Cayman Brac back on track

| 14/02/2010

(CNS): With the reopening of the Brac Reef Beach Resort, which was reduced to a pile of dust and rubble by Hurricane Paloma in November 2008, Cayman Brac now has two operational hotels for the first time since Divi Tiara shut down in September 2006, and with 125 additional rooms at Carib Sands and Brac Caribbean condominiums expected to become available in a few months, MLA and President of the Sister Islands Tourism Association (SITA), Moses Kirkconnell, said there were enough rooms now to get better airlift for Cayman Brac. (Left: Linton Tibbetts and resort manager Trudy Viers officially re-open the Brac Reef)

Linton Tibbetts, who built the first Brac Reef Hotel in the mid 1970s (which was later sold to the Divi Corporation) and the Brac Reef in its current location in 1987, was also insistent that it should be rebuilt after its total destruction on 8 November 2008. “We wanted it to be done well,” he told CNS about his reinvestment into the Brac. “We can’t give up on this island and somebody’s got to do it.” On Saturday, 13 February, he and the resort’s general manager, Trudy Viers, cut the ribbon at a ceremony outside the new lobby to officially re-open the resort.

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Brac heradline news, Brac Reef Beach Resort

While the Brac Reef has received some guests since 5 December 2009, the 9,000 square foot main hotel area, which sits on the footprint of the old building and includes the lobby, offices, spa, boutique and gym, was completed only a week ago. As well as the buffet dining room, The Royal Palms, and the porch dining area, the Tibbetts family has included a fine dining room, The Grand Palm, to upgrade the hotel, and will also offer a bar and room service menus. A guest room with games and television has been added, which Viers said had been requested by guests, and there is free internet access throughout the resort. (The new Brac Reef front entrace above and the same spot right after Paloma below)

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Brac headline news, Brac Reef Beach ResortThe 40 rooms of the resort, which had to be completely refurbished after the storm, now require the electronic door key to activate the air-conditioning in order to conserve energy. Ten rooms have also been upgraded to junior suites.

As partners with the Dive Pirates Foundation, a Texas-based non-profit organization that brings disabled divers to the Brac each year, the re-built Brac Reef has 3 rooms that are fully wheelchair accessible from the poolside, with all furniture, fixtures and fittings designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Boardwalks in the old property have been replaced with wheelchair-friendly concrete walkways.

Last year, even though the resort was still in the construction process, the Dive Pirates made their annual trip, this time with 63 divers, 15 of whom were divers with disabilities. The group stayed at the new Alexander Hotel and at Breakers condominiums and dived with the Brac Reef’s dive operation, Reef Divers, where all dive staff are certified SSI Adaptive Specialty Instructors. In June this year the Pirates are returning with 86 people – which will take up the entire hotel – for one week, and may make two trips in 2011 if funds allow.

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Brac headline news, Brac Reef Beach ResortWhile the Brac Reef’s efforts to accommodate adaptive divers had been driven by their association with the Dive Pirates, Viers said they were also beginning to get other disabled guests who had heard of them through the DPF. (Left: the rooms get a new look)

Linton Tibbetts’ grandson, Kyle Hooker, who oversaw the rebuilding of the Brac Reef as the family’s representative on the ground, said it was very unfortunately that so many people had been without work for so long, but he said, “We now have a brand new building, which is beautiful and has totally changed the resort.”

Repairs to the Carib Sands Condominiums phases 1 and 2, which were severely damaged during the hurricane, will be completed in early March and the new phase 3 will be finished in early April, while the Brac Caribbean is set for reopening in June, according to Kirkconnell, who is general manager of the condominiums.

Cayman Islands News, Cayman Brac headline news, Brac Reef Beach ResortWhile the Sister Islands MLA said he is optimistic about the tourism product with all the accommodation coming back on line, he said that presently the Cayman Brac Power and Light Company, of which he is a board member, is reporting 20% less electricity usage than before Paloma, which Kirkconnell said was a mix of both residential use – people who left and did not return – and commercial use, and a result of the general economic decline. (Left: standing in the lobby after the storm)

However, with the two hotels and the completion or repair of the condominiums and construction of new buildings, Kirkconnell said he was sure tourism, and therefore the economy of the Brac, would improve. As SITA president he said, “It’s our job to work to work with Cayman Airways to get better airlift for the islands.”

