Bush singles out former Hyatt for action

| 02/06/2009

(CNS): During a meeting with tourism stakeholders last week, the new leader of government business said that he would be contacting the owner (Asif Bhatia) of the derelict former Hyatt Hotel, which has been that way for almost five years since Hurricane Ivan devastated Grand Cayman in September 2004. McKeeva Bush told stakeholders that it was something that needed to be addressed. Although the beach side of the hotel, which is no longer in Hyatt hands, re-opened within a few weeks of Ivan, the main part of the hotel on the north shore, which once held more than 200 rooms, has been  deserted ever since.

Not only is this reducing Cayman’s overall hotel room stock, the derelict site has become something of an eyesore in the middle of Grand Cayman’s main tourist district of Seven Mile Beach. Former Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford admitted to CNS last September that there was no resolution in sight for the property, and although he had been trying, he had failed to make contact with Bhatia, the wealthy owner.

Bhatia has been in a legal battle with Lloyds of London over a reported $50 million-plus insurance claim as a result of the damage to the property. It is alleged that the insurance firm has offered considerably less than this sum and Bhatia has refused to accept the offer or to sell the property, leaving the prime hotel site in ruins.

Throughout his time in office, Clifford said on a number of occasions it was not in the country’s interest to allow the property to stay in its current condition. At one point Clifford did say that a compulsory purchase by government was not out of the question, something that a number of local owners in the neighbourhood as well as local real estate brokers have suggested, although Kim Lund of Remax said the problem was a failure within the local judiciary.

“The government’s focus should not be on forcing the owner of the property to sell, but rather on improving the expediency of our legal system,” Lund told CNS last year. “That would be a much moreprudent area to target, which could also have very positive repercussions for the whole country if some real improvement could be achieved.”

Lund said there had been an opportunity for a Summary Judgment on the Hyatt several years ago but it was thrown out of court.  He said the case was dragging on and on, to the detriment of tourism and property values for owners in Britannia. Lund said the location was a strategic site which has become an embarrassment to anyone entering Britannia or driving along the bypass.

CNS contacted Bush yesterday (1 June) to ask what his plans are to force Bhatia to settle or sell and what he would want to happen to the site and we are awaiting a response.

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  1. Anonymous says:


    Since Mac gonna be bullying the owners he better get to these Jacka***s.

    Talk about dirlect and eyesore maybe now that MRS. JULIE in charge she

    can get Mac to have this one dealt with too.



    • Anonymous says:

      I read with disbelief the opinions written here that the government should purchase the old hyatt. The current government is borrowing 21 million dollars a month to meet payroll and to think that the government would be in position to spend tens of millions of dollars to purchase the property is absurd, this does not include the millions it will take to rebuild it. It is clear the governments’ history with operating Boatswain Beach and Pedro Castle they cannot run a business. This current government is clearly not capable of performing in private enterprises and it should be left to the business sector. A precedent that government forcing a business to sell is as close to fascism as I’ve ever seen. To think that government can force individuals to sell property gives me shudders when I hear the whispers of independence. The existing government needs to get its own house in order before embarking down this misgotten road.

       Eyes wide shut!
  2. Anonymous says:

    Come On, This is all hot air.

    Mr Bush  has no intention of fixing this. "My hands are tied" to coin a phrase, or as Kurt used to say, "I have no pull with that department".

    Mr Bush, you will be judged on your actions, not your rhetoric. Make it clear, that we, the people of the Cayman Islands are holding you accountable for the the vote of confidence we have just given you.

    We want solutions: Please drop Buzzard Miller. If he has any thing to do with Health Services, I challenge you to chase the money and you will find true motive. What experience does Mark Scotland have with Health Services? Absolutely none! Mr Scotland. You are not qualified to accept this portfolio. Please be honest with the Caymanian people and turn it down. How could the governor even approve this unless he want to witness the implosion of Cayman and the subsequent intervention of the UK to clean up our incompetence. UK moved in on Turks and Caicos and believe me, we have been gazetted at the highest levels to be next.

    Wake up, Cayman!!!


  3. Fed-UP CAYMANIAN says:

    Thank God for a man the calibre of McKeeva Bush. He has the intestinal fortitude to do something about this eyesore that has disgraced the West Bay Road for almost 5 years now.

    For what it will cost to repair, I suggest Govt purchase it, demolish whats there now and turn it into satellite Government Departments i.e. Vehicle Licensing, Planning etc and decentralize Government. After all can the Kurt-fantasy GOAP really accomodate ALL civil servants. I dare say no.

