When it comes to luxury living, Grand Cayman lives up to its moniker – “grand” indeed.

In the last decade, the island has welcomed unprecedented growth, renovation and innovation. A returning visitor who has been away would marvel at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, the changing landscape of Seven Mile Beach, modern roadways and, of course, the ever-expanding crown jewel of the island, Camana Bay.

“It’s hard to compete with the coral sands of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. Brimming with luxury hotels and casual restaurants, the Cayman Islands leavea travelers with little to complain about.” – U.S. News & World Report

Add to that a diverse array of select shopping, dining and entertainment experiences – all in a backdrop of postcard-perfect blue waters, spectacular beaches and warm, sunny climes – and it’s easy to see why this luxurious retreat attracts visitors from around the globe.

The Cayman Islands is consistently acknowledged as one of the premier luxury tourism destinations anywhere. Most recently, it was named in the Top 20 of the world’s best islands in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards survey. This follows on the heels of U.S. News & World Report ranking Seven Mile Beach as “#1 in Best Beaches in the World” out of a dozen. The publication wrote: “It’s hard to compete with the coral sands of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach. Brimming with luxury hotels and casual restaurants, the Cayman Islands leave travelers with little to complain about.”

With everything from high-end resorts to exquisite luxury goods to unparalleled sunsets and white-sand beaches, Cayman does indeed make a grand statement: Big, bold and beautiful.

A-list accommodation

The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is being hailed as the “new jewel” of the island’s tourism industry. The 266-room resort opened its doors in November, and was named by Forbes Travel Guide editors as among 20 of the world’s most anticipated hotel openings of 2016.

Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa

Developed by Dart Real Estate, it is Kimpton’s first resort outside of the U.S. and Grand Cayman’s first new property in a decade. A playful and sophisticated escape on the island’s prized Seven Mile Beach, the resort features five restaurants and lounges, expansive indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, a cascading oceanfront pool and a destination spa. A signature of the property are the sweeping water views from the guest rooms and public spaces.

Seafire is just the start of Dart’s plans to build a hotel district that will incorporate the developer’s land holdings from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach. Among the projects are a 5-star hotel next to the 10-story Kimpton Seafire – expected to be a Four Seasons – and a children’s resort.

As has been observed on many occasions, lack of available rooms has been a major detriment to the stay-over tourism sector. The opening of the Kimpton – and also the “renovation and reopening” of the new Margaritaville Resort (at the former Treasure Island property) – will add hundreds of rooms to Cayman’s hotel inventory.

Trio Architecture is overseeing the renovation of the new Margaritaville Resort. It is also finishing a 42-room boutique business hotel on the Seven Mile Beach strip, to be named Locale, which is expected to be completed in early 2018.

The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa has undergone a $50-million refurbishment that has wow-factor appeal – including a sweeping lobby area with panoramic views of Seven Mile Beach and the sparkling sea. The revamp marries modern design with Caribbean flair. The entire property has a fresh new feel, with upgrades in the wings for guestrooms and suites.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is another exceptional island escape on Seven Mile Beach, an award-winning hotel that is the sole resort on-island to earn the prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating.

The resort’s top features are described as “Seven Wonders on Seven Mile Beach.” They include: 365 distinct guest rooms and opulent residential suites; exclusive dining experiences including a signature restaurant by Eric Ripert of New York’s top-ranking Le Bernardin; indulgent and restorative treatments at la prairie spa; a Greg Norman-designed golf course; tennis courts with custom programs by Nick Bollettieri; Jean-Michel Cousteau’s educational and cultural program, Ambassadors of the Environment; and the personalized services of some 800 “ladies and gentlemen.”

Private villas are also an in-demand choice for discerning travelers, with Grand Cayman featuring numerous high-end properties dotted around the island. Design build company Encompass, for example, has created a sensational retreat near Rum Point ideal for family holidays and special occasions. Sun Serenity is a 7,800-square-foot oceanfront villa that is loaded with amenities such as a rooftop sunset deck, plush home cinema and swim-up pool bar.

SeaHaven Project

Well-appointed residences

The luxury property market is heating up in Grand Cayman.

Sales have been swift for residences at the Kimpton resort. The Residences at Seafire is Dart’s first for-sale Seven Mile Beach property and includes 62 luxury residences in an elegant 10-story building next to the resort.

Stone Island

Other luxury properties are on tap across the island. The Residences of Stone Island is being developed by the team behind The WaterColours. This gated waterfront community is expected to break ground this year in the prestigious Yacht Club neighborhood. Stone Island consists of 44 three-story luxury residences, with numerous amenities such as private plunge pools, boardwalk, lush landscaping and expansive infinity edge pool.

The WaterColours

In West Bay, the buzz is about Boggy Sands. The first phase of this luxury beachside development by Coen Coleman Ltd. is set to open in the charming area of Boggy Sand Road in early 2017. Located just steps away from a secluded stretch of Seven Mile Beach, the modern gated community will consist of 20 well-appointed three-story condominiums with expansive 2,500-square-foot rooftop terraces, and an impressive range of communal and entertainment amenities.

The desirable neighborhood of South Sound is experiencing unprecedented growth.

