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Visionary Dragon Bay development takes shape in the Cayman Islands
When, after more than a decade of trying, Dragon Bay developer Michael Ryan purchased 220 acres of the former Safe Haven land in mid-2007 the possibility of his ten-year vision for the area adjacent to his Ritz-Carlton property was finally realized.
Dragon Bay evolution
Michael Ryan says, once The Ritz-Carlton was firmly ensconced, the logical next step in the evolution of his Dragon Bay project, a development which covers 360 acres of land and incorporates several separate man-made ‘islands,’
In order to gain inspiration for his new projects Ryan set sail with his family on a 130-foot sailboat, to explore as many wondrous ports of call as he could fit into a year-long voyage, accumulating a vast wealth of knowledge and ideas along the way.
The voyage took Ryan all around the world, from the Mediterranean to Singapore to Indonesia to the Maldives.
“I was looking to discover what worked and what did not in the great waterside communities. Dragon Bay’s main feature is the connection that each and every home has with the water. Properly understanding just how communities that are built around water function and adapt to life so close to the sea was extremely important for me to fully embrace and realize the concept here in the Cayman Islands,” Ryan said.
The relationship and context of the elements of each location was key to the visionary developer.
Those that worked had a sense of place, Ryan said, and revealed that he was searching for something that spoke to Cayman’s heritage and that would make sense for the Islands.
He explained, “The British colonial influence is seen all across the tropical belt of the world, areas that are similar to Cayman in climate and heritage. The rules and elements they laid down still makes sense, even in highly developed countries such as Singapore, which still retains its British colonial layout and maintains the sensibility through impressive buildings such as Raffles and the Fullerton Hotel. Seeing how they had successfully worked with many of the same elements present in Cayman it was logical for me to incorporate such timeless and classic influences into the design of the Dragon Bay developments. The idea is to allow for the central core to bring an order and sense of place but still leave room for the many cosmopolitan elements to express themselves.”
Bringing the influences home
Simply picking out the best bits of his travels and sticking them together into one big development wasn’t Ryan’s intention.
Instead, he preferred to understand and appreciate the essence of what made each city, island and community work and emulate elements of the design, efficiency and quality in his own unique developments at Dragon Bay.
“It would have been ridiculous to try to emulate the colour and design of Italy’s coastal villages like Porto Fino , for example, and try and copy them here (they are poured down the side of a hill, after all). However, we can learn from what makes those properties work – the quality of craftsmanship, the light and airy space within the buildings and the concept of properties looking out over a marina, with residents entering via a waterway under a spectacular bridge (as with our Secret Harbour development)
The concept of water linking the entire development is a binding feature of each new construction at Dragon Bay, yet Ryan has bigger plans, taking it further than simply part of the design of each property.
“When a Dragon Bay owner first arrives into the Cayman Islands they will be greeted at their own Customs and Immigration area at the airport. (Ryan was able to reach an agreement with the previous Cayman Islands Government to build a Dragon Bay arrival terminal and dock). Their transit from the airport will be via private launch across the North Sound directly to their own dock. Water will connect them with their property, the development and the rest of Cayman from the very outset,” he said.
Out of the several planned ‘islands’, one is completed and two more are under construction.
One island, The DeckHouses, is a collection of 19 individual estate homes set on their own private oasis in the center of The Ritz-Carlton resort.
A good proportion of the DeckHouses have been sold, with the first phase complete and Ryan looks forward to breaking ground on phase two early this year.
On the next island, the Secret Harbour development is gaining momentum, as a result of unique designs and incredible value attracting many Cayman Islands residents to be a part of the project..
“I don’t have a rigid master vision for each and every island and property within,” Ryan said. “Rather, we are creating the central spine of the project that will give it both its architectural sense and, with The Ritz-Carlton resort, the base for services and amenities unlike any other. From there, with a baseline commitment to the highest quality in vision, design and execution in all elements we want to see the project grow organically through the input of the people who will live here and make it their home.”
A boutique hotel is currently in the planning stages, encompassing unique villas on stilts in the North Sound.
“The North Sound is an excellent location for such a hotel. The water is calm and the breezes will cool the villas which will have amenities such as outdoor showers and private pools,” Ryan says. “This is something that has already been hugely successful in other parts of the globe such as the Maldives, Bali and the Seychelles and we believe Cayman is the rival to any of those locations and this will further expand our market at the very top end.”
Ryan says that the fact that he is committed to undertaking his Dragon Bay development shows that he has every faith that the Cayman Islands will weather the current economic crisis and gain critical mass in the next few years.
“Dragon Bay is a big statement to the people of the Cayman Islands,” he confirmed. “We believe in Cayman’s potential and we continue to work with the government and the private sector to lift this destination above and beyond any of its competitors.”
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Dragon Bay and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman have set a lavish standard of living on Grand Cayman. Dragon Bay offers an unparalleled lifestyle, including luxury cars, motor yachts and the amenities of a 5-star resort. Visit www.dragonbaycayman.com