Former Hyatt owner takes battle to UK politicians

| 25/04/2011

(CNS): The owner of the site which was once the Hyatt hotel has taken his battle to the UK’s secretary of state for business and called on the British government to make good on its promise to eliminate corrupt business practices. Asif Bhatia, the owner of Embassy Investments which owns Grand Cayman Beach Suites and the derelict Hyatt site, has been engaged in a complex legal battle with one of his insurance firms for more than six years. The wealthy British hotelier has publicly criticised decisions made by the courts and implied that he has faced discrimination. Since the legal fight began neither the previous tourism ministernor the current premier has been able to do anything about the courtroom drama which has left the West Bay Road hotel site derelict.

Last week, speaking at a Cayman Islands Tourism Association meeting, backbench government MLA Cline Glidden said that the planning department was looking at enforcing legislation it passed last year which provided for a daily fine of up to $25,000 against owners who are not maintaining their properties. Both the Hyatt and Divi Tiara on the Brac are prime candidates, government has indicated.

Bhatia and his firm’s spokespersons have been at pains to point out, however, that the situation is not of their making and that the refusal of one insurance company to pay what the hotel claims it owes is the cause of the problem. The hotelier has pleaded with the CI government on numerous occasions to step in and assist as he claims that the fundamental issue is the refusal of one insurance firm to pay what it owes. In what has become a costly and complex legal battle, the insurance firm in question has denied it is at fault.

Following on from commitments made by former tourism minister Charles Clifford, which did not come to pass, when he took office McKeeva Bush also committed to addressing the Hyatt issue. However, the complex legal battle appears to also be beyond the ability of the current government to address.

The dispute over the hotel insurance settlement has rolled on for more than six and a half years. Although the owners quickly cleaned, dried and renovated the Beach Suites on the south side of the property in the wake of the devastating 2004 hurricane, the remaining 230 rooms on the north side of the West Bay Road has remained closed and continues to crumble.

Now divided by the West Bay road by-pass, the property backs on to Britannia residential condos and golf course, the owners of which have continued to complain about the situation with the hotel.

In light of recent revelations about the insurance firm and a US SEC investigation, in his latest attempt to publicise his own predicament Bhatia has called for openness and transparency and asked the UK government to make good on its promises to address all the problems of corrupt business practices.

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Category: Tourism

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    INSURANCE SETTLEMENT PROBLEMS
    has absolutely nothing to do with simple caring, cleaning and maintenance of the grounds to keep the property looking reasonable while the hotel remains closed during this settlement battle. Surely Mr. Bhatia would not keep his own home in this state. The cost of a couple of gardeners to work on maintaining the grounds is so little for a multi millionaire with assets around the world worth a fortune.

    Not only is it disgraceful on his part, he shpould feel ashamed that he has left this once beautiful property in the disgusting state that he has over the past 7 years when it would have taken so little effort to maintain the grounds.

    SHAMEFUL MR BHATIA

    • Anonymous says:

      The situation is a disgrace and an insult to our country.  Bhatia knows that and to hide behind the insurance argument is an insult to our intelligence.  Perhaps our government should share its opinion with London and the British press to shame the sham landlord.  However, rather than our Planning Dept. issuing outlandish $25k per day penalties – which will kill future investment here – the Govt. should issue orders for the grounds and general property appearance to be kept in order and maintained safe.  The costs for such requisite work must be paid by the owner, and if he is delinquent, then the work should be undertaken by others under fair tender process and all associated costs plus fair interest charges should be recognized as a debt to Govt. and levied against the future property development or transaction.  That might get the reaction we require.

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about!?
      The hotel grounds were devasted by Hurricane Ivan and clearing up was done. There would have been an enormous financial loss.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The insurance companies would love for this to happen.  it means that they can now refuse to settle and the cost of policy holders to fight them is not just the cost of lawyers but the payment to government for not having your property repaired.  be careful that we do not set a precedent here.  What applies to the owners of the Hyatt could end up applying to you after the next disaster. 

    If it is being actively adjudicated then there should not be a penalty.  Believe it this could be you. yes on a smaller scale, but the same rules could apply. We do not need to empower the insurance companies to hold out settlements.

  3. The Watchers says:

    Um… try $9,125,000.00 per year.

    But seriously, training individuals from Cayman in the HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? Exactly how many Caymanians do you see lined up to make beds and sling beer for a living? The answer would be zero.

    Sorry – that’s a total misfire.

    • Well says:

      What about the people from all over the region who would come here to train? ! and pay school fees, and support the local economy. This is about as ridiculous as having a Medical School here, but oh wait….there is one

      • The Watchers says:

        Learning to make a bed and delivering food or beer to a table doesn’t require that you move to one of the most expensive jurisdictions in the hemisphere to take classes. You can do that stateside at the local HoJo or Johnny Rockets and get your minimum wage position secured straight away.

