Year in review: looking back at 2021

Although the Cayman Islands, like the rest of the world, was still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, it was nonetheless a busy and productive year for the Dart organisation.

In addition to unveiling a new brand that puts a strong emphasis on the people in its organisation, Dart announced or completed numerous projects and initiatives that will help improve the lives of residents and visitors alike. Here are the summaries of 12 of the biggest news items involving Dart in 2021.

school building aerial

NEW HIGH SCHOOL OPENS

Cayman International School students in grades 9 -12 returned from their holiday break to a new three-storey, almost 100,000-square-foot high school facility on 6 January. The high school completed a US$60 million investment by the Kenneth B. Dart Foundation to improve and expand Cayman International School. The project also included the construction of an early childhood centre, which opened to students in September 2019.

The addition of the early childhood centre and the high school increased student capacity at Cayman International School to almost 1,100.

The modern high school included a number of labs and collaboration spaces, including a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) lab, project workspaces, performing arts rooms and music practice rooms.

NEW HOSPITAL IN CAMANA BAY

Health City Cayman Islands announced in February that it would build a new US$100 million, 70,000-square-foot medical campus at Camana Bay in the area near the roundabout closest to Cayman International School.

The new hospital, which is scheduled for completion later this year, is intended to complement Health City's East End facility by providing specialised treatments, some of which aren't currently available in the Cayman Islands.

REGEN CONTRACT SIGNED

In March, the Cayman Islands Government and Dart signed a public-private partnership contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a new integrated solid waste management system and to remediate the current George Town Landfill.

The new facilities are collectively called "ReGen: Cayman's Energy & Recycling Centre" and will include a waste-to-energy plant that will produce electricity for Grand Cayman's grid.

Dart will finance the CI$205 million project with no cost to the government until ReGen is fully operational, at which point Dart will receive CI$163 per ton of waste processed at the new facility over the 25-year life of the project.

people standing in front of banner

2021 DART GRANTS

The National Children's Voluntary Council was awarded a CI$50,000 donation as part of the 2021 Dart Grants programme, which annually gives a total of CI$250,000 to nine well-run, registered local non-profits that provide high-impact work in the areas of youth development, education or the environment. The donations help these non-profit organisations with the funding of specific projects or initiatives and in the case of the NCVO, it was for improvements to the Nadine Andreas Residential Foster Home. Eight other non-profit organisations each received a CI$25,000 Dart Grant. Those organisations included the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, the East End Primary School PTA, Inclusion Cayman, Literacy is for Everyone, the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands and YMCA Cayman.

film crew on location by stairs

TINSELTOWN LOVES CAYMAN

Hollywood actors, producers, directors and crew were a common sight over the course of the spring as numerous movies and television programmes were filmed on Grand Cayman, which at the time had no community transmission of COVID-19 since the previous July.

In addition to a television series for HBO Max, Productivity Media signed a three-movie deal with the Cayman government, but ended up filming a fourth as well. The feature films included "Blue Iguana," "The Baker," "Retirement Plan" and "Some Other Woman."

Dart helped facilitate the films by allowing filming on several of its properties.

SDG CHALLENGE LAUNCHED

Dart's Minds Inspired launched a pilot educational programme with 11th-grade students at Cayman International School that had them consider issues in the context of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The objective of the SDG challenge was to help students better understand the three main pillars of sustainability and how they affect the Cayman Islands. Dart's goal is to eventually launch the SDG Challenge in all local high schools.

HOTEL INDIGO UNDERWAY

Dart began construction on Hotel Indigo, a 282-room upscale hotel located on Seven Mile Beach near Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, in July. The InterContinental Hotels & Resorts lifestyle brand will feature multiple restaurants, an expansive pool deck and a rooftop bar with views across the Caribbean Sea. The hotel is scheduled for opening in 2024.

young man and woman in front of banner

DART SCHOLAR TURNS 10

The Dart Scholar programme, which was originally launched as a Dart Minds Inspired initiative, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021 with the naming of three additional Dart Scholars. Cayman Prep & High School student Aiden Watler was awarded the William A. Dart Memorial University Scholarship and began pursuing a degree in mathematics at University of California, Berkeley in the fall. The two 2021 Dart High School Scholars are Jade Robinson of St. Ignatius High School and Nathan Alston of Cayman Prep and High School. All Dart Scholars are chosen through a blind application process that requires an exemplary track record in academics, community involvement, student leadership and a dedication to the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

MINDS INSPIRED HOSTS JOURNALISM CAMP

Recognising the changing media landscape in the Cayman Islands, Dart's Minds Inspired hosted a seven-day journalism summer camp in August for 12- to 17-year-old students as a way of encouraging more Caymanians to enter the field of journalism. The first-of-its-kind summer camp partnered with seven different local media houses and included field trips and classroom sessions and projects involving news reporting for print, radio and television.

hotel at dusk in Cayman

CAYMAN WELCOMES FIRST HILTON

The Hampton by Hilton hotel, the first Hilton branded property in the Cayman Islands, opened in September in what was formerly the Comfort Suites. Dart purchased the property in July 2019 and began a major US$14 million renovation in June 2020. In addition reopening the rebranded hotel, Dart opened a new restaurant — Ms. Piper's Kitchen + Garden — behind the hotel's pool.

TRANSFORMED RITZ-CARLTON. GRAND CAYMAN REOPENS

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman celebrated its 16th anniversary in style, reopening on 15 December after a six-and-a-half-month closure that allowed for a transforming US$50 million renovation. The resort's first major renovation focused on the rooms as well as the lobby, the Silver Palm Lounge and Bar, the ballroom and pre-event space, the art gallery, the room corridors and other common areas.

boy playing the violin

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM DART

Two youth development-focused non-profit organisations — Boyz2Men and Jubilate! — were the recipients of CI$15,000 donations each from Dart as part of its annual "Christmas Give" initiative. Boyz2Men provides guidance and mentorship to at-risk boys in the 11th grade to help them forge a better future. Jubilate! teaches life skills, including a strong work ethic, to schoolchildren through a music programme. Dart replaced corporate holiday gifting in 2018 with the Christmas Give initiative that supports initiatives focused on the natural or built physical environment, youth development or education.

 

This article appears in print in the January 2022 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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