Among the projects is Vela I and Vela II, a gated community of luxury townhomes by Davenport Development. Tides, a luxurious 24-residence, 1.6-acre beachfront condominium development by NCB Group, has broken ground, with an expected completion date of September 2017. All six of Baraud Development’s upscale Shore Club condos have sold.

Another luxury property is taking shape on South Church Street. The development, which will feature 36 oceanfront units, is called FIN, the French word for “end” – meant to indicate Cayman’s “final word in luxury.”

FIN’s amenities include private elevator access to the units, a 75-foot elevated glass-bottom pool that cantilevers out over the beach, a saltwater lagoon with access to the sea, underground parking, 24-hour concierge service, an owners’ lounge, a business center, a tennis court, private plunge pools and wine lockers. There will also be a car service with two electric cars for owners to use.

Rum Point Club

In the tranquil district of North Side, developer Joseph Imparato is introducing Rum Point Club, an exclusive beachfront condominium complex that embraces island living. The five-story hurricane-resistant building will feature 36 one- two- and three-bedroom residences, ranging from 1,250 to 2,316 square feet. Amenities include a fitness center, spa, beachfront infinity edge pool, tennis court access and underground parking. An on-site manager will also be on hand.

Construction is underway, with a projected completion time of 18 to 24 months. Among the key players in the Rum Point Club team are Evolving Island, Kariba Architecture & Interiors, and Livingstone Construction Management.

Imparato is also developing island-style boating homes in Cayman Kai, near Rum Point Club. Kembali Kai is comprised of five luxury waterfront homes in a gated community, each connected to the water. A highlight is a 30-foot private dock just a few steps away from the swimming pool and sun deck.

Kembali Kai

A new designer venture catering to the luxury market recently came on stream. Nest offers ready-made solutions to outfit residences with curated furniture collections. Hand-picked by an interior designer, the collections offer a combination of comfort, modern simplicity and style. The collections are stocked on-island and can be installed within 72 hours.

The furniture collections include Contemporary Sea, Modern Caribbean and Natural Luxury. A range of beautiful accessories, including local artwork, complete and enhance each collection.

Whether seeking the solace and privacy of an exclusive estate, the carefree condo lifestyle, or active waterfront living, the possibilities are seemingly endless when it comes to luxury living in Cayman.

Growing economy

Several high-value projects going forward will strengthen and diversify the economy including the Ironwood golf resort, the continuing growth of Cayman’s medical tourism venture, Health City Cayman Islands, and Cayman Enterprise City, a mixed-use special economic zone.

Developer Joseph Imparato will design and build a 100-room clubhouse and lodge as part of the Arnold Palmer-branded Ironwood golf resort. Plans include a luxury hotel and condominiums, similar in style to the Caribbean Club, which he developed on Seven Mile Beach.

Ironwood golf resort

The $30-million development in the eastern districts will feature a golf pro shop, swimming pool, tennis center and two restaurants. It will be the centerpiece of the planned PGA-level course designed by the Arnold Palmer Design Company. The project is a partnership between the Arnold Palmer Group and Imparato’s company, City Services Ltd. The developers are aiming for a late 2018 opening for the clubhouse and lodge and golf course.

Health City

Health City in East End plans to invest as much as $100 million in 2017 and 2018. The investments will come from Health City and Health City Development, expanding hospital facilities and launching several commercial ventures, including a hotel, staff housing, a shopping plaza, and a medical school.

The master plan for Cayman Enterprise City includes construction of a permanent campus on a 70-acre site in South Sound. Plans are in the works to break ground on the first of two $25-million “gateway” buildings. Ultimately, the CEC campus will occupy around 850,000-square-feet of mixed-use development, to be constructed over 20 years at a cost of $300 million.

To support all this innovation and growth, several infrastructure upgrades are in the works in key sectors, including a $55-million expansion to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport.

There have been several improvements to roadways including widening Godfrey Nixon Way as well as widening Smith Road through central George Town.

Work continues on the widening of the Linford Pierson Highway and expanding the Esterley Tibbetts Highway to four lanes. When complete, the entire length of the highway, all the way to Batabano Road in West Bay, will be a four-lane, dual-carriage road. The project is being undertaken by Dart, in conjunction with the National Roads Authority.

Expansion continues at Camana Bay with the construction of another Class-A office building. The project will be an 86,000-square-foot, four-story sister building to 18 Forum Lane, which has global accounting firm PwC as its anchor tenant and is the Caribbean’s first LEED Gold-certified mixed use building. The new building next to 18 Forum Lane will also be LEED Gold-certified.

Once the sister building is completed, scheduled for summer of 2017, Dart will turn its attention to two more Class-A office buildings. Both of those buildings will be constructed on land that will become available once the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and the current roundabout at Camana Bay are moved westward.

Another signpost of economic health in Cayman comes from the latest report from the Economics and Statistics Department showing the island has experienced five consecutive years of economic growth, with the numbers showing that Cayman continues to enjoy a strong, and growing, private sector.

These initiatives and innovations are definitely big, bold steps to improve the island’s economy and amenities – making a grand statement on a promising way forward.