    Congrats Mac and the UDP. You have launched your 4 year term on significant under-takings

  4. Anonymous says:


    I think that the government has an excellent oppurtunity to get in the tourism market with this hotel.  I suggest that they purchase it and renovate and reopen.  HOWEVER…I think that this would make the ideal location for the government to employ young Caymanians and use it as a learning college for the hospitality industry.  They can hire the proper management staff/ teachers to run the actual operations but hire young Caymanians and those needing jobs and have them work there.  Being that it is a government owned entity, they can have lower prices by doing away with the government surchages and really market it to the tourist.  I have no doubt they would fill it with lower prices.  It will be sorta a nice experience because they can market it as a college for hotel trainees and that might encourage more guest to give it a try.

    The revenue raised from it could assist other projects and fund the school itself as well as the fact that since it is government owned and operated the staff are considered civil servants and the students can all have government benefits.  As time goes on..the students can graduate and take up the management positions in the hotel and turn around and train new students coming in.  I really think this would be great for young people in Cayman.  The property itself is beautiful and has nice banquet rooms so you can promote the Cayman culture by having functions there such as the Jazz Festival and other functions to promote Cayman.

    Finally Cayman could have a place that the tourist can find REAL CAYMANIANS and enjoy that local experience.

    MR BUSH…are you reading this?  What do you think sir??

  5. Anonymous says:

    The derelict Hyatt is a real disgrace. Cayman Government should immediately commence the complusory purchase process and I suspect that Bhatia will soon appear to claim his $ !!

  6. Hey Teecha Leave Us Kidz Alone says:

    Dear Teecha,

    The indicator sign at the bypasss near the Ritz is necessary as cars go all the way round the roundabout to either access Southampton Court (going north) or to go north having left North Sound GC or the Ritz gof/tennis complex (going south).

    The failure of many drivers to indicate properly at roundabout here is atrocious – whether it is laziness, arrogance or plain ignorance, the police should sit on any roundabout for an hour a book every miscreant – there would be a lot of tickets.

    Mr. P. Floyd

  7. Anonymous says:

    I whole heartedly support McKeeva sorting out the Hyatt mess, it is a disgrace and an eye sore in the heart of 7 mile beach. Just how the former government was able to ignore this rat infested mess escapes me.

    The property owners at Britania must support this action as well. Tear the mess down.

  8. Anonymous says:

    "A good issue to take up, though I spent two years trying to contact Asif Bhatia, and the closest I got was a promise to return my calls through his representative in Cayman.  And she has now left Cayman.

    I doubt Mr Bush will have any more luck in his attempts to contact him."

    Post a Notice of Expropriation on the CNS website, and see if he turns up then.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Fancy Pants,

    No one above the law? Maybe we should start with the Bodden Town candidates and fix that situation first – clearly they believe they are above the constitution.

    I am not in a position to respect anything that they do.

  10. annonymous says:

    I agree with the LOGB to deal with this growing eyesore. 

    The fact that we don’t have policies in place to force owners of properties that are left in a derelict situation for years is absolute carelessness on the part of our Govt.  There should be policies in place that enforces an owner to either raze or upgrade their properties following any kind of damage while awaiting their insurance claim.

    If we continue to allow these kind of situations to magnify we are only creating shanty areas in our small community.  So in saying this, lets put some laws in place to rectify these situations for the future, lets be proactive about this so we don’t have to stumble over our own short-falls in the laws of the land.

    I would do a force sale, turn it into a Govt. run hotel and casino in it and whola, we have some revenue income.

    Mr. Bush, we want casinos, lets get started.  The economy needs this now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    To ‘While i understand Mckeeva’:  I think you are confused.  You may have been referring to the PPM.  However, judging by how fast the UDP seem to be moving on all fronts, I think they may actually have major plans to help this economy and I for one am grateful as we need all the help we can get.  Hope they can deliver too so pleaese be helpful and positive instead of being so sarcastic and sour grapes.

    • Anonymous says:

      At this meeting the esteemed LOGB listed his priorities as  1. Water sports operators (his riding)  2. Cruise Ship arrivals (his bagmen in GT retail sector) 3. Stay over arrivals as his last. The hotel and condo sector employs a substantial amount of workers and with a 12% decline in tourism ytd who wants to invest in a crumbling industry. It was the UDP that implemented the roll over policy and the government was bankrupt back in 2004 so things have not changed. Private banking left this island years ago and now with the current inadequate politicians we are risking losing the rest. Get the people here and the incentive for growth and investment in the hotel/condo sector will follow.

  12. Expat24,372 says:

    A good issue to take up, though I spent two years trying to contact Asif Bhatia, and the closest I got was a promise to return my calls through his representative in Cayman.  And she has now left Cayman.

    I doubt Mr Bush will have any more luck in his attempts to contact him.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I certainly hope I do not find myself on the mercy of an insurance claim after my home has been devastated by a hurricane. Just think: if the insurance company delays your claim settlement, the governement can force you to give up your home before you receive any repayment from insurance.

