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Cayman: Royal Palms Beach Club to be revitalised

Experienced operator signs agreement to give new lease of life to beloved beach bar.

Dart and Caymanian businessman Handel Whittaker today announced that they have reached an agreement that will see Whittaker revitalising the storied Royal Palms Beach Club on Seven Mile Beach.

The site has sat vacant since 2020 amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement between Dart and Whittaker, elements of the property will be refurbished with a wooden deck constructed to the south of the existing pool area with a targeted opening by the end of November 2024. 

Whittaker said he plans to hire more than 60 staff for the new operations, the name of which has yet to be unveiled. 

“When I closed Calico’s a few years ago during the COVID shutdown, I promised I’d be back,” said Whittaker of comments he made when he shuttered another popular beach bar, Calico Jack’s, a few miles north at Public Beach. “People have been asking me when I’m coming back. I’ve kept my promise and I’m delighted to get moving on bringing life back to Royal Palms in a way that people would expect of me.”

He indicated his desire to keep the charm of the location with an atmosphere will be similar to what existed at both Royal Palms and Calico Jack’s, including the memorable full moon and New Year’s Eve parties which were synonymous with the latter. 

“We’re creating an attraction for cruise tourists to come and enjoy a slice of life on Seven Mile Beach during the day, where they can lounge on the beach or relax poolside with a cocktail in hand. It will also be a spot that locals and residents can enjoy, as they know the atmosphere we’ve provided over the years. Our food and beverage offerings will be casual, yet appetising,” he said, indicating that he envisages concierge-style service for patrons utilising lounge chairs on the beach.

Dart Senior Vice President Development Planning, Robert Weekley, explained: “As we evaluate our long-term plans for the site, we decided that in the meantime, it is best to work with someone with an established track record in the industry on possible options. Mr Whittaker expressed a desire to utilise the location and we got the ball rolling. We believe this is a win-win for all involved and provides further economic stimulus during the refurbishment and operations.”

Refurbishment of the site is subject to relevant Planning Department approvals. Whittaker has already initiated discussions with the relevant government agencies, including the Department of Environment, to facilitate the safe re-opening of the venue with minimal impacts on the nearby marine environment, including installing turtle-friendly lighting. He said his team is also looking at measures to mitigate any noise impacts on neighbouring condominiums and villas.

Not included in the refurbishment are the seaside deck and the upper-level dining room, with the new tenant exploring options to aesthetically enhance that area in sync with the vibe of the re-opened establishment.   


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