Hotels accused of turning down local trade

| 14/03/2022 | 227 Comments

(CNS) Grand Cayman residents have been venting their frustrations on social media over the last few weeks because some leading hotels, especially in Dart’s stable of tourism properties, have begun refusing service at beach bars, restaurants and other amenities to people who are not guests.

Even though local people kept the hotel sector above water with staycations and regular patronage during lockdown, getting a table at some Seven Mile Beach hotel restaurants or a weekend resident rate for a room is now getting very difficult.

Responding to questions from CNS, the management team at the Kimpton Seafire, which said the resort is still welcoming staycationers, explained that their reduced service to residents at the restaurants and other amenities was primarily due to staff shortages and the “rapid return of overseas guests”.

After the announcement of reduced Covid travel restrictions, effective 18 February of this year, we’ve seen a rapid return of overseas guests as well as continuing demand from our local guests for weekend stays,” the Kimpton management told CNS.

“We are currently operating with around 170 less staff members than we had in March of 2020. While we’d love to welcome more guests, we are at full capacity with visitors and staycationers, and our focus is on providing them with exceptional experiences.

“As we continue our recruitment for open positions within our team, we look forward to welcoming more guests as the season continues and tourism rebounds,” the hotel stated.

Meanwhile, some hotels are also refusing residency rate staycations and require local people to pay tourist rates, while others are simply not letting anyone other than overseas guests on the premises.

Tillie’s, a well-known beach restaurant at the Palm Heights Hotel, another of the Dart Group’s properties, has been the main target on social media after several people posted on various social media platforms that they were refused reservations.

The former Beach Suites restaurant at the heart of Seven Mile Beach has been a very popular location for residents over the last two years, but now they are turning locals away.

Some people on social media expressed significant disappointment that this happened so quickly, while others described it as blatant discrimination against Caymanians. However, the posts indicate that it is residents generally, not just Caymanians, who are being refused service and reservations, and staff are telling people that only those staying in the hotel are being served.

CNS requested a comment from Tillie’s management, and we are waiting for a response.

Some social media posters also claimed they were refused service at the beach bar at the Westin. However, the hotel manager, Jim Mauer, said all local people are more than welcome at all of the bars and restaurants at the hotel, as well as the spa, pool and beach bars.

He asked anyone who had been refused service to contact the hotel management and was keen to extend an invitation to everyone. He noted that most of the patrons for the hotel’s long-running Sunday brunch are residents.

He said that while beach chairs were no longer available for daily rental to non-guests, residents were more than welcome to bring their own chairs and enjoy the beach as well as the bars and restaurants.

Tourists are slowly beginning to return but there are still far fewer guests than in March 2020, when the borders closed due to the COVID pandemic. Even then, most hotels would find room for all patrons in their restaurants, resident and visitor alike.

While the hotels are hoping for a busy Spring break, numbers are likely to decline when hurricane season begins in June.

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Category: Business, Food and Drink, Tourism

Comments (227)

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  1. Eric Johnston says:

    My Canadian wife and I have been going to the Westin beach movie night on Thursdays, having drinks and dinner. I called to book a table for this week and was told that the Westin no longer allows locals to attend the beach movie night. Pretty poor that they take this attitude, now they have their overseas travellers back. It seriously makes you question one of the argued benefit of having these large hotels in Cayman. i.e. they have great restaurants, but what is the benefit to local Caymanians if its only available to tourists.
    If they are closed to locals, do we need them at all? Will we be fool enough to go back when their tourism drops off in the Summer. We won’t.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In the space of 3 months Tillies has gone from one of my favorite restaurants to least favorite. The service has become so bad it’s now comical. A couple of weeks ago dinner took over 4 hours! I wouldn’t have even minded that much but in all that time we could only catch the waiters attention to get 2 drinks. My main course took an hour and a half to come and the best bit was it was a tartare! It was delicious to be fair to the chef as were some of our other mains, even though they weren’t what we ordered. Shambolic but only marginally worse than Seven at the moment. These places need to sort this $#!% out or this place will quickly lose it’s appeal to stay over tourists paying top dollar.

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