For many, “sustainability” conjures images of recycling bins and solar panels but the “green” connotation misses the broader themes of social and economic sustainability.
Dart Enterprises CEO Mark VanDevelde speaks about embracing sustainability in terms of “future-proofing.” He says Dart’s economic success in the Cayman Islands is inextricably tied to its commitment to social endeavours and environmentally responsible practices. The Dart group’s investments in the Cayman Islands, centered on Camana Bay and with an increasing focus on resort development, take a long-term view, looking ahead decades.
VanDevelde gives the construction of the vehicular underpass/pedestrian overpass on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway through Camana Bay as an example of such future-proofing.
Hotels are significant job creators and perpetual economic engines which provide a continuous stream of revenue generationDart CEO Mark VanDevelde
“We could have widened the road where it is for a relatively quick, cost-efficient solution,” he says. “That may have addressed short-term traffic congestion issues, but would borrow against future opportunities that transcend road networks. Investing now in infrastructure that connects Seven Mile Beach to Camana Bay allows for future flexibility and facilitates a sustainable community in several different ways.”
A well-thought-out infrastructure plan that includes bike- and pedestrian-friendly road systems promotes walkability for Camana Bay residents going to and from work or school, and easy access for visitors from West Bay Road to the Town Centre or the communities north and south of Camana Bay, thus encouraging a healthy lifestyle and reducing the need to get into a car.
Dart is taking a similar long-term approach with its real estate investments outside of Camana Bay, taking into consideration their ability to contribute to the economy beyond the development and construction cycle. Now that Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is open, Dart is looking towards building a five-star resort and residences.
“Hotels are significant job creators and perpetual economic engines which provide a continuous stream of revenue generation to the government through accommodation taxes, work permits fees and import duties,” VanDevelde says.
A study conducted by Oxford Economics for the planned five-star resort estimates that its guests would spend US$2.4 billion in the Cayman Islands over the first 15 years.
Just as importantly, new hotels have the power to draw the world’s attention to the Cayman Islands. The selected luxury operator can leverage its brand power and entice its loyal guests to discover the destination.
“We’ve seen that investment in an extraordinary guest experience can translate into those first-time visitors returning, possibly investing in real estate or even considering retiring in Cayman,” he says. “These repeat guests compound contributions to the local economy, enabling sustainability through their purchases and supporting additional jobs and tax revenues.”