Local boutique B&B struggled for concessions

| 19/01/2021 | 63 Comments
Cayman News Service
The Cottages in East End

(CNS): The local owner of The Cottages, a small boutique style B&B resort in East End, battled to get modest duty concessions for her development, even as some of Cayman’s wealthiest developers were getting concessions worth millions of dollars. During the course of Cayman News Services’s efforts to get government to release all of the details of duty and other concession deals it signed with developers over this administration, discrepancies have emerged regarding who gets what.

The Caymanian behind the ten individual cottages told CNS said she had applied for the waiver under the ‘Go East’ initiative and because she was attempting to do something very different with the project.

Expressing gratitude for the $100,000 waiver she managed to get from government for some construction materials and fittings for her development, she said it was only a tiny fraction of the money she invested. The local businesswoman, who did not want to be named, said that in the end she probably used less than half of the concessions because she purchased much of the materials used locally.

What she had really needed was help with the planning fees and, given the challenges she faced opening just a few months before the pandemic struck, a waiver of tourism accommodation fees for her first year, she said, noting that other developers had received that type of concession.

“I am really grateful for the concessions I did get,” she told CNS. “But we needed a little more help in the beginning and we are disappointed, given what other major developers managed to get. We have created something unique that has been a benefit to Cayman, as 85% of our first guests were new visitors to the islands.”

The Cottages was a dream she had long held and the aim was to offer something to visitors that hasn’t been available here before. She said it is the price that has helped her stay afloat during these difficult times, as well as local people choosing to have a staycation at the resort since the pandemic struck.

CNS continues to press government for all of the concession deals made over the past four years in order to understand what benefits the CIG or the wider community receives from such deals.

It has been revealed that the developers behind the controversial FIN development received $2.8 million in concessions and that $8.2 million was given to the WaterMark currently under construction on Seven Mile Beach. HHG Cayman, which has left creditors and workers out of pocket, was given concessions on a huge range of goods, from plates to kitchen staff aprons, for the redevelopment of the Margaritaville resort.

However, it appears that the same type of support is not offered to smaller projects that have far less impact on the environment and are away from the overcrowded Seven Mile Beach, even though these projects fit with government’s claimed desires to see Caymanian developers succeed.

In addition to the very limited support offered to The Cottages, the ongoing freedom of information request revealed how the local developer behind Leeward Quay struggled to get a small duty concession for additional stamp duty charges that largely resulted from the work he did on his own land.

CNS is continuing to fight for more information on all of the concession deals government has entered into where duties of fees have been waived, but we have been told that the details of at least four major projects will not be released due to non-disclosure agreements. However, CNS will be taking this battle to the Office of the Ombudsman.

See the duty concession documents for The Cottages (plus those for all other developments that we have received so far via an FOI request) in the CNS Library.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (63)

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  1. Frank says:

    I read this and there are a lot of people (cowards) commenting (as usual) anonymously, drunk, angry or disenfranchised for personal reasons at their own lot in life, wagging their finger – but most worryingly, who really have no clue how the broader economy and world around them runs – how things function or what fuels things. Pining for the ghosts of the past and wishing the people away and trying to get back to 1985 won’t make the Country better for your grand-kids. The “sweetheart” deal in this story went to east end cottage owner who built 10 folksy shacks for under a million and got a $100,000 in free money from the Government. That was the bad deal for the people of the Cayman Islands. Not the high end developer who spent 200 million or 500 million building a destination to get 2 or 8 million back. That was a good deal. Big projects attract more rich people and and moderately wealthy people who want to immigrate and subsequently invest. Thank god the people who comment here don’t actually run the Country. If you want to go back to the past, fine. Buy a 6 pack of Corona and daydream in front of the old Calicoe’s. If you want to make a difference, look at the big picture and toward the Cayman of the future, embracing and helping those who are actually making a difference. God bless the Darts and other developers here actually doing things and making a difference. Everyone else who is angry and bitter, look in the mirror. That’s the problem on this island.

  2. Rodney says:

    You people are all delusional.