    In fact, ifthat is the government’s approach, then I suppose there is no point in having property insurance at all, as we all know how efficient insurance companies are at timely resolutions.

  14. Teecha says:

    Now we could use it to shove all that garbage in or we could use it for that new West Bay High School, or perhaps even the much talked about Vocational School.

    With respect to the roundabouts, what is the point of the huge NRA "use your indicators" sign at the Roundabout close to the Ritz which only runs straight through? Tee hee

  15. Anonymous says:

    While i understand Mckeeva viewpoint i think that other properties would also need to be addressed such a Dolphin Point, numerous homes in WB / SS / BTand the Marriott Courtyard which to date has not a reopening deadline. I would wonder how businesses who are thinking of investing in the island would appreciate governments medling into the private sector. I think that it could deter any future investment if the potential owner sees that the government  can mandate or force owners of businesses to sell if they don”t like how its run. Did we vote for Mckeeva or Obama? Let goverment do what they do best – nothing! 

    • Anonymous says:
      "I think that it could deter any future investment if the potential owner sees that the government  can mandate or force owners of businesses to sell if they don”t like how its run. Did we vote for Mckeeva or Obama? Let goverment do what they do best – nothing! "


      Listen we have standards! If an investor doesnt want to operate by them someone else will.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How about NRA placing signs around the roundabouts on how to properly use them. I can’t recall a day when using them that I don’t see a close call.

    You can speak with 10 people and probably only 2 will tell you the same thing.

  17. Fancy Pants says:

    This is a very good start Mr. Minister. Please show that there’s no one above the law, doesn’t matter how much money you have.  I know that there’s something in our laws whereby neighbours of an adjoining property can force the owner to clear their property of debris and yet this has been allowed to go on at a major scale whilst devaluing the surrounding properties.

    Hurray, Mr. Minister!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I hope they take Immigration and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) with them when they enter the property. I am sure there are a few illegals living there. DEH will figure out their role when they get there.

  19. Minor points says:

    I find this encouraging. Although I do worry that Mr Bush might bite off more than he can chew with tackling all these major problems all at the same time. The plus is that he is including major stakeholders and not going at it solo……However, please proceed with caution.

    Two small areas which I cannot find the appropriate place to post… Hmmm CNS maybe that is an idea, to have a general area for people to comment on matters that do not not fit squarely into the  current dicussions. Maybe a "What’s on your mind" corner.

    Iguanas- is it me or are there waaaay too many iguanas running around and being nuisances?? I understand that because the Conservation law is not amended  the green iguanas are also protected. I see quite a few dead iguanas in the streets and I have seen iguanas perched at my home for 3 days straight and not moving…Can we not make this a tourism attraction DOE could collect them and place them at maybe Bostwains beach (is there any space) "Iguana Alley" or whatever. Clearly I have no clue about iguanas but maybe someone who does can expand on the idea.

    Secondly garbage collection – we are rapidly turning into a filthy island. I was stunned when I went to the beach on Saturday the amount of garbage that was strewn along the bushes. If memory serves me correctly wasnt this done on a daily or very regular basis in the past? Is this as a result of budget cuts. Anyone knows the garbage pick up schedules. Do we need to schedule more regular public clean ups instead of only on Earth day etc? 


  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for making this one of your missions Mr. Bush.  It is such a shame that this has been allowed to remain in such a state.  If one less expensive project been approved by the PPM and those funds re-directed to address the landfill issue we would be a lot better off by now.  The whole road leading up to SMB needs to be looked into.  If you come from the Airport onto the Harquail Bypass, all you see is torn-up fence-covering and trash right by the fence at the landfill.  All that should be cleaned up as it leaves tourists wondering if the rest of Cayman looks like that.  Please, please do something about the landfill.


    And let me tell you, just like I voted for you this time, I will be the first one to vote your government out Mr. Bush if you do not address that landfill during your tenure. Whoever addresses that issue will get real high marks in my book!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps if it is staying empty, couldnt government arrange to simply move mount trashmore there and fill up all the empty rooms and corridors with trash, then at least its hidden away?

    1 eyesore out of two isn’t bad?

    What  a great idea, surprised nobody had thought of it!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to McKeeva on recognition of a serious aesthetics problem.  I’m surprised this wasn’t an election issue like the dump.  Something has to be done to correct ALL of the visual embarressments which impede our tourism product.

    I would also propose that signage is needed to direct rental car traffic safely from the airport to their hotels.  I can’t tell you how many times I see disoriented white plates turning towards CUC…that’s not a good way to start your vacation in Cayman!  

    Further, it would be nice if NRA could make paving the unfortunate dustbowl road through industrial park a priority before moving on to other projects.  Please finish what you’ve started.