The complex is just one of dozens of luxury condominiums that have filled in Grand Cayman’s vulnerable coastline over the past decade. During the COVID-19 crisis, construction of such projects has accelerated, exposing the local population to serious climate change threats in exchange for properties most Caymanians cannot aspire to own in a lifetime.

A Loss of ‘Caymankind’ and Island Ethos

The Beach Club Colony days were a different era for Cayman. In 1970, the Cayman Islands had just over 9,100 residents and many of those, in particular young men, spent their time at sea, working ships with the National Bulk Carriers, a multinational shipping company. The financial services industry was in its nascent days, as was tourism. In 1968, a stay at the Beach Club would have cost between US $10.50 and US $15.50 a night — a rate that included two meals a day. The 36-room resort was among Seven Mile Beach’s earliest accommodations, alongside the Coral Caymanian, Galleon Beach Hotel and La Fontaine, all since redeveloped.

Distrust in Vaccines and Uncounted Deaths: This is the Pandemic in the Caribbean

The islands of the Caribbean are similar in their turquoise beaches that captivate tourists, but their handling of the pandemic has been full of contrasts. When the Cayman Islands had 81% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the end of October 2021, Haiti, with 0.3%, was one of the three countries in the world with the least number of people vaccinated. And in Guadeloupe, despite having doses to spare, most of the population does not want to be immunized.