    After all, the Governor is THRILLED with the honest and completely dedicated to the public government. Of course he must be right.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Poor little old rich people. They have enough money to buy oceanfront property, build an inn on it with a small number or rooms and then anonymously complain they didn’t get a break. Am I supposed to feel sorry for her?How many tourists is this place going to attract when tourist return? A couple hundred? Sorry – no breaks for you!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands Government.
    Best government money can buy.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you CNS.

    We know trying to get information from government is like pulling the teeth of your ancestors, but we sincerely appreciate your efforts. We really, really do.

    You continue to have my support and that of the people of the Cayman Islands. Thank you!


    • Rick says:

      As usual, the real reason for secrecy in government is to cover up corruption and incompetence. There can be no real democracy without transparency in government. First-world democratic countries know that and struggle to keep their governments to account through FOI and other methods. We need more institutions that are committed to holding government and government officials accountable if we are to become a modern democratic society. Great job, CNS. This is why you are my go-to news medium in the CI. There is no alternative.

  6. Anonymous says:

    PPM led Governments have never gave tourist tax concessions. That was the UDP and the 2013 – 1017 PPM led Government removed the touristm tax concessiyon from Dart and have not granted any since. I do agree that Government should develop a more rigourous process for granting duty concessions and should look at ways to further assist small Caymanian investors even though they have extended loans and grants during the pandemic. But get your facts straight. Remember when you undermine confidence in facts it will eventually impact you too as our neighbors to the north have learnt and are relearning daily. Karma is a…and there are no real winners in the cynical game you are playing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking of getting facts straight: the 3rd revision of sweetheart NRA Dart deal was signed in May 2016 by PPM. It was the fourth version since 2011, spanning mostly PPM regimes under stewardship of Kurt Tibbetts. Not surprisingly, the PPM was also the governance team that reneged on CIG responsibilities under the agreement, and forfeited much of the benefit package that was promised to the people of the Cayman Islands. If facts matter.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t all this way. Small businesses pay 100% of the requirements, but big businesses pay a tiny fraction. No one gave me a duty concession for my 100% Caymanian owned and operated business. We have Zero permits . But I guess I am not on the dole or friendly enough with those who are.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman Government are all crooked who take the people money for there interest (who to blame)? The same people who ask them for favors and handouts. So If you want a change help yourself first and stop relying on political favors, that’s when they ask for your vote back…for all the favors. So if you want change vote them out and lets all hope that we have honest new elected member who care for the country and people first get in. DRAIN THE SHIT PIT of this current government.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is outrageous! These are very difficult times due to the China virus and we should have discretion to have FULL PENSION WITHDRAWAL. The pension returns are absolutely pathetic grossly underperforming the benchmark. Allow people to manage their own ETF portfolio and grow their wealth. Nasdaq up 41% in 2020 via QQQ – compare that to the jackass fat cats managing the pensions. No Government stimulus cheques THEN allow full pension withdrawal

  10. Anonymous says:

    Does anybody know if it is correct that Cayman Distributors has a Duty Waiver for their Blackbeard Alcohol products?

  11. anon says:

    Bring in Gus Jaspert!.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hear hear!!! Governor Gus has GUTS to fight corruption.

      • Rick says:

        Is this the same person who completed his stint as governor of the BVI and whose government is about to be investigated for corruption??? Maybe some people have fallen for the trick device of him ‘launching’ an investigation into investigating the government on the last day of his office when what that actually means is that he has ordered an investigation into his own administration. This allows him to claim that he did so, but the fact is that there would have been an investigation except it cannot now be said that an investigation was ordered into his administration by the incoming governor. How easy it is to fool the simple-minded.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Typical. Gov helping everyone but their own hard-working honest Caymanians. This is just one sad example many, many, more. Thanks, CNS and CMR for keeping us informed on what the modern-day PIRATES are up to. Robin Hood robbed the rich and gave to the poor. CIG rob the poor and give to the rich. Forever backwards!!!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    What other concessions did the big developers get over and above import duty waivers?

