Island Resort and Residences
Poised to be a flagship resort for the Cayman Islands and destined to attract a new level of high-net-worth visitors, construction on Island Resort and Residencies is now underway. As the concrete pours, Michael Beggs, the brainchild and developer behind this incredible resort, is now focusing his attention to details on the communal space. The key to a successful resort, says Beggs, is designing and creating ambience.
“The experience that you create for your customers is what makes it work,” he adds. “There will be no shortcuts and no ugly sides to this resort. Everything has been designed with the guests in mind and creating the perfect atmosphere.”
With the entire resort operations hidden underground, Beggs is not exaggerating when he says there will be no ugly sides. No one will see laundry carts or trucks unloading goods and waiters and maintenance teams, gardeners and porters will be there only when required by customers. The ‘business end’, so to speak, will be completely hidden from view and every inch of the hotel given over to creating the perfect experience for the guests.
Not strictly a hotel, the Island Resort and Residences is actually a ‘condo-hotel’. This is where a hotel brand will manage the operations – the brand is a secret Beggs has yet to reveal though it will be a leading name in the luxury hotel world. However, each of the 89 luxury residence units, which can be divided into hotel rooms or suites, will be owned by private investors. With just about half of the inventory sold already, Beggs says that despite the financial crisis he is feeling very confident. And with good reason – the Island Resort is currently the top selling development in Cayman.
“Most of the ultra wealthy remain largely unaffected by a recession whatever happens, and more importantly with the US property market in turmoil Cayman looks even more attractive. By moving ahead with the project we create confidence in this market and can demonstrate that we are a leading luxury destination,” he explains.
With sales moving forward and construction now well underway Beggs says he is delighted to have secured the services of award-winning interior designers, Wilson and Associates, who will be working with Beggs on the design of the extensive public spaces and facilities which will set this resort apart from anything currently in the region.
Much has been written already about the standard of the accommodation, but now the focus is on the development and design of the dining, shopping, swimming and relaxing parts of this unprecedented resort.
Probably the most talked about development in Cayman since the Ritz Carlton, Beggs says this resort will be something else, reaching heights of luxury that exceed the normal expectations of five-star resorts, taking it to the ultra luxurious six-star level. Slated to be the first and only six-star resort in the Cayman Islands, Island Resort will be a truly unique experience. Service, ambience, facilities, design and location will come together at the Island Resort, creating a spectacular new destination. From the driveway to the private islands afloat in a colossal swimming pool, attention to detail and design are apparent in every corner. Beggs notes how things are created in a resort, saying that the tiniest details are what make it different and special. The resort is certainly an ambitious project, with new concepts and ideas at every turn that Beggs believes will offer guests a unique and compelling luxury experience.
“Every detail in this resort has been put under a microscope, examined, pulled apart and reconstructed to make it special,” he says. “This has been a huge co-ordination project, with the engineering and architectural teams working for the last 22 months to get every little thing just right. Currently we are working with three interior design firms and we are paying just as much attention to fabrics and accessories. We even have a world class lighting consultant to help with creating ambience in individual sections and areas.”
African mahogany furniture, travertine marble floors, delicate Asian silks, bamboo, slate, muted and serene colour schemes, along with a lush tropical landscape made up of native and indigenous plants form the backdrop to this destination, where specially designed private beaches take the concept of the secluded cabana to a new level. A collection of restaurants, delis and eateries that cater to every gastronomic whim blends into the swimming pool that doubles as a dining space and sets the stage for living the perfect vacation experience.
Holidays and vacations are about many things- one is eating. Culinary tourism is becoming a major area of development within the destination, which goes a long way to explain why Beggs has spent an enormous amount of time creating a fascinating diversity of dining experiences that range from haute cuisine in a private chefs dining room to the Mediterranean style deli, which Beggs says will be “the place to be” and the ‘gossipopolis’ of the resort.
The gastronomic journey begins, says Beggs, in Isola, where fine Italian food will be served in contemporary surroundings with walls doubling as wine cellars and a choice of dining experiences. Guests can enjoy the privacy and privilege of a private dining room situated in a red wine cellar, where the head chef offers up to ten guests a unique culinary adventure. In the main restaurant diners can choose from the contemporary dining deck, where the more traditional dining alcoves are watched over by an elegant grandfather clock, or on the covered dining area which overlooks the resort’s lush tropical sculptured garden, with water features, cobble stones, a rustic wall and ambient lighting that creates the perfect scene for a romantic dinner for two. “It’s one fine dining restaurant, but it offers at least five different experiences,” adds Beggs.
The journey then moves from fine dining to fun dining at the Tuscan deli, where light fare, cappuccinos and gossip make up the menu. Situated in the Mediterranean-style dining courtyard, the deli will be the perfect place to enjoy breakfast, a light lunch or an afternoon treat while watching the world of Island Resort go by.
The Alfresco Grill will be an altogether new experience. Located on the outdoor pool deck, the entire restaurant is laid out on a specially designed island in the middle of the resort’s pool accessed by specially designed bridges. A buffet grotto, a covered dining area, a traditional pizza oven and special private dining islands make this outdoor dining area unique. The private islands, named after Cayman’s lesser known islands of Booby Cay and Sand Cay, covered by beautiful pagodas, will allow guests to enjoy the privacy of their own dining experiences, from champagne breakfasts to sushi suppers, lit by pool fire pits and caressed by cool sea breezes and water features. Lounging on futon day beds, the elevated centre laden with food brought by your own private waiter will be the last word in decadent dining.