        Becoming a doctor on the other hand, that might warrant travelling to a jurisdiction where waiters can’t even earn enough to rent an apartment by themselves, especially if you didn’t make the grade to go to a med school back in the world.

        Plus, isn’t it actually a VET school?

  4. Here is an idea says:

    Why doesnt the Government make a deal with Mr Bhatia to convert the facility into a training facility. We could train individuals from Cayman and all over the world on many aspects of the hospitality industry and earn money through UCCI in fees. think of the deals with could make with other Universities! We could offer a semester living in Cayman and studying at our University while gaining hands-on experience working in the facility. The facility could be operated as a low cost resort where guests are aware that the staff are actually students (supervised) and guess what? the facility then earns revenues that go towards reducing our deficit!
    I am sure Mr Bhatia would prefer this arrangement over the alternative which is CI$25,000 a day (close to 1 million a year).
    I have no idea how extensive the damage to the hotel is, but I am sure it could be repaired and restored in phases. Just a little “out of the box” thinking for the afternoon.

  5. Anonymous says:

    That’s building is a home to those who dont have a home of their own. We all know it is not exactly the ideal liveable conditions but it is better than sleeping on the cold damp streets. I think if they are going to demolish it, it should become a Homeless shelter. Cayman is one of the richest countries but we forget those who have nothing.Its truely saddening that we have so many bars and clubs but no homeless shelter; that people throw away money on drinks that are damaging to their health rather than put it to helping someone who has nothing. The Bible instructs us to ‘feed the hungry’ and ‘clothe the naked’. We may think Cayman does not have a sufficient number of homeless people to invest in a Homeless shelter but the incovienent truth is that we do but it is an issue that the public is blind to.We have the ablitity to help these people so what are we waiting for! Everyone knows the famous Ms. Alice who roams the streets of West Bay but only few think about even helping her perhaps because of the fear the money given will go to bad use but if we had a Homeless shelter we could make sure that they money invested would go towards food, clothes and other necessities. (Drugs are not a neccessity).

    • Anonymous says:

      I think a homeless shelter may not be the best utilization of this prime location property.  Then again who would think ocean front a perfect place to buy a $2.99 Whopper.  Anyway if it does become a shelter I’m going to sell my home and move in.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      What cold streets? 

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry your right, the homeless sleep in makeshift houses made out of cardboard and garbage in the bushes. Not cold streets, my apologizes, damp cold dirt. You seem to be one of those who look around with their eyes shut. While you are in your bed, laying in your head on your comfy pillow, someone is laying out in the cold, laying their head on rags they probaly found in the trash.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who said give anything to Government?

  7. ChinaGo says:

    Condemn It!

    Then demolish it.

    Then Mac can sell it to the Chinese and they can build a hotel and casino on the property.

    Just think. The possibilities are endless, the profits boundless!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    again nobody is looking at the real story behind the Hyatt…and don’t be fooled by Bhatia’s spin for one second!….how come they managed to re-open the ocean front side of the hotel in a short space of time….

    it’s time to start asking some real questions….

    • Anonymous says:

       You sound like Bush. You know something but can’t tell what it is and of course anyone else"s knowledge like a successful Business man and owner and those in the legal profession pales in comparison to what ever it is you know because you say so.  Good one.  It is painfully easy to fool the foolish but the foolish can never fool a smart man.  Don’t worry I’m sure there are many who would agree with you here.

  9. Anonymous says:

    ‘Cline Glidden said that the planning department was looking at enforcing legislation it passed last year ”…. sums everything about this sham of a government…all talk and no action….

  10. Anonymous says:

    We need to learn from this and other countries instead of continuing to make our own mistakes with such developers.
    In the Bahamas they formed a Hotel Corporation because the Government itself understood that they needed a stake in their key industry. Instead of allowing the free market to dictate everything, and what we have seen with other properties due to problems with the owners, we need to have a stake of 51% in such an industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      you think people will invest money if you have to give 51% to the government, your head must be far up your XXX.

      • Anonymous says:

        Discussion is an exchange of knowledge, argument is an exchange of ignorance – Socrates

    • That’s hilarious.  The CIG can’t run itself AT ALL, and as a businessman I wouldn’t let them manage my kid’s lemonade stand while she took a bathroom break for fear that they’d fxxx it up in that short time just by being in close physical proximity to it.  You want to give them majority control over the remnants of Caymans last surviving (though mortally wounded) industry?  Best go give that a re-think my friend…

    • Anonymous says:

      Governments should GOVERN…not dabble in business ventures.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s just what we need, the professionalism and the financial wisedom of government in the private sector. Are you kidding me?

    • Anonymous says:

      Our pubescent gov’t fails to maintain simple balance sheets and financial statements.  Let’s not encourage them to divide our very scarce capital into an entirely new speculative arena.

    • Anonymous says:

      yep just look at what a good job they do with cayman airways, turtle farm…etc…..zzzzzzzzzzzzz