    • Anonymous says:

      Read the NRA documents in CNS library…eg. DART got bottomless, nobody’s-keeping-track, for at least 31 years. They don’t even need to honour their side of the deal, and aren’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      DART were gifted 220 acres of “Safehaven” crown lease land at less than $50,000 per full acre. They were allowed to acquire sweeping holdings in Barkers and the Soto Lands around public beach through the yacht club. A long list of reneging followed: $500mln over 20 years became $300mln over 30years, and now no work commitment really applies because our government blew through their deadlines. The old Hyatt remediation, somehow avoids the published $10,000 per day penalties; sunrise Adult Learning center land was not given, promised vocational school land withdrawn, camping grounds at public beach, dog parks…all fake window-dressing. They got two tunnels approved through CPA with no associated blueprint for what they plan to do with them. They import almost their entire understaffed and over-worked workforce with high staff turnover because of their lousy/gangster-esque workplace culture. Imperato, HHG, Ryan, they all have their own deals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Isn’t Dart collecting a percentage of the hotel tax on every hotel he owns and builds in the future?

      NRA DEAL

  14. Amanda Bush says:

    Why woule she expect a concession on planning fees. Okay the silly season has officially begun.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart gets planning fees concessions…why shouldn’t she?

    • not from Cayman says:

      Cause others got it

      You didn’t get that part I guess

    • Concerned says:

      You are an example of hitting the target but missing the point completely.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suspect that the money injected into the economy to build Fin and Watermark, coupled with the jobs created by the construction and the revenues from sales of units will be far more than any concessions given to spur on the economy. The financial and other benefits would certainly be more than revenues derived from The Cottages though that that business is deserving of the $100K received.

      • Anonymous says:

        You do realize Government only gets stamp duty on the land for FIN and Watermark. The land associated with the unit may be valued at 200-250K. The same stamp duty on a Caymanian purchasing a one bedroom condo.

        You do realize that selling 2 or 3 Watermark units for $20M each pays for the entire cost to build the property.

        Do these developers really need concessions from the government. Does anyone think that Fraser or Dale needs that money or would not build if they didn’t get it? They would be fools not to take it as its more money in their pockets and our stupid government can’t even measure if and how giving these concessions makes any sense.

        This is like hiring a manager and he goes out and spends your money and tells you that he has given away a chunk of your income hoping that it will bring a huge return but not sure if it will or when it will..

        We have to clean house in May.

      • Anonymous says:

        5.03pm What construction jobs? If you mean the jobs for Jamaicans please dxplain how that helps Caymanians. The few W/P fees pale in comparison to the Social ills being created.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens when you fall on the wrong political side of the party in power in the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Never mind the evil expats, Caymanians have always been their own worst enemies – politics and greed is the reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad but true. She is not of the “right” party.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart gets planning fees concessions…why shouldn’t she?
      She happens to be on the “right’ political side.

    • Rick says:

      Are you suggesting that the other political sides would not do the same? I hope not, because you would be very, very wrong. They are all the same. Regardless of what they say now when they get into power they all belly-up to the trough.

  16. Anonymous says:

    So much of the injustices and corruption exposed over the last couple of years yet NOTHING will ever come of it.
    When you have the premier of the country excepting and allowing the speaker of the house to remain in a position of “honorable” to remain in parliament yet convicted of violence… Oh, well, nevermind. Who cares? NO ONE with the ability to do anything about it.

    However, it will blow up in our faces at some point. It cannot continue.

    • Public money is being misused here. Govt collects revenue from duties (tax) that is collected on imports. Then Govt grants concessions to rich private developers thrn cover their tracks by allowing ‘non disclosure’ agreements. Is that fair?

  17. Gilded Rage says:

    The Cayman development economy is run by robber barons who own the local politicos. No different than everywhere else. The main difference is that here we know them all personally. Just wash your hands and count your fingers after each interaction and you’ll be safe.