For those seeking a more traditional way to wile away the days, the Colonial Bar is exactly what the name conjures up. Resplendent with traditional wood-panelled walls, and a mahogany, brass-footed bar designed in a nautical theme, Beggs explains it will be the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or two before dinner or the place to hide when the tropical sun takes its toll and indulge in some traditional pub fare.
The Colonial Ballroom offers an elegant old world backdrop for weddings, small conferences, meetings and other special occasions. Far from the huge rooms often found in five-star hotels, Beggs is offering the facility in a manageable size to avoid having the resort dominated by one conference or business meeting. “It will,” he explains, “be a sophisticated space perfect for a wedding party, senior business meeting or dinner.”
Strolling along the Plantation promenade with a selection of high-end shops and a gallery, guests can stop off at the children’s day centre. This caters to all ages, from the ‘playstation generation’ upstairs to the tots who still just want to play downstairs, staffed by qualified nursery nurses, so parents can relax and enjoy their vacation knowing the kids are having fun.
At the end of the promenade is one of the resort’s most significant facilities. Expected to create considerable attention, Beggs and his team have spent months researching, designing and redesigning the Island Resort’s spa. Following an Asian stylisation inside a traditional Caribbean style plantation house, there will be both indoor and outdoor treatment rooms offering guests the ultimate in relaxation. As important as cuisine has become to the discerning traveller, the concept of specialist beauty treatments and pampering experiences for him and her has become synonymous with luxury vacations. “I’m really enthusiastic about this. It’s taken a long time to get it right but I know it’s going to work,” he says. “Its like a little piece of Bali that I have brought to Cayman.”
In the 15,000 square foot area, there are 16 different treatment rooms including outdoor treatment rooms on the upstairs balconies, which are curtained and covered so as to offer privacy but also maintain the ambience of the tropical setting. There are also Turkish baths, saunas, steam rooms, private Jacuzzi alcoves, mineral pools and rain mist showers. Delicate fabrics and flowers will blend with wood, slate, bamboo, stone and water to create blissful tranquil surroundings.
While the spa was certainly a labour of love for Beggs, the ultimate showcase for the Island Resort is likely to be the swimming pool. “Around 80 percent of people who take a beach vacation never actually swim in the ocean,” says Beggs, which is why he has designed the last word in swimming pools. Aside from doubling up in some areas as a restaurant, the extensive pool area is also home to a unique collection of seven private beaches that can be hired for the day. Taking the popularity of private cabana rental offered at other beach resorts a step further, Beggs is not only offering the luxurious privacy of cabanas and day beds, but a beach and pool area in perfect seclusion.
“We’ve designed them in such a way that they can’t be overlooked and parties taking out a Cabana will only encounter other guests if they choose to swim out from their area into the wider pool,” he said.
For those who do enjoy swimming in the ocean and taking in the beauty of Cayman’s crystal clear colourful seas, the Island Resort is situated on 850 feet of prime sandy beachfront, which will never feel crowded even in high season. The ocean forms a key element for visitors to Cayman as many come to dive or snorkel, and Beggs has created the first ever separate and dedicated dive training pool in a luxury resort.
Those enjoying the swimming pool will not have to navigate around the novices trying their hands with Scuba tanks for the first time, as the beginners will be going through their paces in a pool specially designed for this purpose. “The five-star PADI water sports centre and dive shop is”, Beggs says, “going to be a real attraction”.
“We are situated on the northeast coast, which offers some of the best dive sites in Grand Cayman, and we hope to get as many people as possible out in the ocean, enjoying the spectacular underwater world. With a dedicated training pool, the novices can learn in a safe environment and there won’t be any crossover with guests who are enjoying a swim.”
The Island Resort will offer guests a collection of possible vacation experiences that are almost limitless. “Whatever people imagine they would desire while visiting Island Resort we are going to do our best to make it happen,” says Beggs. With design and detail at the heart of the resort, Beggs wants to create an ambience that draws people in, and he says it is this that will make this resort stand out from the crowd. “It’s about multifaceted experiences all the time.”
Diving, shopping, massages, cappuccinos in courtyards, fire lights in pool pits, futon day beds on private islands, secluded beach cabanas, endless culinary choices and all of them beautifully designed and presented. A stickler for detail, Beggs has agonised over every item, from the fabric covering the chairs in the ballroom to the choice of flowers at the spa, and if he did not like it he ripped it up and started again.
“If I have just the slightest sense of doubt or a grey area with anything it has to go,” he says. “We are raising the bar with the design at this resort. The elegance and quality of what we are doing here will make Cayman more competitive. Everything that comes after us will have to raise their standards to compete.”
As a perfectionist, Beggs says he is striving to create the perfect resort destination for the discerning traveller. He has come up with a design idea that is likely to offer a level of luxury so far not seen in Cayman. The seclusion of the location – far from the maddening crowds – and its natural beauty provide the perfect backdrop to create a haven for the world’s high-net-worth travellers. Some two years on the drawing board, Island Resort is soon to become a much-anticipated reality.
Select suites at The Island Resort and Residences are still available and start at US $765,000 up to US $8,100,000 for the ultimate penthouse suite.
For more information, please contact, Kim Lund at Re/Max: (345) 916 5555 email: , or James Bovell at: (345) 945 1585 or go to the resort’s website at www.theislandresort.com
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