Viers noted that it was good for the entire island that the tourism accommodation, both new and repaired, was picking up. “Cayman Brac needs all accommodation and the support of Cayman Airways to get all our people back to work and to thrive again,” she said.

Category: Headline News

Comments (19)

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  1. Hey You have done a great job..Congracts to alll..Good luck

  2. Done a great job and Congrats to Tibbetts, The resort looking cool and It’s nice to here about reopening.. ..Good luck

  3. Martin van der Touw says:

    We love the Brac and the Beach Resort. Well done Tibbetts Family and Trudy and staff

  4. Barbara Thompson says:

    AN excellent weekend by the staff and ownership of BRBR. Thanks to Gregory and his staff in the kitchen, I have gained back the 5 pounds I exercised off since Christmas!!  Look for a dive pirate invasion June 19th….

  5. Anonymous says:

    As one of those "foreigners" who will one day call the Brac my "Winter Home" I applaud the recovery of the island. Looking forward to being on the Brac soon…

    Welcome back "Brac Reef"…

  6. Jan Owen-Denton says:

    Congratulations Mr. T and the rest of the Tibbetts family on a job well done!  Jack and I can hardly wait to get back down there to see it in person.  We have loved the Brac since we first set foot on it in 2000.  The people are welcoming and honest and we truly love the quiet slow pace.

  7. Sophie Wimberley says:

    Congratulations to the Tibbetts family, Trudy, and all the staff from Brac Reef Beach Resort and Reef Divers II!  The resort looks fabulous, and the dive operation is back online.  We look forward to many years of diving with you!

  8. Bre says:

    I’ve always love The Brac Reef, can remember going there and appreciating the AC and TV after Ivan when we didn’t have any here in Grand Cayman and fulling in love with the place. I’m really happy they remodle and upgrade, Tibbetts good work can’t wait to visit and enjoy the new and improve Brac Reef.

  9. Anonymous says:

    SITA bringing back the Brac.  It’s great to see the SITA properties coming back online.  Looks like the businesses are doing their part to bring tourists and jobs back, and kudos to the 1st Elected, Mr. Kirkconnell for all his hard work to get the economy going.

    Now it is time for Cayman Airways to do their part.  If Mac and Julianna don’t deliver the flights, they’ll have to explain to everyone why they have abandoned the Brac!

    • Anonymous says:

      Air Service was better when Mr. Linton ran Red Carpet Air.  Got a feeling that current government won’t improve our air service because most of the hotels/condo’s are owned/runned by supporters of the previous government.

      Sign Me,

      Can’t We all Just Get Along,  Political Parties Stop Fighting Each Other

    • Anonymous says:

      Well you can Wait…..but that is all you will get for the next 3 years!!!

      From Tired of waiting bracker..

  10. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to the Tibbetts family for once again putting their money where theirmouth is. 

    This is truly a wonderful happening on the Brac.  We look forward to the increase in business that this hotel will bring to the island and the positive publicity for the entire Cayman Islands.

    Thank you Mr. Tibbetts & Family!

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is a prime example of a Caymanian who earned his fortune in a "Furrin" land and investing it in Cayman so that his Caymanian people can have jobs.

    Unfortunately the expat haters never see this side of the coin. Well! in Grand Cayman anyway. Brackers normally get along well with expats.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not true.  Brackers embrace foreigners.  Just looked at the number of them who are married to them.  Look at the number of them who run small businesses by employing them.  Foreigners would not be hear, other than for short vacations, if the Brackers truely hated them. 

      Just go into Market Place, Billy’s, Kirkconnells Market, Scott Development, The Alexander Hotel, L& M Superstore,  and look at most any restaurant, bar, construction company  and church and you will see a united nations of foreigners gainfully employed by Brackers.

      Sign Me,

      Brackers are the reason why there are so many foreigners on the island!

      • Anonymous says:

        If you took time to read my post instead of jumping off to bash me you would see that I said exactly what you did, Idiot.

  12. Joe Average says:

    And what’s wrong with the Big Kahuna?????

    Except for a little crime and traffic??

    3 wks ago last Friday for example…

    There wasn’t a single crime!

    And today…Sunday…there was hardly any traffic.

    We take exception to this blatant Brac Boosting CNS!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Love the Brac.

  14. Liesel van der Touw says:

    Best hotel on the Brac.  The rooms, staff and food is out of this world.  Congratulations to all involved in achieving this goal. 

  15. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to the Tibbetts family and all involved. CNS thanks for a positive news story, especially one on Cayman Brac.