  18. Anonymous says:

    In the Cayman Islands, we blindly allow, and readily accept, that our politicians moonlight and get paid as “consultants” in exchange for giving away our own public revenue, and crown resources. Even after reading the Stan Thomas red-handed fax, Caymanians, as a people did nothing. Our CFO has recently admitted – astonishingly – that nobody is keeping track of these now bottomless concessions to preferred patron developers. Meanwhile, our lead anti-corruption crusader, Ezzard Miller, is crying foul at unfairness in the arena of vote-buying baksheesh. With willing schemers like this, you needn’t wonder how we have the reputation we have.

    • Anonymous says:

      You really should not make stuff up. Which elected member of the Government acts as a consultant and gives away public revenue?

      • Anonymous says:

        Certainly you jest..The only people free from investigation for corruption are our politicians and they flaunt it in our faces everyday because we are stupid enough to keep electing them.

  19. Anonymous says:

    concessions will be based upon investment into local economy…small development =small investment= small concession. simple % calculation.
    total non-story.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:55 That’s rubbish and you know it. Concessions are based on who you know and how much you’re prepared to grease the wheels.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be one the MP’s..Only someone that stupid could use that math..

  20. Anonymous says:

    At a certain point is it not prudent to reduce duty across the board on construction materials (and mandate retailers pass that savings on)? That would help out everyone from the backyard project to the big developers evenly, no more concession applications or approvals to deal with. Makes housing more affordable etc.

  21. Anonymous says:

    The message is here:

    Everything you may need can be bought on island!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Stop giving the concessions and force them to buy local.

    Aside from that, from experience, I know that the CIG did not pay Caymanians for the promises they set out in the “Go East Initiative”. They left a lot of Caymanians holding the bag and not even helping out at the end. Another feel good tag line that means NOTHING.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL – Buy from ALT, how ironic.

      • Anonymous says:

        How about:

        Stand up!

        Get rid of the AL T monopoly

        Get rid of the crony government

        Run a country fairly and properly

        And then………..


        Every one is happy!

        Neat concept, huh?

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s look at this for a second. Everything can be bought here, but most retailers are gauging people like crazy. Even after adding shipping and duty costs they are almost always more expensive than paying full retail in US and shipping. Don’t forget retailers pay 30-50% off of retail when they purchase from a wholesaler in the USA. I’ve seen items on the shelf here cost double what it would cost for me to bring them in myself. What’s worse is items not on the shelf…needing to be ordered in by a store and still they whack you for double your cost to do the same task and they take no inventory risk.
      Everyone is entitled to their profits and margins but some of this is straight up extortion of consumers. If I see a store charging a decent price I support them, even if I can save a few % by shipping myself. But others won’t get a penny from me because they are screwing everyone and it’s half the cost to import myself. The whole “buy local” initiative needs to go both ways

  22. Anonymous says:

    Bvi part 2……

  23. Anonymous says:

    Joey Who gots to go in 2021

  24. Anonymous says:

    Where is the auditor general’s investigation into this entire mess. Minister Who only helps who they want but regular folks suffer with everything they try to do. Try to build on another room or close in your garage and see the headaches that planning and government give Caymanians.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Another Joey Hew botched job. Only wealthy developers deserve assistance to put towards their profit margins. Caymanians get little to nothing as usual

  26. Anonymous says:

    They make up the rules as the go along and only help special interests.

  27. #CAYMANKIND says:

    Did she give any contracts to The Who’s? If not that would explain everything.
    Those are the rules of engagement around. I help you and you have to help me and my interests by using certain service providers. That is how kickbacks work under this government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who’s have the janitorial tied up with Dart..easily bought and paid for..

      It is too bad we don’t have some serious press investigators on this island that could dig in and expose these deals and open up all the corrupt politicians sitting in our house now.

      They go in there with nothing and within a short time they ditch their used Toyota for a Mercedes or BMW and circulating with all the heavy hitters and getting set up on the dole for at least the next four years.

      Thank you Wendy for all you do as you are the last bastion of good press left without government control or influence on this island since the Compass silenced Woody. I wish there were ten more of you that could stand up to these creeps and take your licks and abuse for the betterment of the people of these islands.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Imagine owning a company where your employees get to make sweetheart deals and then hide it from you because they deem you’re not educated enough to understand it.

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